The years went by. Daniel Pleasant, now 23, was now a first-team regular starter for Simley Town FC. For six whole years, Daniel’s place in the Starting Eleven had been unquestioningly secure.
Minutes on the field meant good prospects, and more money in his pocket. However, his pay was not extremely high, since Simley Town never had any consistent place in the most prestigious “Primary League A”.
For decades, Simley Town FC was notorious for seesawing its way between the lower positions of “Primary League B” and the higher positions of “Primary League C”(**).
While it was a major achievement to not have to worry about his long-term prospects in Simley Town, Daniel’s life was not going smoothly at the moment.
Simley Town was due to play a match the following day, but long-term starter Daniel Pleasant was NOT going to play. He did not even have a place on the substitutes’ bench.
Three months ago, Daniel was the victim of a most vicious tackle, that left him with a broken ankle. Daniel had to be substituted off, lying on a stretcher, while the opposing player, Joey Simton, received a straight red card.
The incident was serious enough for the Sims Football Association (SFA) to warrant an investigation. After reviewing the replay footage, which suggested that Simton deliberately tried to injure Daniel, the SFA banned Simton for five matches.
Worse still, Daniel had recently broken up with his second girlfriend, a mixologist at a bar that he no longer goes to.
Now sitting in a new sports bar, Daniel downs his second pint, nursing his broken ankle and broken heart. Three months of recovery had enabled him to stop using his crutches, but he was unsure how long his heart would take to heal this time.
Suddenly, Daniel caught sight of a familiar face at a faraway table.
It was Mary-Sue Oldie, sitting with a man he does not know.
Daniel’s mind raced back to the past, when he had three dates with Mary-Sue. On the third date, he tried to kiss her, but she pushed him away and ran off.
The next day, he called her house. Her mother told him to look for another girl.
Daniel should have known. He was only attracted to her “exotic beauty”.
What did he have in common with Mary-Sue Oldie?
She doesn’t even like football!
After falling out with Mary-Sue, Daniel flirted around with random girls, but did not enter any serious relationship till he was seventeen.
She was a very attractive cheerleader. It seemed fitting that a cheerleader would pair with a school jock. However, this pairing was short-lived, as she dumped him after two years, after catching him flirting with another girl.
Daniel did not notice that he was now finishing up his third pint, which seemed to be helping to drown his past and present sorrows. He also didn’t notice a young lady of eighteen enter the bar, accompanied by a young man.
The young lady sat down beside him.
“John, this is my brother, Daniel. Dan, my boyfriend John Burb.”
“Nice to meet you, Daniel. Wow, you’re early… you must be looking forward to watch the match on TV here!”
Daniel’s first instinct was to wonder, “What match?” Instead, he said, “Of course, I’m looking forward to it too… what was it… Simchester City vs Simton Palace ?”
“Of course! We won’t miss this Primary League A match for nothing! John thinks that City will win, even though their star player is suspended, but I think Palace has a better chance, even though their captain is injured! What do you think, Dan?”
“I didn’t really think about it… I think I’ll just sit back and enjoy the match with you guys.”
“You’d better… it looks like you’ve already drunk too much.”
She asked the barista for some plain water for Daniel.
At the Half-Time Break, John excused himself to go to the bathroom, leaving the Pleasant siblings alone for a private conversation.
“Dan, are you recovering well? You’ve had a lot to drink before the match even started…”
“Well, Jen… as you can see, I don’t need the crutches anymore, but it’ll take a while before I can play football again.”
Jennifer nodded, and smiled slightly. She did not expect the sad expression that suddenly formed on Daniel’s tired face.
“I broke up with Marisa last week. I accidentally saw a steamy love note that she had from another guy, about their woohoo the other day.”
Jennifer cast a knowing glance at her brother.
“I know, I know, Jen…” Daniel averted Jennifer’s eyes. “I know I’ve been messing around with other girls too, for the two years I was with Marisa, so I guess I can’t blame her. But a guy won’t be able to stand reading a love note like that from someone else.”
“I understand, Dan. I’d be upset too, if John had one of those notes from another girl. But thankfully, I don’t think he’s that sort.”
“Things may not be going well now, Dan, but they’ll get better faster if you stay positive. You must recover fully and play football again. You’re charming enough to get another girlfriend.
But for now, *I* am your biggest fan.”
Daniel’s eyes widened. “Really?”
“Yeah. Even if I’m not destined to be a footballer myself, I’m glad to have a brother who has succeeded in being one. I’m not going to stop cheering for you, Daniel, so please recover so I can continue.”
“Thank you, Jen. It’s so cool that you’re still interested in football.”
When John returned, he could not help but notice that Daniel looked a lot happier. The three of them went on enjoying the match together.
The match ended, with Jennifer’s prediction being correct. As John paid for the drinks, he expressed his great fortune in having a girlfriend to discuss and watch football with.
“With her, football isn’t only for the guys’ night out. It may even be a family outing.”
Daniel decided that he would go with Jennifer, and spend the night in their parents’ house. After all, it’s been a while since he last visited.
When the siblings showed up at the doorstep, their mother, Diane, looked particularly worried, and was about to leave the house.
“Daniel! Good that you’re here with Jen. We need to go to the hospital now. Your father had a serious accident at the space station.”
(**) See [Extra 1] for an in-depth explanation of these Sims footballing terms. It may even aid your understanding of real-life football too!
How badly off is Jeff Pleasant?
How will Daniel recover from his traumas?
Find out in the [next chapter]…
GOALS OF DANIEL PLEASANT – Chapters
1. The Wannabe
2. Juvenile Match
3. His Biggest Fan
4. An Oldie But a Goodie
5. Pleasant-Burb Family Dinner 2015
6. Team Dynamics
7. The Trap — most “familiar” Pleasant family scenario
8. The Purge
9. A New Leaf
11. Pecking Order