To clarify – what follows is a work of fiction. I’m sure there’ll be an epic fail of the same proportion with my name on it… In the meantime I’ll be living in dread awaiting it.
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I’m in the line with my mates – Team GB tracksuit on. We’ve just received tickets for the Olympic Beach Volleyball Finals – officially the best spectator sport EVER.
It’s a pretty gloomy day, typical London weather. Just when you take your jacket off the heavens decide to chunder up everything from last night’s Angel’s Anonymous party.
The matches have already been postponed till the afternoon. I give a melodramatic sigh, not for the first time that day.
And that’s when the day takes a turn for the worst.
On the announcement boards above our heads the text rolls across: “Ladies match cancelled – match to commence Monday 9am BST”.
Now I’m not the only one groaning.
“Well… You benders can stay to watch the men’s match if you like, I’m heading home”, said Neville, who was awarded with several reproachful looks from the crowd.
“Probably for the best”, Seamus muttered at his retreating back.
Within half an hour we were positioned at the front of the queue. The roar of the crowd inside is astonishing. Nothing’s going to dampen their spirits!
I made an effort to fix my shoulders back and stopped dragging my feet as I entered into the cacophony of sound.
The stadium is huge!
Tens of thousands of seats rise high above the comparatively tiny court. For those at the top, 20ft monitors showed everything happening on court – currently a squad of athletic looking men stretching their glutes.
Harry sniggers, “look how ‘at home’ the Aussies look compared to our boys”.
He’s got a point. The Aussie’s are rocking the tight yellow outfits with their perfect golden tans and sun glasses (Odd, I think, looking up at the mirky sky). I look down at my own freckled arms in dismay.
Seamus nudges me out of my daydream and I startle. Chuckling he gestures over to the courts as one of ‘our boys’ peals away from his team mates. And it looks for all the world like he’s looking at me.
I pinch myself as he gets closer, just to make sure… y’know?
He’s got an awkward swagger kind of thing going on, like he’s trying to act confident but it’s clear to see he’s bricking it.
“Oi Weasley! Where on earth have you been. We’ve been quite worried.” (Put on a VERY British accent and you’ve sussed this guy out.)
Harry and Seamus look away trying to hide their grins. “Yeah Weasley!” Harry blurts out.
“Errrmm…” I say, “…it’s Ron?”
“Errrm…” The man retorts. “I know? Come on Ron, the match begins not a minute after two!” He’s far stronger than me – obviously, being a professional athlete – and I’m completely at his mercy as he dips down and tips me over his shoulder.
The crowd around me gasp, then cheer as they see the missing member of their team being carried aloft.
When the rest of the team see me they visibly relax, and instead of being put down they help carry me, like a prize back to the briefing room – or at least that’s what I assume it is.
I try to shout to make myself heard but my attempts fall on deaf ears as a chant begins around the stands.
“TEAM GB! WE’VE FOUND OUR SETTER, NOW LET’S SEE WHOSE SQUAD IS BETTER!” A bit lame, I think, also… what’s a “setter”?
The team are pumped. We burst jovially through a set of double doors where the coach is waiting, eyes closed, fists clenched.
He opens them abruptly then scowls directly at me.
“That was a cruel stunt to play on us Weasley!” he shouts. “But you’ve won the crowd already, and their support is going to be the difference!”
Every statement whether angry or congratulatory leaves my ears ringing painfully.
Without a breath he rushes through a game plan. I try to listen, but he might as well have been speaking German. Truth is, I’ve never touched a Volleyball in my life!
I’ve got to find a way to tell them…
“…and Weasley, no more funny stuff from you. You’re the star Setter – you’ll be leading by example. So make our country proud son and give the fans something to shout about!”
I clasp my ears, willing him to stop as the team swarm around me clapping me on the back.
The man who first spotted me give me a wink before seeing the expression on my face. Taking me by the arm again he led me into another room and sat me down.
“Hey, it’s OK Ron. Your first Olympic game is a pretty big deal. Don’t let Coach scare you, he’s just trying to psyche you up!”
“Dude” I start, unable to match his immaculate English, “You got it wrong. I’m the wrong guy, please believe me!”
I’m not ashamed, I start to cry. Wouldn’t you?
He looks confused for a second, then lowers his tone another notch, “Look, the crowd want you out there Ron. When you’re on the big stage it’s no longer about skill. It’s about belief.”
I sniffle embarrassingly and he continues, a distant look on his face.
“You can’t lose hope now. This is so much bigger than you or I! Take this”, he says pressing a small phial into my hand. It’s gold, but when I open the cap the liquid inside is acid green. “For the nerves”.
I swallow the entire phial in one go and my insides set alight instantly. Trying to keep it down I take a deep breath, smelling aniseed.
And you know what? My head starts to clear. The man is still muttering encouragingly to me, but I’m finding myself beginning to believe.
“This is so much bigger than you or I”, echoes in my head as I’m helped into some alarmingly tight shorts. How could I have been so selfish!
“So… umm… remind me. How do the rules differ in Olympic Volleyball?” I mumble as a vest is tugged over my ginger locks.
“Bit late to learn the rules now Ron”, he said, making the other guys chuckle. “Just remember… when we throw you up for the block, pretend that ball is Coach’s face”, the room erupts with laughter and I grin maniacally.
Within ten short minutes the call comes and we line up by the stadium doors. The crowd outside have already started a booming rendition of “Rule Britannia”, although the “Rule” sounds suspiciously like “Ron”.
In the corner of my eye I notice a man being escorted off the premises. His orange hair is the last thing I see as I turn my head to survey the amassed crowd chanting my name. My chest swells with pride.
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“That’s odd” murmured Mr. Weasley as he surveyed the screen.
Unable to make his son’s match he had a live stream loaded up on his work monitor. “Ron’s not even touched the ball yet!”
The score read 7 – 0 Australia. Sticking earphones in, Mr. Weasley turned up the sound to hear the commentators.
“Team GB are strongly on the back foot here. That last point was particularly embarrassing for poor Weasley – doesn’t seem to be his day at all!
Aaaaaand it’s Australia to serve. A quick one-two from our Fred and George then that’s a long ball – mixing things up here – good to see
But heeeere comes the Aussie build up… We’ve seen it TIME. AND. AGAIN… a pass forward, the layoff and the SMASH!
Hang on. We’re going to have to get a slow mo replay of that. I’ve never seen such speed and athleticism.
And there you have it.
Ron Weasley takes a full powered smash, straight to the face and wins Team GB’s first point of the match!
Aaaaaand it’s Team GB to serve, a spring back in their step, despite the crooked jaw of our heroic Setter.
A one-two from George and Fred but George lays it back off… What’s going o– Ohhhh!!!! Good lord I wouldn’t like to be that man right now.
The ball – hit with such ferocity – ignores Ron’s hands and hits him straight in the shnoz, then ricochets over the net to the sand below.
It’s thrown the Australian team completely off guard!
Aaaaand it’s Britain to serve again. Up comes Ron once more, now with three team members hoisting him overhead. I swear that man’s feet haven’t touched the sand in minutes!
No one-two this time, Fred, keen to press the advantage sends a cannon shot straight at the Australian Setter…
Aaaand Ohhhhh!! That’s gotta hurt!
The block is solid, but Ron was already there. Hand back – uselessly behind him – ready to hit the ball as it made crunching contact with his noggin once again.”
As the match continued, a congregation of suited men and women began to form around Mr. Weasley’s monitor, awestruck by the bizarre turn of events.
Glancing around he finally removed his earphones and knocked up the sound to fill the office space.
“The scores stand at 24 a piece – this point is for the gold medal.
Australia to serve.
A couple of quickfire passes and it’s back across the net, but Team GB replies nooooo problem. I can’t even keep up, the ball switches play so fast!
One of the Australians makes an incredible save and they’re back on the front foot, always pushing, playing those offensive, vertical balls down onto the other team.
But we’re holding them back. JUST listen to the crowd!
Oh no… The Australians are winding up for a winner, I’ve never seen them move with such confidence. It’s like a dance.
That’s one faked smash, TWO faked smashes and WHAM – that’s the finisher, straight into space…
But no! Ron’s already there, in the sand, face to the sky, ready to intercept anything.
AND HE’S SCORED!
What a spectacular way to finish a game!
If he wasn’t unconscious before, he sure is now! But that doesn’t matter anymore because Ron Weasley has won it for Team GB!
This has been Lee Jordan commentating live from the Olympic games!”
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So… that’s what happens when you just write. Something very random. 10 points to those who got both of the influences 😉
Until next time!