Tuesday, 9 April 2013

The City Gent

Last Friday’s game was the first held in the daylight at Coram Fields, although it still felt more like mid-Winter than British Summer Time. As is becoming custom, Simon Gas pre-selected his teams but they were subject to significant tinkering, chiefly as a result of the involvement of a clutch of young men, some of whom were playing with their fathers (and their fathers’ friends).

Both Phil and Mick’s sons played; Phil’s son is named Ellis, I believe, while Mick’s male progeny is named Patrick. If I’ve got that wrong please don’t blame me – this seemed to be the consensus in the dressing room afterward amongst the older players. Blame dementia for any issues with accuracy.

I am going to have a go at listing both teams as they finished the game

Colours: Simon Gas, Alan, Ian Arsenal, Simon Ink, me, (a rare sighting of the three-Simon conjunction there), Danny, Paul (much more of whom later), Wing Commander Will

Bibs: Phil, Andy, Ian West Brom, Mick, Ellis (after being transferred following two goals in the first five minutes for the Colours), Patrick (after scoring a hatful and winning the game for the Bibs), a young person who’s name I can’t recall who I believe supported Sunderland and another young gentleman who supports West Ham

My notes tell me that the final score was 8-4 to the team wearing Colours, but that doesn’t begin to tell the story of the game. The Colours roared into a 3-0 lead, Ellis’s pace and clinical finishing revealing a chasm in class and age between those charged with marking him and his colleagues, before Phil made it 3-1 after I pressured Paul, dressed for the evening as a City Gent, in goal.

Someone then made it 4-1 to the Colours, upon which I was transferred over to the Colours in an attempt to handicap their clear advantage while young Ellis donned a bib. Simon’s juggling initially drew the desired response, as the Bibs got back to 4-3 before the Colours re-established their dominance via a slew of goals, including one apiece for Alan and Ian Arsenal, and at least three for young Patrick, who’s sleight of foot and general prowess in front of goal stretched the lead toward double figures.

Simon Gas made another late alteration as Simon Ink moved over to the Colours with Patrick going to other way, leading to the team in Colours ‘boasting’ all three Simons. However, by this stage Wing Commander Will had taken up permanent residence in goal, having sustained knee-knack as he twisted to cut the ball in from the by-line. Will’s studied excellence in goal prevented the Bibs from getting back into things in any meaningful way and the game ended, as usual, with one team way ahead of the other.

Quite what the various young people involved made of it all is anyone’s guess; Ellis and Patrick in particular are clearly very good footballers and may have been embarrassed at the ease with which they could find space and the back of the net. But as the game wore on the effectiveness of all the young men seemed to wane - this may have been a consequence of indifference to the final score, or boredom, or wanting to go easy on a crew of old-timers.

An alternative explanation could be that they were bewildered and ultimately stymied by the fact that someone had elected to play the entire game wearing a pin-striped black suit. Paul had apparently been involved in a series of high-level business meetings throughout the day which were so mysterious that even his wife was not aware of their arrangement. Eschewing fripperies such as football boots and shorts, this thrusting colossus of commerce took to the pitch wearing not only the aforementioned suit, but also black shoes, a flat cap and initially at least, a fluorescent yellow puffa-jacket. The jacket was soon discarded as the serious business of repelling attacks and taking free-kicks was taken on with the aplomb of a man used to multi-tasking, although his red tie remained resolutely in place and his top button firmly fastened. Danny made the observation that the tie in particular seemed to help Paul’s balance, acting as a sort of sporting plumb line which ensured that he remained balanced and In Control. A veritable tour de force of a performance from the man who likes to be known as The Guvnor – how will he follow this up? Will his next performance be in a bear suit? Will he arrive this Friday in a deep-sea diver’s outfit? Could he come wearing a safari suit and pith helmet? Who can possibly say? From the point of view of the young men it must have been a bewitching performance from Paul, perhaps all the more so because the rest of us seemed so blasé about the fact that someone had turned up to play football dressed in formal business attire.

And so to the Skinners Arms for a couple of post-match pints and a discussion on welfare dependency, house prices, Rolf Harris and an extraordinary assertion from Paul involving the expired Python Graham Chapman and Britain’s first bachelor Prime Minister, Edward Heath. I am guessing that there will be rather more discussion of dead Prime Minsters this coming Friday. Until then…

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