Month: July 2016

Cup 1/4 Finals-De Beers vs Old Mutual

11/07/2016

Hello Ladies

So this week we played in the quarter finals of the cup. Most managers would be proud of that achievement but given that there are only 8 teams in our division, and as a result everyone qualified for the quarter finals, I couldn’t take much credit. We were drawn against Old Mutual at home, one of the stronger teams in the division, and given our league game was marginal I wasn’t sure how things would pan out. Admittedly, I was apprehensive about the game given that Almiro was in Paris and he had scored 4 of the 5 goals in our 5-4 win over Old Mutual in our league game. Remove Almiro from the equation and we have a 4-1 defeat.  I have always said, ‘one man a team does not make’, all I had to do now was to believe it myself. Incidentally, I was accosted by some life members on the very same subject on Thursday evening, whilst enjoying a glass of wine or six with my female offspring in a local esteemed tavern. In my defence, I responded that I had given it lots of thought but off-record, I had no specific plan other than to field the best side available and hope like hell it would work out… in other words, I was following the same strategy I have all season long :-O

In an unexpected turn of events, Popeye (aka Richard Gurtel) granted himself shore leave for Saturday afternoon, leaving his boat moored at sea. His  Saturday guest appearance was intended to be at centre back but quite frankly he wondered around the field as if he was still on his boat tossed by the tides and waves adrift at sea. At one time, I ran back to cover centre back as he had a run up the left wing. For those close followers of the team, the pattern of Richard’s strategy when playing centre back is simple: beat the other guy to the ball…. kick it as hard as possible, if it is in the field of play, that’s win, if it goes to a player, a double win, if it’s one of our players, maximum points, …. simple and effective. So with Penguin out nursing an ankle injury, Popeye played centre back with Satchmo. Dave Lovell was sent out to guard the right back position and Johan at his usual haunt at left back. A note on that position… when we played Old Mutual away, they had a particularly fast lad… an over 60 who they continually play by kicking over the top and watching with glee as he outpaces all of us to the ball. They scored 4 out of 4 of their goals like that. I was delighted then when Johan said he was available because whilst they took pride in their speedster, they hadn’t had the misfortune of meeting Johan, probably the fastest over 45  in the Western Cape, maybe the Southern Hemisphere. Rumour has it he runs to practice by matching his speed against the Springboks just other side the fence. He was the plan… until they didn’t bring speedster along. Instead they pitched up with their semi-retirement side who, with a push, could field a side for the over 60’s league. I say this with no disrespect given the fact that they still practice and play regularly and indeed were competitive. In comparison, our side’s average age for Saturday was 50.6, only making the 50 with grateful contributions from Ronald Koeman, and Popeye.

So the first half started at a pedestrian pace with each side giving the other the ball without competition. At one stage, I even apologised to the referee for the pace of the game, albeit only to ensure he hadn’t lost interest or fallen asleep. He smiled and waved and I continued to encourage the lads to get stuck in. Incidentally, Byron was guest referee for the day and probably had the best game on the park. After the match, I asked him what he thought of our game…. he replied and said “It looks very interesting, what do you call it?” We struck early in the first half with a well directed shot at goal from Ronald Koeman. In my haste to chase up, I didn’t see the assist or in fact how on earth he even got in front of the goals, but his shot was on target and beat the goal keeper’s flailing hands as it was parried into the back of the net. I didn’t care who assisted or how he did it, we were one up in the cup.  As a player-manager, and in my case, catering manager, report writer, shirt washer and occasionally the side’s financier, it’s difficult to remember when things happen. Sometimes I recall if the goal came in the first or second half, but most of the time, I cannot recall around what time it happens and who was responsible, causing me to misreport the events. One thing is for sure and that is I remember us winning or losing, which for me 75% of the way into the season is sufficient.

Dereck anything-but-Tame, was in the form of his life and wasn’t about to be shown up by Ronald Koeman. To be honest, I cannot recall if Dereck’s goal came before his miss or the other way round. All I know is the he did in fact score the second goal slotting it into the net in a similar fashion to Ronald. What is more memorable is the miss unfortunately, which was more improbable than him scoring. A cross from the left (Neil if I recall correctly) and all Dereck anything-but-Tame had to do was get in the way and it would ricochet into the it back of the net. Instead he swung his foot, using a backswing that almost touched his shoulder blade and from 1 metre out scooped the ball over the bar and outside the park. I asked him what he was being paid to miss, it was so mis-timed…. Unfortunately I cannot, in words, display his reaction. Nevertheless we were two up by half time and I felt a little easier.

Misguided into a false sense of security, I made wholesale changes with Spongebob replacing Koeman, Spike letting Stuart make a comeback appearance and Dave using his usual limp to organise himself an early beer so that Wayne, pirate of the Afrikaburn go to represent us out to right back. Neil had asked earlier to be subbed but seem to have recovered from his 20m run and decided to stay on provided he didn’t have to run too much. So unlike the over 45’s I thought…But Old Mutual weren’t about to lie down and go away. They came back fighting and pressed high, winning a handball outside the right hand side of the box. It was deja vu moment for me but dismissing it thinking I have Popeye and Satchmo with height, I let it go. Krusty was giving his usual directions outside the box and everyone was ignoring him as usual. But sure enough, the ball came across to the back post, landing squarely on a big forehead belonging to a green clad abdomen and bulleted into the back of the net. At 2-1, things got a bit tighter and we defended as much as we were pressed. A break-through came whilst Old Mutual were pressing highly and suddenly, it was the Old Mutual centre forward with a one-on-one with Kurt. In the confines of my mind, I could already imagine writing a report about how we gave away a 2-0 lead to go out of the cup… I was dreading what I thought was to come. Into the big box came the big striker and boof went his shot at goal and it was on target too. At this juncture, I certainly don’t want to take anything away from Kurt’s swoop down to collect the ball, comparable to a 50 kilogram bag of wheat falling from a truck, and with the same grace too. Admittedly, he was nimble for a significant fella, but I have to thank the ground staff for the thick grass now growing in the box which could slow a greased cannonball from a speed of 150km/hour to zero in 5 meters. But what a save and a huge relief could be heard from the crowds gathered at the sideline. With the score still at 2-1, another goal would’ve really put us under pressure.

Kurt has a habit of kicking the ball from hand upfield with a close to 90⁰ elevation. I have often winced at how close to the floodlights he has kicked and if I could at all be held liable for his actions given that I am his manager and responsible for playing him in goals. However, this has nothing to do with the fact that Krusty wasn’t about to let Dereck’s miss be the only memorable one for the day. So imagine a similar situation as Dereck’s first half miss where Krusty is in the small box and receives the ball across the goals. In his defence, he was facing the wrong way but at least had some control over the ball. With a twirl and a swing, he would’ve made the score 3-1 only he managed, somehow, to also put it over the bar and I began to suspect that there was an outbreak of a scoop virus. Suddenly Spongebob, back after a two-week layoff from a knee injury, managed to tear, strain or pull something in his right leg and sent Ronald Koeman on again whilst Stuart, having played full out for a whole 5 minutes, subbed himself back off for Spike so he could catch his breath. Spike must get a mention here as he is enjoying great form and looks like a rejuvenated youth running around the field tackling like Eben Etzebeth at a North-South derby, only effectively and cleanly. One-such tackle saw Spike take possession of the ball and lift it over the Old Mutual defensive line into an open space providing Dereck an opportunity to run onto it and at goal. With incredible calmness and composure, Dereck nothing-but-Tame collected the ball onto his chest, brought it down to his feet and slotted it into the far corner of the net beyond the goalie’s outstretched hands. Remarkable play from the lad often ripped apart for missing from 3 feet and letting his performance do the talking. So 3-1 up and we were a little safer.

Seeing Stuart on the side of the field was an envious sight and not wanting him to get too complacent, I subbed myself for the last 5 minutes sent him on to do the holding midfield role. Bizarre thing is, we played a 25 minute first part, had a water break, played another 5 minutes then had half time. After half time, we played a 50 minute second three quarters with no water break. At one point, I thought the ref was hoping to be in charge of extra time and a penalty shootout simply for his amusement. I suspect at some point he realised that no-one would’ve made the extended play and was ready to blow full time. In the final minute, Ronald Koeman picked up the ball in the midfield, played off Krusty, received the return pass and was set for goals. With the speed and agility not seen for years from the lad, he was on track for goals with one thought in mind… to survive the afternoon heat… and maybe score a second. Given the opening goal, I was convinced it was going to be 4-1 until Koeman shot at goals, or at something he saw other than the goal… maybe a bird or reconnaissance plane or something because the ball disappeared into the clouds and had to be fetched in Macassar. Even the referee had had enough by then and called for time. In the post-match interview, Koeman admitted to being a little out of practise.

And so it ended at 3-1 and we’re in the semi-finals of the cup. It was great to see Mr Thomson, the club’s president and some of the life members Johnny, Greg and Chris coming down to support. A few Snoek, compliments of Kurt proving he can catch something was enjoyed by all and down-downs for Satchmo as man of the match and Mackie from Old Mutual. Well-deserved from the big lad too as he would’ve made a fortune had he been a prize bull, because he covered the whole field and everyone on it. Nothing got past him making us midfielders brave enough to venture upfield in an attempt to score. It was good to see the lads from Old Mutual stay and have a few with us, probably thanks to Johnny and Greg who have close ties with the club and hopefully the relationship between the two clubs will continue to remain. They wished us luck for the next round and promised to bring a more competitive side for the return leg of the league.

I was immensely proud of the display the lads put on. Every one played their hearts out and gave 100% for 100% of the game, just as I had asked…surprising perhaps, but encouraging most definitely so.

We now have 3 League games left, 2 of which are at home against YMO and Old Mutual. In the middle of the two is the Edgemead game and of course one, or two cup games, depending on how well we play.

So it’s the second last home game this Saturday against YMO at 14h00. So pull up your panties ladies and get ready for the home straight of the season.

Advertisements

Match 12-De Beers vs YMO St. Lukes

16/07/2016

Hello Ladies

I deservedly got stick in the change room during the post-game debrief yesterday after my antics on the field. I have to concede that I wasn’t the prime example of how to contain emotion and adrenaline in a scrappy game of which I was probably the epicentre of the chaos. My post-match apologies to the ladies watching and to the ladies in the change room didn’t seem to have an effect on anyone and I was mocked like the town jester in shackles in the town square. Given that each and every one of the lads are such good sports when they are often the object of my dark sense of humour, it goes without saying that when the lads gave it back to me with equivalent scorn, I had to smile and wave…but let’s get to the report

As has become the norm, YMO, our opposition for the day, were loitering in the car park half an hour before kick-off with a full team, a few substitutes and some aficionados to boot, whilst I was frantically recounting all 5 of my squad hoping in so doing, I would get to the right number. I stood wondering if I would ever have all 11 (even without substitutes) on the field,  all warmed up and chomping at the bit 15 minutes before kick-off ….the thought seemed like a fantasy from a distant country which televises its fixtures internationally and I suddenly understood why our games are never televised. I digress. In the same carpark, their distinguished goalkeeper coolly informed me that they had beaten Chelsea. In the cup.  4-1. At Chelsea L.A. On Astroturf ! If I wasn’t rattled yet, I was then, given we had lost 3-1 to Chelsea on same turf a few weeks back. I set out pensively looking for more of our players.

The YMO are a nice bunch of lads…. usually, but sadly the familiar lads were set to pasture on the side-line whilst the thugs took to the field. In particular was a large right wing with a frame that looked like it was hung out on a clothes hanger to be shaped and a head as square as Frankenstein’s, only as he was brought up on the Cape Flats, was bald and dark-skinned. There were no visible marks of major implants into his skull either that I could see. Throw in a large pair of Schwarzenegger-like dark glasses and you have your man, for the record hereinafter to be referred to as Arnie (Schwarzenneger). On the opposite side of their attack was a lad they called “John”; but we called some other name which I cannot repeat on a family match report. He was shorter, more skilful but obviously used to playing rugby league or some other physical game, certainly not soccer. Ironically, he kept on telling me we couldn’t play soccer to which I continually responded by referred him to the scoreboard for another opinion.

It was probably not 15 minutes into the game when our trio up front of Ronald Koeman, Krusty and Mighty mouse were causing a hindrance to their backline. Incidentally, Warren was told to play lone striker to which he promptly responded by spending the afternoon on the wing – Managerial lesson 101 – don’t play a lad out of his position. Unsurprisingly a ball crossed across to Mighty Mouse saw him speed into the box, short pins moving at an imperceptible pace, culminating in him slotting the ball across the butler-like goalie into the far corner of the net. One-Nil and I was wondering who they had fielded in their 4-1 win over Chelsea. A few minutes later, I found myself out on the left with a perfect through-ball from Krusty and into the box with a one-on-one with the goalie. I took it past the tall gent wondering if I should submit my apology for doing so, to his right and tapped it into the goals… only it wasn’t hard enough and it stopped ON THE LINE… The goalie got back and mis-kicked the ball causing it to roll further on the line and was only cleared when their centre back came and cleared the ball into touch. I was gutted.

It was about that time when things went pear-shaped. Arnie got stuck into me, hacking me from the back which I initially brushed aside as a late tackle. However, he then he got stuck into Capt Jack (aka Wayne, Pirate of Afrikaburn) by jumping onto his foot. Now for those who know Capt. Jack, he is the most polite, quiet and courteous fellow this side of the Kalahari. Up to that point, Capt Jack had been slightly disengaged and enjoying a friendly game out. However, Mr Hyde came of the Dr Jekyll and Capt Jack became a ferocious left back,  attacking the ball and player alike and defending like a Trojan. Long grey locks flying in the wind, he refused to smile at anything and gave better than he got.  Meantime, the YMO centre forward Dick John,  collected the ball just outside the big box  and managed to get a shot at goals which Kurt stopped but dropped in front of him. The big lad bravely went down and fell onto the ball at precisely the same moment Arnie chased up and decided to put his laces into the ball, and possibly Kurt’s ribs at the same time. It was unbelievable that in an Over 45 game, someone would swing his foot through the ball when the goalie is on it, but he did. For me, it was the third time and one time too many. Anything but calm, I stuck three fingers in poor Shepherd’s face (referee for the day) unbashfully recommending a card, of any colour, even black if it was available, else the lad to go off and get coitus. Courageously Shepherd wouldn’t budge, gave a free kick and Kurt, to my surprise, eventually rose, as from the dead, and took it. I suspect it was this incident that tipped me over the edge because after that I didn’t see the game in the same light as before. In my mind, we were playing Game of Thrones and I wasn’t going to lose.

Second half came and the same aggression continued. We were awarded a free-kick some 10 metres outside the big box with Ronald Koeman lining himself up behind the ball. I went into the wall and had some argy-bargy with some grumpy fellow who had a lazy eye. I personally thought it was a little unfair because I never knew if he was looking at me or a player beside me and was tempted to ask him to look my way on both accounts if he was going to play “who-has-the-biggest-chest”.  Ronald however, took a short run up and in Bale*-like fashion, drove the ball into the top corner past the butler’s outstretched palms (*Replace with Ronaldo if you are Portuguese). Two-Nil and I felt a little better.  Meanwhile, on the other side, YMO broke through on goals and shot at goals with venom. Kurt, narrowing the angle and covering his near post lunged with a grunt to his left landing both hands on the ball and pushing it behind for a corner. A short while later another free-kick to us and another YMO lady had a problem with me, asking me why I play like I do when I am an old man. In my mind it was like Zuma calling Gengus Khan a cheat, philanderer and generally immoral, so I suggested he have intercourse with himself. In retrospect, it was possibly not the forum to discuss those issues in front of the ladies  and I accept my inaccurate assessment of the circumstances. Nevertheless, he decided to show me his chest hairs and I responded accordingly by showing him mine. At this point, a most peculiar thing happened. Krusty told me to settle down. Completely out of character and remarkably mature of the lad, so much so that it stunned me into reality and I took a step back. At that time, I insisted we put more pressure on YMO and Mighty Mouse took it to heart. He rushed the keeper on a back pass and blocked a clearance with the ball going back towards the YMO goal. It went into the goal but (apparently) didn’t cross the line and rolled out the other side. Those sitting on the sidelines were convinced it had crossed the line but with our goal line technology being on the blink for the day, we had to accept that it wasn’t in.

Our two goal lead was short-lived and YMO came back and attacked. Dick John broke through the back line and into the box. Kurt came lurching out to meet him colliding with him in the big box but blocking the course of the ball. The ball ricocheted off Kurt and fell at the feet of some fortunate YMO midfielder who thought it was Christmas (or Eid as the case may be) in July and promptly shot at goals deflecting off Satchmo’s outstretched foot and ended up in the net. Capt Jack gave way to Dave for the last 20 and we clamped down the hatches… parked the bus… (read Chelsea). I swopped with Stevie retreating to right back to keep Dick John under control and Stevie lurked into the midfield with intent to do grievous bodily hard to anyone who got in the way. I’m not sure how it happened but he got entangled with a YMO lad and the two of them ended up on a pile on the ground. By this time Shepherd had changed from a soccer referee to an EFC umpire separating the two from slapping some handbags at each other. Stevie’s wrist was cut open but he didn’t have time to worry about it and pursued his man through the middle of the pitch. After a clearance, Ronald Koeman passed the ball to me and in protection mode, I shielded the ball only for Dick John to come through the back of me forcing me to stop my fall with my face. I reacted with anything but calm and suggested he was tantamount to a male sexual organ. It was all going south. Another clearance saw Ronald collect the ball, slot it through a channel for Stevie to run onto it towards goals. Stevie broke into the space, ran into the box and returned the pass to Ronald who, using the outside of his foot curled the ball round the butler into the back of the net. The whole of the YMO team screamed in protest like EFF supporters in Parliament shouting foul and offside and unfair or pay back the money, I really couldn’t care less at that stage. It was a great goal and a great assist from the one-time rugby lock.

Last 10 minutes saw the bus double up with anything went, from out the box kicking, to heading to clearing to the sidelines. The resurgent Spike ( who incidentally wanted to talk to me in the change rooms after the game), was defending like a pack of dogs on his own. Fiesty, running the field flat, the holding midfield role suited the lad and Stuart, who enjoyed a tremendous return to the field, played his socks off for the day. In fact, it is unfair to even name players lest one be left out, as there was not one player on that field who didn’t give their all. A team game played by a team, as a team.

Although Ronald got the man-of-the-match, all the ladies deserved the award. Great resolve, great courage and determination won on the day. I personally apologised on the field to the ladies in attendance and in the change room to the other ladies for my less-than-acceptable language and behaviour. Dereck would’ve been extremely disappointed at my display I know.

The lads from YMO stayed and devoured the Snoek like Packman consume discs in the final round of the game. Those who were left in awe of the astonishing feasting, were kicked out anyway in lieu of a teeny-bopper party and retreated to the Kelder for an after party. Satchmo was delighted as he kept on insisting his wife may busy even though it didn’t seem like it and we heard about your favourite locksmith who gave Kurt his house keys and hoped to find his car to take him home… which same car was at home.  Lizé is finally out of crutches driving again which means that Krusty can focus on soccer again and score goals and Clive insisted everything happens in 10 seconds. Crazy day, crazy evening…

Second last league game is against Edgemead away at Edgemead on Friday night at 19h00.

Match 11-De Beers vs Durbanville

28/06/2016

Morning Ladies

It has to be said that I was nervous about this game, not only because Durbanville are our main competition for winning the league, but also because they are unbeaten and, until yesterday, had only conceded one goal. The entire season. An own goal at that. No-one else had scored against them. It was also perturbing that I was lurking outside the change rooms in my jeans at 13h45 waiting for the other 6 players and Durbanville had already changed, walked to the field and were warming up already. Difference in commitment some passer by remarked. My response was “it doesn’t matter what you do before the game, its what you do during the game that counts…”. Regardless of whatever anyone said, I was sticking to that….

To be honest, the game is a bit of a blur for me. For the first 10 minutes of the first half, I thought that the wrong team had pitched up, because we had it that easy. We put them under pressure and Almiro collected the ball in the midfield dribbled through half of Durbanville and slotted it past the goalie into the net. We walked back for them to restart and I was secretly adding up how many goals I would be satisfied with. Too soon I guess, because that’s when everything went pear-shaped. Clearly Durbanville weren’t accustomed to conceding a goal, never mind being behind and it showed in their response. What started out as a friendly banter between old rivals became out-and-out aggression and attack, and not necessarily at the goals. I felt like I was part of a team EFC or mixed martial arts competition. I couldn’t hear myself think for the screaming and shouting that was going on. Durbanville also attacked poor Mike the referee at every decision he took, and he had a good game it has to be said, it was most bizarre. Mike showed a lot of character indeed, in the face of adversity reffing as fairly as possible whilst being castigated, criticised and cursed at by Durbanville. Almiro on the other hand, showed his years of experience by taking out at least two players that I saw, never mind what I missed. In the meantime, I had to defend myself in midfield with onslaughts from left and right, front and back, including a body check by the 300kg centre back. But fight back we did and bravely so. It was an even competition it has to be said because we had our chances but didn’t take them. Our best chance came from a one-on-one with their keeper but we  missed and they had the same opportunity in the second half and didn’t score either. With their onslaught on goal, Kurt saved the day by sticking a leg out at the last minute deflecting the shot for a corner, but did so in style with a graceful pirouette and landing on his buttocks as a result. It was a thunderous shot and to spin Kurt like a top indicated the strength of the shot. Kurt had a great game and was well-placed for all their shots, even getting a compliment from our local Godfather (aka Almiro). Mighty Mouse had the slip on their left back and beat him every time with pace but when the crosses came through, there weren’t enough bodies in the box to make a difference and the ball inevitably came out again.

Their tactics were simple…every ball out of their backline was aimed at their front man who looked like he was Goliath reincarnate. Even our strong tall centre back Ruben had little effect when jumping for the ball as  Goliath continued to flick the ball on or header towards goals. However, having said that, our backline was as solid as a rock with Davey and Ruben in the centre letting very little through and between Johan and Spike out on the sides, Durbanville had very little opportunity to get a shot at goals. In fact Spike having another cracker met their aggression with some of his own, earning himself a yellow in the process, but back down wasn’t an option for the lad and played hard throughout the game. Richard and Dereck had little opportunity up front probably because they were outnumbered 5 to 2 when they did get the ball with Almiro, Warren, Neil and myself struggling to cover the distance between defending and attacking quickly enough.

Midway through the second half, Durbanville were awarded a foul just outside the big box to the Keeper’s left. We formed a wall and my thought was “if they cross it to Goliath…” It didn’t take a rocket scientist to work out their tactics, particularly as I had it worked out already. Being extra medium in height, I knew that I didn’t stand a chance in defending the cross so I took the easy option of standing in the wall leaving the big lads at the back to fight it out. The cross landed squarely on Goliath’s forehead and bulleted into the back of the net. I learnt afterwards that Goliath has scored hat tricks this season, just from his head. They continued to put on the pressure after that but we defended well and had a couple of breaks which wasn’t supported enough from the midfield. The game ended 1-1 and was probably a fair result in the end given the play, but I felt like it was a loss. We had gone up early and a second goal would’ve sealed it I feel, but it wasn’t to be. Durbanville certainly wanted it more than us and fought hard for the full 70 minutes. We had patches of good play but probably didn’t deserve the win as we didn’t want it badly enough. They’re a side that practices regularly, the whole team I am told, and does drills for different scenarios. I suspect they probably feed Goliath some growth hormones at the same time because in our age group there are few so big and agile as the man. Even so, without him in the team, there aren’t really any threatening players who can score. Ah, hindsight is 20/20 vision indeed.

We play next week away to West End. A good bunch of lads and I look forward to the game. The week after that we play our cup game at home to Old Mutual and I suspect they will be visiting with a vengeance. We will be tight on numbers over the next few weekends with some players out due to injuries and travelling. We only had 11 players on Saturday so I am concerned about our next game already. I’m hoping for Gavin, Stevie, Stuart and Stephane to be back in action soon but I may have to recruit additional players to help out the numbers.

For the record, here are the numbers…we have 21 registered players of which 2 (Abel and Justin) play mainly over 40’s. We have 5 serious injuries aside from those who play with their injuries viz. Dezroy, Stuart, Gavin, Clive and Stephane. Stevie was under the instruction of his wife not to play yesterday and one player doesn’t play on Saturdays – Richard Gurtel. Do the numbers… 21-2-5-1-1=12 and Wayne picked up the dreaded lurgy at the last minute leaving us with 11. Almiro is away from today and Dereck is away for two weeks in July… we’re going to struggle. I have some potential recruits but we need the whole team back and fit as soon as possible.

Match 10-West End vs De Beers

04/07/2016

Morning Ladies

The lads at West End are always glad to have us over for the afternoon, for a few (or many) dops, a braai and then if we throw in a game of football in between, it just makes it a little better. It is always so humbling to travel to a community that isn’t wealthy but to be treated like we are in Premier Class. Salt of the earth lads who care less about the result as much as how much we enjoy ourselves.

During the week, I had a little wobbly thinking we didn’t have enough players counted by using all 10 fingers to count the confirmed players and coming to a round total of 10 (surprisingly). With this number, I published the team and immediately put in a request for a loan player from the “older” of the over 40’s, who I knew was playing at the same time. I also invited Dorian who practices with us regularly and had been considering joining. He initially declined citing a broken thumb but appreciated the invitation. Fritz, the over 40 ruler, has a squad of close to 50 and generously redeployed Justin for our game in Athlone. Justin always brings Grandoog along for the walk and who in his own right, is becoming familiar with the territory LA (Lower Athlone) treating it like a second home, mixing with the locals, discussing the finer nuances of our play and most importantly, finding out where the local pubs are. Amongst all the hype, I completely omitted Wayne from the line-up somehow, until Wayne asked where Wayne was playing. In retrospect, I probably got to 10 fingers and got stuck but regardless, was pleased when we could then travel to LA with 12. Dorian also  called and said he can play 1st half if I am still short. Caught between wanting a new recruit, bending the rubber rules of over 45 soccer, and with some experience of having lads call me at 13h00 advising me they are working/sick/kidnapped, I invited him to come along.

We played downhill and with the wind at our back in the first half but couldn’t get the ball into the goals. One of the reasons resulted in the ref’s arm eventually tiring from calling offside. And, when we did get it right, we didn’t get a real shot on goals. Fortunately, we were solid at the back with the usual back 4 of Penguin, Satchmo (aka Ruben), Dave and Justin ensuring that anything near the goals was immediately neutralised and extinguished.  In the middle of the park, Dorian was holding with Spike in the first half and Ronald Koeman, Krusty and myself in the middle with Dereck-anything-but-Tame up front. Fortunately, the West End goalie had about as much potency in his kicks as my grandmother on a day of vodka down-downs, and several of our midfielders/forwards picked up the ball on the edge of the goals but couldn’t put it away. Reminded many of us of our youth. Most of the game was played in the middle of the park with the occasional through-pass (generally offside) but it was still goalless at half-time.. Frustrated, we decided to play shorter balls to the forwards and run through with return passes, thereby hopefully beating the offside trap. At the same time, we had to ensure we continued to defend bravely with the wind behind the opposition. By that time Braaimaster Stevie was on the field replacing Dorian and Justin took a rest for Wayne. Wayne confirmed that had recovered from his dreaded lurgy which kept him out of last week’s clash and that he had specifically gotten home early to ensure he made it to the ground. Suitably impressed, I was expected good things from Wayne and he didn’t let the side down.

Early in the second half, Clive played a through ball to Krusty who outpaced the opposition and slotted the ball underneath the dive of the goalie to slot De Beers into a 1-0 lead. The second goal followed shortly after that with a dribble in the midfield that saw the ball ricochet off my legs beyond the defender and Krusty was through on goals again scoring the second in similar fashion. We struggled a bit from then on, for reasons only known to the likes of Pep, José or Jürgen , we had to defend as West End broke through our defences several times, getting a few shots on goals and winning some nerve-racking corners. One of the corners was sent to the back half of the small box and with no-one meeting the corner in the air and clearing, the ball bounced into the small box. Unless there was low-speed cameras to capture what followed, most of it would’ve been missed. There was a flurry of feet swinging, hands flailing, shouting, shuffling, pushing pulling, and probably some pinching and biting too, but it ultimately resulted in the ball rolling softly and slowly into the back of the net whilst everyone watched on helplessly. With the score now at 2-1, West End had a resurgence and started to put pressure on us. Their 3 foot 4 inch right wing broke away with a ball passed in behind Wayne, and ran towards goals with his eyes blazing with glory lust. Kurt lumbered out to meet him making himself larger than life (no comments here from the peanut gallery), but the lad cracked a shot away whilst still about 15 meters out, hitting Kurt’s legs and going behind for a corner. Great closing down by the big number 1 and reports of the short attacker having a look of fear in his eyes when he looked up to see Kurt bearing down on him, were later denied by their manager. Shortly thereafter and a ball rolled across the big box and a cracker shot at the goals was on target to equal the score. A heave, hurl, grunt (and some other less-known noises) later, Kurt leaped into the air, reaching up and pushing the ball over the bar, followed by a half twist and pike dive to his right landing in a heap on the ground. Pats on his back all round and with that save, and the lad knew he was in with a shot at man-of-the-match. About 5 minutes from time, still under pressure, we broke and quickly passed the ball up front but too quick as their keeper managed to collect it. What followed was unanimously voted as the moment of the match. The West End goalie (see kicking prowess above) who, at that stage was way out on the right had side of his goals, used his usual tap to clear the ball. Sadly, it went all of 10 meters, across the goals and landed squarely at Dereck’s feet. With a yawning, open goals, Dereck, just outside the big box, couldn’t resist it and kicked the ball forward. Not at the goals. At the corner flag. In the air. And then went to retrieve it. Indeed, such was his kick that it went high in the air, to the right of the goals, in fact, more like towards the corner flag. It was also slowed in the wind and was retrieved by Dereck himself who passed back to Stevie to cross it into the box. Some say he was trying a Eden Hazard pass to himself, others say he got stage fright but it was nevertheless a strange strategy, effective but strange, as most would’ve gone straight for goals.

And that’s how it ended. 2-1 to De Beers and another 3 points  under the belt. Afterwards, we were treated to a beer, some Snoek and salads and a hearty cheer for the men of the match-Kurt and Lange. Notable performance put in by Spike in the holding midfield with the same solid performance at the back from the tight four. Afterwards the ref asked me where Dorian was. I said he had an injured thumb. He told me I was talking sh*t, and he had gone to play for his other club. I was astounded but the ref assured me that they didn’t mind, as he was over 45 and for them, playing De Beers was what it was all about with the result being a matter for the records.

I can personally state without equivocation, that I would play at West End on any day of the week, with one change-room, cum bar cum dining room for all, than at any other club in our league. Solid lads who love the game and enjoy our friendship and will always treat us well. The contrast between the brawl that was Durbanville and the jokes and fun on Saturday, are worlds apart but West End get my vote!

It’s the cup this Saturday lads against Old Mutual at home. Please bring your “A” game as it is the ¼ finals of the cup.

Match 9-Chelsea vs De Beers

20/06/2016

Hello Ladies

Friday night saw our rampant run of triumphs come to a disappointing death. The squad plagued by injuries and holiday makers, went down to 11 men on the day when the 12th man relented to a virus which saw him prefer the inside of a doctor’s waiting room than the Astroturf of the Chelsea side in L.A. (Lower Athlone). Chelsea were reluctant to postpone having had a few postponements already in the bag and were concerned that their fixtures would run into January 2017. We reluctantly conceded, simply because I’d missed the 10-day notice for postponement and having being advised by the club’s ex-captain that CTTFA doesn’t consider a long weekend as a cause for postponement. So Friday night we  traveled with our motley crew to the Cape Flats to take on the blue-shirted men of Chelsea.

Playing on the flat, even Astroturf, takes some getting used to; even bounce, ball rolling as well as the absence of the usual bounce we’ve come to expect playing on our home pitch. But moreover is the speed of the surface which ultimately proved to play a significant role in the difference between the two teams. Flat passes rolled off the field away from chasing players similar to chasing a Formula 1 car down Kloof road. And, those passes that were airborne, skidded off the surface like a Waboba ball off the water  making most of the team look like left-footed netball players on an ice-hockey rink playing with a tennis racquet. The only think that skidded faster than the ball off the pitch was a ball off Gavin’s shiny dome when he leaped all of 6 inches to flick a ball to Dereck up front.

Be that as it may, it was early in the first half when Stephane, our short Frenchman and youngest player in the side, chased a ball controlled by a notable speedster, succeeding to avert the attack only to be pushed off the ball, stand sideways and twist his ankle onto his calf. Our gallant Captain came over to comfort him and said, “Get up, we’re only 11 men”. Being European and all, Stephane remarked that Richard had less empathy than Hitler. Stephane, aka Penguin, took a little water in and hobbled back onto the field under duress to continue playing, only to suffer the same fate a few minutes later and twist same ankle bouncing onto the pitch, arms flapping in character. This time it was over for him and he spent the rest of the night on the sideline shouting “Viva la Debeers” in true cultural fashion. Down to 10 men, the team rallied together and covered as many bases as possible but the inevitable happened around 10 minutes from half-time. Chelsea came down the center of the park and into the box. Gavin trundled over intercepting and cleared the ball straight to a Chelsea player on the left side of the box who took aim and cleared all the heads with his shot into the opposite top corner over Clive’s outstretched hands. It wasn’t fair that they used height to score, particularly as Clive isn’t the tallest lad on the pitch and could well end up suffering from a complex as a result. Having said that, Clive had an outstanding game in goals. Shortly before that, he was diving horizontally like an Eagle in full flight swooping down on a prey, talons outstretched, grasping the ball securely to his chest. A few moments later, Clive was rushing a striker, going down at his feet collecting the ball and the players bootlaces simultaneously. Clive stayed down having collected it on the troublesome knee… had it been anywhere else, even his face, he would’ve been fine but not on the knee. He stood up eventually and limped back into the goals to continue. Justin, making a guest appearance for the night along with the club’s most gracious supporter Grandoog,  who was incidentally sitting miserably on the sideline without a drop of alcohol to quench his thirst, had a sterling game at left back thundering up and down the left wing. Sometime in the second half he found himself outside the bog box and took a low shot at the keeper’s near post which was collected, though fumbled, by the Chelsea no.1. Half-time came and we were only 1 down. The lads were working hard indeed and the sweat was visible on everyone’s brow, but we were optimistic we could pull one back.

Second half saw a fresh sets of legs from Chelsea and the onslaught continued. It was the like the battle of Blood River with wave after wave of blue warriors coming at us on the left flank, right flank and through the middle. A through ball from the middle to their speedy right wing saw their second goal of the night. Clive had no chance of stopping it and it was clear that the fatigue was starting to show. However, the lads from De Beers never gave up and at times, some excellent one-touch passing saw us attacking down the left and right wings. Neil was always available out on the left cutting in and shooting at the keeper, ensuring he was awake and ready. Remarkably, Neil also took a nasty bump off the ball landing on his head. Fortunately, the Astro was fine being rubber and Neill rubbed his head, without saying a word and continued to press. A pass down the right flank to Mighty Midget saw him rush into the big box alongside the Chelsea’s bouncer, a six and a half foot, 140 kilograms of meat center back. Fortunately with Mighty Midget’s pace, he got ahead but was taken out badly almost making his spectacles instantly into contact lenses and the ref blew for a penalty. In an unforeseen act of reckless generosity, Captain Richard gave Spongebob aka Gavin, the ball and invited him to have a dip. Cool as a cucumber, Spongebob slotted the ball on the floor to the keeper’s left whilst the keeper went searching for a non-existent ball on the right. 2-1 and we were in with a shot.

Stevie was playing like an absolute trooper on the right hand rear-guard, supporting Dave who had become the centre backs on his own, shouting out commands to all and sundry, clearing the ball, dribbling up through the middle and shepherding any attack into the by-line. It was a fine display from the lad despite his health and pain. I helped out playing center back but drifted into midfield every so often to help spur on attacks. At one point, I passed the ball to Krusty (see The Simpsons – aka Richard) who was ruthlessly scythed from the rear by a flying tackle, studs showing bringing the mummified man to a crumbling heap on the field. The lad and I exchanged a couple of suggestions as to what to do, none of which may be repeated on a family match report but fortunately blew over quickly without any handbags landing. {Sidenote: As I stood there, in L.A. (Lower Athlone – on the Cape Flats), the only thought I had was if the lad was carrying a knife or not but I guess that’s what you get from taking advice from Almiro). Krusty was helped off the field and the balance of  9 played on regardless.

The rest of the game followed the same pattern of breakaways with us chasing followed by a counter attack. However, getting into their box was difficult even with Krusty coming back onto the field. We played on doggedly but the midfield struggled with one man short, and to be honest, we were always chasing the game. One particular break saw a shot at Ronald Koeman’s (aka Clive) near post. Koeman did a triple salto with a half twist and pushed the ball past the post. It must be said that the lad can do marvellous things with that torso for a 54 year young man. Everyone gave 100% for 100% of the game. At one point, I called the line at the back pushing everyone out only to see Dereck lagging behind. He seemed somewhat stunned to be pushed out, probably wondering how he had fallen so deep to help out the backline. Either that or how he could be offsides. That proved how much everyone gave on the night. But inevitably the 10 vs 11 and the fast pitch to which we were unaccustomed got the better of us. We weren’t able to pull a second one back and 5 minutes from time they broke again and scored. I am not certain what those lads eat in L.A. but I personally want some of it.

Afterwards, we were treated to a couple of beers, Snoek and good hospitality. Puzzlingly, they decided to nominate our man of the match and Mighty Mouse had a shot of whiskey with wine as a mixer. Warren, the sporting young lad he is, downed it in about the same pace as he covers 20 metres leaving their candidate struggling for breath. Real trooper is our Mighty Mouse. They’re actually a decent bunch indeed and after much laughter and socialising, we left. They were sure glad to treat us because they wanted to reciprocate the way we treated them when they came to De Beers. It is always good to be complimented on our hospitality though we would’ve preferred the points.

Well, for the record, I was an extremely proud manager. The lads worked hard and given the fact that we were 10 men, showed true courage and spirit. Here are the names of the lads who stood up to the challenge : Ronald Koeman (Clive), Stevie, Dave, Penguin (Stephane), Justin, Mighty Mouse (Warren), Krusty the clown (Richard), Spongebob (Gavin), Neil and Dereck. Well done lads.

We play Drubanville, nope, that’s not a typo at home at 14h00. I plan to play on our D field so the game will be tighter and hopefully, we can take some revenge!

Match 8-Queens Park vs De Beers

06/06/2016

Morning Ladies

Friday night saw the spirit of De Beers personified in the away game against Queens Park. Here was the state of play in the beginning of the week: –

Total registered players = 20

Injuries

Stuart – Iron deficiency, calf strain, Achilles injury – Surgery Scheduled 08/09/2016

Dezroy – Snapped Achilles – Surgery completed but still in rehab

Clive – Splintering Cartlidge

Richard Gurtel – Strained Quad

Stephane – strained hamstring

Spike – strained hamstring

Richard Goncalves – Strained calf muscle, gammy knees

Neil Lawrence – Groin strain

Dave Lovell – Piriformis syndrome

Yours truly – Groin strain

For the more numerically astute, it won’t be difficult to work out that we were short of numbers before we even began. I was reluctant to try postpone the game because the CTTFA are dead set against it and it just means prolonging the season for the club’s veterans. I confirmed the game and sought players to travel through to Cape Town. With three of our regular “fit” players out due to work and family commitments, we were tight on numbers. However, we were still able to field 11 players  and traveled with the following squad to the Cape: Kurt (goals), Ruben, Stephane, Dave and Wayne (making his season debut) at the back. Gavin, Spike, Steve and Neil in the midfield and Dereck up front with a welcome return from Richard Goncalves playing up front but deeper than usual. Clive came along for support and technical advice. It can be noted that 5 of these lads were playing with injuries and there was perhaps never a better time to name the team Amakrokakroka!

The first half saw us playing with the wind but not able to get close to scoring. The field was quite small and several attempted through-balls to Dereck as the main striker didn’t quite come off due to the wind taking the ball away. That plus the fact that the ref seemed to pick up an offside everytime we collected the ball inside their half. Other than that, the only time we heard the ref’s whistle was starting and finishing a half. He had clearly picked up on Jason’s “Play-on” philosophy which states, “…unless the ambulance is required, it is deemed to be a fair tackle..”. At one time in the second half, Dereck was on track for a one-on-one with the keeper when he got savagely attacked from the back causing a nasty, deep gash on his calf. On closer inspection after the game, the medical team (myself and Dereck) decided that stitches weren’t an option simply because there wasn’t any skin to draw over the wound. At the time Dereck indicated that he wanted to be subbed. But as I was far enough away, I smiled and waved, gave him the thumbs up and ignored him. Gutted, he played on leaving a blood trail on the pitch. Stephane obviously took strain as he ran around the field with his hand on the back of his leg shouting “sacré bleu!” in a vain attempt to relieve the pain of the hamstring. Neil kept on going down on his haunches to relieve the groin strain and Dave looked like it was uncomfortable for him to stand, never mind run after the ball. Richard took a tumble on the brink of half time and never got up. Even the ref came to help with the cramp but get up he did and despite my protests, carried on. Spike ran around the field like a rejuvenated youth but with a permanent grimace on his face indicating the discomfort he was experiencing. As sick as what it sounds, it was a lovely site to see. Grown men gritting their jaws and chasing the ball with determination around on a very cold night in the city bowl against the biting wind. Real troopers they were!

The breakthrough came in the second half when Dereck picked up on a through ball and took a shot at the keeper. The keeper, who was having a good game, dived to his right getting behind the ball but fumbled the ball where Richard following up, collected it and put it into the back of the net. Playing against the wind, Neil suggested we tighten up in the midfield and defend which worked well. We held our own and Ruben, Dave, Stephane and Wayne intercepted passes, tackled and shepherded all and any attacks to the byline or cleared it to the midfield. Kurt had only one scare on the night which he saw off after a clash with their Captain (Bashir) in the 6 yard box resulting in a corner. Wayne, who probably walked to the ground from his Cape Town home, looked alive and incredibly mobile for someone coming back from Afrikaburn and played as if he was on trials for La Liga. Curly hair flowing in the wind, he looked like a flower power child but played like a Trojan, cutting off every right flank attack. Gavin played a more advanced role assisting Richard, and Spike a more defensive role in the midfield confronting their midfield when they advanced too far into our half. I actually wish I had had any input into the tactics because they worked out perfectly, only I didn’t. Stevie and Neil kept running up and down the flanks with Neil looking particularly menacing with his crosses and cutting into the center. Stevie kept tearing back to help defend only to have to turn around to collect Richard’s passes out to him on the wing. Afterwards he admitted that the tackle from behind on a defender was nothing more than him running out of steam and falling over. The second goal came late in extra time, probably at least 10 minutes into injury time. Richard collected the ball and after making space for himself, produced a magnificent long-range, low strike aimed at the bottom right hand corner of the goals. It swerved just as it got to the goals and into the corner to beat the goalie and landed up in the back of the net. Everyone was silent because it was such a long-shot and no-one expected it or was even sure if it was inside or outside the net…until someone cheered and the ref blew for the goal. Straight after that, the ref conceded the game was over and called full-time.

Afterwards, we went to change only to discover that the change room was being used as an overnight hotel to an otherwise-homeless couple, already setting their bed up (or down as the case may be) for the night. They had a 5 liter wine bottle which was already half finished and at that point, looked as if they were only starting to settle down for a nightcap. We withdrew to the home team’s change-rooms only to find it transformed into an open-plan kitchen where we were treated to some of the best halaal chicken rotti’s we’ve ever tasted. That and coffee/cooldrink made us feel like welcome guests. Rumours of past days of animosity started by Wayne and Kurt were dismissed as urban legends and we enjoyed an incredible atmosphere with mates in football. Fortunately for Dave, our planner extraordinaire, Wayne, brought some beers to quench the thirst. In respect, these were enjoyed outside in the night breeze (read as icy-wind) whilst some stayed inside socialising with the very hospitable crowd from Queens Park. We left with agreements of friendlies, family gatherings and another round of rotties with the women whilst their men played an away game. For the record, I wasn’t involved in that round of negotiations.

Before the game, I told the lads that we had a lot of injuries so we should just enjoy the game. I said we normally conceded the points so any result would be welcome. I suggested that perhaps we should play deep and score on the break-away. Truth be told, I was hoping for a draw, given the injuries. Well, I am not sure if that sunk in at all but for the Amakrokakroka to come away with a hard-earned 2-0 victory made me proud. Well-done lads on another sterling performance!

Fortunately, we have a two-week break before the next game away to Chelsea B who are 3rd on the log. Should be a tough game indeed!

Have a good rest lads.

Match 7-De Beers vs Queens Park

30/05/2016

Morning Ladies

What an amazing game on Friday night indeed. In previous years, I was told that due to the nature of the Queens Park, we didn’t play them in away games and chose rather give them the points. It had something to with their change rooms or lack thereof, the fact that they never fed us, didn’t “drink” with us, were dirty players and always had a bias ref. The picture conjured in my mind was one of 11 teetotalling gangstas stripping in the open, out to win the fight if they didn’t win the game, only to celebrate afterwards with a Coke© (That would be a Coca cola and not the other type). If that wasn’t enough to make me apprehensive, the fact that we only had 11 players in total did, and it included Clive who had been out for a number of weeks due to injury. Fortunately, he agreed to come down not because I invited him, but because I actually begged him. The fact that he was out of breath walking up the stairs to the bar before the game didn’t alley my fears either. Queens Park arrived with 16 players, some of which were recognised from the over 35’s and over 40’s, exacerbating my elevated anxiety. I threatened to check cards and their captain laughed nervously so I suspected not everything was above board. And finally, when we agreed to the standard rolling subs, knowing I only had 11 players, I really started getting stressed.

We also had the dubious good fortune of having the Club Chairman reffing our game, accompanied by his good wife, Mrs Chairman. We had to be on our best behaviour as a result and visions of Almiro, Richard and Neil in past games made me say a silent prayer. Jason advised me before-hand that he liked to let the game flow, but never in the confines of my mind did I ever imagine it would be to the degree he let it flow. I suspect the only foul he would’ve blown for on the night would’ve been a Chuck Norris roundhouse to the jaw or stud marks on the back of a player’s shirt. In fact, there were actually several incidents during the match when even the fouling player lifted his hands apologetically after going through the back of another player and everyone stopped playing to take the foul.  Everyone except of course for the ref who didn’t consider the incident the least bit offensive. Play on, he would wave. It can however be noted that his style changed as the game progressed. It went like this:-

Player fouls another player.

Everyone stops playing.

Transgressor backs away from the ball.

Ball stops and victim glances at ref.

Referee concedes and blows whistle.

Play continues….

I digress…

We started the game well, passing and moving forward. Within the first 20 minutes we managed to get in the danger area and the permanently on-form Clive scored the first after the ball bounced loose in the box. Clive’s second was similar following up on a shot parried by the keeper in the small box which went straight past the keeper who seemed to be glued to the spot. Dereck, on the other hand, looked like he was cause,  standing on the goalies toes at the time, looked completely unphased as they all appealed for offside.

Half time came and we were 2-0 in the lead, with the knowledge that a goal conceded would bring them back into game. Iron-tight defence Ruben and Richard Gurtel playing at centre back did a sterling job keeping the defence solid, although I am not sure where Richard Gurtel was playing at times, as he was further forward than me playing in the right midfield. Richard Gurtel, born in 58 and currently 58, did well given that he hasn’t played for a few years and ran for the entire 70 minutes, not always in the right direction but ran nonetheless. Dave at right back, had an outstanding game as well, covering me when I got lost and backing Ruben up when Richard Gurtel went on one of his walkabouts. The talismanic Johan played at left back ran up and down the left wing crossing balls across the goals at 298km/h. His performance has caused some to enquire as to what exactly he eats. Frightening pace and thunderous crosses have been the service to which the forwards have become accustomed, so he is doing something right. At one point, he cut in towards the goals and released a shot/cross which everyone missed and which missed everyone, fortunately. I suspect that no-one actually wanted to get on the end of it lest it broke a leg or left them with concussion. Anyway, play on…

Neil, back at left mid/wing, had some cracker runs up the left firing in two great shots at goal and scoring from one of them. The rejuvenated Neil scored a second later on following up on a shot parried by the keeper, latched onto by Clive and shot in again, defended again and finally fired home by Neil, lifting the back of the net into the night air. The 5th of the 5 -0  victory came from Almiro carrying the ball up the middle of the park, dribbling through a few players (which could’ve been De Beers or opposition I can’t recall), and then shooting from around 15 yards (12,3 metres for the younger folk on the new metric system) outside the big box. The left foot scorcher was placed neatly in the back of the Queens Park far corner net whilst everyone watched in amazement. Different level indeed and the WAGS in attendance certainly couldn’t say that particular play was like watching the Premier League in slow motion. Kurt kept a clean sheet, covering his front post well from the few shots they had on goal and even Dereck, although wasn’t lucky enough to get on the score sheet, worked like a Trojan up front creating spaces and chasing the ball every time it went up field. Last but not least was Gavin who, after  drinking some dodgy-looking caffeine-laced stuff from a bright red and blue can before the game, ran for 70 minutes like a Maître d’  in a busy hotel providing assistance to all and sundry. It was tantamount to a squirrel on Red Bull, up down, no up, left right, left again and back up the middle. Good stuff indeed. Anyway, play on…

So ultimately, my fears were completely unfounded and unnecessary. We played solid soccer for the full game and every single player, without exception, gave >100% for 100% of the game. Even Clive, who was hacked down in the penalty area (“play on”) only had the mutters for a brief spell but returned to play once he could walk again. Tremendous effort by all and I realised how fortunate I am to be a part of such a great side!

The post-match events were quite bizarre to say the least. Given my paradigm that Queens Park wouldn’t stay and socialise, I only catered for two large Snoek from Alsinio, our local fish supplier a-la-supreme. In fact, I couldn’t have been more wrong about our visitors. The lads from Queens Park were a friendly bunch indeed and weren’t a bunch of thugs from the bowl as I was led to believe. Bar one person who had to get up for shift work at 4 the next morning, everyone stayed for a bite or 17. We obviously couldn’t have our man-of-the-match down-down simply because they abstain and a Coke (Coca Cola) vs Castle doesn’t seem right somehow. Anyway, laying on too much too soon wouldn’t be good for the newby’s to De Beer’s bar shenanigans. However, they were invited to partake and partake they did. The events that unfolded reminded me of a  scene in the movie 10 commandments when the locusts who attacked the crops, leaving nothing but a few bare stalks in the ground and…. never mind.

Let’s just say that they thoroughly enjoyed the Snoek! They were very grateful indeed and many personally said thank you.

They also mentioned that they were going to make us a curry for next week, a hot one… to be eaten before the game

Don’t forget to pay your subs lads!

 

Match 5-De Beers vs Edgemead

13/05/2016

Morning Ladies

Edgemead were kind enough to facilitate a game change for us from tomorrow to Tuesday. As far as the federation is aware, the game took place tomorrow and we won 2-0. Please keep that in mind lads…

So it was an interesting night indeed as Kurt and Spike were invited for trials with Edgemead and did themselves proud they did. It started with Edgemead agreeing to change the game to Tuesday, thereby accommodating some team members who prefer to play Saturday croquet at a resort in the mountains, rather than soccer at De Beers. Each to his fancy I suppose. Nice bunch the Edgemead lads are too, as they happily made the trip from the North. To play in the evening. On our A field. In Somerset West. All 9 of them. Being the superb hosts we are, we accommodated them by providing a Snoek* braai, a beer, a goalkeeper in the form of Kurt, (and I will have none of those comments on the term “form” from the peanut gallery thank you) and Spike, who played right back for them winning my Sportsman of the day prize in so doing. I think that in the confines of Spike’s mind, he was going to have a half hour of footie and then get down to the real man’s work of roasting a rather large Snoek for the lads. Poor Spike ended up by playing a full game and looked a little ragged around the edges when he hovered around the braai, nominating everyone but Mike to time the Snoek. I suspect that the first half that only consisted of 32 minutes might’ve been the problem there. On that note, special mention must be made of Mike here as he had a good game. Fact: A ref always has a good game when the players forget he is on the pitch. Well, except for the penalty. But more of that later.

Our first goal came from a cross into the box from Almiro who had wandered out onto the left wing, simply because he felt he didn’t have enough to do in the middle. To be fair, he really played centre half, defensive attacking left wing right midfield as well as pseudo-captain-player-manager. He mentioned something about training for a 12km run. I digress. The ball came into the box where Dereck jumped at it at precisely the same time Richard Gonzo screamed “flick”. Although Dereck did flick it, those who were close to the action, are convinced that it wasn’t a flick but more like a geriatric attempt to jump 2 inches into the air. Not quite reaching the ball, it skimmed off Dereck’s head onto Richard’s outstretched leg and into the net. Almiro has asserted that Richard had no intention of scoring but was simply trying to stop himself from falling into the back of the net. Either way, it was a goal and De Beers went 1 up.

About 5 minutes later, Dereck, concerned that his goal tally was under threat, dribbled through a defender or two into the box and confronted Kurt with the ball… in the 6 yard box. Time stood still as Dereck, ball at feet, completely unhindered, gave it a good strike and managed to miss the goal completely and more surprisingly, miss Kurt as well, throwing away an ideal opportunity to notch up another to his season’s tally. The second half saw Dereck have another stand-off with Kurt but this time slotted it home. From 3 meters off the goal-line. If it wasn’t for the first-half practice shot…. In any event, it was hard to miss but one never knows with Dereck and Richard up front. Kurt, on the other hand (or on the other side as the case may be), probably had his game of the season pulling off a couple of incredible saves, one of which saw him in a pirouette on his toes and outstretched arms pushing the ball over the top. I had a vision of a tutu, a movie called Madagascar and ….. never mind. Questions were asked about how Kurt is able to keep everything out when he is playing against us and nothing out when he is playing for us. In Kurt’s defence, he has only let 1 in out of the 3 games he has played. But then so have I and so has Almiro. :-/

Dereck had another opportunity later on when the mighty midget crossed the ball from out wide onto his head. Just a side note on the mighty midget…. He spent the first half warming up by running around the field. Had that been any other player, I suspect they would’ve had to be subbed before the half was out. I digress again. It appeared that Dereck once again launched himself two inches into the air repeating the flick (read as follows-“skimming of the head”) which action attributed an assist to him in the first half. Only this time, Richard was still loitering around the centre circle. Complaining about the pitch. And his knees. Again. The ball went out at the corner flag and the result was a number of team members having a better understanding on why Dereck is thinning out on top. Meanwhile non-iron man Stuart went off complaining about Dezroy giving him a bout of Achilles tendonitis or something and took the rest of the game off. Gavin Weight-heim trundled around the middle for most of the game and complained that he was convinced his movement would be restricted in the morning. The fact that he showed incredible agility up the stairs for a beer afterwards won’t be discussed at this juncture. He too took to the sidelines shortly after Stuart. At that point, I was getting concerned that we were running out of players and may have had to ask for Spike and Kurt back to ensure a win. Fortunately, Ruben was his solid self at the back with Meestir Penguin informing all that he was extremely bored and looked forward to hosting an exciting game of croquet on the weekend. All said and done, we made hard work of the 2-0 win and I for one, am not looking forward to the return match when it is 11 of their players vs 11 of ours.

[*Snoek – Incidentally, my car still smells like a fish market on a hot Saturday afternoon. When I mentioned to my good wife that my gym clothes from that  morning were still in the boot and that I was concerned about the smell of the snoek getting into my gym clothes, she shook her head nonchalantly and said “Once, completely by accident, I happened to smell your gym clothes. I would be more concerned about the Snoek smelling like your gym clothes. :-/ ]

Our next game is on Saturday 21 May away to Old Mutual B. I look forward to the nice pitch but they do practice and will provide us with a hard game. Be sure to come down to practice on Wednesday night at 20h00. Always important to get a good result from a good side away from home. Those who haven’t paid their subs in full, remember that your next payment is overdue now. Please pay up. I don’t want to beg for money again this year!

Match 4-YMO St Lukes vs De Beers

02/05/2015

Morning Ladies

As I write the match report and consider the score, I wonder if St. Luke may be the patron saint of goals and if he is, what YMO did wrong to deserve the routing they got on Friday night. Nice bunch of guys and accommodating to boot, giving goals away much like our dear president does money to consultants working on his kraal or Indian friends who provide employment for offspring in his tribe.

Admittedly, having conceding a goal in the first 5 minutes, exacerbated by the fact that we lost 3-1 to YMO in a friendly season opener, I thought we were in for a tough game. In fact, I wasn’t sure if I had traveled with the same side that beat West End 6-1 (Richard again 6-1), well the first half side of that game anyway. Their goal was offside, by some distance, and whilst it can be said that the lights were quite bad, the lad was so far offside, even Stevie Wonder would’ve called to say he was offside. Given the fact that the lad was quite quick, I suspect that they score a number of their goals in the same manner. After some analysis, we worked out that their main game consisted of over the top from deep in the midfield with a significant reliance on bad lighting. Standing between the sticks for the night, I can vouch that a bell would definitely have helped, because they rely on the lights to make the ball disappear and the two times I did touch the ball was guesswork at best.

Back to the plot….we countered their strategy by not playing for offside and effectively shut the door to their attacks. Actually, if I have to be honest, shutting the door would be an understatement because between the four backs and defending midfield, they actually bricked and cemented the door shut and I was able to resort to watching the lads in the midfield create more chances than the ANC government has given Zuma, with the occasional fetching of the ball to take goal kicks. I digress…

The equaliser came from Ruben who didn’t waste time to remind me that he scored and wanted full points for his performance as a result. That plus the fact that he wouldn’t be travelling home with me and therefore wouldn’t be singing and dancing in my car. His goal was a header from a corner that was directed back across the goals past the keeper and into the back of the net, great play which even top professionals don’t get right. Earlier on, Dereck had the same opportunity to knock it home but tried to play a new game of ‘follow the ball from a cross with your head but don’t actually touch it’, which he won hands down. To be honest I cannot remember who scored when after that but Warren scored a hat-trick, and Richard and Dereck both scored twice to make it 8-1 (Richard again 8-1). I would probably have to write a thesis to describe each goal in detail so I’ll only record the top five highlights given that Dave has probably already stopped reading by now.

Position 5: – Dereck in front of goals, ball at feet facing a one-on-one with the goalkeeper. First right, then left, then right again and then past the keeper. Time stood still as the two of them had a face-off. Picture if you can when you were a kid playing in the park/field and it’s you and a mate, he is on goals and you are dribbling towards him, no-one else there… it was like that, except we are big now but somehow everyone just watched the two of them having fun. Inevitable outcome of a goal which Dereck pulled off with consummate style and ease.

Position 4: – Second half and Stevie on at right back/right half/right wing, it was all three positions simultaneously for the global-travelling oil tycoon salesman on Friday night. He collected the ball somewhere just before the half way line and charged towards the goals in a Rooney-like fashion until he got to the edge of the box where he unleashed a shot to remember/forget, depending on which side you sit. Fortunately Richard was on the other side of the box and after recovering from the shock of seeing the ball coming his way, managed to slide the ball home using what in his words was “size 14 boots instead of the normal size 9” to slot home Stevie’s shot-turned-cross.

Position 3: – Warren’s third goal to get his hat-trick proved Newton’s third law of motion… for every action, there is an opposite action, equal in magnitude and opposite in direction…. emphasis in direction. Same ball, same position running down the right wing like the mighty midget he is…at speed! This time, he looked up and saw Dereck, waiting unexpectedly for the cross to come over. A swing of the right foot and the ball went up in the air and…. nowhere near Dereck. Instead the goalie looked on helplessly as the ball looped over his head and into the back of the net. Dereck was crestfallen and Warren actually looked apologetic!

 

Position 2: – It was a welcoming site to see the cheerful face of Dave as he made his return to the side from his bout of flu last week. Still recovering, he was benched with the plan on bringing him on in the second half so as to ease the lad back into the game. Sometime into the second half, Warren, having scored his hat-trick by then, was substituted by Captain Richard with the aim of bringing Dave onto the field. Warren was already almost off the pitch when it dawned on everyone that Dave was nowhere to be seen. A quick glance around to the bar saw Dave standing stone-faced with a beer in his hand watching events unfold unamusedly. Afterwards his explanation was that he got cold and tired from waiting to get a game!

Position 1:- The highlight of the evening happened early in the first half with Dereck out wide on the right looking for work. He received a pass and held the ball well, despite a YMO back doing everything but saddling him up and riding him with the player’s boots coming in from all side and between his legs having a go at the ball. Dereck was bent over at almost 90 degrees as he fought the lad off bravely. In steps superhero Clive once again to rescue Dereck by trying to collect the ball from him with the intention of launching an attack down the right flank… only Dereck wasn’t going to give the ball away that easily, be it friend or foe, and so he continued to fight off the assistance bravely. What ensued wasn’t the prettiest of scenes but the struggle for the ball between the three was joined by another YMO player and only finally ended by the ref because who simply couldn’t bear to watch the struggle anymore and rewarded Dereck’s tenacity with a free-kick.

Hero of the week:- There were so many good moments that it is difficult to separate any single person but sterling performances by the two centre-backs and Johan for working so hard out on the left. Warren gets mention for his hat trick and Almiro for working like a trooper assisting at the front and helping out at the back.

Villain of the week: – Richard for not playing Dave, Dave for not playing for Richard and Neil for getting the first yellow card for the season.

Injury update on Dezroy is that he has torn his Achilles tendon and will be undergoing surgery on Wednesday. He will be out for six weeks but will be swimming so he can keep fit and make a return for the cup final. Stuart and the others who heard the snap can feel your pain Dez. Get well soon!

Please note that if you are paying off your subs for the year, your next payment is due. I don’t want to fight with you lads so please pay the club with your name as a reference to speed things up. I get an update weekly of the status so I can chase defaulters.

We have been given a bye in the first round of the cup scheduled for this coming weekend. Truth be told, there are only eight teams in the cup so we automatically go through to the quarterfinals of the cup. As a result we’re going to try bring our next league game forward to accommodate a significant sporting event in Houwhoek over 13-15 May weekend where half the team is away. Gavin has booked the court for Wednesday evening so be sure to come down for practice. I think the team is starting to gel well together and our practice on a flat surface really showed on Friday night where the bounce is consistent. We have a good side with lots of depth and talent. More importantly, there is commitment, enthusiasm, a positive attitude and a willingness to work hard, key elements of a successful side.

Keep it up lads, you’re making De Beers proud!