Why me? Why am I always the one coach picks on to paddle when something goes wrong? I’m the one who has to “assume the position,” palms on shins, legs straight, butt sticking out. It’s me who feels the full force of coach’s 14-inch paddle across the arse.
I don’t have much padding back there and his wood leaves heavy purple bruises; right in the centre of each cheek. Coach doesn’t hold back. It’s a full swing every time. Crack! Heavy beech against my poor cotton-covered rear.
That’s when he lets me keep the shorts up. We don’t wear cycling shorts underneath like all the professional players do. Some of us wear jocks, but otherwise we’re left swinging in the breeze. Even with a jockstrap, the rear end is exposed. Five – ten swats sometimes – on the naked flesh. Can you imagine what that does to the bum of a poor boy like me?
Only today we lost two-one. Our defence was shocking. Their forwards went through it like a hot knife and butter. Who gets blamed? Me. I’m the number eight for pity’s sake; defence has got nothing to do with me.
“Chapman,” coach says as we all trudge back into the dressing room, “My office. Now.” I’m hardly through the door before he’s reaching for the paddle he has hanging from a hook on the wall. He holds it in his right hand and taps it menacingly into the palm of his left. It’s an awesome thing. I think it’s homemade, or at least not store-bought. I don’t know my oak from my willow tree, but someone said they thought it was made of beech. Is that likely? I really don’t know.
It’s maybe fourteen inches long at the blade and about three inches wide. Large holes have been drilled into it. Apparently, this decreases wind resistance and lets it swoosh through the air at speed before it lands on the tight shorts of the lad offering himself for discipline.
There is total silence from the changing room. The other lads have not gone to the showers. They are waiting to hear what is happening. Some will have placed bets on whether I holler.
“You know the drill,” coach says, without telling me what it is I’ve supposed to have done this time.
“But …” I begin to protest but bite my tongue just in time. There’s no point. Coach is the coach. He’s in charge. He’s the boss man. He. Is. The. Law. He can throw anyone off the team. For any reason. He owns me. I have a soccer scholarship to the university. If I lose my place in the squad, I lose my place here. Then I’m on the unemployment line with a few million other kids. I can say “goodbye” to any future right there.
“Assume the position,” coach growls. He is a small, squat man, almost as wide as he is tall. It’s hard to believe he was one of the top left-halves of his generation until a double leg fracture put paid to his playing career. That was in the old days before everyone was paid squillions of bucks a week just to warm the bench.
He waves the paddle in front of my face to emphasise he is ready to roll. The office is small, there’s only a table with a laminated top pushed against the wall and two rickety straight-backed wooden chairs. Sometimes he makes me spread-eagle myself across the table or bend over the back of a chair. Once – and thank the Lord it was only the once – he sat down in the chair himself and spread his legs and made me bend over his knee. He ripped down my shorts and spanked me with the palm of his hand on my bare bum. For about an hour. Or, so it seemed. It’s bad enough having to submit myself to coach for a whacking, but across his knee for a bare-arsed spanking …
This time I have to “assume the position.” That means hands on shins, legs straight, back arched and backside sticking out. I feel the blood rush to my face the moment I stare down at the dirty grey chipped floor tiles. I have the complexion of a beetroot. Pretty soon, I know, my arse will be the same colour.
From the corner of my eye I can see coach take the few steps he needs to be directly to my left. I can smell sour sweat on his clothes. He is breathing heavily. So am I. This is going to sting like hell. My buttocks clench. They always do at this point, I don’t seem to have any control over them. Does the paddle hurt any less if the buttocks are hard? I really have no idea.
I hear coach hack a dry cough, the paddle is pressed against the very centre of both my cheeks. He is taking aim. I shut my eyes tight and suck my bottom lip with my top. Whack! The wood hammers into my bum. I am shoved forward by the force, but steady myself. The pain is searing, but I am not going to stand up. I don’t want to give coach the satisfaction of knowing he has hurt me. Besides, I don’t want extra swats.
The tariff from coach is always five whacks or ten. He never tells you at the start what you are getting. I dig my fingers hard into my shin bones and wait for the second. It lands lower than the first. Coach is aiming for the tender “sit spot” just where the buttocks and the thighs meet. It hurts like hell. He needs to be accurate and I must make sure not to move; my shorts are so tiny they hardly cover my cheeks, he could end up paddling me on the bare flesh.
The third whack goes higher. I now have a wide line of soreness running from the top of my mounds, over the crest and into the under-curve. I know when I inspect the damage later no part of my bum will be untouched.
Sweat is pouring from my head. My hair couldn’t be wetter if I had stepped into the shower. The room is sweltering, there is no window and the electric fan has not been switched on. Coach does the coughing thing again. Then he settles. Whack. Whack. Two swats in rapid succession land on exactly the same spot. Torture. Total, unmitigating agony. I suck down the yell I desperately want to make. My body twists and turns as it tries to absorb the pain. I cling onto my shins, I will not stand up. I will not. I say this in my head as a kind of mantra. I am chanting to the god of spanked boys everywhere. Please help me to withstand this.
Sweat stings my eyes but I can still see coach waddle across the room and reach up to the wall. He is replacing the paddle. There is a god. Thank you.
“Stand up.” Coach croaks the words. He desperately needs a drink. I rise slowly. My arse feels like it’s on fire. I want to rub away at the hurt, but that will have to wait until I have privacy. I know the whole surface of my buttocks will feel rough like leather. The intense pain is already easing into a hot throbbing sensation. Once I let cold water from the shower run over my bum it will become a warm glow. My “sit-spot” radiates heat. It will be a bit uncomfortable to sit for some hours.
“Go.” Coach nods towards the door of his office. I don’t need telling twice, I am through it and on my way to the changing room. I know the lads will sneer and jeer at me. It’s what they call “banter.” One or two will insist on seeing the marks. Taylor will probably want to touch my bum and trace the outlines of the paddle marks with his fingers.
Soon I shall be showered and we will all be on the bus home. Later, some of us will go to the pub and get bladdered. By tomorrow the pain will have gone completely, but the marks will stay for a few days. By next matchday my bum will be free of bruises again. Then, I’ll probably find myself back in the coach’s office, bum held high. It is what it is, I suppose.
But, I wish someone would just answer my question: Why me?
Other stories you might like
More stories from Charles Hamilton II are on the MMSA website
Charles Hamilton the Second