Authors: Chris Higgins
My name is Dani and I'm the one who's crazy about football.
I'm a bit of a tomboy and sometimes
people even mistake me for a boy! Lissa did on the first day of school, even though she
denies it and says she was only joking.
You're probably wondering what
someone like me is doing at Riverside Academy which is an all-girls' school. I
wonder myself sometimes!
Actually, I won a sports scholarship here
and now I love it. That's because I get to play netball and hockey. And I'm
captain of the hockey team! And Mrs Waters, our PE teacher, thinks I'm the
bee's knees! (Do bees have knees?)
But, best of all, I've got three
brilliant friends called Lissa, Ali and Tash. The only trouble is I don't get to
play football any more. Not at school anywayÂ â¦
For all you lovely fans of the Secrets Club series
âGuess what I'm doing
tomorrow,' announces Tash at Friday lunchtime as we sit down at our favourite
picnic bench next to the netball courts.
I slide in next to Lissa, saying,
âBudge up, Fatty.' It's OK, she knows it's a joke.
Lissa's thin as a rake, even though she never stops eating. She's
already scoffed her sandwiches and is now attacking a packet of crisps and eyeing my
chocolate brownie enviously.
âPerforming brain surgery?'
she mumbles, spraying crisp crumbs all over me. âOops, sorry, Dan! D'you
want that cake?'
âGoing to the UN conference on
climate control?' asks Ali, which is what she'd like to be doing. She
and her nerdy mate Austen are on a mission to save the planet. He's at a
from us because Riverside Academy for Girls doesn't take boys. Obviously.
Actually, he's not really nerdy;
he's quite cool. Even though he doesn't like football.
âPlaying in the centre for West
Park Wanderers?' I ask as I smack Lissa's fingers away. âGet off
âWrong!' Tash's eyes
are sparkling. She's so pretty with her big smile and her hair plaited into
hundreds of tiny braids, each with a blue or yellow bead on the end â school
colours. Her mum does it for her.
âMeeting up with you!' she
says, beaming, and Ali shrieks and flings her arms round her. We're all best
mates, but Ali and Tash are super-extra best, if you know what I mean, so Ali was
upset when she thought her bezzie didn't want to spend time with her at
weekends. It turned out that Tash was looking after her mum who's got MS and
her three little brothers and desperately trying to keep the whole family together,
all on her own. Respect.
âNow we've got support at
home I can catch up with you guys for a few hours,' she explains.
âYay! I can feel a shopping fest
coming on!' says Lissa.
âYou've got enough clothes already!' says Ali who recycles
âOK then, coffee and cake,'
concedes Lissa happily. âYou coming, Dani?'
âYou've got to
âI can't. I play football on
Saturdays. You know that.'
âYou don't have
toÂ â¦' says Lissa sulkily.
âYes I do.'
Ali looks perplexed. âBut I
thought you just went out and kicked a ball around with some mates.'
âYou can do that anytime,'
Tash points out. âCome with us.'
âIt's difficult. I
don't want to let people down.'
down!' says Lissa, and everyone goes quiet. Then Ali, who likes to think
things through properly, says, âButÂ â¦Â I don't get it. I mean,
it's not like you play for a team, is it?'
They're all staring at me.
Tash's eyes widen. âYou don't, do you?'
This is the first time anyone has asked
this question. I know why. Until now it's just been
Ali and Lissa
meeting up together on Saturdays. Tash couldn't and I wouldn't. Simple.
Only it's not quite as simple as that any more. Now that Tash is available,
suddenly all the focus is on me.
âOf course I don't.
It's just thatÂ â¦' I hesitate. Maybe now is the time to tell them.
I've been wanting to for ages.
But if I do they'll want to come
and watch me. And then everything could blow up in my face. I can't take the
âIt's just that you eat,
sleep and breathe football and you'd rather do that than hang out with
us,' says Lissa, and because she sounds so sour about it I decide I
don't want to tell her any more.
âPlease, Dani,' pleads Tash.
âIt'll be a laugh, the four of us.'
âIt won't be the same
without you,' Ali points out. âYou're one of the gang.'
âThe Gang of Four,' wheedles
âThe No Secrets Club!' says
Lissa. Then she adds, âUnless you've got a secret, that is.'
âCos if you have, you can't
be in it,' teases Tash.
âThat's rich coming from
you!' I retort. âAnd you!' I add, seeing Ali grinning.
with us then!' persists Lissa. I roll my eyes and she sees it as surrender.
âHurray!' she yells. âWe're all going to hang out together
tomorrow. It's going to be brilliant! Now don't be late, you lot!
Donatella's Coffee Shop at eleven.'
She is sooooo bossy.