Tuesday, 14 November 2017

Major Tinkering

Another, more timely match report for you now, following last week’s monolithic round-up. Last Friday saw us once again scrabbling for numbers owing to a combination of last minute cancellations and people being busy doing other things. As such, the line-ups were subject to scrutiny from a man called Major Tinkering. This is what he ended up with:

Yellows: Stan, Patrick, Mick, Danny, me, Michele, Yev, Ross

Blues: Peter, Joseph, Charlie, Simon Gas, ringer (Daniel?), Paul, Ian Baggies

Simon drafted in a ringer who I think was called Daniel to help bolster the numbers, but with Mick, Peter and Yev all arriving late the first few minutes were inevitably disjointed and chaotic. Nevertheless, the Yellow team – featuring all three Kavanagh men – took the lead through either Stan or Patrick, whose fraternal understanding was very much the main talking point of a somewhat disappointing game.

Mick eschewed my various exhortations to join the Blue team, which was the original plan, and instead donned a Yellow Bib and played alongside his two sons. I can’t imagine why. As the goals started to crash in for the Yellows I changed sides to attempt to balance the two teams, with Peter arriving to join the Blue team. This left with us a game in which the three aforementioned Kavanagh men – plus Danny and Michele – were pitted against the massed ranks of Morgan Stanley. Clearly, corporate finance is not what it once was and despite having a distinct aerial advantage (Joe, Peter and Charlie must have a combined height of around twenty feet), the twinkle toes of Patrick and Stan and the ceaseless activity of Michele’s feet meant that they cruised away with the game, deftly stroking the ball around the park and in Stan and Patrick’s case, using their brotherly intuition to ping thirty yard balls blindly in the safe knowledge that one of them would be on the end of it.
The goals that the Yellows did score were chiefly due to some defensive mishaps, (never more so than when I failed to deal with a high ball from Charlie which eventually fell to him after Peter’s initial shot was blocked). 

At 7-2 Peter finally made the decision to switch the teams and Danny duly jogged over to don a Blue bib and that team ‘won’ the last few minutes, forcing home the one goal after some robust work through the middle of the park. And a mention for Paul, who I am reliably informed by Michele performed a nutmeg on the stylish Hiberno-Italian out on the shadows on the touchline.

Final score: Yellows 7 - Blues 3/2 (or Blues 1 – Yellows 0), if you want to give Danny two wins in one evening.

And so to the pub, where the England v Germany game was on, not that anyone deemed it worthy of any attention. Talking points included the centenary of the Russian revolution, the eternal topic of men and women (Ross and Yev in discussion there) and not least, plans for the next few weeks, as Simon Gas is off to South East Asia after this Friday’s game until December 15th

If we agree that Simon is very much the Captain Mainwaring of Friday Night Football, neither the main man nor myself as a would-be Sergeant Wilson will be around on the 24th November - continuing with this theme, neither is Danny’s Corporal Jones, nor Steve’s Private Frazer. Let’s hope the game in two weeks’ time is not doomed, (“doomed!”). Perhaps we’ll have to leave it all to Major Tinkering…

I’m off to see Blondie on Friday, so see you all on the first December. At ease!

Monday, 6 November 2017


Welcome everyone, to the omnibus edition of the Coram Fields Spizzenergi football blog, back very much by popular demand. Muchos apologios for the dearth of reports recently, but hopefully this marathon piece will go some way to compensate. And more apologies in advance if your particular goal / great save / stunning pass / late tackle (hello, Steve!) didn’t make it into the report.

Four games have come and gone since the last blog post and I’ll try and deal with as much as I can recall. A few weeks’ back we had what Simon Gas suggested I label the ‘Wheel of Misfortune’, where a tight game – they’re all tight these days, thanks to my trademarked Player Attributes Scoring System – could and would have been settled by the team that Danny, Bristol Paul and Peter were representing, had it not been for the fact that Peter’s characteristic thunderbolt of a shot (hit with customary violence from just outside the area) cannoned back off the post, flew across the line where Mick was in goal, pinged off the opposite post and was apparently clawed to safety.

As far as Bristol Paul was concerned, who reacted first to the rebound, it was a goal, but Mick and I felt that due to some freak of physics the ball hadn’t crossed the line at any stage in its extraordinary journey from Peter’s laces to the edges of the penalty area. A minority opinion emerged in the pub afterwards that the ball had, in fact, hit the wheel inside the goal which helped to explain the trajectory of its arc and that owing to the sheer velocity of the strike this fact had evaded the naked eye. Older readers may recall a similar incident at Highfield Road in 1980 when a young Clive Allen had a perfectly legitimate goal ruled out for Crystal Palace’s ‘Team of the Eighties’.

All that aside, the consensus seemed to be that it was no goal, and just like Terry Venables all those years ago, the apparently wronged party remain aggrieved. My advice: don’t hit the ball so hard. I believe that this game ended up four apiece, with all the usual suspects scoring goals along with two opportunist strikes from the Emilio Butragueño of South Yorkshire, Andy.

Onto the following week and my main recollection is of another ball over the line affair, which once again saw a difference of opinion between Danny and myself. This time I can write with authority, as I was inches away from the action. Liam, if memory serves, had an effort partly parried by the keeper (this was a glancing effort following a corner). The ball looked like it was over the line, but I was on hand to nudge it further toward the back of the net as Simon Ink (?) forlornly tried to recover the ball. Rather than hack away in an unseemly fashion I wheeled away, in a manner reminiscent of Roger Hunt in 1966, as the ball had clearly crossed the line. Danny, I think it’s fair to say, didn’t agree. Regardless, the goal stood and may have made the difference as I am sure that this game finished 5-4.

Two games to go now, with more details emerging from the mist of my memory. The game on the 27th October finished four all, although there was a final strike from Alessandro just after the whistle went which warrants reporting. Following a cleared corner the ball came back to me and I sent over a sumptuous cross-field pass with the outside of my right foot which was met on the half-volley by Alessandro. Ian Gooner was having none of it, so the final score remained 4-4, with Liam on the scoresheet for the Yellows, who had roared into a two-goal lead at the start of play thanks to the fact that the Yellow team were only semi-conscious that the game was underway. Happily, I still have the two team lists from this game, which saw the return of specialist goalkeeper Ed.

Yellows: Ed, Simon Gas, Ian Gooner, Adolpho, Mick, Peter, Yev and Michele

Blues: me, Joe, Alessandro, Mario, Andy, David, Bristol Paul, Liam and Nick

As is custom, Yev was late so we had a bit of jiggery pokery with the line-ups, but much fun was had by all. And a word of praise at this point for Ian Gooner, who is manfully fighting the Battle of Wounded Knee, i.e. his own. Let’s hope it’s a battle he can win, aided and abetted by the pharmaceutical shock troops of Co-codamol. I can also remember a bit of pub chat from the evening, with discussions about black female literature, England’s Ashes prospects, the merits of REM’s cover versions of proto-punk classics (including Spizzenergi’s Where’s Captain Kirk)* and a live review of the Tom Robinson Band gig at the 100 Club. Foremost in the memory was an extraordinary tableau at the start of the evening as Ian was forced to send a text message to the various people at the table to get their attention, as they were all glued to their smartphones like a gaggle of delicate millennials.

And thus to last Friday.

With Ross and Ian Baggies pulling out of the action due to sickness, Simon drafted in the services of Stan, Son of Mick and Brother of Patrick, to make a triumvirate of Kavanaghs (who were joined by the three Simons: myself, the Muswell Hillbilly himself and Simon Ink, to form what I am going to label a ‘Politeness’ of Simons). Here are your two teams:

Yellows: Andy, Mick, David, Steve, Alan, Mario, Peter and Nick

Blues: Stan, Danny, Simon Gas, Simon Ink and me, Michele, Joe and Patrick

Ten goals to report on here, some of them better than others. The Blues took a quick two-nil lead thanks to some mazy dribbling from Patrick and quick feet from Michele, but following Nick’s arrival around the ten minute mark the game settled down and thereafter was a closely contested affair. After the Blues scored a third, the Yellow team staged a tremendous come back with Peter getting the first goal from close range – he coolly took aim at Simon Gas in goal on the near post and lashed the ball into Simon, the velocity proving impossible to repel – before Mario scored a tremendous volley from close range which was in the roof of the net before I had a chance to move.

After retaking the two goal lead Mick forced home a third goal for the Yellow following a corner which I could only parry back into his knees. Either Patrick, Stan, or Michele then got a fifth for the Blue team, which should have been enough to prevail on the night. The two brothers displayed a tremendous understanding and linked up well with the quicksilver feet of Michele, while Joe was his imperious self at the back and Danny displayed his usual box-to-box athleticism and determination.

But with the score at 5-3 to the Blues I handed over the gloves to Stan as we waited for the Yellow team to kick off. I say handed over – I left them on the ground as Stan trudged back to take them, but so slow was his progress that by the time the Yellow team had restarted he was still facing away from ball and his father’s eyes lit up as he steered home an easy fourth goal to give him a brace on the night. Cue understandable rage from Danny, although I was at pains to point out that the ball was dead when I handed over goalkeeping responsibility to Stan. With rancour and discontentment still festering in the Blue ranks a fifth – and equalising – goal for the Blues soon arrived, as the ball was inadequately cleared.

Final score: Yellows 5 – Blues 5

What else?

Well, we had two matches in a row disrupted by fireworks on the pitch, as the young scamps living in the area strive to keep English folkways alive by behaving in the most anti-social manner possible, with the whiff of cordite mixing in the Autumnal air. We’ve had relatively few balls going missing and the Skinners has had some really good beers on.

This Friday marks my final game for two weeks, by which time our spiritual leader, Simon Gas, will be on his ‘Mission of Burma’ (another one for the teenagers there), as he tours other people’s misery, before ending up on a Holiday in Cambodia. He’s either on a work assignment or performing a one-man punk tribute holiday.

All this means that I’ll be responsible for finding out who is playing each week as well as picking the teams, allocating bib washing and collecting the subs. You’ve been warned.
*sample youtube comment: “I loved them elate 80 or whevever before green but this is shit”

Monday, 9 October 2017

You can call me Al(phonso/essandro/berto/ etc. etc.)

Welcome back, one and all, to episode four of the 2017/18 Spizzenergi football blog.

A double report this week, the second half of which comes thanks to Paul’s extremely detailed dispatch over the weekend just gone. But first, news of Friday 29th September’s game, which featured two teams that lined up thusly:

Yellows: me, Ian Gooner, Simon, Danny, Liam, Patrick, Nick (Joe’s mate), Ross, Adolpho, Paul (Guvnor)

Blues: Geoff, David, Mick, Michele, Yev, Joe, Peter, Alessandro and Alan

A nice, tight game this one, with the Yellow team prevailing by the odd goal in eleven. Alessandro got things underway for the Blues with a deft shoe-shuffle followed by a rasping effort which slammed into the top corner on the near post and promptly lead to Danny ending his sojourn in goal with immediate effect. Also on target for the Blues were Yev, who grabbed a brace, while Alan toiled in vain for a goal and uncharacteristically fluffed his lines on a couple of occasions when well placed.

On the mark for the Yellows was Nick, who got at least one goal, including a typically elegant finish for what proved to be the winner, Liam, who continues to belie Gordon Strachan’s dismissal of his fellow countrymen as being “genetically behind” by both being under six foot and consistently deadly in front of goal, and none other than myself. (My goal was a real thing of beauty, capitalising on Alessandro dropping the ball in front of me whereupon I threw my ‘burly’ frame into the ‘keeper and backheeled home from all of two yards).

On the subject of the Italians, of whom we seemingly have more and more each week, some of our players need to be aware that they have different names, some of which start with the letter ‘A’, but some do not. Last week we had calls for ‘Alessandro’, ‘Alphonso’, ‘Adolpho’ and ‘Alberto’: there were two people playing called ‘Alessandro’ and ‘Adolpho’ and sometimes the people calling their name were directing their shouts at the players with that name, but at other times they weren’t. And last word on this game goes to Adolpho, who I have just remembered opened the scoring for the Yellow with a tremendous goal that saw the midfield maestro juggle the ball off his chest and volley home from the halfway line. He then had the unbelievable good grace to apologise for shooting, as he (correctly) surmised that there wasn’t too much else on.

Final score: Yellows 6 – Blues 5

And onto the Skinners where the evening’s stand-out event was Ian celebrating his freedom from the tyranny of home loans by standing a round of Laphroaig to toast being mortgage free at fifty-three. Chapeau, big man.

I missed last Friday’s match as I was out with work colleagues trying to foster some esprit de corps. But Paul messaged over a comprehensive round up of the action, on and off the field, which I’ll endeavour to convey now.

I am reliably informed that Friday’s match was another relatively evenly contested affair, with Michele getting a great goal for the Yellow team. (It would seem that his compatriots have had enough of being wrongly identified, as he was the only Italian playing).

Also on the scoresheet was Mick, who apparently caught Simon Gas unawares by clipping home into the Chief Executive’s near post; his son Stan also had a good game by all accounts, with Paul likening his passing to Spanish legend Xabi Alonso.

However, the Blue team ran out 4-3 winners thanks to what Paul labelled a ‘goal blitz’ (in true tabloid style) from Patrick, as well as a great performance from Yev, no doubt aided by the fact he turned up on time.

Also mentioned in dispatches were Charlie, doing some sterling defensive work for the Blues, and the Caledonian triumvirate of Liam, Mark and Steve for the Yellows, who could not quite do enough to force the draw despite a strong final ten minutes.

With the average age being younger than usual it sounds like a good game to have missed and it would seem I was not the only one, with Bristol Paul being absent – somewhat implausibly – playing golf in Northampton ahead of Rovers’ game there on Saturday.

And it would appear that congratulations are in order as Ross has accepted a proposal of marriage – Paul didn’t say otherwise, so one can only assume this is from his long-term partner and the mother of his daughter, as opposed, say, to his long-term bandmate Simon Ink. We wish them well.

In other off the field news I am told that no fewer than three people have attempted to coax Tony back to the fray, but presumably he’s busy helping David Davis with the Brexit negotiations.

I’ll end this week’s post with a verbatim quote from Paul’s report:

Danny had a strong performance and suggest[ed] a comedy evening for the Xmas bash, but don't we see comedy every Friday.

Thursday, 28 September 2017

Memory loss

Welcome back, one and all, as football in all of its forms continues apace. Unbelievably, we’ve already had three games back in the new season and they’ve all been evenly contested games, which is better than having unevenly contested ones. Last Friday’s game may have been a bit low on quality, but it was a tight match in which the lead changed hands at least three times. Here are your two teams, with one side having ten and the other nine:

Yellows: Simon Ink, Mark, Simon, Danny, Yev, Peter, Patrick, Liam and Mario

Blues: me, Ian Gooner, Ian Baggies, Bristol Paul, Mick, Michele, Callum, Joe, Ross and Adolpho

A couple of late arrivals meant I spent the first five minutes (or so) on the Yellow side before Joe and Yev both arrived and the teams settled into the two line-ups provided above.

By the time I crossed the Rubicon (i.e. the half-way line) the Blues were already one up, although posterity cannot recall the scorer, (Posterity is clearly not the man he once was).

For some reason I am having enormous difficulty remembering any of the goals this week, but the story of the game is best characterised by a lot of huffing, puffing and misplaced passes. Both teams went a bit more direct than one would usually see, although props go to Patrick who endeavoured to jink and shimmy his way through, and Adolpho (who was erroneously referred to as ‘Alessandro’ throughout the game by team-mates and opponents alike) who demonstrated a passion for the beautiful game.

Perhaps more agriculturally, Peter managed to larrup the ball so hard that it cleared the crossbar, the fence and even the threshold to the Foundling Museum, where it presumably finally came to rest, disturbing the ghosts of eighteenth century urchins whose syphilitic mothers had perished in the shadow of the workhouse. Not to be outdone Patrick soon followed suit, and then Michele had a go at the clearing the admittedly lower fence at the other end. Not a match for the purist.

Whilst the specifics of the goals elude me, I can remember that having taken a one-nil lead, the Blue team increased their advantage to 3-1 before being pegged back first to three apiece, before the Blues took a 4-3 lead – I have a feeling that this score came from a corner that flew over a melee of heads and which Ian Baggies could only parry further into the goal. Given that Mario, Liam, Peter and Patrick were all wearing yellow bibs I think the Blues did well defensively to restrict the Yellow team to four goals, even with the extra man.

At the other end Ross did some sterling work in holding the ball up for Callum and Adolpho to run onto, with the former getting at least one goal and Michele also on the scoresheet.

Final score: Yellows 4 – Blues 4

That’s your lot this week; hopefully I’ll be in firmer mental shape after this week’s game.

Finally for this week, here is a photograph of a grown man I spotted on the train into work yesterday morning.  

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Hands across the ocean...

Welcome back, one and all, for the inaugural match report of the 2017/18 season. It’s as if we never went away.

Two games to report on so far, the first of which is already fading from memory like the spectral face of a Victorian wraith that appeared in the shadows on the way home from the pub. The overriding recollection from what UEFA would no doubt label ‘Match Day One’ was the fact Mario has clearly been spending the Summer in some sort of Alpine training camp with a team of nutritionists and a bespoke fitness programme, as he plundered no fewer than four goals, including one where I was mugged from a cross from the left and a ridiculous goal from around the half way line that left Alan floundering in the shadows. That said, it could just be that he’s better at football than most of us.

Also back among the goals was Joe, who managed to grab some headlines despite, or possibly because, of a few lunchtime liveners - the elegant midfielder calmly steered in a couple of goals after trademark lolloping runs. Mick equalised with virtually the last kick of the match after drifting unnoticed into the area and calmly placing the ball home from a corner to make it five apiece. And I have a feeling that Simon Ink might have scored, too, but you know what the say about feelings.

Let the records state the two teams were (roughly) as follows:

Yellows: me, Simon Ink, Mark, Joe, Danny, Liam, Alan, Bristol Paul, Mick

Blues: Ian Baggies, Ian Gooner, Michele, Yev, Mario, Peter, Ross, Andy and Simon Gas

All in all, a very good game to usher in the new campaign. This week’s match was another selection triumph for my much vaunted Player Attributes Statistics System, with the following two teams:

Yellows: me, Ian Gooner, Nick (Joe’s mate), Liam, Danny, Joe, Alan, Mark

Blues: Ian Baggies, Paul, Bristol Paul, Simon Gas, Peter, Mick, David, Michele

We managed to get underway on time for once and a pretty decent game ensued, with David opening the scoring with a bizarre own goal which crept past an astonished throng of Blue defenders, before Alan extended the Yellow lead with a smashing volley that was crashed home after a partial clearance from a corner. Liam was also involved in the goals, but the game was won by two marvellous finishes from Nick, (Joe’s diminutive mate as opposed to the bearded six-footer); the first came after some deft interplay at the edge of the Blue area that saw Nick crash the ball home with a barely perceptible turn of his foot. The second, and ultimately winning goal, came after some good work from Danny saw Nick calmly cushion the ball with his left before slotting home with his right, the greasy surface proving no impediment.

On the scoresheet for the Blues was Ian Baggies, with a bizarre goal which Joe mysteriously left for Ian Gooner in goal to mop up, only for the giant ex-punk to find himself horribly wrong-footed.

Final score: Yellows 5 – Blues 3

And so to the pub, the first time for me this Autumn. A reasonable turn out at the Skinners this week, with Simon Gas, both Pauls, both Ians, Mick, Alan and myself all there for at least a couple of drinks. In amongst the dire predictions for Sunday’s London derby ( at least as far as Arsenal were concerned) were discussions of 1970’s Working Class Christmases, travelling in North America and some music chat, which ended with an anecdote about Tom Robinson and Eddie Grant.

But the final word this week goes to the Cologne fans who had boosted Craig’s coffers by emptying his barrels of Carling over the previous 24 hours ahead of their extravaganza at the Emirates. Some of them were still partying a day later, as the pictures prove. Hands across the ocean and all that; for reasons that are not entirely clear, Mick is pretending to be a goat in this photo.

Until Friday… 

Monday, 4 September 2017

Another Summer over

Another Summer over then. Many apologies for the complete absence of the final two match reports of the old season. I did block out one day at the end of July to write them up, but my PC decided to install an ‘upgrade’, (i.e. a totally superfluous revision of some of its operating system which takes it one step closer to obsolescence and thus necessitating another financial outlay – that’s late capitalism right there), which literally took all day and hence made it impossible to do anything on the computer. After that, the last few weeks have gone by in a blur of rainy weather and Daddy Day Care stuff. Oh, and some work.

I have kept my notes from those games, so all is not lost. The two pictures here illustrate that the penultimate game of the 2016/17 campaign ended in a 6-4 win for the Blue team, with all ten goals accounted for: on the mark for the Blue team were Simon Inkpen, who my notes tell me “blasted from outside the area”, David, who I can still see spotting Nick off his line in goal and deliciously sailing the ball high over Nick’s head as he lurked guiltily on the edge of the area, Adolpho, who scored straight from the kick-off after the Yellow team had got back to 2-1, Yev, who evidently scored from “close distance” after a goalmouth scramble, Alan, from wide left on the left with his left foot, and Peter, who posterity does not provide us with any more details.

The four Yellow goals came from Alessandro, who passed the ball home, Will of the Fylde coast who the Coram Field parchment states “leathered in from outside the area” and a brace from Liam, both from “close range”. Well done, everyone.

The historical document capturing the final match of the season is, sadly, less detailed, but still records all the players and most of the goal scorers.

You can see for yourself who played – I’m a busy man, just enlarge the image – but the Yellows’ goals came from Andy (“a stooping header”), two from Mario, one after he very nearly ruptured my spleen in a collision as I vainly attempted to prevent from him scoring, with the pocket dynamo rattling the ball home from the ensuing stramash, Peter (again, no details) and Yev. 

Three goals for the Blue team, two of them from Mick. I’m usually accused of underplaying Mick’s always magnificent contributions, so let the record state that he got a credit for his brace, while the other goal is chalked off to the memory of the Unknown Goal Scorer. 

That game finished 5-3 to the Yellows, in case you weren’t paying attention.

Which brings us nicely up to date. What will this season bring? During a Summer break in which football finally shed any residual scraps of reason and credibility – I’m talking about you Kyle Walker, worth £50m for running Very Fast, I’m talking about Neymar, bought with the largesse of an oil-sodden Arab state and I’m talking about you, Arsène, who has reduced my club to a laughing stock – can the good denizens of Coram Fields remind us all about the true spirit of the game, where values such as team-work, integrity and old-fashioned hard work still count for something? Or will it all descend into moaning within five minutes of the kick off? I think we all know the answer. Come on then, Players of Friday Night, for the good of the game; dust off your boots and air that old Ayr shirt as we all count down to the real kick off to the season on Friday.

See you all there.