FBFT Sports Writing Competition 2011 Winning Entries
FreeBetsFreeTips.com is pleased to announce the winners of our inaugural Sports Writing Competition which closed on the final day of the Premier League football season, 22 May 2011.
In third place, being awarded the prize of £20, is Brian Donnelly with his entry ‘Heat’.
Coming in second, winning a £30 prize, is Jillian Dingwall with ‘Why I Heart the Dart’.
And finally (sound the fanfare…), our selection for the winner of the FBFT Sports Writing Competition 2011 is Richard Woodward with his entry ‘Blood Money: A Supporter’s Paradox’. The cheque for £50 is in the post to you now, Richard.
Read the winning entries below, and keep an eye out for our next writing competition for your chance to get the creative juices flowing and perhaps win a few quid too.
Harry sat alone and desolate. He brooded over on the agony of supporting Bovenbury City. “You can change your job, get divorced, move house, even change nationality,” he thought “but you can’t change the team you support. It’s an incurable disease; it’s with you for life.”
He cast his mind back to the events of the last couple of hours. A whole series of incidents that he couldn’t get out of his mind: the penalty that wasn’t given, the chances that were thrown away, the shot that hit the post and the brilliant save by the goalkeeper. It was always the same; they never seemed to get “rub of the green”
or “the run of the ball” or whatever cliché he chose to use.
He looked around, the ground was nearly empty now, just a few forlorn souls staring into the abyss. He noticed that a group of stalwarts a couple of rows behind him had tears rolling down their cheeks. The pain of relegation was taking its toll.
He couldn’t stand it anymore. He stood up, walked along the row, down the steps and into the supporters’ lounge. What he saw infuriated him. Groups of so-called supporters were chatting, laughing and drinking as though they didn’t have a care in the world. Didn’t it matter to them that they had just witnessed their team being relegated.
He left the lounge in disgust and headed for the exit. He’d had enough. When he reached his car, his chauffer held open the door to the rear seat and saluted as Harry climbed in and sat down. The chauffeur didn’t speak, he decided that the less said the better. Harry didn’t take defeat well despite the amount of practice he’d had.
As the Mercedes purred its way to the heliport where a helicopter was waiting to fly him to his villa on the Côte d’Azur, Harry pondered on the irony. His team’s abysmal record had made him a rich man. He’d recognised that it was always the key games that they lost or the ones that they were expected to win after hopes had been raised by rare and unexpected victories. As a result, he’d started betting against them in the belief that his winnings would act as a palliative against the pain of defeat. It hadn’t worked, winning a few pounds didn’t compensate for the misery of losing.
As a result, the size of the bets had escalated over the years and what had been intended as a small treat had turned into a small fortune. Not enough to buy his club but sufficient to enjoy a few luxuries.
The following day Harry as sat on his veranda and looked out over the Mediterranean, he could hear shrieks and laughter coming from the swimming pool where his children were playing with the friends they’d invited down for the weekend. His wife was chatting to neighbours she’d asked round for lunch and there was a smell of
barbequed steak expertly prepared by the chef who had been hired for the day. Harry should have been feeling contented and relaxed but the luxurious surroundings and the comfortable lifestyle meant little to him. As far as he was concerned, nothing could compensate for the loss of three points on a Saturday afternoon.
When people ask me what kind of things I’m into, I generally say, “What do you mean? Like midget porn or auto-erotic asphyxiation?” Usually, and disappointingly, they reply, “No, I mean like photography or amateur dramatics”. After the awkward silence I will reel off a list of the things I like. Firmly at the top of this list is darts, the mention of which usually results in a reaction of greater disgust that when I mention the dwarf sex. Why do people have such a problem with darts? It is the most beautiful sport in the world!
The main reason for my love of darts is that, in my opinion, I feel it is the last of the working man’s sports. Even I remember back in the 80’s when footballers drank at my dad’s local and were just regular guys, the majority of which had day-jobs. They were young, normal boys who were a bit better at football than everyone else and as a result got to play it a bit more than everyone else. Above all, and much more importantly, a lot of them had handle-bar moustaches and a minor drinking problem. They were all the things that men are supposed to be: untidy, hairy and a bit stinky. Look at them now, they make me physically sick. They use fake tan, they wax their chests, they advertise things, their wives are clinically retarded and their wardrobe is more important to them than consensual sex. They earn far too much money for what they do and, sadly, kids can’t get enough of them.
Darts on the other hand is not ashamed to admit that it is not perfect. Darts doesn’t give a shit. It eats pies, drinks beer, swears and scratches its balls whilst simultaneously farting. Now I agree that this is an equally unhealthy role model for young children but it is by far the more fun of the two. At least you will develop some sort of banter that will ensure you are an enjoyable person to be around. Dying of a heart attack at 35 is surely a small price to pay for this? Anyway, have you seen the young Dutch guys in the PDC nowadays? They are extremely fit and rarely drink. In fact, most darts players are professional sportsmen and it’s about time they were treated that way. It is a high pressure sport that few can master and yet they are still viewed as the outcasts of sporting society.
I have been to many a televised darts event and can safely say that they have been the most enjoyable nights I’ve ever had. I usually begin the evening with a pint and a pie (something I would never do in my everyday life so it is a pretty special moment for me). I will then sit down at my table, half of which will be full of people I don’t know but am soon to become best friends with, and begin my quest to think of a catchy line to put on my card that might get me on TV. The rest of the night will be spent drinking, laughing, screaming, getting autographs and trying to sneak into the Players’ Lounge. The vast majority of the players are approachable, normal guys and no one in the room cares what you look like or where you are from. There are often arguments but rarely fights and there is always drama between the players. What else could you possibly want from an evening?
I think when it comes down to it, all the things that dart haters dislike about the sport are the very things that make me love it: It’s fun and unpretentious. ‘Fun’, for those of you who have forgotten, was something that people had before the Food Standards Agency and Health & Safety Executive took it away from us and replaced it with that guilty feeling you get after a day-time wank. Screw them I say! Find your nearest darts team and go and bloody enjoy yourself. In the words of a poncey, public-school pansy that I was once forced to speak to: “Darts is nothing but 2D, trash TV”… and long may it continue my friends, long may it continue.
It comes down to this then. The International Classic in the Arizona desert, the last tournament of the year, the big one. He got in on an invitation, a sponsor’s generosity, though in truth just to make up the numbers really, him and a few other losers.
God it was hot he thought, for about the 200th time that day. It must be nearly 40 degrees in the shade, if you could find any shade! The parched ground seem to crackle underfoot on the untreated walkways between the greens and tees and in the distance everything shimmered and swayed and then disappeared in that hazy way that extreme temperature seems to cause. The heat was unrelenting and in more ways than one, under the unforgiving desert sun.
He was broke, another year of dashed dreams and painful realities drawing to a bitter unfulfilled end. He could play, of that there was no doubt, but he never seemed to get a break. But the truth was they all could play and a lot of them at least as well, if not better, than him. He had tried hard but got little in return and now he was broke. His sponsor told him this was the last time he could dig deep to cover the expenses and he knew it was now or never. And never was unbearable, never was unthinkable, never meant a life of drudgery at some Municipal Course or Range in “Hicksville” somewhere teaching, no, trying to teach uncoordinated dipsticks how to play the game.
And yet he never seemed to get a break … until now. The heat was on. He stood on the 18th tee in the final round of the richest event of the year with just $231.42 in his bank account but for once, hallelujah, he was in contention. He had to make birdie
here and then hope and maybe even pray.
His shirt was stuck to him and he knew the sweat stains showed under his arms and down his back. He should have worn a lighter shade but he didn’t have one so he sweated and it showed. He was sure Tiger and Lee sweated up just like him but it never showed on them, funny that.
He looked at his caddy, a local guy he had hired on the first morning. The caddy looked ready to drop. They really should be allowed use carts on days like this but until somebody did drop nothing would happen he supposed. Boy his mind was wandering now, he was tired and thirsty and hot but he had to concentrate now more than ever before or probably again.
He selected his driver and saw the caddy nod his assent, guess he needs the money too, he figured. He squinted down the perfectly manicured and implausibly lush green fairway. In the hazy distance the monstrosity of the Clubhouse shimmered white and unreal in the heat behind the unseen 18th green. Was any of this real or was it all a mirage?
Now or never, he stepped forward. The applause was polite and he heard the murmurs from the gallery, they felt it too, the heat, not as much of course but they sensed it. Who was this upstart and what was he doing here in contention? In a strange way that helped him and the caddy was genuinely surprised to see him smile.
Routine now he thought, routine, stick with it, change nothing. He took two practice swings, same as always, he stepped back and then forward again and checked his stance. Then, mouth as dry as the desert and heart pounding, he swings. The most important swing he had taken since first discovering an old battered bag of clubs in his dad’s garage when he was about eight.
It was a perfect drive, it was long, straight and it split the fairway. Yes, he thought triumphantly, he knew he could play and by God he was going to prove it to all the doubters now. He strode from the tee and felt good. The heat was as intense as ever, but now it felt removed, distant in a peculiar way.
He reached his ball and acknowledged what seemed to be warm applause from the galleries lining the fairway. He exhaled and waited for his playing partner, out of the running and disinterested, to play. He risked a look around, there were people everywhere, swarming over the low mounds that bordered the fairway on both sides, hurrying to get the best positions to catch the climax of the event. He looked ahead again at the Clubhouse, more visible now that he was nearly 280 yards closer; who built that he thought.
The lake that protected the green, and which threatened to swallow him up even yet, was still unseen as the ground rose slightly ahead of him but he actually didn’t care about it now. He felt composed and calm and when his turn to play came, hit a perfect mid-iron to about eight feet below the hole. The galleries around the green erupted and they were shouting for him! Then, almost dreamlike, the rest was easy.
So, so easy, how could it be so easy after all of his struggles. He rolled in the putt, made his score and watched all of the other contenders fall short of his total, several of them visiting the lake he noted with a cruel touch of satisfaction.
The fat six figure cheque secured his playing rights which he went on to exploit to the full. It secured several new sponsorship deals and opened the door to numerous TV pro-celebrity events where, instead of having to teach unknown uncoordinated dipsticks how to play, he got to play with very well known uncoordinated dipsticks and got paid handsomely for doing so.
And the caddy? He blew his 10% on a wild weekend in Vegas but that’s another story!
Heat, what heat!
So, congratulations to all the winners, and keep an eye out for the next Sports Writing Competition which is coming soon on FreeBetsFreeTips.com.