Monday, 14 September 2015

Hello, good evening and welcome

Welcome back, everyone – I hope that you had a good Summer, i.e. one which included some time spent well away from rainy England. Or at least away from London and the south east, as Danny tells me that he spent a balmy fortnight in the Costa del Fylde, chowing down on cake after cake and fish n chips n gravy (!) whilst walking up hill and down dale and putting on fourteen pounds of delicious batter and lard. 

And so the routine of Monday morning text, Friday night game and Saturday morning hangover begins again for another 10 months. Actually, my weekly routine now includes a Friday morning email from Senor Gas, as my role as Picker of the Teams resumes for season 2015/16. With September upon us, here’s what I came up with for the inaugural game of the football calendar:

Yellows: Yev, Steve, Mark, Liam, Nick, Paul, Ross, Jaime, Danny, 

Blues: Simon Gas, me, David, Alex, Peter, Mick, Bristol Paul, Simon Ink

No Ian Gooner this week, as he lost the Battle of Swollen Knee, while Tony was a late withdrawal following a contretemps with Jean-Luc Godard and Francois Truffaut over who smoked the last packet of Gauloise. 

With Yev being slightly tardy, just to show that seasons may come and empires may fall but life is inexorably the same, the Blues began the game with the same number of players as the Yellows and quickly took the lead through David. I intercepted a loose pass and fed it to the aforementioned midfield scamp who swapped passes with Alex and poked home from a few yards for the very first goal of the new campaign.

After Yev’s introduction the Yellows began to move the ball around efficiently, using not only the extra man, but also the slightly younger legs of Mark, Liam, Nick and Ross. That said, the score remained at 1-0 to the Blues for the first half hour, with Simon Gas in goal putting in a fabulous performance between the sticks and clawing away numerous goalbound efforts from just under the crossbar and generally commanding his area. That sojourn in Portugal clearly worked wonders. 

Just as the Blues were beginning to dream of a stolid one-nil victory Ross took advantage of a corner that was not fully cleared to ping pong the ball home after an initial header from Liam to make it 1-1 on the night. Thereafter the Blues struggled to repel the incessant pressure from the Yellows forward line, despite the collective skills of Peter, Alex and Mick. Liam got two goals, one a classic poacher’s effort after Simon could only parry a speculative cross from Danny into the Scotsman’s chest and there on into the net; Ross also bagged a brace on the night to give the Yellows a 4-1 lead – quite the turnaround.

On what was a remarkably quiet night in terms of controversy and incident, with only two handball penalty appeals for each side bringing much in the way of on-field blather, Yev mysteriously turned his knee and had to withdraw with just over ten minutes left. This made it eight aside and the Blues seized the initiative and scored two more goals, one from either Alex or Peter and then a final effort from David, who jabbed the ball home after some pleasant interpassing around the edge of the area. The Blues ought to have got a draw given the pressure they had generated, but a mixture of over-elaboration, poor finishing and the not inconsiderable efforts of Paul in defence stymied any thoughts of an equaliser.

Final score: Yellows 4 – Blues 3

Ross opined that he would like a tally kept of goalscorers, assists and key saves for this season, which sounds like a job for Opta, not me. That said, if I’ve omitted any key assists please let me know and if anyone can recall who scored the Blues’ other goal I’ll amend the match report accordingly.

Thus to The Skinners, where the majority of the 17 players enjoyed at least one pint. A warm and muggy evening to kick off the new season, with people swapping tales of their holidays, including Mick’s voyage from Ipswich to Flushing on a 25 foot yacht and Danny’s aforementioned Cumbrian odyssey. What with my Croatian flotilla holiday and Ross’s week in the Aegean we would appear to be quite the nautical bunch these days. The Kiwi barman had obviously spent the Summer growing a very impressive moustache which makes him look like an circus strongman of yore, but aside from this development very little has altered in the pub over the months of July and August.

Until Friday…

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