532 Words on: Five 100-word heroes

532 Words is inspired in part by Giancarlo Rinaldi’s evocative 100-word heroes series. Here are five of my own.

A proper keeper

Danny Robinson is a proper keeper who puts the Derby in any football rivalry he’s a part of. He doesn’t just command his area, he commands the entire area from his area to the opposition keeper’s area and the surrounding area code. “Tuck in push up here if you need! Time! MAN ONNNN!!! No foul NO foul I SAID NO FOUL no swearing DON’T SWEAR YOU’LL GET BOOKED three! I want three! THREE IN THE WALL!!! Mark up near post far post WATCH AARON SCOTT! OUT!!! GET OUT!!!” Some keepers get golden glove awards. Robbo deserves a poet’s laurel crown.

I just run

When I asked Helen Arjomandi why she’s so good at scoring goals, she said “I just run”. It’s ironic that one of the stupidest interview questions I’ve ever asked yielded one of the most intriguing answers I’ve ever received. I didn’t quite know what to make of it at the time. Now I think it sums her up brilliantly. Humble, yet devastating. As a player she sneaks up on you. Her movement off the ball is exquisite and then when she gets her chance she doesn’t miss. She doesn’t just run, but that’s what she would like you to think…

OI MARCO!

“We all cheer for a team of volunteers” (to the tune of Yellow Submarine) was the primary refrain of the Waikato FC ultras in 2008. The franchise was insolvent, playing out of Centennial Park Ngaruawahia and hocking off the previous season’s kits on the sideline for koha just to scrape enough money together for basics. But they had spirit. And they had Marco. I didn’t know his surname. I thought his full legal name was “OI MARCO GET OVER THERE!” I kept wondering “who’s that kid everyone keeps yelling at?” Eventually I worked his real name out – it’s Kiwi Messi.

End-to-end fun

Paul Simon wrote a song about Cool Papa Bell – “the fastest man on Earth did dwell.” Satchel Paige was his contemporary in the American Negro Baseball League and MLB for over 30 years from 1926 on. Paige’s fastball was said to literally be unhittable during his prime. He used to tell his infielders to sit down beside him while he struck batters out for fun. I once floated a similar gameplan, entitled ‘Hoof it to Paige Satchell’, in a sideline conversation with two National Women’s League coaches. “Fuck, that’s what I’d do!!!” – was her opposition tactician’s contribution to the debate.

She’s a BEAST

Her wrist tape says “BEAST”. It’s no exaggeration. She runs. She dribbles. She crosses. She scores. She tackles. She leads. She flies like an arrow and stings like a wasp. She hurls herself into tackles like a laser guided missile. She makes the play. She disrupts the play. She reads the play. She calls the play. She leads. She gives 1000% and when that’s not enough she gives 1000 more. She’s real. She’s gritty. She’s quiet. She’s loud. She’s humble but she demands the best. She’s got a heart the size of the Kaimai Ranges. She’s Tiana Hill. Kia ora.