Florid is that the term? Florid, a faceful of florid? Is florid derived from fluorine, the ninth element in the periodic table?
His face was florid, with the ravages of drink and inactivity. Once a rugby player of grand repute, a referee later of less repute, his past playing days were his glory. Don’t we all hark back to the glory days?
Sam was the delegate for the site union, staunch to the boot straps, canny as a shit-house rat, quick witted, and well liked. Liked because he got stuff done as a worker and as site delegate. He had an answer for everything and where he lacked an answer he cut an angle, crafted a compromise.
And so it was in his life outside work.
As a referee for A grade rugby he wanted to contribute to the games vitality. Tough job for a ref, one would surmise. Maybe nice floral uniforms to attract the ladies? No, no, not for Sam, he always played to his strengths and the the games. Biffo, that element of controlled aggression loosening up the testosterone of the foetid change rooms was
really the unstated rationale for at least the first ten minutes of any game. It was the crowd pleaser, and if the flaking scoreboard delivered no controversy at games end, then the Biffo at the matches commencement would at least keep drinks circulating at the bar that evening. Sam knew cannily that Biffo was the games strength. It was a way to keep the crowd engaged and start the juices flowing. The crowd needed a reason to turn up in the blustery cold wind and passing showers. From his own distant playing days he knew the players fed off of the energy of the shouts of the crowd. Their vitality energised them into getting in an having a go.
Sam watched the crowd as the ball was kicked off. A flurry of players chased the jagged run of the ball, first this way, then to towards the opposing goal. A solid carry ten yards forward, only to be met with bone crunching defence by the opposition. The game ebbed back and forth, teams almost equally strong, a contest of grit.
Sam looked about. He sensed interest was waning in the small knot of spectators. Huddled under black umbrellas there was too much side talk for his liking. He sensed much of it was not about the game. Here were rugby devotees being muddied and bruised on the field without the acknowledgment which was their due. Some spectators weren’t much keeping their eye on the ball at all.
“Well” he thought to himself, “We can do better than this.” Eying the rusting fence around the field he could see Ipswich supporters were at the south end and Moreton Bay were grouped at the northern end, both groups identified with myriad beanies and scarves in club colours.
As the play moved into the southern end of the park on the spectator side of the paddock he manufactured a penalty for the Moreton Bay team . He blew hard and stood defiantly pointing to a spot right under the noses of the Ipswich supporters. Those who were looking on shouted their abuse at him, followed by those whose attention had also been roused.
“Where’s ya glasses ya mug!” He heard.
He waved play on and the penalty was taken whilst the Ipswich supporters seethed.
The ball bounced far into Moreton Bay territory though staying on the spectator side of the paddock. He raced down aligned with the players, and seeing some cheers but not much enthusiasm in the Moreton Bay supporters he immediately spied the most minor of technical infringements at the Moreton Bay supporters end of the field.
“How many teams we got to play against here, you fucking mug umpire. How much they fuckin’ paying ya anyway, you were never any good as a player and you’re a shit umpire!!” and so it went.
Sam looked sternly into the crowd, a beauteous look of indifference and success twinkling in his eyes.
He smirked to himself having done the same thing at the other end of the field.
He was fair whenever I dealt with him as a union delegate.
This I learnt from him.
In the end it’s all about the game.