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Authors: Cindy Jefferies

Long Shot

BOOK: Long Shot
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STADIUM SCHOOL

WHERE FOOTBALLING DREAMS COME TRUE

Long Shot

Jefferies & Goffe

Contents

Cover

Title Page

Dedication

Map of Stadium School

1.   A New Start

2.   First Day

3.   Charlton House

4.   Yellow Card

5.   First Match Fever

6.   Hallowe'en Horrors

7.   Back At School

8.   Jimmy's Ordeal

9.   Red Card

10.   Squad Selection

Imprint

To Paul, for getting me into football
in the first place. SG

Map of Stadium School

1. A New Start

Roddy Jones tried to get closer, so he could read the notice board in the hall. But it was impossible. There was such a crush of people. It was going to be odd, not being top dog any more. At his last school, people would have made way for him. He'd had loads of respect there because he was the best footballer they'd ever had. But Stadium School was a boarding school for talented young footballers, all wanting to make it to the top. He'd have to do something very special to stand out now.

“Roddy?”

Someone tapped him on the shoulder and he turned round.

“Geno!” A broad grin spread across his face. “You got in! That's fantastic!”

Geno grinned back. “Yeah. You, too.”

Dark-haired Geno was small and wiry like Roddy, and a great striker. They'd met at the trial in the summer, and hit it off immediately. Roddy had been totally blown away to discover that Geno's dad was the great Luca Perotti, the famous Italian international.

“This is
so
cool,” said Roddy, abandoning his attempt to get to the notice board. “Have you been here long?”

“Quite a while,” said Geno. “I already knew you'd got in because I saw your name on the board.
And,”
he added. “Guess what? We're both in Charlton House!”

“Wow!” said Roddy. “That's great.”

Information about the four houses had been sent in the welcome pack after Roddy had found out he'd won his place at the
school. The houses would all play matches against each other over the course of the year, with the overall winner claiming the House Cup.

Roddy was thrilled to find that they'd be playing in the same team. “We'll annihilate the opposition!” he bragged.

Geno laughed. “Hopefully,” he said. “This is Jimmy Piper,” he added, pointing to the well-built, fair-haired boy standing next to him. “He's in Charlton, too. He plays centre back.”

“Hi,” said Jimmy. “What position do you play?”

“Midfield,” said Roddy, pleased to meet another friendly face in this room full of strangers.

“Jimmy and I are sharing,” Geno told Roddy. “Have you met any of your roommates yet?”

“No one was there when I dumped my stuff,” said Roddy. “So I came straight over here to see what was happening.”

“Not a lot until tea,” said Geno. “And I've already done my unpacking.”

“Yeah. Your mate's really well organised,” laughed Jimmy. “I just left my bag on the bed.”

Roddy smiled. “Me, too,” he admitted. “Hey, we could go back to the boarding house and check out the common room until tea, if you like.”

Both Geno and Jimmy nodded, but someone else had just caught Roddy's eye. “Hang on a minute,” he said, and hurried over to a girl with long, blonde hair, who had just come into the hall with two other girls.

“Hello, Keira,” said Roddy. He was delighted that Keira Sanders had got a place at the school. She was a midfielder, too, and really bubbly and enthusiastic.

“Roddy! It's wonderful to see you,” she said. “I hoped you'd get in.”

“Same here.” Roddy hesitated, unsure how to continue the conversation, after having been so eager to start it. “I'm in Charlton,” he said awkwardly. “How about you?”

“I'm in Charlton, too!” Keira whooped. “How can we lose? Isn't this all…” She gestured around the room full of students. “Just brilliant!”

For a moment they both stood there, overflowing with disbelief and excitement. They exchanged grins, and then Roddy cleared his throat. “Well … er … I suppose I'd better go. I'm with Geno. But I just wanted to say hi. See you at tea maybe?”

“Sure.” Keira flashed him another smile. “I've got to find my room and dump my bags, but I wouldn't miss tea for
anything.”

Roddy, Geno and Jimmy headed outside
and made their way along a path towards the boarding house. They passed a bunch of boys heading a ball to each other in the autumn sunshine.

“What number is your room?” asked Roddy.

“Four,” said Geno.

Roddy stopped in his tracks.
“Four?”

Jimmy gave him an odd look. “What's wrong with that?” he asked.

“Nothing's
wrong
with it,” said Roddy. “Only … that's
my
room as well.”

“Awesome,” said Geno. “Looks like we'll be sharing!”

Roddy laughed. “I can't believe it … I wonder who the fourth person will be?”

“Let's just hope they don't snore,” said Jimmy.

Roddy laughed again. “Do you play table football?” he asked Jimmy, as they arrived at the boarding house.

“Of course,” said Jimmy. “And I bet I could beat you, too.”

“Bet you couldn't,” said Roddy.

“Game on!” said Geno.

There were a few other boys in the common room, and more new people were arriving all the time. The three roommates went over to the table football, but as Jimmy was about to pick up the ball, another boy barged in and grabbed it.

“Oi!” said Jimmy. “We were just going to play.”

“Too late,” said the boy unpleasantly. “I got here first.”

Roddy's heart sank. He was almost certain that the boy was a midfielder called Jack. At the trial, Roddy had overheard someone describe him as a thug. He hoped it wasn't true, but this wasn't a very good start.

“Who were you going to play with?”
he asked.

Jack looked at Roddy. “I'll take
you
on,” he said aggressively.

Jimmy rolled his eyes. “He doesn't even have anyone to
play
with,” he muttered. “What a sad act!”

Jack gave Jimmy a murderous look and Roddy butted in to stop the bad atmosphere turning into a fight.

“I'll play you next, if you like,” he said to Jack. “As soon as Jimmy and I have had our go.”

Jack glared at Roddy, and Roddy shrugged.

“You
then,” Jack said, turning to Geno.

Geno shook his head. “No, thanks,” he said. “I'm just watching.”

Jack shoved the ball into his jeans pocket and started to walk away. “OK, losers,” he sneered. “No one plays.”

Roddy and Jimmy were furious. “Give us the ball back,” they demanded.

“Leave it!” Geno advised. “He's not worth it.”

But Jimmy wasn't listening. He was about to make a grab for Jack, when a member of staff arrived.

“Jack! What are you doing?” It was the boarding-house master, Mr Clutterbuck.

Jack shrugged. “Nothing. Just having a bit of a laugh.”

“We were trying to play table football and he nicked the ball,” protested Jimmy.

Jack looked daggers at Jimmy. “Can't you take a joke?” he sneered.

Mr Clutterbuck looked at each of the boys in turn. “Let's see if you can get on, shall we?” he suggested. He looked at Jack again, who reached reluctantly into his pocket and produced the ball.

“There you go,” he said, and tossed it vaguely in Jimmy's direction. It fell some
distance from Jimmy's outstretched hand, and rolled under the pool table.

Geno retrieved it and put it back.

“Now listen,” said Mr Clutterbuck, giving Jack a hard look. “You're all new to Stadium School, and you're here because you're talented, determined and very competitive on the football field. Don't let that competitive spirit turn into unfriendliness or bullying off the pitch now, please.”

The three friends waited until Jack had wandered over to the TV and switched it on.

“I don't think much of him,” muttered Roddy.

“He was in our team for the trial,” said Jimmy. “I wouldn't want to play against him. He's good, but he tackled really aggressively.”

“Maybe he'll settle down after a day or two,” said Geno. “He's probably just stressed about not knowing anyone.”

“Maybe,” said Roddy doubtfully. “Is he in Charlton with us?”

Geno shook his head. “I don't think so,” he said. “I can't remember seeing his name on our house list.”

Mr Clutterbuck was speaking again, but this time to the whole room. “Don't forget, tea is in the main house at five o'clock,” he said.

“When's our first training session?” asked someone near to Roddy.

“Tomorrow morning,” said Mr Clutterbuck. “And every morning after that, except Sundays.” He smiled as a ragged cheer went up. “There should be calendars on your beds,” he went on. “They have holiday dates and match fixtures inside, so don't lose them. And I've got timetables here. You lot can come and get them now, if you like.”

The boys hurried forward to collect the timetables, and Jack made a point of pushing
in front of Jimmy, who winced.

“That idiot stamped on my foot!” Jimmy told his roommates as soon as Jack was out of the way.

“He did it deliberately,” said Roddy. “I saw him.”

“Don't worry, I'm not scared of Jack,” laughed Jimmy, rubbing his bruised foot.

“If he annoys you again, I'll help you sort him out,” said Roddy. “We can't have him injuring one of our defenders!”

“Thanks, mate,” said Jimmy appreciatively.

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