‘Twas a beautiful crisp, sunny, Saturday afternoon. Moral was high (whoooooo), Jimmy had turned 40, Vinny, Pat and Sven were back in the squad and from memory everyone had a big bright smile on their face… right?
Captain Clem led the warm up (not before we had bullied some pre-pubescent wannabes off of “OUR” field) and got the team up to match pace. We gathered for our usual team talk and there was a surprise change to the formation. Had Mike’s quarrel from the previous week, worked? The line up was announced and the following words were hounded home; “Clem is the captain, only he speaks to the refs, we need to be more professional on the sidelines and represent the Raiders in the best way possible….”
The whistle blew and within a minute the first big tackle was put in, to the foghorn like response of “FUCK OFF” directed at the ref, “doing us Raiders proud”. This person shall remain nameless to save his integrity, we shall referee to him as Danial H. Actually that might be too obvious, let’s call him D Hogg.
From the perspective of the bench it looked like Sipho and Flo were trying to recreate the popular Disney film, Bamby! Optastats tallied up a staggering 47 slips between them in the first 5 minuets. Had they both been for a soapy massage just before kick off? Thankfully none of the slips cost us as their blistering pace allowed them to recover… but the slips did cost one of the above-mentioned players, later…
Despite being on the front foot we found ourselves 1-0 down. Mirko was in a very giving mood and decided to give the ball to their striker with, what can only be described as, a fly swat! Stephan tried his best to clear off the line but his mind was still on the thought of which girl he should take home that night, so he didn’t react quite as quick as he could have if he had already emptied his load.
About 20 mins in Flo’s ice skates finally gave in and his legs decided to part like one of Stephan’s conquests. And just like Jimmy’s eyes, one leg went one way and the other whet in the opposite direction. That brought a premature end to Flo’s day. This forced Hoggy into an early sub, a few positional changes and Foxy replaced Flo. Foxy stumbled onto the pitch dragging his bottom lip along with him. Could that frown ne turned upside down?
We remained calm and continued to dominate the game and possession. Our hard work eventually paid off. Sipho whipped in a cross and Pat very eloquently flicked the ball onto Clem, faced one on one with the keeper we all knew we were about to be back on level terms, Clem did not disappoint.
Half time and we were all square.
The half time team talk was positive and we knew we were the better team, time would prove this to be true. A few personnel changes and we were back at it in the second half.
Continuing to press high and win the ball back early proved to be the key to our success. We won a throw close to the corner flag; Vinny did his best Rory Delap impression and launched the ball towards the goal. The taller and better looking Fox, rose like a salmon and cleverly flicked the ball towards the goal. Clem reacting faster than anyone else managed to get to the ball first and use that beautiful left foot to flick the ball past the onrushing keeper and put us 2-1 up.
In the famous words of the great Sir Colin “Hotshots hit their purple patch”. We were on the back foot for a few minuets and found ourselves facing a close range free kick. A badly hit free kick but a clever header from their goal scorer looped the ball goal bound and heading towards the top corner. Mirko more than redeemed himself with his earlier mistake with a class save, tipping the ball over the bar and kept our lead intact. Surly it would have been a tougher game had they equalized.
We knew one more goal would kill off the game and we worked hard to get what we deserved. We set up camp in the oppositions half and continued to create chances. MJ was now on the field leading the top line. Some people say he should run more, why doesn’t he score more? He’s so fucking miserable, always complaining. Martin Jobst!!!!! It was MJ’s hard work and wriggling moves that led to our final goal of the game. A well-taken first touch around the defender put MJ through, however their defender had a different idea. A stretched out leg and a bit of muscle saw MJ go down quicker than one of Kim Tavern’ waitress, surely we had to be awarded a PK? Their defender was first to react and swung a Hail Mary at the ball, which was met by the onrushing Fola. Fola’s press was rewarded by one of the best finishes you will see all season; his planted foot was placed at exactly 48˚ which provided the perfect “rebound” and saw the ball ricochet past the keeper into the far corner (Fola’s rainman like precision of foot placement was the difference). 3-1 and the game and 3 points were ours.
As the minutes ran out there was only one more notable incident that took place, the ghost red card! Clem put in a worth, yellow card tackle, but to everyone’s surprise the ref pulled out a red. Hoggy run down the touch line like a greyhound chasing a rabbit, to the all too familiar sound of, hey, HEYYYYYYYY!!!! Hoggy then did his best impersonation of Neville and Carragher, pulled out his phone and was trying to introduce VAR to the SIFL. His futile attempts to prove that Clem had not been booked were not working, so we called upon the opposition to help prove our case. Thankfully, their keeper (also their MVP) came forth and settled the matter, Mike had been previously booked but it went down under Clems’ name. Very easy to confuse the two, they do look very similar…. Can someone remind me what the job of the fourth official is????
All in all a good day, we worked hard and got the 3 points. Foxy was nominated Man of the match (that frown did turn upside down) but also Turkey for sulking like a 3 year old for being benched.
We now look forward to our next game against Japan and continue on to defend our title.