We cannot win if we do not like each other

When I was a schoolboy we had a games-master named Mr. Wilkinson who had served the College for all eternity. I suppose he must have been in his fifties but he seemed ancient to us. He was small and craggy and shrewd. We liked him, called him Wilkie, the wise one. He coached us in football and always accompanied us when we played our matches.

One day we were going to play the final of a competition against another College team boasting a lot of stars. We ourselves were a pretty ordinary bunch so we found it strange how confident the coach was that we would win. As we talked it over just before the game we asked him why he felt so confident. We certainly didn’t feel that way. “Simple,” old Wilkie said, “I’ve seen them. They just don’t like each other. All of you get on well. You’ll see.”

He turned out to be right. They were much better than us really. However, they were selfish and played a bickering, unhappy game. They scored a couple of brilliant, individualistic goals, much better-looking than our bustling, scrappy joint efforts which dribbled into the net, but finally we scrambled a win and embraced in a joyful heap at the end.  “What did I tell you?” The coach said afterwards. “Call that a team? They loathed each other. Remember that.”….

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