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!

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