Cuddio Rhestr Erthyglau

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A MEMORABLE FOOTBALL MATCH. [J F ORLANDO LEWIS.] Marshall threw himself into a corner of the first- class compartment we had just entered and puffed his cigar reflectively. "The game we have just witnessed," he at last began, "reminds me vividly of one in which I took part on the same ground some years ago, for not only were the scores identical but the winning goal was obtained from a position very similar to that from which GO Smith netted the second point to-day." I and my friend George Marshall, the once famous Corinthian and International goalkeeper, were returning from the Crystal Palace where we had had the pleasure of seeing our pets annex the Dewar Shield after a hard struggle; cool and clear-headed, Marshall had now gained almost as great a reputation at the bar as he once held between the sticks and was recognised as one of the leading Junior Counsel of the day. He was a big fellow of six foot high and propor- tionately broad, a good shot, a fair cricketer, and above all a highly entertaining companion with a fund of anecdote on every subject, but would grow especially eloquent over the game in which he bad formerly won such well-deserved laurels. Thinking now that a story was at hand I took up the conver- sation. Do you allude to one of the Internationals in which you took part ?" Marshall shook his head; it was one of those matches which, though called friendly, cause quite as much public excitement, and are played with as much eagerness as the stiffest of cup ties; it was a most hotly-contested match and I have every rea- son to believe that by my goalkeeping on that occasion I saved not only my side from defeat but also my life. I laughed somewhat incredulously. "Indeed, did Pa Jackson threaten you with capital punish- ment in the event of your not coming up to expect- ation, or had you made an heroic resolve to commit suicide if defeated ? Come, old ohap, that's too ridiculous." You do not believe me," said Marshall well, I will give you particulars." It is many years ago now," he began, lighting a fresh cigar, and we were to play Preston North End, then in the height of their fame. I was spending the Christmas vacation in the country, some hours' journey from town, and had intended to run up on the Friday afternoon, but losing the train, my only recourse was to give orders to be called in time to catch the 6.30 a.m. train the fol- lowing morning, which would take me up just in time for the match. The morning was pitch dark, and a little rain was falling as I started to walk the three miles of desolate country that lay between me and the station, and I had barely gone 300 yards, when a gust of wind extinguished the little lantern I carried. I am not a saint, as you know, and I fear my language was hardly parliamentary, as I remembered leaving my matches in the hall, and realised the bitter fact that not only my lan- tern, but, alas, my pipe would have to remain un- lit the whole way. I had not the time to return, so pushed forward at a good pace and had proceeded some half-mile, when I heard footsteps advancing rapidly in my rear and I slackened down my pace in the hope of obtaining a light. Turning round a minute later I could just see the form of a man close behind me, he was short and thick-set, and his face was almost concealed by a peaked cap and muffler. I am glad to find you I said, for my lantern has gone out and as I have not a match I cannot light my pipe." The little man ran forward, "You are Mr Marshall the Corinthian goalkeeper he said with a strange eagerness, placing his hand on my arm, are you not ?" My name is Marshall and I have the honour of playing for the club you mention," I replied, but you have the advantage of me." Ah, I have watched your career for some time with great interest, and I believe you are now on your way to town to play Preston." "You seem very well acquainted with my movements I said, perhaps you are going up to see the match." Er, no" said the little man, "but its of the greatest importance to me that you should win to-day. I do not mind saymg that I have bet largely on the result, and if you lose or draw I am a ruined man. I rely on you to win the match for me." I shall do the best. I can for my side I said coldly; but you and your betting trans- actions are a matter of perfect indifference to me, indeed I should not be sorry if you had a lesson and lost your money." At my words he grew furious. What ?" he almost shrieked, You dare speak so to me, to me who, who I'll trouble you to take your band off my arm I said quietly, for in his excitement he had clutched my arm like a vice. I do not want to hurt you, so listen to me." You have made a bad bet, a man who follows the game as you seem to do must know that our chances of escaping defeat are very slight. Have you not read the papers ?" You are to win" he hissed and I started as I heard the click of a revolver I'm done for if you don't. I don't care how you do it, bribe the Preston men if you like, its worth your while, for if you don't win to-day, sure as we're standing here I'll have your life, I'll hunt you down after the match and kill you, so help me God I will. Remember, I'm not a man to be trifled with, and what I have done once I can do again." With these words he turned and sped away into the darkness, and before I could collect my thoughts ths sound of his footsteps bad died away. I felt very uncomfortable as I continued my way to the station, and was only aroused from my unpleasant reverie by the sound of the train. It was now beginning to get light, and my fears fled with the darkness, and before I reached town I was laughing at my former fears and what I put down to the half drunken ravings of some mid- night son," returning home after a night's outing. I arrived in good time and took the field in the best of spirits. A huge crowd had assembled and I received a great ovation on taking up my position between the posts. A second later an official ran up to me with a telegram, which I hastily opened. Inside was written, Remember what depends on the result." My heart beat fast as I tore the paper into fragments and intimated that there was no answer. I stood as one stupified. The man then, was no craving drunkard who had stumbled on me casually, but a clear-headed villain who had deliberately tracked me town, and would doubtless make me pay the penalty of defeat with my life, I would at any rate do my best to win. The first shot that gave me any trouble was a low cross- shot which I just got down to in time, and cleared with three men on me. A goal-kick fol- lowed shortly after and our forwards rushed the leather down, and I could have screamed for joy on hearing the roar of goal. We crossed over a goal to the good, but the second half witnessed a per- petual bombardment of our goal, and I had to deal with every variety of shot. How I stopped them all I do not know, but I realised at the time I was doing better than usual from the renewed cheering which followed each save. At last I was beaten, a straight drive from the centre forward proved too much for me, and we were again on equal terms. I glanced at my watch which I had placed in the corner of the net, there yet remained five minutes. Up came the ball, I rushed out and banged it away far down the ground, off went the centre-forward amid uproarious cheers, he planted the ball safely in the net. Strong appeals were made for off-side, but like this after- noon they were disregarded, and almost before the ball had reached the centre the whistle blew, and I knew that we had won. I received my friends' praises with complacency and bowed my acknow- ledgments to the cheering crowd, who shouted vociferously as I left the ground. I enjoyed my dinner thoroughly, and later on over my cigar picked up the last edition of an evening paper that had just come out. I ran my eye over the head- lines. "New Year's honours—Football: Preston v. Corinthians; brilliant goalkeeping by Marshall. Capture and suicide of Brown the Wapping mur- derer." The latter paragraph read as follows:— William Brown who murdered his wife last Tues- day and managed to escape the police was run to earth at the Victoria Docks this afternoon when in the act of embarking for America. On seeing the police approaching, he drew a revolver aed deliberately shot himself. A considerable sum of money was found on him, which it has been acertained he had won by betting largely on a football match which took place only this afternoon. He was dressed when taken in a long overcoat, and had partially concealed his fane in a muffler." I turned sick as I recognised in the description the little man I had encountered that morning, and knew that had we lost he would undoubtedly, in his desperation have carried out his threat, and murdered me; some time after though I felt deeply indebted to him." Indeed," I said, why" ? Well" said Marshall, as he selected a cigar and handed on the case to me after my display that afternoon the Association had no hesitation in awarding me my International cap a month later, and I believe that Brown's threat was largely re- sponsible for the good work .they say I did that day."






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