Retro Read: Ten in the Bin
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Heartbroken, Dean Cartwright leaves Sydney and heads home, to the coastal town of Newcastle. In a bid to make new friends, he signs up for a local rugby league team where he meets a man known as Macca.
Dean and Macca are both front row forwards, meaning they’re the biggest guys on the team. Over six feet tall and over a hundred kilos each, they’re a force to be reckoned with.
But when Dean gets knocked out, Macca gets even by punching the other guy, and both Dean and Macca end up on the sideline.
Dean soon realizes that being knocked unconscious is the best thing to ever happen to him.
I sat on the bench seat in the dressing room, and oblivious to the noise around me, caught sight of myself in the mirror. My short black hair was a spiky mess, and my dark brown eyes seemed a little dull. I was pretty fit for a big guy and my protective gear, strapped tight to my chest and shoulders, flaunted the fact I’d had nothing but time to work out since I left Sydney.
I’d moved back to Newcastle six months ago. I’d grown up in the coastal town on the New South Wales mid-coast, went to school there, but moved to Sydney for uni and stayed there for work.
Three years out of university, I found myself alone and heartbroken, so I applied for a transfer and came home. My mum was happy about it, even though she knew I wasn’t, and she suggested I play football again to meet some new friends. I hadn’t played rugby league in years, but I needed to get out there, she’d said.
Which is why, on a wintery Saturday afternoon, I was pulling on a football jersey for Central Newcastle. It was only second division reserve grade, so it was more about having fun with the boys than it was about serious football. Don’t get me wrong. We played to win, but we had some fun too.
I looked up at the sound of my name being called to find Moose, the team captain smiling at me. At his side was Macca, a front-rower like me, and he grinned. “You ready?”
“Sorry. I was a million miles away,” I told them. I stood up, put my mouthguard in and gave them both a plastic smile. “Let’s do this.”