Monday, 2 December 2013

Dead leaves and the Dirty Ground

Last Friday’s game saw us play on the unfamiliar confines of the near pitch, i.e. the one closest to the changing rooms, on a surface that was strewn with dead leaves as the year 2013 rots to its inexorable conclusion.

The man from Bristol picked the following two teams -

Blue Bibs: Tony, Paul (following an early switch), Ian Gooner, Bristol Paul, Simon Gas, Yev (eventually), Will, Steve, Andy

Yellow Bibs: Danny, Ross (following an early switch), David, Simon Ink, Ian Baggies, Mick, Alan, me,

The ‘early switch’ to which I refer was a consequence of the Blues galloping into a two goal lead as the Yellows saw precious little of the ball in the early stages. With Danny taking the first shift in goal and the Blues starting the game with a frontline including Tony and Ross, (with Will and Steve pulling strings in midfield – Ian Baggies opined to me that the problem with Will isthat he is “too tricky”) - Simon swapped Paul and Ross with the score at 2-0 to the Blues.  

I’d relieved Danny in goal by this stage and was able to see Simon Ink complete a passage of play that saw the Yellows fail to score on a number of occasions during a frantic six yard box scramble by collecting the ball on the edge of the area and sailing a shot into the top corner to bring the score back to 2-1. Mick, who was stationed menacingly on the right touch line and David were working well in combination and created a goal for Alan and then one for David himself as the Yellows went ahead to lead 3-2. My tenure in nets ended with Tony firing a beautiful shot high over my head and into the top right corner to make it three apiece.

With David and Mick trying to keep their feet on the decaying arboreal matter on the right wing both players endeavoured to bring Alan and Ross into play and their hard work brought the Blues – and Alan – another goal. Around this time Yev arrived and as the Yellows were in front and bossing possession he duly donned a Blue bib. With a man advantage and with Yev’s strength and running the impetus swung back to the Blues, although the scores were level at 4-4 for much of the final quarter of the match. Yev eventually got his goal –the winning effort – as tired legs failed to pick up all of the Blues’ runners to make it 5-4.

At this point there was what can only be described as some Dave Aiton-esque gamesmanship from Simon Gas and Tony, who seemingly forgot that we kicked off at 7.05 and ended the match in any meaningful way by taking off their bibs and gathering the one remaining ball up (the other football had been shanked over the fence and beyond a security cordon by Ian Baggies, doughtily defending a corner). We ought to have had another few minutes, but with players taking off Bibs and walking off the pitch the game petered out, despite there being no-one waiting to come on. Five-four to the Blues it finished.

The two Ians, Simon Ink, Alan and myself then went to retrieve the ball. The Ians sensibly decided to go and speak to the Security guard responsible for manning the fence beyond which the ball sat, so despite me managing to stretch my arm underneath the fence and roll the ball toward us we made like Lou Reed and decided to wait for the man. Happily, he was a Gooner and the presence of three Arsenal fans was sufficient justification for him to throw the ball over the fence (at Alan, resplendent in his Chelsea kit).

And so to the pub. Simon Gas attempted to make a booking for the end of year Christmas curry, but sadly the restaurant was closed for a refurb. No word on an alternative venue as yet.     
I spent most of the evening in conversation with Alan and Ian (Gooner), with topics ranging from Tottenham’s implosion against Man City and the whys and wherefores of their recent transfer activity, to the health benefits of taking public transport to work versus driving to an office where you sit on your arse for eight hours, before Ian regaled us with talk of his activist youth, where he was frequently mistaken for a right-wing neo-fascist. That he often turned up at rallies sporting a shaven head, DMs and a Fred Perry shirt teamed with a Harrington jacket may or may not be an explanation.  

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