Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Springtime for Simon and Stefan

I fully intended to make up for the absence of last week’s blog – blame a week from hell, including the contraction of a nasty computer virus that left me wandering my office like David Banner without a friendly PC to use – by posting a bumper double edition on Sunday, but a friend’s 40th birthday spiralled out of control and I lost the whole day to the kind of hangover I thought I’d left behind in the early years of the century. (This is what happens when my wife goes away).

As such, I am penning this on the other side of a weekend which saw Arsenal earn a Wembley appearance for the first time since the Birmingham City debacle of 2011 and resulted in me singing loudly in the residential streets surrounding my house at one in the morning.

First things first, February 28th’s game, which I am labelling the Final Game of Winter, was a very busy affair, with both teams boasting around ten aside. With so many players on the pitch space was at an absolute premium, particularly in central midfield, and it took the faster feet and legs of players like Alex, Leandro, making his valedictory appearance at Coram Fields just as everyone had learnt his name, and a young American lad called Stefan to make the difference. I forget the colour of the bibs worn by the winning team, but one side ran out comfortable winners by a margin of around 10-2, with Will, Leandro, Alex and Stefan all impressing. Less impressive was Bearded Nick, who was lambasting all and sundry on his team, (including the Arthur Daley of New Wave, Spizz), although he did have the good grace to admit as much the following week.

That’s about all I can remember from the last game in February, which was played in the pouring rain and high winds that have made the past few months such a bleedin’ misery. Fast forward seven days and the contrast couldn’t have been any starker: from chill winds to a balmy evening inside one week, with not a drop of rain to be seen.

Happily, there were far fewer players on the park, making the game altogether more enjoyable and leaving one feeling as if you had a good work-out. Simon Gas picked the following two sides:

Yellows - me, Steve, Danny, Simon Ink, Stefan, Mick, Geoff

Blues - Simon Gas, Alan, Tony, Bristol Paul, Paul, Will, Bearded Nick

The Yellows roared into a three goal lead following scoring efforts from Stefan and a tremendous third goal from Simon Ink that saw the Yellows leading 4-1. The ‘1’ for the Blues was a spectacular looking finish from Alan, who was seemingly channelling African colossi like Didier Drogba and Emmanuel Adebayor when he received the ball on his chest with his back to goal before turning and smashing a volley in off the left post. At this point Simon Gas, never a man to accept defeat when it is still possible to engineer victory, switched the teams, apparently because Bristol Paul was carrying a knock. (This was by no means obvious as the West Countryman roamed forward from his left back berth with characteristic menace, but I suppose we will have to accept this alleged truth).

The revised line-ups looked like this: -

Yellows - me, Steve, Danny, Paul, Stefan, Mick, Geoff

Blues - Simon Gas, Alan, Tony, Bristol Paul, Simon Ink, Will, Bearded Nick

Shorn of our Olivier Giroud-like focal point the Yellows came under increasing pressure and a slew of goals from Tony and Will saw the Blues draw level. The final passage of the game was a desperate slug-fest to see who could get a winner – the Yellows’ goal lead something of a charmed life, although Steve and Danny marshalled the defence admirably, while Stefan missed a glorious one-on-one with Tony in goal, the north London auteur out-psyching the Kentucky tyro and forcing him too wide to get a decent shot off.

With the time creeping past eight ‘o’ clock Tony called the game off, saying he had to ‘be somewhere’. Simon Gas complied (speculation is mounting that Tony has a shoe-box full of polaroids of the younger Simon in compromising positions, (and we’re not talking about his place on the pitch)) and four apiece it ended, which was arguably the fairest result on the night.

It transpired that the place Tony needed to be was the Skinners Arms, where he was reclined with paper upon the arrival of the rest of us. After learning that young Stefan could have been out with his mates drinking in riverside locations but preferred to company of middle-aged men, talk turned to the remainder of the domestic football season and the weekend’s fixtures.

That’s it ‘til Friday – enjoy your week and I promise not to leave it so late next week.

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