Coach Needham missed being able to spank the backsides of his rugby players: it had very nearly won them the league.
He hadn’t started it; there was already a tradition at Barnaby Rugby Football Club where the guys would whack the arses of newcomers with a heavy clothes brush. He supposed it was following some American frat house initiation, but it turned out it was something South African Springbok rugby players used to do: they might still be doing it for all he knew.
The coach wasn’t involved; it was one of those “secret” rituals that everyone knew about. Nobody complained, not even when some of the lads were over-eager and beat one new boy black and blue, leaving him in tears.
The lads at Barnaby were mostly in their late teens and early twenties; the club was professional, but in one of the minor leagues, a long way from the Springboks. The guys were well used to corporal punishment, the cane was widely used in schools and the Coach doubted if there was a backside in the team that hadn’t felt the sting of a schoolmaster’s rattan at least once or twice.
He didn’t know how it happened because it wasn’t planned, but the clothes brush soon became a regular motivator at training sessions or after matches. Say, a guy hadn’t been pulling his weight in a game, if his team mates complained later the lazy player would be made to bend over a vaulting horse and Coach Needham would set his buttocks on fire.
All the players seemed to accept it, it did wonders for team spirit, and the Coach firmly believed it did motivate the guys to do better in future; these were severe spankings, they weren’t blowing smoke here.
The team were having a great season and Needham was convinced his little motivation sessions had a lot to do with it; they might even win the league the way things were going. Then, it all collapsed. It wasn’t his fault, the Coach told anyone who would listen; it was that pillock Trump.
Trump was one of their wingers and he had a dreadful game, he fumbled the ball just about every time he got it and he was easily tackled when he tried to race down the pitch.
The whole team was moaning at the end of the match and some of the lads even reckoned he had been drinking before the game. If that were true, Coach Needham would have thrown him off the team, but there was no proof so he had to let it go.
What he couldn’t let go was his captain’s demand that they put Trump over the horse and warm up his backside. The Coach was up for it, but he didn’t know about Trump, he was a bit of a wimp and might not go through with it.
He was wrong, he hadn’t accounted for peer pressure: if Trump refused to take his punishment the other lads would have ostracised him and a player couldn’t survive at the club like that.
“Right, lads,” Coach Needham announced, “Let’s give Trump his spanking.” That was the cue for the whole team to gather round the horse to get a prime view of the boy’s bottom.
Everyone could see Trump was petrified; he did not want to be doing this. The lads weren’t bothered about that; three or four of the onlookers had themselves been over the horse this season, they had felt the agony of the brush but they had let their friends down and knew they had deserved what they got.
“Come on Trump, bend over.”
Very reluctantly the boy stepped up, leaned his stomach on the top of the horse and lowered himself across; he grabbed on to the handles and closed his eyes. He was as ready as he ever would be for his spanking.
There was no great ceremony; Coach Needham picked up the brush and approached the boy. All he could see was Trump’s backside, his head was blocked from view. His shorts were clinging tightly to his cheeks and everyone in the audience could see the outline of Trump’s jockstrap: there wasn’t much there to protect him.
The Coach pulled at the waistband to make the shorts even tighter, took a step back, raised his arm high and brought down six crackers into Trump’s arse, so quickly a sound like machinegun bullets echoed round the room.
Trump let out a squeal that started when the first whack ignited a fire on his left cheek and continued long after the last blow assaulted his right. It felt like his entire arse had been set alight; he couldn’t help himself from bawling his eyes.
His team mates, embarrassed by the spectacle, melted away to get changed, leaving Trump running up and down on the spot in a useless attempt to stop the agony.
Trump’s mother complained to the club two days later. Coach Needham was incredulous when the chairman called him in. “He’s twenty-two years old for Christ sake; don’t tell me he went running to his mummy and said, ‘Look what the nasty man’s done to my bot-bot.’”
But he had; and now she was going to sue the club; she was also talking about calling the police to charge Needham for assault.
The club wanted Needham to resign, go quickly and the club would smooth it over with Trump, maybe offer him some money as an out-of-court settlement.
Needham was furious; they were making him a scapegoat. Lots of people knew about the spanking games at the club, nobody had complained. They were all adults after all; he wasn’t like that coach who was in the news for spanking thirteen-year-olds in the back of his van.
He had no choice but to leave that day. He was out of work for a long time and had to move to the other side of the country before he could get his present job, coaching a bunch of lousy part-timers.
They were a badly motivated crew; some of them skipped training when they felt like it; others treated the team as a social club; just a place to meet their friends, they weren’t bothered about the rugby.
Coach Needham itched to put that clothes brush across one or two (no, more like eight or nine) backsides: he knew from experience at Barnaby’s it would work. It would literally lick them into shape.
One day after a particularly unproductive training session, he was alarmed to see a dapper middle-aged man waiting for him outside the changing room. The man looked so like a lawyer, he thought his past at Barnaby’s was about to catch up with him.
He tried to dodge the man, but there was nowhere to run.
“Excuse me, are you Coach Needham?” he even sounded like a lawyer. “My names Peterson; I’m Roy Peterson’s father.”
Roy was one of the team’s more promising players; one of those who took his training and the game seriously. Or more truthfully; he used to. Recently, he had become distracted and had even missed a training session last week with no excuse.
“Can I buy you a drink?”
They drove to a pub, wanting to avoid ones nearby where the players might be drinking.
Mr Peterson talked about his son. He believed he could have a future in rugby and play professionally and wanted advice on the best way to make this happen. The coach agreed this was a possibility, but he needed to buck his ideas up and knuckle down to training.
“He’s been missing training and he’s not putting the effort in.” He didn’t say that a damned good spanking would soon put him back on track, but it would.
Mr Peterson was angry, he had been subsidising his son for two years; allowing the boy to work part-time so he could concentrate on his rugby and he even lived with his parents rent free. And, this was how they were repaid. He would deal with his son later.
What Coach Needham didn’t know was that Mr Peterson was a schoolmaster at the local grammar school. He had seen the boys around town in their smart green blazers; the younger boys even wore grey short trousers. Needham had thought they went out of fashion years ago; but St Francis was a traditional school; traditional religion; traditional games; traditional teaching methods; and traditional discipline.
Peterson, as did Coach Needham, believed in the efficacy of corporal punishment: it really worked on the young and helped them to learn discipline. If a boy did not have self-discipline it could be imposed on him: with a whippy cane across the backside.
Peterson caned boys at St Francis and in the past he had also caned his son at home.
He believed in rules and obedience to them and he ran Roy’s life at home rather like a boarding school. There were set times to get up, to go to bed, to eat meals and there was a curfew for coming home at night. Roy knew the rules and he knew the punishment for breaking them.
The rules had been relaxed after Roy left school two years ago, but, after hearing about the boy’s absences from training, Peterson could see he would need to reimpose them.
Roy was not entirely surprised when his father announced he would cane him for missing training. He had been beaten often when he was much younger; St Francis was a “caning school” and the rattan was used very liberally, but he was about fifteen years old the last time he felt its sting on his bum.
Even at home his father caned his backside when he broke the rules; the last time was for defiance when he was eighteen. Roy had wanted to go to a concert with friends, but it would mean travelling out of town and missing his curfew deadline. His father refused to allow him home late, but Roy defied him and went anyway.
He knew the consequences would be a caning; he had received a few in the past, he knew how much it would hurt, you never get used to the pain of the cane, but he thought he could take it.
But, he wasn’t prepared for his father’s fury. It wasn’t the broken curfew that enraged him, it was the defiance of his clear instruction that he could not go to the concert. It had been a test of wills between the pair of them and there must only be one winner.
It was the first (and he hoped, the last) time Roy was caned on the bare buttocks; twelve lashes of the biggest and thickest cane his father could find at the school.
Now, he was facing his father once more. He had no excuses to offer for his behaviour; he was guilty of letting his mother and father down. He knew, but didn’t say out loud, he was struggling in the adult world. As a boy growing up there were rules and painful consequences for breaking them. He knew if he skipped school, or didn’t do his homework; he would be beaten; first at school, and then probably, again by his father at home.
In the adult world there were no consequences; if he skipped training nobody did anything about it and he wished they would. He wanted someone to take control of him; he was glad his father loved him enough to do so.
The caning was efficient, Mr Peterson was very experienced. First he placed a wooden chair in the middle of the dining room.
“Take down your trousers and underpants and bend over the chair, elbows flat on the seat in front.”
Roy blanched as he remembered how much agony he was left in after his last bare-bottomed caning. But, without a murmur, he did as instructed.
His father swished the cane through the air a couple of times and then tapped it on his son’s bottom to get his range, before slashing it hard onto the waiting target.
At about ten second intervals, he worked the cane down Roy’s quaking backside. The boy gasped as the first stroke flooded his brain with a sharp burning pain that had ignited his backside, then the second stroke lashed hard producing double the soreness, three, four and five went lower really stinging Roy’s bottom before number six lashed hard across the top of his thighs, making him scream in pain.
Mr Peterson had skilfully raised six angry weals across his buttocks. Roy would be unable to sit down in comfort for a day after.
The punishment over, Roy thanked his father. This was their customary ending to a caning; it was usually no more than a ritual, but, this time Roy really meant it; he hoped with his father’s encouragement he could improve as a rugby player and one day become a proper professional.
The next day at the club, Coach Needham noticed Roy wince as he sat on a hard wooden bench. He knew from the past what caused a boy to do this and was pleased; at least one of his rugby players would be playing to his full potential in future.
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More stories from Charles Hamilton II are on the MMSA website
Charles Hamilton the Second