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Billy & Pippa: the crazy hazy grand final

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Man, Jai and the Saints were on fire. They were playing their preliminary final and Jai had just busted through the centre and kicked it to Stevo at centre half forward. Then Jai bolted down and took a big screamer in the goal square, almost standing on the shoulders of the Tiger’s full back.

‘I could do that,’ I thought. At least once upon a time I could have. A few years back no worries. But you know, there’s other things now. At least my cuz Jai is still keeping the Saints strong.

‘He’s playing a good game isn’t he?’ Pippa said, walking back from the rooms holding her folder.

‘Must be the deadly job you’re doing as assistant coach,’ I joked.

I turned away from the game and started walking to the back of the change rooms to have a smoke. When I heard people cheering and beeping their car horns I knew Jai had booted another goal.

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Of course he was going to get it through, deadliest player in the under sixteen competition, straight out!

Maybe it was his year to beat my fifty goal record. Maybe he’d do what I’d never got to do and help the Saints through to a grand final.

I looked to see if anyone was around. I figured everyone at the game was probably going to get a feed or a drink. I just wanted a toke of gunja.

I loaded my pipe, lit it up and started sucking down a cone like there was no tomorrow. ‘That’s better,’ I thought, ‘I’ll be able to enjoy the second half of the game now’. And then I went and got a feed and a drink before the game started again.

‘Billy, Billy,’ Pippa was calling out to me but I didn’t hear her at first. I was just concentrating on eating my pie with sauce. ‘Billy, you deaf or something?’ Pippa said tapping me on the shoulder.

‘Nah, I’m right,’ I told her, 'just thinking'.

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‘Look at your eyes Billy, no wonder you’re in your own world. You’re off your dial bruz.’

‘I’m right.’

‘Well come and run some drinks out to the fellas.’ 

I just shook my head. The coach used to like me but not since I quit the team a couple of years ago. And I knew the people at the club thought I was rubbish because my step-dad Tiny bashed that fella up at the club one night for bragging about how he’d been netting down the creek.

Having my old coach see my blood-shot eyes wasn’t going to help me or the team. I just sat there where I was, out of sight, to watch the rest of the game.

The Saints were easily in the lead in the final quarter. Jai was running really strong. He was fit as, didn’t smoke as much gunja as me, maybe even none. He’d kicked a few goals and the next thing he took a mark up past the wing and started flexing it towards the goals.

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Jai took a bounce and then another and I stood up to cheer him on. As I yelled ‘Go bruz,’ from nowhere, the Tiger’s ruckman ran from the side and cleaned him up, almost taking his head off when he hit him.

Jai was on the deck and I thought he was out cold. A few of the fellas ran up to him and then started pushing the Tiger’s players around, especially their big ruckman.

The umpire handed the ball to Jai to take the free kick but Jai’s right leg was buckling beneath him and he was holding his right shoulder too. Jai had to hand the ball to Alfie to take the kick and the trainers helped Jai to the bench. I was spinning out and getting stressed.

Good thing the Saints looked like they were going to win easily or I would’ve been losing it. I watched the trainers checking out Jai’s leg and shoulder. Man he was hating life.

After the game, when Jai was being helped to the change rooms by the trainers I asked, ‘You right cuz?’

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‘Kills. Better be able to play in the semi-final next week,’ he said.

‘You’ll be right, cuz,’ I told Jai, giving him a light punch on the shoulder, but I wasn’t so sure.

‘Coming to the club for a feed?’ Jai asked, and then Pippa walked up behind Jai and said, ‘Come on Billy, come to the club, don’t be so anti-social.’

I was still stoned and Jai was injured and I didn’t want everyone at the club asking me all these questions about why I wasn’t playing any more, why I wasn’t at school much and what I was up to.

I really didn’t want to see the fella that got Tiny locked away in the big house. I was getting paranoid just thinking about it.

‘Nah,’ I’ll just go home, have a feed with Mum,’ I said.

I had no bunda any way. 

 

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When I got home, Mum was smoking up and watching TV. I sat down on the couch. 

She looked at me from the corner of her eye and said, ‘you’re not having any.’

‘Whatever!’ I said but I really wanted a smoke and I’d been watching and listening for where she put her tin so I could steal a bud when she went to sleep.

Plus, I thought it really wasn’t fair, Mum was the first person to give me a smoke when I was about twelve. The doctor said I might have had ADHD because I was running such amok and Mum thought it might settle me down. 

Mum lived with all these foster families when she was a kid and she reckoned it helped her deal with things. She reckons it was good when I was a baby, because she was only fifteen. She said it gave her something to do all day. She smokes a lot more now Tiny is locked up. Don’t think it helps though, it’s just kind of made her real lazy, me too I guess.

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Talking about lazy, I was still in bed at about eleven o’clock the next day when Jai hopped into my bedroom with Pippa.

‘C’mon Billy, wake up ya log,’ Mum said.

‘Yeah, c’mon Billy,’ Pippa and Jai chipped in.

‘What you fellas want?’ I asked putting my pillow over my face to block out the light. Mum’s gunja was good man.

‘We’ve got an idea,’ Jai said.

‘What?’

‘There’s no way I’ll be able to play in the finals,’ Jai told me.

I took the pillow away from my face and saw Jai standing with the help of a crutch and Pippa with her hair tied back and wearing the tracksuit she wears when she’s coaching.’ 

 

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‘You going to take his spot Pippa?’ I asked 'cause I knew that Pippa was a deadly footballer, she just wasn’t allowed to play in the boys' team. But with Jai out, I thought she figured this might be her break.

‘Nah, you’re going to take Jai’s spot,’ she said.

‘Get lost,’ I told her.

‘You’re a deadly on-baller Billy,’ she said and it made me feel good.

‘But I haven’t played footy in a long time,’ I reminded her.

‘Just come and have a kick,’ Pippa said.

‘Nah, not happening,’ I said feeling real tired.

‘If you just come and have a kick I’ll take you for a feed later, and to see a film,’ Jai told me.

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‘Yeah come for a kick and we’ll do something later,’ Pippa said, throwing her arm around me.

‘Alright,’ I said, to make Pippa leave, feeling shame.

When we were about to leave, Jai saw me grab a joint from my drawer. ‘Nah, leave it there,’ he said.

‘It’s okay,' I said, 'I’ll just have a little smoke.’

‘Coach said gunja could ruin my chances of playing AFL. I could get addicted, it messes with your motivation and breathing, even your skills and that.’

‘But I don’t want to play AFL.’

‘There must be something you want to do?’ Jai said. 

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As Pippa and I walked and Jai hobbled, I thought about what Jai asked, if there was something I wanted. Apart from wanting to get stoned, the only thing I wanted was to not end up in the big house like Tiny. It looked boring-as in prison, when we went to see him, we had nothing much to tell him.

‘Give me the ball then,’ I said to Pippa when we were on the oval.

‘Nah, you got to warm up first, go run a lap.’

‘You’re joking.’

‘Just think of that big feed,’ Jai called. I hadn’t had a good feed in ages. Back in the day I used to be able to run and run but I wasn’t even half way around and I felt like lying on the grass for a rest.

I was sweating and completely out of breath but I couldn’t stop because I knew Jai and Pippa would crack up laughing and probably start lecturing me about smoking gunja again. I needed to show them.

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After I finished the lap I hunched over to catch my breath. I was sweating like hell but funny thing is, it made me feel good, like I had energy.

‘Another lap,’ Pippa said and I thought ‘why not?’

When I finished I said, ‘let’s have a kick then.’

Pippa kicked short passes, I hit the mark every time.

She told me to run back a bit and kicked the ball so I had to run and mark it. That wasn’t so easy. It was hard to judge the ball when marking and by the time I went to kick it back to Pippa, my legs were dead.

I couldn’t kick the distance.

‘See what his set shots for goal are like,’ Jai called.

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‘Watch the ball onto your foot,’ Jai reminded me and I tried, but from any further than twenty metres out I couldn’t kick a goal to save my life.

‘Enough,’ Pippa said. ‘Now we know what we need to work on for the grand final,’ 

‘But can’t you see I’m shit now?’

‘You’re definitely not as good as you were. I’m definitely not smoking gunja no more,’ Jai told me.

‘What’s gunja got to do with it?’ I asked, feeling cut.

‘If you hadn’t started smoking gunja, you’d be better than me. When you started smoking that stuff, your football and everything else went down hill. If you stop, you’ll be pretty good again by the finals.’

‘Not going to happen,’ I told them.

‘What else you going to do for the next three weeks?’  

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Somewhere between that big lovely steak and the end of the film I decided that I would at least train a bit and give it a go.

I promised Jai and Pippa that I’d try to stop smoking gunja.

‘The hardest thing is getting to sleep at night without it,’ I told them.

‘If you run around enough when you train you’ll be worn out and will go to sleep easy,’ Jai said.

‘Or you could go for a walk or just sit somewhere quiet to try and relax before you go to sleep.’

‘I know you might think a smoke helps you sleep because it kind of makes you sleepy but your mind is still going a hundred miles an hour, and it's not a good sleep, hey cuz?’ Jai said.

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So I trained flat out every day and sleeping wasn’t a problem. I even started going to school because without gunja I didn’t feel so tired or paranoid. The teachers seemed to like that I was there.

Even after a week of running around every night I could run further much easier and my legs started to feel strong.

It all started coming back, I could even snap goals from the pocket again.

And then, I don’t know, I must have started getting cocky or something, started thinking it was easy to stop smoking gunja, and on the Tuesday of the second week I grabbed one of Mum’s buds and had a smoke after school. I put in eye drops so that Pippa and Jai didn’t know I was wasted.

But it was easy for them to know when I was out on the oval. I couldn’t mark the ball and I didn’t really care, I was just giggling.

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‘Billy, why are you wasting our time?’ Jai asked.

‘You’re the ones that wanted me to train, not the other way around.’

‘And don’t you feel better not stoned?’ Jai asked.

I just sat there like I didn’t care but really I did.

Look at me Billy, I’m all busted up, and you’ve got a chance to play in the grand final,’ he reminded me.

‘We don’t even know if the coach will let me in yet,’ I said.

‘If you train once and you’re good, you’ll get a game. I could train my guts out for a million years and I’ll never be able to play,’ Pippa said.

‘Don’t smoke no more and we’ll see you here tomorrow night when you’re straight, alright cuz?’ Jai said.

I nodded as they walked off, back to their places where their parents didn’t get stoned or drink too much.

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I was nervous-as when Jai and Pippa took me to my first Saints training, less than a week from the game. There were so many people watching training, you would have thought there was a game being played.

When I walked out onto the field the coach called Pippa and me over to him straight away.

‘What’s he doing here?’ the coach asked Pippa.

‘We’re not going to win the grand final without someone who can get in, run and kick goals.’

‘But he hasn’t played in two seasons.’

‘He’s been training.’

‘How, getting stoned everyday? I’m not stupid Billy,’ the coach growled.

‘Yeah, I know. And really, I’ve been training flat out and I stopped smoking that shit.’

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He stood there looking at the team kicking balls around.

The coach looked back at me after a bit and said, ‘Well get out there then and show us what you’ve got.’

Training with the team was harder than training by myself, I had to keep up. But I trained my guts out and when we finished the people watching gave us a clap and the boys gave me a pat on the back.

‘Good to see you running amok again,' Stevo, our big centre half forward reckoned.

When everyone was walking into the change rooms the coach threw his arm around my shoulder and he asked, ‘Do you reckon you can do it Billy?’

‘No worries,’ I told him.

‘Well I reckon I can give you a go.’

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But doing it was easier said than done. When I woke up on grand final day, I was nervous-as, thinking about everyone being at the game and I went straight for Mum’s tin of buds to help me relax.

Maybe Jai had told mum I was trying to give up and to hide it because I couldn’t find her tin in her usual stash spots.

I finally found it hidden beneath one of the lounge chair cushions. I opened the tin and breathed in the funky smell of the gunja.

I was just about to roll a joint but I saw my footy boots out of the corner of my eye, by the door.

I thought about the last time I had a smoke, how I couldn’t even mark the ball, how pissed off Jai and Pippa were after they’d helped me train.

I tucked the tin away, and went and had a good breakfast, deciding I’d wake mum up in time to come watch the game.

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Running through the banner with all of my old teammates felt deadly-as, but when I was in centre square waiting for the first bounce, I was shitting it that I wouldn’t be able to play like I used to.

When the ball was bounced, the Shark’s rover just gave me a shove and I fell straight to the ground. I realised my body was still pretty weak. But I got back up and chased the ball.

Stevo had marked it at centre half forward and I ran past him as he was taking the kick and called out to him. He handballed it to me and I kicked it into our forward line. It wasn’t marked but that first kick got me hungry for more.

About half way through the second quarter the Sharks were leading by a couple of goals and I thought, ‘this isn’t the way it’s supposed to happen.’

I also told myself to have a go, that I didn’t expect to be playing in the grand final and it didn’t matter what happened as long as I gave it my best.

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Next centre bounce, I ran through that pack like my life depended on it. I grabbed the ball and bounced it down the centre, faked handballing it to the half forward flanker and then just ran around the opposition. I kicked the ball for the goals. It landed short but it just tumbled through.

‘That’s it,’ I thought, ‘let’s go now’.

Maybe it was my fresh legs, maybe it was the training Jai and Pippa got me doing. I know for sure it was because I wasn’t stoned that I kicked a few more goals that day.

When the final siren blew I was jumping around like crazy. My teammates jumped over each other, Pippa ran across the field to give me a hug, and the coach shook my hand and slapped me on the back. Mum and Jai had the biggest smiles on their faces.

I wasn’t going to have any shame walking into the footy club that night, and I definitely had a yarn to tell Tiny the next time I visited him in the big house.

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Illustrated by Dreamtime Creative

Written by Jared Thomas for NCPIC

Published by NCPIC

 

For more information about marijuana and how it can affect your mind and your body, now and later on, visit:

www.ncpic.org.au

 

Or call the cannabis information and helpline:

1800 30 40 50

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Billy & Pippa: the crazy hazy grand final

Man, Jai and the Saints were on fire. They were playing their preliminary final and Jai had just busted through the centre and kicked it to Stevo at centre half forward. Then Jai bolted down and took a big screamer in the goal square, almost standing on the shoulders of the Tiger’s full back.

‘I could do that,’ I thought. At least once upon a time I could have. A few years back no worries. But you know, there’s other things now. At least my cuz Jai is still keeping the Saints strong.

‘He’s playing a good game isn’t he?’ Pippa said, walking back from the rooms holding her folder.

‘Must be the deadly job you’re doing as assistant coach,’ I joked.

I turned away from the game and started walking to the back of the change rooms to have a smoke. When I heard people cheering and beeping their car horns I knew Jai had booted another goal.

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Of course he was going to get it through, deadliest player in the under sixteen competition, straight out!

Maybe it was his year to beat my fifty goal record. Maybe he’d do what I’d never got to do and help the Saints through to a grand final.

I looked to see if anyone was around. I figured everyone at the game was probably going to get a feed or a drink. I just wanted a toke of gunja.

I loaded my pipe, lit it up and started sucking down a cone like there was no tomorrow. ‘That’s better,’ I thought, ‘I’ll be able to enjoy the second half of the game now’. And then I went and got a feed and a drink before the game started again.

‘Billy, Billy,’ Pippa was calling out to me but I didn’t hear her at first. I was just concentrating on eating my pie with sauce. ‘Billy, you deaf or something?’ Pippa said tapping me on the shoulder.

‘Nah, I’m right,’ I told her, 'just thinking'.

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‘Look at your eyes Billy, no wonder you’re in your own world. You’re off your dial bruz.’

‘I’m right.’

‘Well come and run some drinks out to the fellas.’ 

I just shook my head. The coach used to like me but not since I quit the team a couple of years ago. And I knew the people at the club thought I was rubbish because my step-dad Tiny bashed that fella up at the club one night for bragging about how he’d been netting down the creek.

Having my old coach see my blood-shot eyes wasn’t going to help me or the team. I just sat there where I was, out of sight, to watch the rest of the game.

The Saints were easily in the lead in the final quarter. Jai was running really strong. He was fit as, didn’t smoke as much gunja as me, maybe even none. He’d kicked a few goals and the next thing he took a mark up past the wing and started flexing it towards the goals.

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Jai took a bounce and then another and I stood up to cheer him on. As I yelled ‘Go bruz,’ from nowhere, the Tiger’s ruckman ran from the side and cleaned him up, almost taking his head off when he hit him.

Jai was on the deck and I thought he was out cold. A few of the fellas ran up to him and then started pushing the Tiger’s players around, especially their big ruckman.

The umpire handed the ball to Jai to take the free kick but Jai’s right leg was buckling beneath him and he was holding his right shoulder too. Jai had to hand the ball to Alfie to take the kick and the trainers helped Jai to the bench. I was spinning out and getting stressed.

Good thing the Saints looked like they were going to win easily or I would’ve been losing it. I watched the trainers checking out Jai’s leg and shoulder. Man he was hating life.

After the game, when Jai was being helped to the change rooms by the trainers I asked, ‘You right cuz?’

‘Kills. Better be able to play in the semi-final next week,’ he said.

‘You’ll be right, cuz,’ I told Jai, giving him a light punch on the shoulder, but I wasn’t so sure.

‘Coming to the club for a feed?’ Jai asked, and then Pippa walked up behind Jai and said, ‘Come on Billy, come to the club, don’t be so anti-social.’

I was still stoned and Jai was injured and I didn’t want everyone at the club asking me all these questions about why I wasn’t playing any more, why I wasn’t at school much and what I was up to.

I really didn’t want to see the fella that got Tiny locked away in the big house. I was getting paranoid just thinking about it.

‘Nah,’ I’ll just go home, have a feed with Mum,’ I said.

I had no bunda any way. 

 

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When I got home, Mum was smoking up and watching TV. I sat down on the couch. 

She looked at me from the corner of her eye and said, ‘you’re not having any.’

‘Whatever!’ I said but I really wanted a smoke and I’d been watching and listening for where she put her tin so I could steal a bud when she went to sleep.

Plus, I thought it really wasn’t fair, Mum was the first person to give me a smoke when I was about twelve. The doctor said I might have had ADHD because I was running such amok and Mum thought it might settle me down. 

Mum lived with all these foster families when she was a kid and she reckoned it helped her deal with things. She reckons it was good when I was a baby, because she was only fifteen. She said it gave her something to do all day. She smokes a lot more now Tiny is locked up. Don’t think it helps though, it’s just kind of made her real lazy, me too I guess.

Talking about lazy, I was still in bed at about eleven o’clock the next day when Jai hopped into my bedroom with Pippa.

‘C’mon Billy, wake up ya log,’ Mum said.

‘Yeah, c’mon Billy,’ Pippa and Jai chipped in.

‘What you fellas want?’ I asked putting my pillow over my face to block out the light. Mum’s gunja was good man.

‘We’ve got an idea,’ Jai said.

‘What?’

‘There’s no way I’ll be able to play in the finals,’ Jai told me.

I took the pillow away from my face and saw Jai standing with the help of a crutch and Pippa with her hair tied back and wearing the tracksuit she wears when she’s coaching.’ 

 

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‘You going to take his spot Pippa?’ I asked 'cause I knew that Pippa was a deadly footballer, she just wasn’t allowed to play in the boys' team. But with Jai out, I thought she figured this might be her break.

‘Nah, you’re going to take Jai’s spot,’ she said.

‘Get lost,’ I told her.

‘You’re a deadly on-baller Billy,’ she said and it made me feel good.

‘But I haven’t played footy in a long time,’ I reminded her.

‘Just come and have a kick,’ Pippa said.

‘Nah, not happening,’ I said feeling real tired.

‘If you just come and have a kick I’ll take you for a feed later, and to see a film,’ Jai told me.

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‘Yeah come for a kick and we’ll do something later,’ Pippa said, throwing her arm around me.

‘Alright,’ I said, to make Pippa leave, feeling shame.

When we were about to leave, Jai saw me grab a joint from my drawer. ‘Nah, leave it there,’ he said.

‘It’s okay,' I said, 'I’ll just have a little smoke.’

‘Coach said gunja could ruin my chances of playing AFL. I could get addicted, it messes with your motivation and breathing, even your skills and that.’

‘But I don’t want to play AFL.’

‘There must be something you want to do?’ Jai said. 

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As Pippa and I walked and Jai hobbled, I thought about what Jai asked, if there was something I wanted. Apart from wanting to get stoned, the only thing I wanted was to not end up in the big house like Tiny. It looked boring-as in prison, when we went to see him, we had nothing much to tell him.

‘Give me the ball then,’ I said to Pippa when we were on the oval.

‘Nah, you got to warm up first, go run a lap.’

‘You’re joking.’

‘Just think of that big feed,’ Jai called. I hadn’t had a good feed in ages. Back in the day I used to be able to run and run but I wasn’t even half way around and I felt like lying on the grass for a rest.

I was sweating and completely out of breath but I couldn’t stop because I knew Jai and Pippa would crack up laughing and probably start lecturing me about smoking gunja again. I needed to show them.

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After I finished the lap I hunched over to catch my breath. I was sweating like hell but funny thing is, it made me feel good, like I had energy.

‘Another lap,’ Pippa said and I thought ‘why not?’

When I finished I said, ‘let’s have a kick then.’

Pippa kicked short passes, I hit the mark every time.

She told me to run back a bit and kicked the ball so I had to run and mark it. That wasn’t so easy. It was hard to judge the ball when marking and by the time I went to kick it back to Pippa, my legs were dead.

I couldn’t kick the distance.

‘See what his set shots for goal are like,’ Jai called.

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‘Watch the ball onto your foot,’ Jai reminded me and I tried, but from any further than twenty metres out I couldn’t kick a goal to save my life.

‘Enough,’ Pippa said. ‘Now we know what we need to work on for the grand final,’ 

‘But can’t you see I’m shit now?’

‘You’re definitely not as good as you were. I’m definitely not smoking gunja no more,’ Jai told me.

‘What’s gunja got to do with it?’ I asked, feeling cut.

‘If you hadn’t started smoking gunja, you’d be better than me. When you started smoking that stuff, your football and everything else went down hill. If you stop, you’ll be pretty good again by the finals.’

‘Not going to happen,’ I told them.

‘What else you going to do for the next three weeks?’  

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Somewhere between that big lovely steak and the end of the film I decided that I would at least train a bit and give it a go.

I promised Jai and Pippa that I’d try to stop smoking gunja.

‘The hardest thing is getting to sleep at night without it,’ I told them.

‘If you run around enough when you train you’ll be worn out and will go to sleep easy,’ Jai said.

‘Or you could go for a walk or just sit somewhere quiet to try and relax before you go to sleep.’

‘I know you might think a smoke helps you sleep because it kind of makes you sleepy but your mind is still going a hundred miles an hour, and it's not a good sleep, hey cuz?’ Jai said.

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So I trained flat out every day and sleeping wasn’t a problem. I even started going to school because without gunja I didn’t feel so tired or paranoid. The teachers seemed to like that I was there.

Even after a week of running around every night I could run further much easier and my legs started to feel strong.

It all started coming back, I could even snap goals from the pocket again.

And then, I don’t know, I must have started getting cocky or something, started thinking it was easy to stop smoking gunja, and on the Tuesday of the second week I grabbed one of Mum’s buds and had a smoke after school. I put in eye drops so that Pippa and Jai didn’t know I was wasted.

But it was easy for them to know when I was out on the oval. I couldn’t mark the ball and I didn’t really care, I was just giggling.

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‘Billy, why are you wasting our time?’ Jai asked.

‘You’re the ones that wanted me to train, not the other way around.’

‘And don’t you feel better not stoned?’ Jai asked.

I just sat there like I didn’t care but really I did.

Look at me Billy, I’m all busted up, and you’ve got a chance to play in the grand final,’ he reminded me.

‘We don’t even know if the coach will let me in yet,’ I said.

‘If you train once and you’re good, you’ll get a game. I could train my guts out for a million years and I’ll never be able to play,’ Pippa said.

‘Don’t smoke no more and we’ll see you here tomorrow night when you’re straight, alright cuz?’ Jai said.

I nodded as they walked off, back to their places where their parents didn’t get stoned or drink too much.

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I was nervous-as when Jai and Pippa took me to my first Saints training, less than a week from the game. There were so many people watching training, you would have thought there was a game being played.

When I walked out onto the field the coach called Pippa and me over to him straight away.

‘What’s he doing here?’ the coach asked Pippa.

‘We’re not going to win the grand final without someone who can get in, run and kick goals.’

‘But he hasn’t played in two seasons.’

‘He’s been training.’

‘How, getting stoned everyday? I’m not stupid Billy,’ the coach growled.

‘Yeah, I know. And really, I’ve been training flat out and I stopped smoking that shit.’

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He stood there looking at the team kicking balls around.

The coach looked back at me after a bit and said, ‘Well get out there then and show us what you’ve got.’

Training with the team was harder than training by myself, I had to keep up. But I trained my guts out and when we finished the people watching gave us a clap and the boys gave me a pat on the back.

‘Good to see you running amok again,' Stevo, our big centre half forward reckoned.

When everyone was walking into the change rooms the coach threw his arm around my shoulder and he asked, ‘Do you reckon you can do it Billy?’

‘No worries,’ I told him.

‘Well I reckon I can give you a go.’

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But doing it was easier said than done. When I woke up on grand final day, I was nervous-as, thinking about everyone being at the game and I went straight for Mum’s tin of buds to help me relax.

Maybe Jai had told mum I was trying to give up and to hide it because I couldn’t find her tin in her usual stash spots.

I finally found it hidden beneath one of the lounge chair cushions. I opened the tin and breathed in the funky smell of the gunja.

I was just about to roll a joint but I saw my footy boots out of the corner of my eye, by the door.

I thought about the last time I had a smoke, how I couldn’t even mark the ball, how pissed off Jai and Pippa were after they’d helped me train.

I tucked the tin away, and went and had a good breakfast, deciding I’d wake mum up in time to come watch the game.

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Running through the banner with all of my old teammates felt deadly-as, but when I was in centre square waiting for the first bounce, I was shitting it that I wouldn’t be able to play like I used to.

When the ball was bounced, the Shark’s rover just gave me a shove and I fell straight to the ground. I realised my body was still pretty weak. But I got back up and chased the ball.

Stevo had marked it at centre half forward and I ran past him as he was taking the kick and called out to him. He handballed it to me and I kicked it into our forward line. It wasn’t marked but that first kick got me hungry for more.

About half way through the second quarter the Sharks were leading by a couple of goals and I thought, ‘this isn’t the way it’s supposed to happen.’

I also told myself to have a go, that I didn’t expect to be playing in the grand final and it didn’t matter what happened as long as I gave it my best.

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Next centre bounce, I ran through that pack like my life depended on it. I grabbed the ball and bounced it down the centre, faked handballing it to the half forward flanker and then just ran around the opposition. I kicked the ball for the goals. It landed short but it just tumbled through.

‘That’s it,’ I thought, ‘let’s go now’.

Maybe it was my fresh legs, maybe it was the training Jai and Pippa got me doing. I know for sure it was because I wasn’t stoned that I kicked a few more goals that day.

When the final siren blew I was jumping around like crazy. My teammates jumped over each other, Pippa ran across the field to give me a hug, and the coach shook my hand and slapped me on the back. Mum and Jai had the biggest smiles on their faces.

I wasn’t going to have any shame walking into the footy club that night, and I definitely had a yarn to tell Tiny the next time I visited him in the big house.

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Illustrated by Dreamtime Creative

Written by Jared Thomas for NCPIC

Published by NCPIC

 

For more information about marijuana and how it can affect your mind and your body, now and later on, visit:

www.ncpic.org.au

 

Or call the cannabis information and helpline:

1800 30 40 50

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