My stress levels leading up to the semi-final were not healthy. Aside from barking at the family and nearly kicking the dog throughout the week, I didn’t sleep well wondering if everyone would pitch up, if the Godfather would remember the kit, and if Queens Park would bring along 15 x 45 year-olds who had just graduated from over 40’s. It turned out that although Queens Park did bring a different side, the rest of my fears were completely unfounded. My instruction to the team was to meet at 15h01 at Bothasig and at 15h01, the whole team was there plus WAGS and supporters in tow. In fact, Krusty admitted he drove around the block once to ensure he wasn’t there at 15h00. Like me, Godfather (with kit freshly washed and intact) arrived early to watch the Durbaville vs YMO game. It wasn’t pretty and I began to wonder how Durbanville did so well in the league. They really are a bunch of thugs who complain about everything, intimidating opposition into conceding and brutally defending any advantage they have. I guess the threat of rain and the strong side wind also played its part making ball control a little more challenging. However, we left the side of the field at 15h16, halfway through the battle to change and prepare for our game. Although we had to wait for a change room due to the number of games happening , we were on our way out when YMO came in to change having beaten Durbanville 1-0, ironically thanks to a goal by the infamous John Dick.
John Ross, head referee at CTTFA, presided over our game. Well, presided is perhaps a little soft, with “judged”, “ruled” or “dictated” being the more appropriate term, because no nonsense was tolerated on the field at all. It was refreshing knowing that the game was being controlled well and any foul play would be dealt with accordingly. With the revamped Queens Park side, we initially found the going tough with both sides experiencing little joy on attack. With Bob the builder at right back enjoying a post-injury return with fine form, the Godfather and Satchmo in the centre eliminating attacks like well-trained army snipers and Freddie Mercury on the left covering any attacks down the right, it was up to the midfield of Mighty mouse, Dr Hunt, Ronald and myself to close Queens Park down and create chances for the forward to score. Fred Flintstone had one save to make the entire game, soliciting a compliment from the referee in the process, but complained for the rest of the game that the Godfather never gave him a pass-back, just so that he could have at least some time with the ball.
The first goal came from a throw-in to Ronald Koeman who collected it in the area, almost on the touch line. A little skill from the senior player and he slung a low cross into the middle of the small box where the keeper attempted to dive on it. What followed was a scramble similar to this…
With Krusty doing the splits and the ball rolling on the line, it was left to Dereck nothing-but-Tame to push the ball over the line and a few Queens Park lads with it. One-nil and a slight anticipation rose in the side. We continued to push, fighting the wind as hard as we fought the opposition, and it was Mighty mouse who won a throw-in down the right side, taking responsibility for it as well. Despite throwing against the wind, Mighty Mouse managed to lob the ball in the box leading to a wild scramble for the ball, with legs flying and bodies being hurled at the ball. It was like a group of children trying to catch a mosquito with their boots without success. A swing-and-a-miss and another swing-and-a-miss, and a further swing-and-a-miss , all close but no cigar. In steps the mummified legs of crusty and with one swing of his right leg at the bouncing ball, he connected it and a defender’s boot simultaneously, with the ball ending up in the back of the net and the defender clutching his foot. It looked something like this…
At 2-0, Queens Park started to show some cracks with their Captain shouting at his team, using delightful language that would’ve made our two Portuguese speaking lads blush with embarrassment. The result was a strong reprimand from John Ross the referee and a slight boost in our confidence. Score remained 2-0 till half time where we decided to leave things as they were and continue to press for another goal. The 3rd goal came from a free-kick just outside the left-hand side of the Queens Park big box following a foul on the Godfather. The Godfather, who incidentally was notably well-behaved in his language, pitch behaviour and position, had the ball up the left wing cutting in towards goals. The hack from the back, as it were, saw The Godfather make a realistic and concerted dive into the box but failed to convince the ref that it was a penalty but won a free-kick for his efforts. The Queens Park defence played a high line to keep the forwards and midfield on the penalty spot, but the Godfather lofted the free-kick over the top and onto the goalie. With arms pumping, Ronald Koeman intercepted the kick and flicked the ball over the keeper and into the top of the net. Great goal from the two ex-pros, almost like the drills we do at practice
Goal number 4 came from Krusty up to his old tricks again, collecting the ball on the half way line and dribbling through the Queens Park midfield, out onto the left hand side of the park, through their backline and back into the centre for another round trip through the midfield again, before slotting the ball past the keeper. Krusty admitted that he had to score to quieten his detractors. The Queens Park lads started to look crestfallen and they changed their side to give their subs a run, as did we about the same time too. Spongebob, Spike and the Counsellor all came on for a run midway through the second half boosting some tired legs and maintaining the pressure. After a run down the left, (can’t recall who it was), the ball was passed to Ronald Koeman standing just outside the big box. Ronald turned the ball onto his right foot and as calmly as the Pope on Valium, slotted the ball into the top right hand corner of the goals. In the words of The Godfather “different class”! With less than 7 minutes to go, I started to relax for the first time in the game and in all honesty, two weeks, much to the disgust of Krusty and the now off-field, Dr Hunt. I got screamed at to mark players and wake up because I was out of position and not marking the right person. At one point, the large burly Queens Park player captain attacked me from the back pushing me into touch, literally and I just turned to smile and wave. We were in the final and it was just a matter of time because there was no way back for Queens Park. John Ross called time and the lads from Queens Park shook our hands wishing us luck for the final.
It was a superb display from a team who are starting to play with their own style, understanding their role in the side and taking their responsibility for their position. A team who is supporting one another, trusting each other and becoming familiar with each other’s style of play. What a privilege to have been part of this side this year with some very talented players and real hard workers, all playing their part!
A final trip to Edgemead this year to the Final on 1 October lads to play against YMO in the cup. I don’t want to take that game as a foregone conclusion because we all know cup games aren’t the same as league games. Everyone steps up a level and fights for the trophy, and I expect we will have to do no less than to step up our game to meet the challenge.
Please keep fit between now and the final. We’ll have some friendlies and practices as well to ensure we don’t lose the form we have become accustomed to.