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Story 19: Harley takes the Doodles to a Rugby match

Updated: Nov 30, 2020

Harley just loves rugby. Although he enjoys watching games on the big screen at ‘the house that sells the brown water’ he much prefers actually being there. When the air gets cooler and the evenings stretch longer, he knows it will soon be time for the rugby to start. As he walked home from the beach he noticed, for the first time in a long while, the air felt chilly and it was almost dark. “Perhaps we’ll go to a rugby game soon” he thought.

Next morning he was the first on the beach and as he looked around for the others he noticed a particularly oval shaped pebble right in front of him. It reminded him of a rugby ball, so he picked it up and ran along the beach as if he was about to score the vital try. He pretended the big red Zone B sign, marking the way-off the beach, was the goal so he landed the ‘ball’ right between the two posts. He’d scored the winning try and was named doodle of the match.

Harley was lost in his thoughts when Phoebe tapped him on the shoulder inviting him to doodle dash into the dunes. As they ran between the grasses Harley continued the rugby game in his head pretending to weave through the wing forwards towards the goal. Phoebe wasn't aware she was part of his imaginary game, but she did think Harley had much more energy than usual. They hadn’t been dashing long before the others joined in and soon, in Harley’s mind, they were all in the game.

Doodle dashes don’t last long, they’re generally intense bursts of energy that require plenty of rest afterwards. In between dashes doodles ‘do their own thing’. Lily-Poo and DeDe might find a quiet spot for a chat, and Harley will often have the urge to dig a big hole. Phoebe of course, goes in search of a pile of smelly seaweed to roll in and Dante puts his nose to the ground in search of a long lost ball. Then, once they’ve rested it’s time for another dash and the cycle starts all over again.

When Harley had done enough digging he ran to sit-by Lily-Poo and DeDe. Once he’d made himself comfy by squiggling his hips into the sand, he waited for a lull in their conversation. There aren’t many pauses when DeDe and Lily-Poo are talking so it was difficult to get a chance to speak, but after what seemed ages, he was able to ask, “Do you like rugby?”

Before they answered Dante joined them. Never one for missing out, he quickly asked what they were talking about. “I wondered if Lily-Poo and DeDe had ever been to a rugby match” said Harley.

“A rugby match?” asked Dante, “I’ve never been to a rugby match, what happens at a rugby match?”.

Harley loves answering questions on his favourite subject, so spent the rest of the morning telling them all about the off side rule, what a try was, and how players ‘convert a try’ and score the maximum points. When he finally drew breath Dante asked him. “Why do they have so many rules? When I play with bestest ballie there are no rules other than I must have the ballie all the time and it’s no fun when another doodle takes if from me”.

“Exactly, Dante you now know all you need to know about rugby!” said Harley.

“In that case Harley, I’d like to watch a game of rugby, when can we go?” said Dante

It wasn’t long before Phoebe bounced over and sat down beside them, and pulling a piece of seaweed that was caught in her ear asked what they were talking about.

“Harley’s taking all of us to the rugby one day Phoebe, and we hope you’ll come too” said Lily-Poo.

Unlike Dante, Phoebe did know a little about rugby and knew it involved some of her favourite things, mud, chasing a ball and eating treats at half time. In a heart beat she jumped up and excitedly and squealed ‘Yes please!”

That evening Harley went to the ‘house of brown water’ and while snoozing by the fire he heard the furless two legs saying there was going to be an International rugby game at the weekend. He knew today was Thursday because it was quiz night at the house of brown water, so this meant the game was in two days time. He quickly sent a positive thought to the others, telling them to be ready for rugby on Saturday.

On Saturdays Harley normally has an extra piece of toast, but today he knew there wasn’t time and left home early to catch Billy train to the game. He’d told everyone to get to the stadium early because he was keen to show them around before the game started.

For once Billy Train was on time and it wasn’t long before they were standing in front of the famous “Welcome to the Home of Rugby!” sign. They walked through the gates and started running when they saw the lush grass in front of them. Like everyone after a long journey, they needed to empty their tanks, or as they say in polite doodle circles, ‘leave a calling card’. As they sniffed for that one special spot they noticed a furless two legs running towards them waving both hands and shouting what they thought, were quite rude words.

Taking no notice, they continued to sniff and chose their special spots, and it didn’t take long before they had all ‘started’. As every doodle knows, once you start, you can’t stop, so when the furless two legs was right in front of them they had no choice but to keep going. This time they were absolutely sure they heard rude words, none of which should ever be used, and certainly not when greeting visitors!

Preferring not to stay around and listen to any more, they quickly ran back into the stadium so that Harley could start the tour. First they visited the room where the furless two legs drink far too much brown water, then he showed them the changing rooms where the players put on their team shirts and polish their boots. Dante couldn’t understand why there were two changing rooms, one marked “Home” and the other ‘Away’, but not wanting to ask a silly question kept his thoughts to himself.

After wandering around for a while, they noticed that the stadium was starting to fill up, which meant it was time they found their seats. Harley pulled the tickets out of his pocket and pondered how the ticket might tell them where to sit. Luckily Phoebe is good with letters and numbers so she read the ticket carefully. The letters were UL/Z16/239-243. The UL she thought was probably short for Upper Level and the Z for Zone. She’d always found Z a difficult letter to remember until they’d put up the “Zone signs” at Camber beach, and they’d helped her to remember. It didn’t take long before she had worked out their seats were in the Upper Level, Zone 16 and seat numbers 239-243.

Lily-Poo looked at the seat nearest her which had the number 5 on the back. If this was seat number 5 and hers was number 239 they had a lot of steps to climb! Halfway up Phoebe got distracted when she realised the numbering had gone a little haywire. She noticed the seat numbering changed when she saw some marked E11R. These were much nicer than the others and she wondered why they just couldn’t stop climbing and take these ones.

Eventually they reached the upper level and found their seats in Zone 16. As lovely as they were, they were very high up and the grass was a very long way away. They hadn’t long settled down when the two teams came onto the pitch to a load roar. A little later the band started playing a song and all the furless two legs stood up. The doodles couldn’t see anything except the backs of knees! Thankfully, after two songs everyone sat down and the whistle started the game.

The players looked very small and the game was building up a pace, but they couldn’t really see the ball. The roar of the crowd reverberated around them and a few times it was so loud it quite scared DeDe. She noticed that when one team put the ball down on the grass the noise was even louder and she decided she didn’t like it at all. She was also getting cold from all the sitting about and wondered why she’d agreed to come at all.

All of a sudden the whistle sounded and the players left the grass, excitedly DeDe asked Lily-Poo if it was time to go home. Lily-Poo explained the players had gone indoors for a treat, but would be back for ‘the second half’ soon.

“That’s not the answer I was hoping for” said DeDe

“I want to watch the rest of the game at grass level” Dante said to Harley, “With my little legs I can’t see much from up here. Do you think we can weave our way through legs to the pitch?”

Always cautious of Dante’s ideas, Harley would have preferred to stay put, but wanting to make sure Dante had a happy time, he agreed they’d move to the grass for the second half of the game.

The run down to the grass didn’t take half as long as the climb up, and soon Dante was thrilled to be on the grass waiting for the game to re-start. He knew he would be so much more involved now he could see the ball. The others agreed they had a much better view, and it wasn’t long before the players were back on the pitch and the game started again.

They couldn’t believe how much better it was being on the grass. Dante instantly felt part of the game and it took all Harley’s strength to keep his friend on the touchline. Phoebe was also itching to run onto the pitch and roll in the ever-growing muddy patches and Lily-Poo, not sure which team she should be supporting, decided to cheer everyone. DeDe still wasn’t smitten, she’d never liked roughty-toughty behaviour and couldn’t understand why everyone was so excited.

There are times when the excitement of a rugby game can transport you to a place where nothing else matters. It was one such moment that swept Dante up into the air and onto the grass. The next thing he knew he was chasing the ball to the sound of thundering boots around him. With amazing luck he grabbed the ball and dashed faster than he’d ever dashed towards the goal. He was so pleased Harley had taught him the rules so he knew he had to drop the ball in between the posts at the far end of the grass. Successfully he did it, Dante had scored a try at the Home of Rugby!

At Camber he is always being told to share his bestest ballie, which he finds hard to do. So why were there so many frowning faces when he’d been good and dropped the ball right between the posts? Can’t they see, he’s happy to share? Aren’t these the rules Harley had taught him?

Suddenly out of the corner of his eye Dante noticed the same furless two legs they’d met earlier running towards him, waving his arms even faster than he’d done before. This time his face was beetroot red and the words he was shouting were the words you should never use, not even when you’ve dropped your favourite ice cream in the sand on a hot day.

Dante knew it wouldn’t be sensible to stand still, so he picked up the ball and ran towards Harley and the others, who stood motionless with their jaws open at the other end of the grass. By the time he reached them there were five furless two legs forming a ring around them. Just as Dante was about to ask Harley what he thought of his try, he felt a firm hand grab his collar and he was lifted high off the ground.

Without even a polite ‘please come this way’ all five doodles were marched out of the stadium and left in the car park. As they sat on the hard tarmac recovering from their shock, Dante shrugged his shoulders at Harley as if to say, “I’ve got us into trouble again, haven’t I?”.

Although Harley was upset and he’d miss the end of the game, he knew his friend hadn’t meant to get them into trouble, he was simply doing what doodles do, and that’s chase a ball. Thankfully Harley knew he would have completely forgiven Dante by the time they got home, and by then they might all be laughing about it.

Perhaps, thought Harley, if they ever wanted to play rugby again, they’d stick to playing on the beach at Camber. At least on the beach they can play interrupted, and in future, if they wanted to watch the rugby, they’d go to the ‘house of brown water’ .

© The camberdoodles

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