CHAPTER: 12345, 6789101112131415161718192021222324252627EPILOGUE

The training is just about to start the next day when the coach strides in to the locker room. He seems excited, Toby notices, but it seems like he’s trying to hide it slightly. The coach smiles at them all as the players start to calm down from their rowdy playful banter and turn to look at him.

“Alright you horrible lot,” the coach says, clapping his hands together. “Pay attention now, pay attention!”

Finally all of the players calm down and fall silent. Some sit on the few benches that are scattered around the small changing room. Toby leans against the wall and watches the coach.

“Now,” the coach says, “We’ve got an interesting opportunity for some of you today. Or at least those of you that are interested in taking advantage of it. The club has recently been approached by a small film production company. They’re after a stunt double or two for a low budget football film. Apparently the actors that they’ve got can’t play football for the life of them. We’ve had this in the works for several weeks now and we finally got the go ahead from both sides recently. So if any of you are interested come and see me after training. Now, everyone get out there and get training!”

He clapped his hands together and strode out of the room. Some of the other coaches start to encourage everyone out of the changing rooms. The hallway and walls echo with the sounds of click clacking studs on the tiles. Toby follows out after everyone, jogging along just behind Scooby. The players all start to run laps around the training field. At first they start off in a long line but as the coaches keep them running and running the line begins to break up and the boys settle in to small groups of two or three. The coaches slow the run down into a light jog.

As he runs, one foot in front of the other over and over again, Toby can’t get the thought of the acting opportunity out of his mind. He can already picture it, playing football in front of the cameras, doing his best and shining out. He would show everyone what he’s made of, what he can do. He might even outshine the actors and get cast to play an actual role. He feels like it’s a sign, when the night before he was watching Vinnie Jones films, one of the most famous footballers turned actors. And now this opportunity comes along.

The thought is running through his brain, over and over, even as the coaches split them up in to pairs and get them started on some stretching. He’s paired with a guy that he doesn’t really know but who also doesn’t seem to stop talking.

“What do you reckon about this acting gig?” Toby eventually asks, “How long do you think they’ve been working on that?”

“Probably months,” the boy says as he helps Toby stretch his hamstrings, “The club’s probably been trying to get as much money as they can out of those film people and knowing film people they’ve probably been trying to get help cheap.”

“Know many film people do you?” Toby asks with a sly grin.

“Shut up,” the boy says, but not harshly, “You know what I mean. You hear about it all the time. They try to save as much money as they can so they can keep more for themselves.”

“Don’t think that’s just film people mate.” Toby says.

The pair fall silent for a little while, stretching and pulling muscles out in to shape.

“But what do you reckon about it?” Toby asks eventually, “The acting thing I mean? Do you think you’ll give it a go?”

“Not likely mate!” the boy says, laughing hard, “I mean come on, acting’s for pansies!”

“No way!” Toby cries, “There’s loads of hard guys in acting. I mean, look at Vinnie Jones, Ray Winstone, Vin Diesel. Hell Jason Stratham’s as hard as they come and he’s an actor. That bloke does all his own stunts.”

“Yeah and he wears make up!” the other boy cries, “He spends his time poncing around in a suit and covered in a face full of girl’s make up. Like I said, all of that acting stuff, film stuff, all that stuff is for pansies.”

“Say stuff a little more mate!” One of the other boys shouts out from where he’s stretching, “I don’t think you used it enough,”

“That stuffs for pansies!” Toby’s partner shouts at the top of his lungs, “You wouldn’t catch me ten yards near that place.”

Most of the boys start laughing and jeering, agreeing with his statement. Toby notices though that some of the lads, the ones that have been a bit quiet so far, don’t seem to be as enthusiastic in their insults towards acting and the film sector. In fact they look almost embarrassed and ashamed. None of them are looking up, most are looking at the floor or have suddenly found their hands incredibly interesting. Several have little spots of red rising up on their cheeks. Toby realises that he wasn’t the only one who was interested in the chance to try and be a stunt double.

“I don’t care,” Scooby suddenly shouts, “I’m manly enough and comfortable in my masculinity. I’m gonna give it a go.”

“You wanna wear make up Scoob?” one of the lads shouts out, “Oi lads! Scooby’s a cross dresser!”

“Hell I’ll give anything a go once,” Scooby says with a shrug, “They can put me in a dress if they want. I don’t care as long as I get to play footy. Besides, it’s not like anyone’s going to actually see my face. It’d be wicked to do I reckon and I bet the ladies would love it. They’ll be all over me once they know I’m a cool actor.”

“Sure mate…” some of the lads say, their voices mocking and full of disbelief. “You’ll be the next Tom Cruise.”

“Nah!” Scooby shouts, “I’m not a midget. I’ll be Brad Pitt. He’s the one with Angelina Jolie after all. Can’t call him a pansy can you!”

The boys start to laugh and joke amongst themselves, even as the coaches start to split them in to teams. Toby stays quiet for most of the training, his mind not completely on the present. His body is pretty much acting on autopilot now and he’s barely aware of what’s going on around him.

He wonders whether it would be better to step back, not try to get the acting job. The boys already think he’s a bit weird and this would just give them more ammunition. But then again he really does want to find out more about the world of acting, beyond what he can see in the ‘Making Of’ featurettes on DVD and You Tube videos. The desire to know more, to find out more and see for himself whether acting is really as much fun as it seems threatens to overwhelm him for a moment. He almost wants to run straight out of training and find the film crew just so that he can watch.

But a lucky tackle from Scooby draws his attention back to the present and he starts to pay more attention to the games that are happening and less time thinking about the acting. He still really wants to go though. However, he doesn’t want to go on his own.

“So were you serious Scooby?” Toby asks his friend as they head back to the changing rooms, “About the acting I mean?”

The training is done with for the day and everyone is exhausted. Scooby’s walking by Toby’s side, having jogged up as soon as the last training game was ended. They walked in silence for a while but now Toby’s curiosity has overcome his wariness of the entire situation.

“Of course I’m serious!” Scooby cries out, “I’ll really give it a go and see if I like it. If I don’t like it fair enough, at least I’ve got some time out of training. And if I do like it… wahey, watch out ladies! Here comes the world famous actor Scooby!”

Toby laughs and claps Scooby on the back. They’re stuck outside the changing rooms now, waiting for the showers to free up a little more so that they can shower in peace.

“What do you think mate,” Scooby asks, nudging Toby’s arm with his shoulder, “Wanna give it a go? Stand by your new mate?”

“I think I might you know,” Toby admits, fighting the urge to simply shout yes to the ceiling. “It could be a laugh.”

“Yeah!” Scooby cries, “That’s what I’m talking about. What could be more fun? Two mates playing football and getting filmed to do it.”

“Mate!” Toby shouts, “Re-phrase!”

“Whatever,” Scooby says, waving a dismissive hand towards Toby. He glances in to the changing rooms and turns back to Toby with a frown on his face, “The queue’s still massive. Shall we go and see the coach now?”

Toby peeks around the corner and sees what Scooby means. There are boys everywhere, still in their kits and still covered in mud. They’re queueing right up to the doorway and barely anyone is coming out of the showers. One or two of the lads have apparently managed to get showered and they’re wandering around the changing rooms with towels around their waists.

“Yeah,” Toby says, stepping back from the door, “You might be right there mate. Let’s go and see the boss man.”

Scooby grins and spins away from the wall, somehow managing to make even that simple move look cool. He strides off down the corridor with his hands tucked in to his pockets. Toby laughs when his friend starts whistling and hurries to catch him up.

The coach’s office door is wide open. They peer around though and see him sat at his desk, filling out some sort of paperwork. They quickly pull back and start to squabble over who’s going to disturb their coach. The pair push and shove each other, whispering between themselves and trying desperately to get the other to go.

“Exactly what are you two up to?” a voice asks behind them.

The boys freeze and turn to look at the speaker. It’s the coach. Somehow while they were arguing the coach must have overheard them and then snuck up on them while they fought between themselves.

“Oh hey Bossman,” Scooby says, looking sheepish for the first time, “There’s a real explanation for this, I swear.”

The coach stares at them and crosses his arms over his chest. They look at each other and then at him again.

“Well?” he says, “I’m waiting.”

“Oh right!” Toby cries, he stammers for a few seconds before he finally gets his thoughts in order, “We were wondering about that filming thing. We’re kind of interested.”

“Wonderful!” the coach cries, clapping his hands together, “Well I don’t know much about it but tell you what, why don’t you go to the studio on Monday, at 3pm. You’ll be able to find out more there and maybe get the filming started.”

“But training’s until 6,” Scooby says, “I thought we needed to attend everyday.”

“Well this is good for the club,” the coach says with a shrug, “The owners agreed that keeping this film company is better than keeping all of the Academy together apparently. You’ll be allowed to leave early.”

“Thanks Coach!” the two boys cry out together.

“Get going then,” the coach says, waving his hand to dismiss them, “Get out of here and enjoy your weekend. I expect you both to work twice as hard at training on Monday though, to make up for leaving early.”

The two boys nod quickly, excited. They practically bounce as they turn and hurry away.

“Oh and boys?” the coach cries after them.

They pause at the door to the football grounds and turn to look at him.

“If either of you get the part,” the coach says, “Don’t forget to try and make sure that Skelmerage F.C. is mentioned in the credits. It’d do wonders for the club.”

“Yes Coach!” the boys shout.

The coach disappears back in to his office. The two boys turn to each other and grin.

“Roll on Monday!” Toby declares.

“Roll on tomorrow more like!” Scooby cries, “We’re going to the shopping centre remember, checking out the girls!”

“Oh yeah…” Toby says slowly, “I’ll see you then.”

Toby turns and races off to where he can see his dad already waiting in the car. He really had completely forgotten about their plans for the weekend and that made him feel a little bad. Then again he has a lot on his mind and things are bound to slip through the cracks.

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