Monday, 29 April 2013

New Recruits

And so it came to pass that with the changing of the kick off time from 8.00 pm to 7.00 pm a cavalry charge of young knights galloped in from across the nation’s capital to rescue the Coram Field Collective from endless games of five or six aside that ended up hopelessly one-sided with players purple-faced from the lung-bursting effort required to cover the wide expanses of the far pitch.

Simon Gas’s clarion call for New Recruits was met with an eager scampering of young men, slick with excitement and joie de vivre like footballing foals covered in equine afterbirth, only with beards and leather boots. Some, like Alex and Dan, were Old Street Originals - albeit players who had been out of circulation since the switch to Russell Square. Others had not played with us before: there was a Kiwi gentleman named Nick, a friend of mine called David, (or ‘Dave’, in the easy camaraderie of the football pitch) and a serious young man named Phil, who is apparently a friend of Ross’s.

With Wing Commander Will, Joe and Ross all absent with knee injuries the New Recruits were particularly welcome and ensured that we enjoyed what was comfortably the best match I’ve been involved with at Coram Fields.

The two teams lined us thusly:

Bibs: Ian West Brom, Ian Arsenal, me, Dave, Dan, Danny, Yev

Colours: Nick, Kiwi Nick, Simon Gas, Simon Ink, Phil, Alex, Steve A

Playing on the unfamiliar and disconcertingly visible middle pitch, the game kicked off and was dominated by the Colours in the early exchanges. While the new players tentatively probed and prodded, the Bibs’ key man – Alex - demonstrated that his mid-season sojourn had done nothing to blunt either his fitness or skill levels and the man from the Potteries duly set about running the Bibs’ back line ragged, with both Nicks benefitting from his expert through balls and all round vim. The Colours roared into a 5-0 lead, with the Bibs struggling to commit enough men forward and to win the ball in midfield. I took a spell in nets and promptly let in a couple; on both occasions my inner spirit level left something to be desired as I tried to make myself big in goal only to leave waste swathes of the goal unguarded. Alex and Nick tucked in.

Gradually, however, Dan and Yev started to forage further and further forward into the Colours half and with the aid of Danny started to test the opposition defence. Unfortunately for the Bibs young Phil turned out to be that rarest of beasts: a specialist goalkeeper (certainly, he demonstrated no intention of coming out of nets) and time and time again he repelled what looked like goalbound shots with a display reminiscent of Viz’s Billy the Fish. Dan and Yev managed to get a couple of goals back, but keeping the Bibs out at the other end was proving trickier, as the mobility and speed of the Alex - Kiwi Nick - Nick axis found the gaps, despite increasingly desperate efforts to prevent further mayhem.

The final score was 8-4 to the Colours, although the second half of the game felt far more competitive and at one stage the Bibs got two or three in succession to provoke hopes/fears of an almighty comeback, only for the Colours to engineer a move down the right which culminated in Kiwi Nick coming in at the back post to seal the win. I managed to score with the final kick of the game after the previously excellent Phil had miskicked and given me the chance to pass the ball home from all of 12 yards.

There were good debuts from all of the new players; Dave was guilty of a cheeky handball which most of the opposition seemed to miss and which augurs well for future arguments. On a similar note, it was nice to see that Steve’s chutzpah hasn’t waned – he called for a kick-in for his team after unceremoniously hoofing the ball off the pitch as I attempted to get it under control.

Pints of Trelawny all round at the Skinners Arms this week, at least for me, Ian and Simon Ink. Discussion veered between the merits of the earlier kick off time, how differing police tactics between the UK and Russia might explain the renaissance in football violence in recent weeks (Yev cheerfully opined that the Millwall hooligans at Wembley the other week would have been shot had they pulled that stunt in the former Soviet Union) and onto the emerging Teutonic dominance of the continent’s leading club football competition.

Until Friday, New Recruits: at ease.

No comments: