Dave, you can go directly to paragraph 6 to the red section, no need to read the in-between bits… you’re not mentioned.
My excitement at playing the last home game of the season was palpable in my home this week, as freedom from looking after the ladies and their meals and beers beckoned to me from just beyond the weekend. In the confines of my mind, I was planning to have a team photo taken before our last league game of the season to keep as a memory or with my comics, whichever seems more appropriate. However, seeing as we started with 9 players at 14h09, it wasn’t really possible now was it ladies? Our local Dutch manager Ronald Koeman sounded like he was on the throne when I called him at 14h01 advising him we were kicking off and were 2 short with no subs. The alarm in his voice was comforting, though I suspect he might’ve forgotten there was a game today, or if he did remember, that it was Saturday. Our other lad m.i.a. (missing in action) Satchmo, decided it was a good time to go into the furniture removal business at 13h07 on a Saturday afternoon before a 14h00 kick off. He did however, inform me that he was going to be a tad late. I questioned him to how late was late and he responded with “quarter to…”. In retrospect, I should’ve asked quarter to what, what day, month and year…. But back to the match report.
Nine player or not, our heartless referee Mike proceeded with kick-off regardless of the status of our team, quoting rule 31.1(b)ii of the referee’s code of conduct which says “…..regardless of how many players Bruce has managed to get onto the field, you shall still kick off on time…” or something like that. Fortunately, Dave, the senior (read 60+) player from Old Mutual stopped the game quoting the unwritten code of the Over 45’s and said “No man, this is over 45’s, give them some players”… and promptly provided two green-short white-shirted players to help us out. Jolly sporting of the man indeed and my faith was restored in soccer, over 45’s and mankind in general. Fortunately for Ronald and Satchmo, no goals were scored when they arrived shortly afterwards prompting the substitution of the two Old Mutual players. Ronald was particularly disconcerted when he looked at the team, looked at his pants and asked why we all had white shorts on when he was wearing blue shorts.
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So we started in a 4-4-2 formation with Dave in the backline returning from a hamstring problem, Satchmo and the Godfather in the center back positions and Freddie Mercury at left back. In the middle was Mighty mouse on the wide right, Ronald (on his grand entrance) and myself in the middle and Dr. Owen Hunt out on the left (see pic below)
Up front was Krusty sporting a new aerodynamic haircut and Dereck not-so-Tame back from a family visit to Wales. On that note, did you hear about Dereck’s attempt to pick up two women in Heathrow? The two lasses were quite hefty but being the good sort he is, he heard their accents and meandered over to them…
“Are you two ladies from England…?” to which they responded
“Wales!”. Surprised at their honesty, Dereck responded…
“Are you two wales from England..?” I digress.
I have to admit that the interplay between the players on the field showed how far we have come since the beginning of the season. Great passing, good possession and much running into space to collect passes. It was a great first 20 minutes… after that it got a little more difficult. On one such interplay, four or five passes were strung together through the midfield ending up with a return pass to Krusty and Krusty laying it off across the front of the goals for Ronald to side foot it into the net. In Krusty’s words…”typical Clive goal…!”. And it was, good movement off the ball and creating spaces for passing and into the box to shoot. Old Mutual responded with some attacking up both the wings but between the Godfather and Satchmo, they were well covered. Bob-the-builder (aka Dave) also had a welcome return to right back intercepting and tackling any threat down the left wing. The lad looked disgusted when he was subbed in the second half to preserve him for the cup. Old Mutual did however manage to break through and their center forward placed a neat shot to the left of Kurt. Kurt, cheeks puffed out (facial cheeks that is), heaved himself to the left and got down managing to get a hand to the ball pushing it round the post for a corner. A tremendous effort from the big lad. Not long after, we were on the attack again up the left wing. A throw-in landed at my feet and I swung at the ball towards the goals. A wind pushed against the ball and it floated into the far post landing on No-so-Tame’s forehead as he faced the goal. The ball bounced off the keeper and back down at Dereck’s feet where a knee-jerk reaction from the lad, literally a knee-jerk reaction, kicked the ball past the keeper into the back of the net. 2-0 and half time came up.
The second half consisted of the midfield working like pack mules running up and down to fetch the ball when intercepted by the backs and threaded through to the middle of the park. Penguin came on replacing
Bob-the-builder and did his fair share of squealing and working whilst the Godfather decided right back was more suitable to his style of play moving Penguin into the middle of the park, much to my disapproval and disgust. In the meantime Fred Flintstone, wind at his heels, started a game of “dryfentjies” with Old Mutual’s goalkeeper knowing he would win hands down with his pins that could probably kick-start a Boeing 747. Playing in midfield, Ronald’s and my neck got sore as we watched the ball pass through the clouds, bounce once and be collected by Old Mutual’s keeper only to be thrown out for them to start their attack from the back again. The only one time Kurt fluffed his kick, he sent it hurtling a few meters above our heads but it ended up bouncing nicely for Dr. Hunt to collect and start an attack. Kurt’s cursing was muffled by the sighs of relief in the midfield. Mighty mouse , my and Dr Hunt’s faces were almost as red as Ronald’s from running the middle of the field down to a well-trodden path and 10 minutes from the end, we were almost walking, completely exhausted. The only thing that kept us going was the Godfather’s ridiculing of asking where the midfield is. As hard as we worked, Old Mutual still got through and had an opportunity to score when they got inside the right hand side of the big box. Kurt pounced onto the ball at the feet of the attacker maintaining his clean sheet and earning him man-of-the-match in the process.
We came close to scoring several times only for the ball to be saved on the line or somehow kicked past the goals, yours truly responsible for one such miss. Another time Mighty mouse had one of his “bolt-speed” runs down the wing, beyond the backline, and almost onto the touchline before he slotted the ball across into the center and into Dereck’s path to slot home for number 3. Only he missed it, by a hair and promised to do more yoga before the semis to ensure he could stretch that extra 10 centimeters. Another cross that came from Mighty Mouse was set to land a meter to Krusty’s right inside the big box. Leaning over onto his good better knee, stretching out at a 45 degree angle, Krusty managed to get his right foot onto the ball in a half volley, half bicycle kick and it blasted off towards the goals only stopped by a dazed-looking defender wondering incredulously how Krusty managed to not only get to the ball but also to connect it and steer it towards goals. Krusty was so crestfallen that his volley was blocked, he asked the ref for a free-kick because the defender was “in the way”. In another play, Old Mutual’s man of the match Helga, collected the ball and ran down the right towards goals picking up a through pass which helped him to go past Freddie Mercury. But Freddie, never knowing what give-up is, tracked back, passed the 6ft midfielder, turned around and tackled him. It literally sounded like the ball was squashed between the two lads, resulting in the ball shooting directly up in the air and, with the wind, away from goals. The large Helga went down in a heap and Freddie, completely oblivious to the consequences of his tackle, chased after the ball… strong stuff from the part-time goalkeeper coach. Ronald Koeman played his usual role in the midfield co-ordinating the ball and midfield in his quiet unassuming way, like a conductor in a 300 strong orchestra. Krusty played the target man up front receiving and passing shots off and Dereck nothing-but-Tame worked hard finding spaces and running through on goals.
All-in-all every player did their bit working hard to ensure we got maximum points. Everyone had a great game it must be said so man of the match was the most difficult choice. Some teammates nominated Dr. Hunt, The Godfather, Mighty Mouse and in fact, a few more so Fred Flintstone can count himself lucky to have been nominated amongst some good performances. Satchmo wasn’t permitted to get nominated because he gave Helga a bloody nose. He gets a special prize for the most effective strategy for the day.
It must also be said that the lads from Old Mutual should get a Bells for the sporting way in which they not only played but also provided us with two midfielders for the first 5-10 minutes of the game. Jolly good sort and on any other day, we could’ve shared the points. Great to see the life members down again but as they only come when Old Mutual plays, I’m getting nervous as to who they are actually coming to watch J. Just kidding.
We have practice on 9 August followed by a tjop en ‘n dop in Gavin’s back garden. We play Queens Park on the 13th of August in the semi’s with the venue still to be nominated. Clear your diaries lad, Clive get a watch and Ruben sell your bakkie, we need to be on our best if we want a crack at the final!!!