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That Wednesday

By: Todd Bontoft
Date: 11/12/2000

It was cold but not too cold even so I regretted not calling home for a coat before heading into town. For a change there was an absence of the strong wind and rain that seems to be the norm these days.

A few gathered, then more and by the time the doors opened when I glanced behind the forest of bodies it was impossible to determine how far back went the queue. I doubted that I would get past the counting guards and knew those behind were bound to miss out.

A dolly mixture of senses had built in everyone. Trepidation, anticipation, suspicion and the relief that the moment had finally arrived seemed to be collectively shared from pre-teens to silver haired mariners. As the wait continued and the internal emotions continued to build, an almost out of body experience occurred. What do we look like, its it really as important as it feels, what happens if we lose?

I imagined myself on that balcony beside the team soaking up the cheers of the crowd that had come on many occasions in the past to salute our heroes. I nudged Shaun Cunnington and pointed out the nutter that had shinned up the street sign to get a better view. We waved, he waved back and swung his scarf with his free hand. And then Shaun was gone, and only silence. Alone on the balcony, I surveyed an empty town hall square, a dirty discarded scarf half in the gutter. Was I ever to crane my neck up towards that balcony again?

The guard muttered one hundred and something as I entered the town hall, while behind me continued the surreal mixture of idle chat mixed with the occasional whoops and mild cheers as a passing vehicle beeped its supportive horn, and the stream of bemused late-night Christmas shoppers continued to walk-on by. I climbed the historic steps to the banqueting hall in silence like those around me, aware that many held today's politicians in far lower regard than our predecessors could ever have held their worst political foes.

Four hours later and three hours longer than necessary to fully explore the issue the council voted by 18 votes to nine in favour of the stadium. By this time I had long rescinded my wish that I had brought a coat and had endured, with everyone else, the stiflingly warm and boring evening.

The article continues in Part Two

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