The Woodpecker’s Win

Welcome to Story Quest, a weekly podcast where we bring your stories to life!

In this episode we bring Alby’s story – The Woodpecker’s Win- to life.

If you have a story idea, you could be like Alby and have it turned into a Story Quest. All you have to do is send us your story idea here. We know you have the best imaginations and together we can create the most brilliant stories!

That’s just what Alby did. You can watch the story they suggested come to life below, plus they tell us all about the inspiration behind the story at the end.

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Read along to Woodpecker’s Win here!

You can read along to the story while you listen. Just follow the text below. Don’t worry if you find a word tricky – you can pause the video whenever to give yourself more time

The Woodpeckers Win 

All the birds were getting in a right flap! “You have to give me the best branch on the beech tree!” Said Tristan, the footballing woodpecker. “Only the finest worms for me!” he trilled as his adoring fans offered up their juiciest morsels for him to eat.  But then came a big question from Sporting Bird Magazine “Tristan, do you think you’re past your best on the pitch?” 

Well, you could have heard a feather drop! All the birds stopped their tweeting and looked at the journalist who asked the question. No one had ever questioned Tristan before. This was big! 

Tristan was so good at football he was basically a bit of a bird celebrity.  When he swooped onto the pitch the crowds would cheep excitedly and flap their wings to make a birdy Mexican wave.  His team – the Puffingham Rovers were top of the Premier league and they never lost a match with Tristan on the pitch.  He could out tackle even the biggest blackbird and run rings around the sparrows in defence.  He was, it seemed, unstoppable. 

Tristan Hardbeak  had started off as a fairly nice woodpecker all that fame had sort of gone to Tristan’s head and yes you’ve guessed it – it made him into a bossy sort of bird.  And he was getting bossier by the day. And he spent a long long time gazing at his reflection in the pond thinking about how handsome and talented he was.  Time when he should have been training in fact. 

All those free worms and lying around looking at himself when he should have been training began to make Tristain less fit than he needed to be to score goals. If you’re a premier bird league footballer that is a problem. 

After hearing the question from the journalist about his performance, Tristan few straight off to the dressing room. He left behind his worms and his adoring fans and sat next to his kit bag. He knew what the sports reporter had said was right. He had another game the next day. Maybe today’s game was just a one off. 

*whistle sound effect* 

The next game began with so many birds chanting his name. Once more Tristan’s ego got the better of him. He strutted around on the pitch as if he was the most important bird in the world. Someone passed the ball to him and he started to flap his wings to get it further up the pitch. But as he did, he noticed he was getting puffed out. The other birds tackled the ball and dribbled it away.  He tried to kick the ball into what was pretty much an open goal but he was so tired and unfit that his foot missed the ball and,.. 

*sfx: splat* 

He ended up on his fluffy back and it took him quite a while to get back on his feet. 

The manager of the team, a stern looking Jay from Germany called Falco Dusseldorf shouted at him from the dugout: “You’re going to lose us the cup!” he bellowed.  “And worse than that, you’re going to injure yourself! And then where will you be!” 

But Tristan didn’t listen or care. All he could hear were his adoring fans in his ears, although even they were getting a bit fed up at this point. After the game, he had a bird bath and went home. Why did the manager shout at him like that. Did he not know who he was? He was Tristan Hardbeak – the best footballing bird in all the world! Honestly, first the journalist and now the manager. Tristan felt like they needed to learn some respect, but the truth was, Tristan needed to learn a lesson himself! 

A week passed, and Tristan hadn’t done much training and had been given a presentation box of worms and fatballs by The Worm-Mart corporation. Tristan got lots of free things sent to him by different companies. He had munched his way through so many worms that week that he could barely fit into his kit for his match that morning. Little did he know that today’s match was going to be very different. 

*SFX whistle* 

The match started off fairly well. Tristan was in possession of the ball and was racing it down the beach to the goal – he was huffing and puffing like anything, but was determined not to stop.  A pigeon on the opposing team intercepted him with an impressive tackle – the sort that Tristan had swerved a thousand times but on this occasion WHAM BAM and in a flutter of feathers they collided and Tristan fell to the floor.  He’d hurt himself so badly that he had to be stretchered off the beach with a crumpled wing and a sore leg. 

“That’s it – you’re off the team!” said Falco Dusseldorf and then added  “Use the time to get better and fitter – and maybe think about not being bossy any more whilst you’re at it!” 

Tristan sadly limped off and with the remaining strength in his wings flapped up to a nook in the big oak tree and huddled in sadly.  He sighed a big sigh and felt very sorry for himself. 

He stayed there for a very long time until people had almost forgotten all about him – there was a new superstar on the bird football circuit – a chaffinch called Jason Finchley.  There were T shirts with Finchley on, his picture was on posters and pencil cases.  Tristan couldn’t seem to move without seeing Jason’s smug face and it didn’t make him feel any better at all.  So he spent his days, mainly sulking and dreaming of punting Jason himself into the back of the net to the cheers of the crowd.   

One day Tristan was mooching around the Oak tree, still feeling sorry for himself when he saw something going on on the forest floor below.  A load of sparrows were, it looks like having a kick around with a few acorns.  He huffed – they had no technique and were making very basic mistakes.  I mean he might have been an annoying Woodpecker and one who was still a bit crumpled and limpy but he did know his stuff when it came to football. 

Watching them, he found himself being temped to get a closer look and so he flapped awkwardly down to the ground and hopped towards the group. 

A gasp went up – the sparrows recognised him and couldn’t believe that they were so close to the once famous Tristan Hardbeak.  They waited for him to say something – too starstruck to open their own beaks.  There was a long silence.  Then Tristan spoke. 

“I’ve never seen such a rubbish tackle in all my life!” 

Well that wasn’t quite what they were expecting.  Tristan hadn’t finished. 

“And you – yes you – your footwork is appalling – you might as well put some clown shoes on to complete the look.” 

The biggest sparrow cleared his throat and then piped up.  

“Well – maybe you could teach us ?” 

“No one’s interested in  me any more – I’m  a useless washed up old has been!” 

“No you’re not  you’re Tristan  Hardbeak! Highest scoring bird of all time!”  they chirped excitedly. 

“So… so  you do remember me?”  Tristan felt a warm glow of happiness return.  And maybe yes maybe he could teach the sparrows a few tricks. 

So that’s what happened – Tristan was never fit enough to play again himself – at least not in the Premier Bird League but he began teaching the sparrows, setting up a football academy all of his own  and then the bluetits and the great tits and the starlings and soon birds would come from far and wide to learn from the best.  And it wasn’t long until Jason Finchley had some very stiff competition. 

And Tristan was still bossy now and again but he didn’t have time to lounge about looking at himself so was a lot less annoying than he had been and was even happy – he found that he was actually quite a good teacher which is something he would never had known if he hadn’t had his accident.  If you want to learn football – Tristan’s Academy is the place to be – although, only if you’re a bird!                                

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