Monday, 4 July 2016

Apocalypse? Now!

Good day all – I write after a four week hiatus chiefly caused by the advent of fatherhood. I’ve got two match reports to try and catch up on, both of them composed as our leader and spiritual guide lays in a malarial funk in tropical Indo-China. As ever when Senor Gas leaves us, even for a few days, chaos and disorder soon descend and we are left in a figurative Dark Age like those Britons left exposed to waves of invaders from the continent in the wake of the decline of the Roman Empire.

But I think we’ve heard plenty about English nationhood over the past two weeks.

The first game to try and relay started off with five versus six, as the immediate fallout from the immigration plebiscite seemed to spawn disarray in the phalanx of players from Morgan Stanley. In all five players from Morgan Stanley showed up, but to misquote Eric Morecambe, not necessarily in the right order. Joseph tipped up first, alongside his mate Nick, followed about five minutes later by Norn Iron’s Andrew, in tandem with a ringer named Graham who was not even on Simon’s roster of players sent via SMS from Vietnam. Finally, Peter rocked up at around 7.25. At this stage I offered the Blue team, via the auspices of their captain Mick, their pick of the Yellow players in an attempt to balance the teams and they very sensibly selected Danny. Ergo, what had hitherto been a reasonably competitive game Petered out (pun intended) into a rather one-sided affair, with the Blue team running out eventual 5-2 winners. For the sake of posterity, here are what I think the teams were:

Yellows: me, Simon Ink, Graham (MS), Nick (MS), Liam, Andy and Peter (MS)

Blues: Tony, Paul, Mark, Andrew (MS), Joseph, Mick and, after a short spell for the Yellows, Danny

Lord knows who scored – I can recall playing a deliciously weighted through ball for Liam to dispatch without breaking stride and I think that was one of a brace for the Caledonian maestro; for the Blue team I can remember one goal arriving in slightly bizarre fashion as a high, swirling ball landed on the crossbar and evaded Andy’s despairing lunge in goal to bounce invitingly for either Mark or Joseph to push home. All in all, a bit of a mess, although at least Tony was happy having initially thrown up his arms in horror at the prospect of his team not winning.

Onto this week, as once more Simon pinged on details of the players scheduled to take part in the action. As alluded to in the opening paragraph of this report, chaos descended as a) some players did not turn up (hello to Bristol Paul and Morgan Stanley’s Callum) and b) Mick forgot the bibs. As such, my much vaunted Player Attributes Scoring System went out of the window and everything became a bit random, quite literally.

The newly installed Chaos Player Selection System saw one team self-select on the basis of wearing white, yellow or orange tops, with their opponents donning anything darker. From a personal perspective the fact that I am very colour blind made this even more of a challenge. From memory, this is what we ended up with:

White / Orange / Yellow: Steve, Nick, Mark, Yev, Ian Gooner, Tony, David, Danny and (eventually) Tom from MS

Darks: me, Mario, Will, Andy, Liam, Joseph, Mick, Simon Ink

Despite the somewhat haphazard nature of team selection, we ended up with a fairly even game that was decided by the odd goal in five. The Dark team were probably a mite stronger until the tardy arrival of chirpy antipodean Tom (what is it with Morgan Stanley employees and timekeeping?), when a pseudo-philosophical discussion about whether his light green top best presented itself as a dark or light top ensued, which was settled by more epic moaning from Tony who accused me of trying to engineer the teams so that I’d win. The very idea.

Liam and Mario were on target for the Dark team, but despite playing some great football through the two afore-mentioned strikers, aided by the superb Will and corralled by the ceaseless chiding of Mick, they couldn’t quite keep the Light team, buoyed by their man advantage, at bay.
After Ian Gooner had netted an equaliser for the lighter team through some serious goalhanging and acting as a ricochet device, the winning goal came after I came after a cross that I was always struggling to reach and Nick, who probably has a six inch height advantage on me, nodded home into an empty net.

Final score: Whites / Yellows / Oranges and Green 3 – Darker Tops 2

And so to the Skinners, for my first visit in a month. I watched Wales’ supremely impressive 3-1 over Belgium in the company of Simon Ink and David, unaware that most of the Friday contingent were watching from the other side of the bar.

All hail our near neighbours and their invincible team spirit. I keep reading that the ongoing embarrassment that is the English national team is down to the failure of the English football set-up, but given virtually all of Wales’ team play or have come through the domestic system I think that’s bullshit. If the FA could ever do just one thing right and pick a young English manager with his best years ahead of him, rather than a European aesthete looking for one final big payday or a superannuated coneman without the confidence to make decisions we might just, just, be able to create a team that is more than the sum of its parts who we could be proud of. I won’t hold my breath.

The wandering Gasman returns on Friday for the penultimate game of the 2015/16 season. See you then. 

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