I went to primary school with a kid, lets call him Donald Dunkins*, who was the Bart Simpson of my peer group. The one child that Dad was reluctant to allow at my twelfth birthday party because he was scared that Donald would set fire to the shower or add heroin to the hundreds & thousands sandwiches or put aluminum foil in the microwave or something.
One time Donald boasted that when he went to the rugby trials that weekend, he was going to put rocks in his pockets so that he got to play against the bigger, rougher boys. Once again, my juvenile brain misunderstood the context and believed that the stones in his pockets would hurt the kids trying to tackle him, making him look more like John Kirwin and therefore putting him into a team with the tougher boys in the years above us. What I missed was that the coaches split the young kids by weight rather than age so that the early testosterone gorilla boys don’t end up mugging the Niles Crane look-alikes every Saturday.
I played soccer at first but with the country on a high from the first Rugby World Cup and the All Black devotion that you just can’t escape in En Zed I had decided to give rugby a try that year. However, the prospect of cracking my jaw while trying to tackle an opponent who was trying to pull a geological Ben Johnson was all a bit too risky for me and so I returned to the safe fields of Eastbourne F.C.
Next time on “Things I did as a kid” I’ll talk about the ill-fated season I swapped cricket for softball.
*Possibly not his real name