Bend it like Bonehead


Photos: Guilherme Sperotto

Throughout the year at my school, the teachers take on the student-prefects in various sports. At stake are what we call “Free-Dress Days,” meaning no uniforms for students if the prefects win, jeans and T-shirts for the teachers if they win.

Over the years, I’ve mostly shied away from playing in these games due to my medical condition: I’m allergic to humiliation.

I leave it to the fleeter of foot and thicker of skin to carry the side for the teachers, while I, meanwhile, do what I’m good at: taking photos and generally lurking.

But a series of events took place last week that compelled me to join my colleagues in a game of soccer against the much more able-bodied students.

It started with a speech that morning by one of our prefects. Her theme was “The Best Things in Life Aren’t Things.” She concluded by announcing that she would be hanging a poster on which she encouraged students and teachers to write the best non-things in their lives.

Later, as I passed the poster, I saw the usual non-things: love, friendship, music, money. (There’s always a wise guy.) What could I add? I wondered.

I thought about missed opportunities, those things we avoid or put off because of fear, laziness, or lack of self-confidence. The best thing in life is having no regrets. So that’s what I wrote: “NO REGRETS.”

At the end of the afternoon, I ran across another of the prefects heading to the soccer field. “You playing, sir?” he asked.

“Nahhh. I’ll just take pictures.”

“You should play, sir. I’ll take pictures,” he said.

As I walked away, I thought, why shouldn’t I play? I’m in reasonable shape, if by “reasonable” you mean “upright.” Did I really want to look back on these times and think, “Why didn’t I play soccer when I could?” NO REGRETS!

So I drove home, changed, drove back  and bounded onto the field. Actually, I sheepishly skulked onto the field, but in my heart I was bounding.

The thing is, I’ve always secretly cheered for the students to win these contests. Morale-wise, they need the free-dress day more than the teachers. So it’s always somewhat bothered me that the teachers take these games so seriously. They really want to win. I’ve also joked that maybe I should play to ensure the prefects do win har-har!

But once I got on the field, I was okay. Winded, but okay. This was fun, and I started to get into it. I wanted to win balls. I wanted to push those prefects out of the way. I wanted to send the ball sailing across the field. I did none of those things, but the important thing is I wanted to!

Mostly, though, I wanted the teachers to win!

I went on for my second shift early in the second half, with the teachers leading 1-0. We could almost taste those jeans and T-shirts, which is a weird thing to taste.

Maybe it was because I wasn’t quite sure what position I was playing (midback? halfback? paddywack?) but I felt less comfortable on the field. Next thing I knew, I found myself dancing around near the defence, with the prefects charging our net. I ran to intervene. A prefect launched the ball. It was going in! The keeper dove. He wasn’t going to make it. I’m almost positive he wasn’t going to make it. I lunged. I stuck a foot out. I deflected the ball. It went right into my own net.

Two hundred students gasped, then howled, then cheered, while one grown man lay crumpled on the ground in shame.


I was only trying to help.

My first game in seven years and I scored on my own team. On the plus side, it was the first goal I’ve ever scored in my life.

The prefects went on to win 4-2. Thank goodness they didn’t win by 1.

“Nice goal, sir!” “Thank you, sir!”

Well, I always said the prefects should win har-har.

Later on, one of my colleagues tried to console me. “It happens,” she said. “I remember there was a professional player, I think it was a World Cup final or something, and he put the winning goal in his own net.” She paused. “When he went back to his country, they’d killed him.”

OK then.

At the end of the day, I walked back to the big poster in the hallway where I had written “NO REGRETS.” I took one of the markers, crossed out the “NO” and wrote “SOME.” Signed, Mr. Murray.


About rossmurray1

I'm Canadian so I pronounce it "Aboot." No, I don't! I don't know any Canadian who says "aboot." Damnable lies! But I do know this Canadian is all about humour (with a U) and satire. Come by. I don't bite, or as we Canadians say, "beet."
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23 Responses to Bend it like Bonehead

  1. I laughed when I read this. I’ve seen that look on kids’ faces (mine being one of them) when they make a goal. For a brief second, the glowing victorious smile, before it morphs into dismayed embarrassment when they realize it was for the other team. Still, you have to be a little proud that you made a goal! No student wants to see their teachers in jeans, anyway.

  2. Soccer? Isn’t this Canada? Shouldn’t there be a hockey game with lots of squaring off and fights?
    My school does a basketball game as a fundraiser. The crowd can buy a point for a dollar (that’s 10 Loonies at the current exchange rate) and it gets far too competitive. The teachers never win…there’s something about kicking teachers when they’re down that people like.
    I’m glad you got your first goal some people go their entire lives without scoring for the other team.

  3. Ned's Blog says:

    During the women’s Olympic soccer games, I saw a player attempt to head-bump the ball away from her goal but, instead, send it past her own goalie. Rossetta Murray I think her name was. Weird. Anyway, if it’s any consolation, I scored against my own team in basketball once after we switched direction in the second half…

  4. Liz says:

    OH man this is amazing. In high school I played soccer (“played”) and famously was subbing as goalie one game – I went to clear it with a swift kick and instead missed and it went in the goal. I made it worse by falling on the pitch and howling “OH NOOOO!”. My friends have not allowed me to live it down since – we’re talking like 20 years and counting here, probably until old age. So I guess one benefit of embarrassing yourself in adulthood is you have less time for people to make fun of you?? Or something?? Or just the reminder that life is unrelentingly humiliating at all times? Probably that.

  5. I’m pretty sure there’s a boy scout badge for General Lurksmanship. Did you ever get that one?

    I’m with you. I’ll let the more coordinated and athletically-inclined do the work, so I don’t humiliate myself in front of my students.

  6. ksbeth says:

    ouch. and yes, it was a columbian drug cartel lord who had him killed soon after his return. he had a lot of money and that game and it didn’t work out exactly as planned. fingers crossed for you –

  7. List of X says:

    I think that it was your subconsciousness that wanted the students to win scored that goal.

  8. This is totally something I would do, although not by deflection. I’d be confused as to which goal to kick to. The great thing about your humiliation is we readers are entertained. This was post was hilarious. (Feel better now? No? Well I tried…)

  9. jamlouwal says:

    This reminds me a lot of the sketch from Monty Python’s Meaning of Life, where the teachers have a bunch of professional players play against the students in a rugby match. Except instead of violence it’s humiliation.

    If it helps cope, there was a soccer game I played in vs students, and I kicked the ball as hard as I could down the field. I thought it was flying true, but it curved, and to my horror, it pegged a student with crutches on the sideline. Needless to say, I stopped playing and sat in the first aid room with the kid holding an icepack to their head.

  10. pinklightsabre says:

    Where does the name prefect come from I wonder? There’s something askew about it, like the image of you on that field. But I’m happy for you, wasn’t there a New Order song called Regret? It’s a good notion, to consider that as a dimension of nostalgia. The regret channel. God, I love aging.

  11. calahan says:

    The one time I gamble too much money on a game, you get involved. Son of a…!

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