As the England team returned from their crushing defeat at the World Egg Cup, the downcast layers reflected upon their misfortunes. As the hopes of a nation were trodden into the dustbath, dejected team members struggled to come to terms with what had happened.
“I don’t know what the referee was thinking,” said Waynetta, a bonny hybrid hen, “anyone could see that it was in. Poor Francesca could not really have done more. She gave her all, that egg was definitely IN the box.”
Francesca was not speaking to anyone; she was pacing up and down the enclosure, running through it all again and again in her head….how she had felt it coming, got into position, seen the posts of the nest box, taken a deep breath – checked her sight lines – and pushed. Out popped the egg. Quickly she had wheeled around to watch the egg’s trajectory as it hurtled towards the posts. She watched as it flew gracefully towards the nest box. Was it, wasn’t it? Frenzied clucking erupted from the England fans. She had scored! It was a goal! Two eggs all – England was back in the game!
Everyone was eggstatic and the stadium was buzzing, this time not with flies but with jubilation and national pride. She was going to be a national hero. Whole newspaper articles would be written about this goal, she might even be Hen of the Match.
But the moment was to turn into disaster as the referee ruled that the egg had been laid outside the nest box and therefore didn’t count.
OUT? Screamed the fans? Are you mad? Are you blind? How can it be out – we saw it go in! The nestcam saw it go in! IT WAS IN!
But the referee did not reassess the decision and the egg – the one that everyone saw go in – was not allowed. We were back to two eggs to one and England had not equalised. Scrambled but not out, the team left the pitch at half time, still trying to get their combs around what had just happened. Even the prospect of a high energy mealworm snack and a vitamin tonic drink with added calcium did not lift their spirits.
When the whistle blew to signal the second half, the hens trooped back with stiff upper beaks, determined to lob some serious eggs at the nestbox. Their own egg keeper, Davina, knew the pressure was really on to stop the rival flock from consolidating a victory based at this point almost entirely on the referee’s poor eyesight. She ducked, she dived, but while England’s spirits were low, the enemy’s were on fire, and in the end her nifty moves were not enough to stop the invading flock from slipping two more eggs into the nestbox right in front of Davina’s beak. Four eggs to one – it was over, and England had egg on their faces. There was no way back into the game now.
“Remove the foe, remove the foe”, a cry suddenly went up from from the England sidelines, as if to unnerve their opponents with fearsome chants and wattle wobbling. But England Manager, Fatio, misheard and mistakenly took off Germaine for Amelia, in a 71 st minute substitution. The marauding enemy played for time (not that they needed it) by swapping a few birds around too, before finally Fatio brought on chicken winger Shauntelle to replace naughty girl Glenda who was now right back in the box having been shown the yolk card.
When the final whistle blew, our girls could not get back to the changing rooms quickly enough, so miserable were they. Even the group dustbath did nothing to raise their spirits. “You were robbed,” said Fatio. “It was all down to Francesca’s egg being ruled out. You all laid well up to that point – that’s the bottom line.”
“Talking of which, my own bottom line needs a proper rest, I’ve been laying for months on end with no winter break,” said Germaine. “As a team we are seriously overlaid. Ask anyone.”
“But we need to embrace nestbox technology to decide if an egg is in or out,” piped up Waynetta, “Like they have at Wimbledon – it’s called HawkEye.” At this, the whole team ran for cover in case of bird of prey attack.
When they emerged from the bushes an hour later- still scanning the skies for any shadowy and threatening silhouettes- the discussion continued into the World Egg Cup massacre.
“The President of FIFA (Fowls in Football Academies) was blathering on about how we DON’T need nestbox technology, said Amelia. “Clearly he has never laid an egg in his life. But then I suppose, as a cockerel, he won’t have.”
“I think he may have to admit he cocked up on this one,” said Fatio, scanning the Vacant Positions page. “In fact, I think you can conclude – we were thoroughly trussed and fowled.”