There weren’t many cars in the car park yet. There was no training on Mondays, but players came in for team and individual reviews of the weekend’s game. I scanned the players entrance, couldn’t see any reporters. Hopefully they had given up. Made my way to Stuart’s small office. The door was open, but I gave it a tap. He looked up from some papers on his desk. Smiled.
^Declan. Thanks for coming. Take a seat.
I sat down, apprehension gripping me.
^OK, let’s make a start.
He put away the papers, and got out another folder, which had my name written on it. I shifted nervously in my seat as he got out a sheet of paper and glanced at it.
^Right then, Declan. First thing to mention is that I’ve had a chat with Don and some of the other coaches, and we feel that it would be best if you joined the squad for training from now on.
I was surprised, and delighted.
‘But I thought I couldn’t train here …’
^Well, all other aspects of your suspension remain in place, especially while the club are trying to sort out your passport and visa. Did you bring your passports in today?
I handed them to him.
^Thanks. But if the aim of all of this is to see how things go with you back amongst us, well, you need to be back amongst us. Tomorrow, 8.30, rucks and mauls. Up for it?
Qualms I may be feeling about seeing everyone again were buried under a surge of pleasure. This place was a part of me. It had felt like an amputation over the last few days, not being able to come here. It had its own character, depending on what day it was. Training days were businesslike, forming team bonds, developing skills. Match days were vibrant, full of noise and colour, slowly building to an excited climax at kick off. On the rare days when nothing was happening here, there was still a sense of anticipation. It never really seemed to sleep.
^OK, that’s great. Well, now, obviously you’re not going to be playing any games with us for a while, or using club facilities, so we need to make sure you’re keeping as fit as possible. You’ve been putting on weight the last month or so, and you need to get rid of it. As well as training here with the squad on Tuesdays, Wednesday and Thursdays, I want to go over a programme for you to complete on other days. You’ll have to find your own facilities. And start paying attention to what you eat. OK?
^I’d also like you to come in every Monday morning to review your progress, see how it’s all going. You can come in after the match reviews are all done.
The programme he outlined was pretty standard. He double checked I understood everything, gave me a copy and sat back in his chair, giving me an appraising look.
^Declan, I’ll be honest with you. There are a lot of doubts upstairs that giving you this second chance is the right thing to do. There is also a lot of bad feeling towards you and the position you have put us in. Being docked significant points at this stage of the season would be fairly damaging to our chances of finishing top four. You’ve got a lot of work to do, not only on the training pitch, but also on your relationships with the rest of the squad, to prove you’re worth it. I hope you have the strength for the next few weeks. It’s going to be tough, but I believe you can do it. Work as hard as you can, and make the outcome about other people, other situations, things you can’t influence now, not about your performance. Give it your best shot?
I made my way back out to the players entrance, head full of the meeting with Stuart. He was pretty straight-laced, no-nonsense, and I felt he was willing to give me a go. If the club had forced him into it, he gave no sign. I felt more positive than I had for a long time.
This morning I had thought my time as a Raiders player was almost at an end; I saw a chink of hope now. It could still all end, but for the time being I was still here. As long as I lived for now and didn’t think too far in the future, I could cope.
As I passed the media office, I heard my name called through the open door. Adrian Peters, head of media, was getting up from his desk and waved me in. He wanted me to talk to some reporters who were waiting by the players’ entrance, so they’d go away. It was the last thing I wanted to do after the other night, but ‘giving it my best shot’ probably included this.
Adrian reminded me of a few points from my recent media course – things they might ask, how to not answer a question, what I could and couldn’t say, basically ways to sell my soul for the good of Raiders. Fair enough.
.Oh, and they’ll want pictures, so let them take as many as they want. Don’t smile, though, they’ll make it look like you’re taking the piss.
He didn’t mention the picture in the Herald, but he didn’t have to. I needed to put right some of what I’d screwed up.
.Thanks, Declan. Good luck.
I went through the door. It wasn’t a barrage of noise and light, there were four men standing there, looking bored, although they perked up when they saw it was me. At least someone was pleased to see me.
“Declan! Can we have a quote?
“Declan, have you spoken to Jay Scott?
“Anything you can tell us about the points decision?
“Have Raiders have overturned your suspension, then?
‘Hold on guys, one at a time.’
Tried to appear relaxed and unconcerned. Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed a small group of people standing and watching. Glanced up. It was Ben Hearne, Michael Foster, Brett Deressie, Dan Hart and David Allsop, known to me in another life as Big, Mikey, Bonksy, Danno and DivDav. All looking very amused. Great, now I had to perform for them too.
I turned back to the reporters, two of who were also photographers. I had no idea where they were from, or if any of them were the same people who had put my picture in the paper last week, but I tried to follow Adrian’s advice, remembering some of the techniques they would use to make me say something unguarded. They tried to trip me up, but I thought I did pretty well, answering questions without giving much away.
They wanted photos afterwards – stand here, look up, give us a smile. I ignored it all and faced the cameras grimly, remembering the image Adrian wanted me to show. Eventually they’d had enough, got what they wanted, or realised they weren’t going to get any more, and they walked off.
I looked over at the group of lads who used to be my mates. They were lounging against a low wall, arms folded, smirking sardonically. Undecided as to what I should do, I nodded in their direction, took a step towards them.
They stood up and walked as a group through the players’ door. A well-aimed ‘wanker’ was hurled in my direction. I don’t know what I had expected, these were guys I had been best friends with, played with, trained with, spent down time with, helped home when we were all drunk, and I had spent a lot of the last few months distancing myself from them, lying to them and borrowing money off them that they seemed unlikely to get back any time soon. Giving it my best shot was going to be tough without them. Being here at all was going to be tough without them. I had no one to blame but myself, worthless piece of shit that I was.
Sighing, I set off across the car park, heading for the bus stop. I still needed to buy some food, which I could do at the supermarket on the way home. Hated shopping. But unless I learned how to cook vegetables in the next few hours, I was going to be very hungry. Maybe a few vegetables wouldn’t hurt – Beth had always looked after my nutrition, cooked the right things, balanced diet and all that; she knew what rugby players needed. Now I was fending for myself, and relying on my own woeful cooking ability, it was usually heating up a shepherd’s pie or chicken nuggets, and Stuart was right, it was affecting my body shape and my fitness. However, today was not going to be the day I addressed this.
The bus was empty, the car park was full, and the shop was heaving. I grabbed a basket and headed towards the ready meals. Picked up a couple of curries and some sweet and sour chicken, almost grabbed a few beers but remembered Don’s orders and settled for diet cola. Headed to the tills. There were huge queues everywhere. I aimed for the self-checkout, but it still looked like a long wait.
Drifted off into a supermarket trance, staring at nothing in particular, shuffling forwards as the line moved slowly on. I heard my name. Turned round. Two men behind me in the queue were looking at me. I raised my eyebrows at them. They looked away. My attention now directed behind me, I heard a few snatches of their conversation.
*… reserves player … visa … lose points … Scott …
I resisted the urge to turn round again, but the back of my neck prickled uncomfortably. Being part of Raiders meant I was occasionally recognised, but usually people just said hello or said they were Raiders fans, shook hands and walked away. Being the subject of a muttered conversation felt very awkward.
I paid for my stuff and walked out, glad to leave the crowds behind. I hadn’t got far before I felt a hand on my shoulder. Defensive, I shrugged it off, turned and faced the two men from the queue. Stood in a relaxed posture, not aggressive but not submissive either.
*You Declan Summers?
The shorter man thrust his head towards me.
He folded his arms and waited for my response. I didn’t give him the satisfaction of one. Just looked at him.
*I’ve watched Raiders for fifteen years, since before they got promoted. Never known the like. They should have thrown you out on your arse.
His mouth was a contemptuous sneer. His taller, bulkier mate stood just behind him, arms at his side, fists clenched. If I wasn’t careful, it was going to turn nasty – not that I wasn’t more than capable of looking after myself in a fight, but it was the sort of trouble I had to avoid. I decided to let him have his say; most of the supporters would feel the same way he did, and didn’t even know the half of it. I waited again.
*You’re a disgrace.
Couldn’t argue with him there, had thought it myself many times over the last few days, weeks and months.
*Can’t believe they didn’t sack your sorry arse straight off, never mind all this pissing about with suspensions.
Again, no arguments from me. I stood my ground, however – a small spark of pride making me incapable of being submissive.
*Well I hope you’re fucking proud of yourself, you’ve cost us a place in the play-offs.
I was well aware of how any points deductions would affect the club and the people who worked and played for it. The knock on effect on the thousands of Raiders fans was also huge. I felt a need to answer him, but without getting myself punched. My heart was beating fast. I tried to keep my tone of voice even.
‘No, I’m not proud. I know what it might have cost everyone. I’m sorry.’
He seemed a bit taken aback that I hadn’t been defensive or confrontational. I wasn’t sure whether or not I had managed to defuse it.
*Why don’t you just piss off and do us all a favour?
I turned and walked away, wondering if he and his mate were going to follow me. My senses felt the air behind me for signs of pursuit. My nerves were strung so tightly that if I had felt another hand on my shoulder I might have lashed out blindly. The short walk to the bus stop seemed to take hours, but when I reached it and turned around, there was no sign of the two men. My legs were shaking and my breath was quick and ragged, my heartbeat loud in my ears. I was going to have to get used to this type of confrontation. In a way, I was public property. Felt very alone.
When I got home, I knocked on Rose’s door. I hadn’t seen her for a couple of days and felt bad. There was no answer.
Upstairs in my flat, I put my shopping away, had some lunch and thought about what to do next. Nico would be picking me up later, but that left the afternoon to fill. Looked at the television, but couldn’t face another afternoon of quiz shows and antique programmes. I needed to do something to stop myself thinking. I had too many thoughts spinning in my head. Too many things I needed to do that I had no way of doing.
I made a start on the charity money. I had the details of the accounts I needed to pay into, and wrote some cheques from my savings account. It didn’t quite meet the promised amounts, but I had now done what I had promised Don I would do; I felt a bit better, having repaid at least some of my debts, although I wasn’t sure where the last few hundred pounds I owed the charities was going to come from. Ignoring this, I walked up to the post box and fulfilled one of my many obligations. The rest would be a bit harder to complete.
Back home, I was still restless. In the end, I cleaned the flat. It didn’t need doing, Rose had only sand-blasted it a few days ago. I never cleaned, hated housework, could hardly remember how to use the hoover. But it was physical, and stopped the spinning thoughts.
A couple of hours later, slightly warm and feeling very virtuous, I decided to call on Rose again. I had no idea if she had a job, or what else she did during the day when she wasn’t fixing up my life. About time I found out.
I went down the stairs and knocked on her door. She seemed delighted to see me, fussed about making tea, putting out a plate of biscuits, talking nineteen to the dozen the whole time about absolutely nothing. She didn’t mention any of my troubles, and neither did I. I was grateful; I’d spent too long thinking and I needed some light relief. I told her I had cleaned my flat, maybe expecting some sort of pat on the back.
:Whatever for? Didn’t we just give it a huge clean?
‘I know. It was a kind of a workout. Needed to burn off some energy. Besides, I found some bits you missed.’
:You never did, you cheeky monkey. Get away with you and drink your tea. Last time I tidy up for you, that is.
We bantered back and forth for a while, making our way through the tea and biscuits. Stuart would undoubtedly have disapproved, but company and talking was something I’d missed, and it felt important to join in with Rose and her need to feed me.
I asked her if she had a job, and she told me she worked part time as a receptionist in one of the big opticians in town. I could imagine her lording it over the front desk, knowing everyone’s business, dispensing advice with the contact lens solution, and I told her so. She gave me an appraising look.
:You know, you really seem quite chirpy. Good to see, love.
‘Yeah, I think I’m getting there. I’ve been a monumental dickhead – sorry – idiot and knocking myself out with vodka was utterly stupid, but in a way it might have helped a bit. I feel, kind of, can’t think of the word – does ‘purged’ sound right?
:You tell me, love.
‘Well, I know I’ve fucked up, upset a lot of people, done some bloody stupid things, I know that, and some of that might be fixable and some of it might not, and if not that will be bad and I’ll have to deal with it. But today, I feel like I’ve made a start.’
I told her about my meeting with Stuart and holding my own with the reporters, but also about the reaction of the lads afterwards.
:Oh I wouldn’t take too much notice. They’re just boys, aren’t they.
‘Yeah, same age as me, Rose.’
:Then you know what I mean. You all muck about taking the mick out of each other and not saying how you feel. They’ll come round, give them time.
‘Well I guess I’ll see tomorrow. It’s pretty obvious there are plenty of people out there with an opinion they’re not afraid to share.’
Rose was great at sugar-coating things, but I knew it wasn’t going to be as easy as she was making it seem. I told her about the confrontation at the supermarket.
:You didn’t know them, then?
I shook my head.
:That’s out of order, that is, people should mind their own business and keep their opinions to themselves.
‘Just like you do, eh!’
:Watch it sonny, you’re not too big for a clout for your cheek. You know what I mean though. Much as I yap, I’d never have a go at someone I’d never met.
‘I guess people have an emotional attachment to a team they support. It can mean a lot if it’s something you’re really into. I know what it means to play. Raiders are a part of them, and I’ve hurt them through what I’ve done.’
Just another thing to add to the list of repayments I’d never be able to make.
‘Anyway, I’ll know more about what I’m up against tomorrow when I go to training.’
:Good luck, love. Ooh, you know what, I’ve been meaning to ask if you’d give me a hand with something?
:Well I’ve got this cabinet, it’s old and heavy, it’s full of stuff, and I can’t shift it. I want to move it to give me more space in my spare room. I think I need a strong young man. Can you think of anyone I could ask?
‘Yeah, I can think of someone. Come on, let’s go and have a look.’
Rose put me to work, firstly removing the various items of china, tea-towels, and other clutter, and then moving the cabinet into the tiny space she had allocated for it. It took some doing, and then we put all the stuff back. As we were finishing off, my phone pinged. At the same time, Rose’s entry buzzer went. On my phone was a text from Nico. Shit, Nico! I glanced at the time on my phone. 5.50. Shit.
Nico: =Where are you? I am outside. I try your buzzer.
At the same time, it was like some weird stereo, I heard Nico’s voice on the entry phone.
>I look for Declan Summers.
:And who are you?
>I am Nico.
Rose looked at me, eyebrows raised. I nodded, trying to send a text at the same time. Shit.
:He’s here, I’ll buzz you in.
I rushed to Rose’s front door.
‘Nico, I’m so sorry, I lost track of time.’
>Ha, is no worry, I just get here. My car is on lines, you are ready?
‘No, I haven’t got my kit together. Can you give me a minute?’
>OK, but hurry. What is traffic wardens like here?
‘No idea. Do you know, Rose?’
She had, predictably, had come out for a nose.
‘Great, can you tell Nico while I go and grab my stuff?’
I dashed up the stairs, leaving her to it. A short while later I was back downstairs. Rose was saying something I didn’t catch to Nico, but stopped when I appeared.
:Alright love, enjoy the gym. Trying somewhere different are you?
‘Yeah, Nico’s sorted something.’
I edged towards the door, knowing that Rose could be difficult to escape from.
>Hey, Rose, you come too!
Nico flashed a cheeky smile at her.
:Oh get on with you. You’d have a shock if I said yes, now wouldn’t you. Have a nice time. Maybe, if you give me a bit of warning, I’ll drag out my Lycra when you go again. Then you’ll be sorry.
>Ha! I hope you do this, I enjoy. OK Declan, let’s see if I get a parking ticket.
In the car:
>Rose, she is nice lady. She talk weird, I don’t understand all.
‘She’s great. And very Welsh.’
>Huh. I think she tell me she worry about you.
‘Yeah, well Rose is a professional worrier stroke interferer.’
>Ha! You talk weird too. Rose, she say, I think, you owe money?
>She just talk. She –’
‘Fucking hell, Nico, that’s out of order!’.
I was instantly furious. Who the hell did she think she was? She hardly knew me, and she had only just met Nico. He could have been anyone. I had enough people knowing enough of my business, without Rose spreading the good news where she felt like it. She’d gone too far.
>I don’t think she mean to make you angry. She try to help.
‘That’s not the point. It’s up to me to tell people about my stuff, not her, and not when I’m not even there. Shit, sorry, that’s just made me so mad.’
>Huh. I see this. Forget I say. I forget too. OK?
Rose wasn’t getting off that lightly. I seethed in the passenger seat, unable to make any conversation or really reply to Nico’s attempts to chat.
When we reached the gym, Nico handled the receptionist with charm and an easy smile, booking us in for an immediate introductory session with a trainer who had been recommended to him. We found the changing rooms and got into our gear.
>What is this?
Nico was pointing at my shoulder. I looked down. There was an oval bruise about the size of a thumbprint, black with purple and yellow tinges, just above my collar bone. Luke’s friendly warning had obviously yielded results. I hadn’t noticed it before.
‘Don’t know. Probably did it when I was drunk.’
Nico looked round my shoulder to my back.
>There is more here.
I felt his finger touch four points in a row on my shoulder blade.
‘Don’t know what to tell you. I was pretty out of it.’
>Huh. You must be careful. And sober.
I don’t know why I didn’t tell him about Luke. Maybe I was embarrassed at the way I had capitulated, maybe I felt that Nico had already found out enough shaming information about me for tonight.
We went to meet Becky, who was going to set us up with a programme for our session. She was very friendly, easily charmed by Nico, did not seem to recognise me, was perfectly pleasant and professional, and we had a great hour or so. I managed to dissipate some of my anger towards Rose with the exertion I put into the exercise. I was going to confront her when I got back, but now I might be able to do it without losing my temper.
Nico and I made arrangements for more sessions; he seemed pretty pleased with the set up at the gym, and would continue to use it for extra training when he felt he needed it. I would go there on days when I wasn’t training at the club. I paid the fee, wincing at the cost and how much it would set back my plans to repay everyone, then Nico took me home. Quiet journey. I was pondering how to talk to Rose. Nico tried a few times to start a conversation, but gave up.
At my door:
>Be nice to her.
>You will be cross with Rose, yes?
>She is nice lady who care about you. Do not mess up.
Good advice, and having had a cathartic training session, advice I would try to take.
‘Thanks Nico. And thanks for the gym.’
>You are welcome. Next time I go, I call you.
And so, on to Rose. I half expected her to open her front door when I came into the lobby, but she didn’t. Maybe she guessed what was coming, maybe she genuinely didn’t listen out for the comings and goings through the outer door, or maybe, and more likely, she hadn’t heard me come in. I knocked on her front door.
:Hello, love. Didn’t expect to see you again today.
‘No. Er, Rose, I need to talk to you about something.’
She frowned slightly.
:OK love, come in. Shall I put the kettle on?
‘No, it’s OK, thanks.’
We sat at the kitchen table. I didn’t take my hoody off. I fiddled with my fingers nervously. Nico’s words stayed with me. Rose had been great. She had cleaned up my vomit. She had listened to my troubles. She had taken a lot of shit from me. But she had overstepped the mark. I had come to rely on Rose an awful lot over the past week, but I hardly knew her. I was unsure of the right way to approach this; I needed to say it, but without upsetting her. Never been very good at this sort of thing. Rose waited.
‘OK, er, it’s just this. Nico said you told him about me owing money. I wish you hadn’t.’
:Oh love, I’m sorry. It’s just he asked how you were doing, and I’d been worrying about it, and it just came out.
‘Rose, I can’t have you blurting my stuff out to people. There are things about all this that the club don’t want going public. You never met Nico before, you don’t know what he might do, or who he might tell.’
:No, but you talked about him, and he seems a very nice young man.
‘Nico’s great, he’s solid, but he’s a smooth talker and people tell him stuff. That’s beside the point. I’m just asking you to please not talk about my business with anyone else, unless you’ve checked with me. You know a lot about me, stuff that other people don’t know. I can’t talk to you if I can’t trust you.’
Rose looked sad, but not inconsolable. I seemed to have hit the right note.
:OK love, I’m sorry, I’m a big blabbermouth. I hear what you’re saying.
‘Thanks. Just needed to say it. I really appreciate everything you’ve done, you know with helping me out, cleaning me up. I’d hate to offend you.’
:No love, you’re right, it’s your business. I’ll keep my nose out in future.
I searched her face for signs of indignation, but she seemed to have taken it very well.
‘Thanks, Rose. You’re great.’
:Hmph well don’t know about that. Cup of tea now?
‘No, best get home. Thanks anyway.’
The rest of the evening I spent in front of the small television, eating a ready meal and watching nothing on TV. I tried not to think about tomorrow’s training session and what it might bring, but it was at the back of my mind the whole time, and I couldn’t concentrate on anything. In the end, I went to bed early.
Couldn’t sleep, my mind was full up with conversations, confrontations and speculations. The day’s events replayed themselves over and over, as I tried to make sense of my past, present and future. I must have dozed throughout the night, but when my phone bleeped to wake me up, I felt as if I hadn’t slept at all.
I should tell you about Nico – as I said before, Nico Tiago was a huge hero of mine for a long time, and is one of the all-time huge influences in my rugby career. I feel incredibly lucky, because not many people can say they’ve not only played on the same pitch as their childhood idol, but also had Sunday lunches with him and been on holiday with him. If I’m honest, I still have a lot of man-love for Nico, even if his son is taking advantage of my cousin. In a nice way, of course.
But back then, when I was little, well although my dad is one of rugby’s biggest names, I was only into football, for the longest time. Mum wouldn’t let me go to rugby games, because she thought it was too violent, so I didn’t really know what my dad did for a living – and he retired when I was two, so I don’t remember him playing at all. So apart from being somewhere Dad went to work, rugby wasn’t something I was aware of, but I loved football, and I loved Arsenal above all else, and if you’d asked me before I was six who my hero was, I would have said Theo Walcott.
I knew Nico as one of Dad’s friends, and it wasn’t until Dad and Dec took me to see Raiders as an after-Christmas treat that I caught the rugby bug, and got all starry-eyed about Raiders’ best player, Nico Tiago, who scored two tries that game, and pretty much every game I ever saw him play after that.
Nico looked out for Dec in that difficult time when Dec and Dad didn’t speak, and as a result he and Lis got hoovered up in the grand ‘Dec’s part of this family’ thing that went on later, so he was around loads more, and I loved it. It was almost as if Theo Walcott had announced he was going to be my uncle, with weekly visiting rights. I hung on every word Nico said, copied his accent, his bad English, tried to walk like him, the whole package. We’re still great mates, although living on opposite sides of the world can lend a bit of perspective to man-love, as can being married yourself, and knowing that his son is doing your cousin. Ha ha, only kidding, Basty. A bit.
So it took a long time to get to the bottom of it, what had happened. I’m not going to say days, or weeks, or months, because time didn’t seem to have any meaning in there. I couldn’t count the days because I couldn’t see a window to tell day from night, and if I asked them what day it was and they said Wednesday, well first I’d forget which day it had been yesterday, or last time I’d asked, and then I’d forget which Wednesday it was. So, yeah, a long time. But I got there, in the end. Here it is, if you’re interested.
I nearly died. Oh, I already said that. Sorry. I got ill again at home, but this time I didn’t call Mum. I can’t remember why, maybe it happened quickly or something, I just can’t remember. So anyway, Mum started to worry when she hadn’t heard from me for a couple of days, and some kind of motherly sixth sense kicked in and she tried phoning me, even phoning my mobile, which she never does. But to no avail, so she hopped on a bus, and used her newly acquired spare key to get in, and there I am all unconscious on the bathroom floor, the contents of the bathroom cabinet scattered around me, various bodily fluids having left me at some point, looking a bit the worse for wear – oh alright, Mum thought I’d already had it, I was barely breathing, pale as death, cold to the touch. Fuck knows how long I’d been there. She called an ambulance and they whisked me off here, pumped me full of medical shit and stuck me in intensive care, where it transpired I had pneumonia.
The doctors told her I was lucky she’d found me when she did, maybe a few more hours would have been too late. Even pumped full of medical shit and hooked up to enough electrical kit to power a small village, I wasn’t out of the woods, and I’d hovered there, would I make it or wouldn’t I, for a week or so. And then I’d woken up and put everyone’s mind at rest. But seeing the circles under Mum’s eyes, that hurt me, that I’d done that to her.
I dragged myself out of bed and into the shower. Needed to be fresh. Didn’t feel anything approaching fresh. Packed my Raiders training kit in a bag. It would be the first time I had worn it since the day I was suspended. It had been thoroughly Rosed, and there were no remnants of my alcoholic excesses. Still felt weird looking at it, as if it was a costume from another time. My boots were another matter. The leather had soaked up various liquids, and looked much the worse for wear, and the actual studs had been worn down – I must have walked home in them or something. They stank. I would have to get some more pretty soon, and I wrapped them in a plastic bag so they didn’t stink up my kit as well.
With a feeling in the pit of my stomach similar to starting the first day of term, I set off for the club. The buses were full with early morning workers, but nobody looked twice at me, and I felt happily anonymous. It was drizzling when I got off the bus, so I got pretty wet on the walk along the bypass.
I made my way through the players’ entrance to the changing rooms. There were already quite a few people in there; I could hear the chatter from down the corridor and my heart pounded as I approached the door.