How to Score (On and Off the Pitch)

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Chapter 5

The next morning Stuart had to drive over to Edinburgh for a meeting at Hearts’ training ground at Riccarton. He was too full of guilt to concentrate on the upcoming meetings after last night. There were a lot of questions to be answered. Why had she come on to him like that? How could he look Brian in the eye again? Did she make a habit of seducing men? He knew he was fairly decent looking and he looked after himself body wise but nothing like that had ever happened to him; not for years anyway. Was this going to be a regular thing with Martine whenever her husband was away? He was confused and excited. And full of guilt. He liked Brian, he was okay for an Englishman and they had, despite the odd difference, become quite good friends.

He had to push it from his mind for now, pretend it never happened and hope it goes away. If Brian ever found out Stuart had been sleeping with his wife he could take Bradley away from Stuart’s control and that wouldn’t be good for him in the long run as the boy was a very promising talent and he wanted to make sure he was behind his success. Stuart had already alerted Hearts to Bradley’s talent and they were planning on signing him up for their academy at the end of next season. If this got out, it would scupper the whole thing.

Martine changed the linen on her bed and reminisced about last night. Stuart had been a good lover, well-endowed and knew how to please a woman. She hated herself for betraying Brian again, but things had gone downhill with their relationship since he found out about a brief affair she had with an ex-colleague a year ago. They had promised to keep it quiet for the kids’ sake and try to carry on as normal, but it had affected Brian deeply to the point where their sex life was virtually non-existent. It was reduced to once a month, missionary position, and it was all over in seconds. No passion, no kissing, just fulfilling a need. That wasn’t enough for her as she craved affection and enjoyed sex passionately. So, she decided to find passion with any man who took her fancy.

Stuart fitted into that category; he was fit and knew what to do. She enjoyed things last night that she would never have tried with Brian. Knowing it was a high risk made it more exciting. Out of all the six or seven extra-marital lovers she had enjoyed since their marriage, Stuart was up there with the best. She was good at being discreet and not being found out as she wasn’t sure what Brian would do if he found out about her indiscretions. He forgave her once, but if he found out about all the others he might not be so forgiving. She could lose everything and that wasn’t something she liked to think about.

The 2007-08 season started again in September and by the time pre-season training had begun Bradley had managed to turn the surplus pounds picked up in Florida into muscle bulk which would help him immensely. The tournament in Newcastle went well with the Colts winning the final 3-0 against a decent team from Belgium with Bradley scoring twice. Although some of the parents went as ‘responsible adults’, Brian couldn’t make it due to him having to be in Germany on business but as treasurer, Martine was expected to go anyway.

There were six parents in total staying in a local Travelodge whilst the boys stayed in purpose built dormitories near the sports complex where the tournament was being held. Once the team was in bed, the adults would meet in a local bar and talk football all night, much to Martine’s chagrin as she wasn’t that knowledgeable about the differences between 4-4-2 or playing with wingbacks, so she spent much of the evening just listening and trying to snatch a quick glance at Stuart who seemed in his element.

As the evenings drew to a close, they would all troop back to their respective rooms to rest up and prepare for the next day’s games. However, once Martine was sure everyone was safely tucked up for the night, she would sneak out and knock on Stuart’s door quietly. The door would open, furtive glances along the corridor to make sure they weren’t being watched, then into his room for another sexual liaison. Stuart had given up trying to end it, he enjoyed her company and she obviously liked being in the same bed as him. All they had to do was make sure she left and returned to her room before everybody else got up and met for breakfast.

They made a point of not talking much during the day so as to not raise suspicion and the only contact they had was when anything had to be paid for out of the club’s funds. The tournament was held over four days so they had three nights of lust to enjoy until it was time to go home, trophies in hand to show off at the Colts clubhouse. Nobody had a clue, especially not Brian who was delighted with the victory and Bradley’s part in it, although he was gutted he couldn’t make it and vowed to be there next time.

By the time the 2007-08 season had finished, the Colts had won another league title, the county cup again and got to the semi-final of the Scottish under 12s cup where they lost on penalties to a team from Aberdeen who went on to win the final. It was the furthest Dunfermline Colts had ever got in the national competition and a great deal was made of it with the team being featured in the Dunfermline Press and The Courier newspapers.

Bradley had enjoyed another great season scoring 35 goals and creating many more which helped the Colts go all season without dropping one point, even beating their arch rivals Aberdour by 4-0 and 3-1 during the season. The extra bulk that Bradley had put on during the summer had improved his game as he wasn’t very easy to knock off the ball nowadays which was important as the other teams in the league knew all about him and their tactics centred around stopping Bradley play by any means possible, normally flying in with bone-crunching tackles which Bradley knew how to avoid. It was going to get harder to avoid these tactics but he was going the right way.

Hearts head coach had been to see Bradley play on numerous occasions that season and he couldn’t fail to be impressed by his performances. So, true to his word, in April 2008 after the season had ended, he asked Stuart if he could get to meet Bradley’s parents to discuss him signing for Hearts.

Stuart felt a bit awkward arranging this as him and Martine were still stealing the odd moment together whenever they could and he was having trouble speaking to Brian without feeling guilty. If he could just get Bradley signed up with Hearts then he wouldn’t have to worry so much about getting caught.

Rory MacMillan, the manager of Hearts himself came to visit the Gardners in person to discuss Bradley’s future, along with a senior coach from the Hearts Academy and Stuart.

Bradley was spellbound with what Hearts had to offer. He could play with Dunfermline Colts for another season, then when he had his 11th birthday he would be playing for Hearts under 12s and they would see how he progressed. It would be up to Bradley to show how committed he was and if he worked hard what he could achieve. Brian and Martine were more than happy for Bradley to sign up for them as long as Stuart was happy with the arrangements.

Stuart looked sheepishly at Brian and assured him that this was the right way to go and Hearts would look after Bradley’s best interests including making sure he gets the right schooling etc. All the time, Martine just kept quiet and nodded at the right moments. She was content to leave that side of Bradley’s development up to Brian and Stuart, but if Bradley went to Hearts there wouldn’t be so many opportunities to be with Stuart unless she could wangle some way of keeping involved with the Colts.

With the meeting and contract signing over, the team from Hearts thanked the Gardners for their time and promised them they would look after Bradley who in their mind would be a world class footballer. I suppose they said that to every young talent’s family just to keep them onside. It was good enough for Bradley though who skipped upstairs to bed singing the Hearts song.

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