Sunday, 3 April 2016

Agent Morgan and the Secret Files

Greetings all, and many apologies for the recent radio silence. It’s been a few weeks since the last match report and in that time we’ve had an Easter break, as well as a dispatch from Paul, the self-styled Coram Fields ‘Guvnor’, which covered the game I missed when I was reliving my youth by pogoing around to The Wonder Stuff at the Forum in Kentish Town.

The last game I played in is sadly lost to the mists of time – apologies here to Ross in particular, who I know is endeavouring to maintain stats on the game’s leading goalscorers – but it was notable for the most unfortunate of reasons from the perspective of my top secret Player Attribute Scoring System. Like a tipsy civil servant on a night out, I left that week’s line-ups with their relevant values in the bag of bibs. Of all people, Alan was rostered to wash them that week and he duly uncovered the hitherto secret codes by utilising his Government training to open the piece of paper and read the content printed on it. Shocker. If this had been wartime I’d have been shot at dawn for passing messages to the enemy.

Happily, Alan has signed the Official Secrets Act, so – for now – the code remains outside the public realm, barring some sort of Edward Snowden-style Wikileaks revelation.  

Next, a report from Field Agent Tanner, who sent the following dispatch from the game immediately before Easter. (I’ve padded this out slightly).

Steve and Paul bumped into Michael Gove at King’s Cross before the match, shortly after the resignation of Iain Duncan Smith. Paul doesn’t say whether or not Gove was trying to seal off the St Pancras Euro Star terminal as a publicity stunt ahead of the EU referendum.
The game itself finished 3-2 to the Blues, with what Paul describes as “powerful” performances from both Yev and Mario. However, it is my duty to report that the game and quite possibly the result was adversely affected by the departure of Tony for the Yellows, who flounced off, loudly complaining that he wouldn’t “play with cheats”.

I am informed that Peter was the stand out performer for the Yellows and he netted the Yellows’ first goal following an “amazing, incredible turn and pass” from Michele. The tall Tottenham fan also slotted home a penalty given after David had apparently handled in the area, much to Simon Gas’s chagrin.

(End of dispatch from Agent Tanner). 

And so, finally, onto this week’s match report. Here are your two teams:

Blues: Specialist Goalkeeper Ed, Geoff, Alan, Mark, Steve, Jaime, Ben, Tony and Mario

Yellows: me, Andy, Simon Ink, Joseph, David, Tom, Peter, Danny, Alex and, eventually, Simon Gas

As you can see, Simon Gas is maintaining his recent selfless stance of stepping out of the starting line-ups to help balance the sides and ensure there are not too many people on the pitch.

What looked on paper like two evenly matched sides became something of a riot for the Blues, at least until Simon Gas came on for the Yellows to help solidify the defensive shape of the back line. Danny began in goal and conceded just the one goal before heading out – I believe the excellent Ben was responsible for the first score. I then replaced Danny in nets and was unable to prevent Mario, who had been played in via a great pass from Alan, from skipping around my abortive challenge and rolling the ball home. A third Blue goal arrived shortly after; I failed to deal with a corner and the ball squirted around the six yard box before Tony managed to crash the ball home, despite Andy’s valiant attempt to block it.

When Mario made it four nil with a swivelled half-volley through a crowd of players from the edge of the area Simon Gas was beckoned on and the Muswell Hillbilly duly stationed himself at left back as the Yellows went hunting for goals. Thereafter the game was more even, although all credit to the Blue team who played some great football – Ben, Tony and Mario proved to be a highly fluid and deft attacking triumvirate, while Steve marshalled the defence to restrict the surging midfield runs of Alex and Peter. 

For the Yellow team Joseph had a good game, mopping up attacks and elegantly carrying the ball upfield to tee up his team mates. The Yellows did get on the scoresheet; I think Danny got one and Peter seized on a loose ball to fizz a fierce effort low and hard into the bottom corner. 

There were a couple of slightly bizarre, slightly contentious handball decisions which left the final score in some doubt, both involving Honest Andy. The first confused me, as I thought Andy had called for a handball against the Blues, but in actual fact he’d called himself for handballing and a quick-thinking Alan took the free kick, played a one-two and calmly poked the ball past a bemused Simon Ink, who’d stopped playing. Whatever happened to playing to the whistle? On reflection, the goal should stand, but given no-one other than Andy had even seen the supposed handball, it was all a bit peculiar. 

I had a far better view of the second incident. Late on in the game and with the Blues well ahead Andy was defending as last man when the ball came back out to him following a save and bounced up and brushed his hand, which was down by his side. Mario called for handball, Andy shrugged and admitted that the ball had hit his hand, and Alan (again) was the apparent beneficiary as he lined up the penalty. Sportingly, he spooned it over the bar.  

In Fifa's Laws of the Game 2005, Law 12 says a free-kick or penalty will be awarded if a player "handles the ball deliberately (except for the goalkeeper within his own penalty area)". Frustratingly, FIFA doesn’t provide any sort of a steer on what constitutes ‘deliberate’ in this context, although former Premier League referee, Harrow Schoolmaster and International Fusspot David Elleray has said the referee's interpretation depends on whether the hand or arm is in an "unnatural" position at the point of contact. Given Andy’s hands were at the end of his arms, I’d venture that this was not a penalty and we should have waved play on. Suffice to say it wasn’t an incident which affected to the final score.

Speaking of which, we trudged off with the Blues having scored either five or six goals, depending on your view of Andy’s first handball, to the Yellows two.

Onto the Skinners for a few pints and a chinwag, which I understand was not possible two weeks previous given the sheer number of people in there (reviews of the nearby Dolphin establishment seemed to revolve around the high bar prices). Conversation mainly centred on the remaining Premier League campaign, before we swapped opinions and reviews of TV and radio football pundits: Jermain Jenas good, Michael Owen execrable. There was some talk of a Skinners Podcast, (a Pubcast?), but we’ll need legal representation before even beginning to think of such a thing. Ian Gooner alone would keep the barristers busy for a few days after each episode.
Right, that’s over 1,200 words, which will hopefully help to make up for the dearth of blog action recently. Given this week’s theme you won’t be surprised to learn that I’ve been exclusively reading spy novels since January, (I’ve also been watching the excellent spy dramas Deutschland ’83 and The Night Manager).
Over and out.

No comments: