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.
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!