Thursday, 14 December 2017

Seasonal felicitations!

My daughter’s appalling cold and conjunctivitis means that I have had to take time off work and for readers of the Friday night football blog very loosely connected to Spizzenergi’s frontman Spizz, that means the very real boon of a slew of match reports to ruminate over as you while away the time at work and count down the days to the Christmas holiday.

‘Tis the season of giving!

There’s been four games since the last blog, three of which took place while our spiritual football shaman, Simon Gas, holidays in other people’s misery. He’s due back on Friday. 

I was not present for the first of these two matches, so props to Paul for the following report (the game on the 17th November is lost to posterity):

24th November 2017

(Think of this like some sort of stream of consciousness ‘beat’ style report, with scant regard for form or meter). My editor’s notes are [in square brackets]

Ten-a-side so no room to look around and pass to your mates

Blues 0 - Yellows 2. I can't remember the first goal but the second was a horrible own-goal where Danny contrived to net in goal… Perhaps the Yellows should play with a handicap since the Blues were finding it hard in the murky conditions.

It was especially hard to find Mario, who had layered up in the balmy conditions with gloves, bobble hat and stylish Italian jacket (Armani? [Possible racism there])

Mario responded to some gentle ribbing about the Italian national side and their failure to qualify for the World Cup by saying that he is supporting England and is getting a British passport. [One in the eye for the Brexiteers].

Player of the match was Simon Ink, according to Mick K, who both appeared on the Yellow side. The Oxford scholar has said in the past that some serious post-doctoral research should be done on what number of players is needed when goals are scarce due to a bit of organisation. Mick K. studied PPE and said we should take a philosophical view of the rude and sarcastic barracking from a spectator.

Tony made a welcome return [Paul’s words not mine; is this connected to Mario’s passport news?] and shored up the defence for the Blues with Joe. Simon Jarv. rolled back the years and went to a sixty pound Blondie concert [it’s true – the highlight was having a row with some young ladies who kept taking selfies]. 

I thought human happiness could have been better served with a mega round in the Skinners. Simon Gashead picked the teams and for the Blues saved a vicious shot from Mick K. Amazing since he should play with glasses since his vision is so bad. Ross, Joe's friend Nick and Liam helped Pat K push back the Blues. At the end Yev twisted his ankle and Danny took him home in his car. My route would have taken the West End and check up on a few girlz.

Ian Gooner was very effective for the Blues with young Stan. [It’s the pills he’s taking!]

So there, you have it – plenty of information there. Final score: Blues 0 Yellows 2

There was also what I think you’ll agree is a highly engaging and entertaining review of the post-match action from the Skinners. This missive was titled “The Ross campaign for head-high collapses under shock news!!”

Apparently, he [i.e. Ross] is moving to Oslo. The band has mixed views while there was a surreal moment when Goughie was asking questions in Norwegian to Ross using an app and getting replies back.

Then, Goughie and Simon Ink got trays of schnapps and vodka to celebrate. Yev then started waxing lyrical about how dangerous Arctic bears are but we think they will be 1,000 miles away so Ross will be safe.

That brings up to Friday 1st December, when I was back in action.

This will also have to be a fairly sketchy report, but I can at least provide a roll call of players: Simon Ink, me, Ian Gooner, Tony, Peter, Ross, James (Ross’s mate), Michele, Adolpho, Mario, Mark, Steve, Paul, Liam, Joe, Bristol Paul and Ed. Given that Danny also played, despite not being present on the list of participants that Simon Gas sent across from the jungles of Burma, we ended up with two lop-sided teams but we made an early change, with Danny crossing the Rubicon and, arguably, ending up on both winning teams. 

I think the first match, if that’s we are going to call it, finished about 4-1 to whichever side Danny was on; having changed bibs the second game then finished 2-0. From memory, Ian Gooner had another great game as sort of Forest Gate Franco Baresi and Tony’s return from exile showed that he’d lost none of his considerable ability. I can remember letting in a goal from Mark, who steered one home through a thicket of players from just outside the box (well done, Mark), while I believe Adolpho, who is as good a chest player as Marouane Fellaini, unleashed a few screamers, at least one of which reached its target. 

Other events included myself blasting ver the fence, which saw me make the trudge of shame after the game to retrieve the ball, Steve careering around with customary menace and Liam scoring some goals. Oh, and I think Simon Ink opened the scoring with a trundling volley that caught the defence cold.

Onto Friday just gone, i.e. 8th December.

Rather fewer players to choose from, but here are your two teams:

Blues: David, Danny, Ian Baggies, me, Patrick, Nick (eventually), James, Andy

Yellows: Tony, Mick, Paul, Ross, Mario, Ed, Steve

A good game this, settled by the odd goal in eleven (one of which I scored!). The teams were actually seven aside for the first twenty minutes or so, but despite having a demonstrably stronger team it took the Yellows some time to get going, chiefly as the Blues were playing well, keeping shape and putting in some excellent individual performances (I thought David had a very good game, in particular). But with talents like Mario and Tony pinging around the passes up front and Mick marshalling the rear, they began to take advantage and took something like a 3-1 lead. Mario was involved in at least one of these, memorably steering home following a cute through ball from Tony. 

At this stage Nick arrived and his quicksilver feet, allied with some strong running from James and Patrick’s ability to storm from box-to-box tipped the game in the Blues favour.

Relatively little controversy, bar the odd disputed foul, and Nick and Patrick in particular got some great goals. However, arguably the goal of the game was Danny’s; he carried the ball upfield looking to pass to either me or Nick, but with the Blue defenders backing off and backing off he eventually decided to put his head down and the ensuring shot swept up into the top corner. (My goal, since we’re here, came from a shot from Patrick that bounced off the post – I dutifully tapped in the rebound). 

The final, and winning, goal of the game was Andy’s, as an epic piece of goalhanging that saw him nudge the ball past the ‘keeper after Nick had taken aim from distance.

However, the most memorable moment of this, or possibly any other game, was the sight of Paul ‘The Guvnor’ skipping off to collect the ball from the adjacent pitch. As he went on his merry way his strides grew shorter and shorter. This was because his progress was slowed by his baby blue shorts slipping inexorably down his thighs, knees, calves and coming to rest gently around his ankles. As Mick opined at the time, the game as not yet won, and this was no time for risqué celebrations.

Final score: Blues 6 - Yellows 5

A brief update from the pub, as Paul, Ross, David and myself discussed the moribund state of the music industry and the stranglehold of BBC 6 Music on what might once have been deemed ‘alternative’ music. 

Simon returns on Friday for the 2017 Christmas spectacular, with Danny et al taking in the late night session at the Comedy Store.

Here endeth your match round-up.

Tuesday, 14 November 2017

Major Tinkering

Another, more timely match report for you now, following last week’s monolithic round-up. Last Friday saw us once again scrabbling for numbers owing to a combination of last minute cancellations and people being busy doing other things. As such, the line-ups were subject to scrutiny from a man called Major Tinkering. This is what he ended up with:

Yellows: Stan, Patrick, Mick, Danny, me, Michele, Yev, Ross

Blues: Peter, Joseph, Charlie, Simon Gas, ringer (Daniel?), Paul, Ian Baggies

Simon drafted in a ringer who I think was called Daniel to help bolster the numbers, but with Mick, Peter and Yev all arriving late the first few minutes were inevitably disjointed and chaotic. Nevertheless, the Yellow team – featuring all three Kavanagh men – took the lead through either Stan or Patrick, whose fraternal understanding was very much the main talking point of a somewhat disappointing game.

Mick eschewed my various exhortations to join the Blue team, which was the original plan, and instead donned a Yellow Bib and played alongside his two sons. I can’t imagine why. As the goals started to crash in for the Yellows I changed sides to attempt to balance the two teams, with Peter arriving to join the Blue team. This left with us a game in which the three aforementioned Kavanagh men – plus Danny and Michele – were pitted against the massed ranks of Morgan Stanley. Clearly, corporate finance is not what it once was and despite having a distinct aerial advantage (Joe, Peter and Charlie must have a combined height of around twenty feet), the twinkle toes of Patrick and Stan and the ceaseless activity of Michele’s feet meant that they cruised away with the game, deftly stroking the ball around the park and in Stan and Patrick’s case, using their brotherly intuition to ping thirty yard balls blindly in the safe knowledge that one of them would be on the end of it.
The goals that the Yellows did score were chiefly due to some defensive mishaps, (never more so than when I failed to deal with a high ball from Charlie which eventually fell to him after Peter’s initial shot was blocked). 

At 7-2 Peter finally made the decision to switch the teams and Danny duly jogged over to don a Blue bib and that team ‘won’ the last few minutes, forcing home the one goal after some robust work through the middle of the park. And a mention for Paul, who I am reliably informed by Michele performed a nutmeg on the stylish Hiberno-Italian out on the shadows on the touchline.

Final score: Yellows 7 - Blues 3/2 (or Blues 1 – Yellows 0), if you want to give Danny two wins in one evening.

And so to the pub, where the England v Germany game was on, not that anyone deemed it worthy of any attention. Talking points included the centenary of the Russian revolution, the eternal topic of men and women (Ross and Yev in discussion there) and not least, plans for the next few weeks, as Simon Gas is off to South East Asia after this Friday’s game until December 15th

If we agree that Simon is very much the Captain Mainwaring of Friday Night Football, neither the main man nor myself as a would-be Sergeant Wilson will be around on the 24th November - continuing with this theme, neither is Danny’s Corporal Jones, nor Steve’s Private Frazer. Let’s hope the game in two weeks’ time is not doomed, (“doomed!”). Perhaps we’ll have to leave it all to Major Tinkering…

I’m off to see Blondie on Friday, so see you all on the first December. At ease!

Monday, 6 November 2017


Welcome everyone, to the omnibus edition of the Coram Fields Spizzenergi football blog, back very much by popular demand. Muchos apologios for the dearth of reports recently, but hopefully this marathon piece will go some way to compensate. And more apologies in advance if your particular goal / great save / stunning pass / late tackle (hello, Steve!) didn’t make it into the report.

Four games have come and gone since the last blog post and I’ll try and deal with as much as I can recall. A few weeks’ back we had what Simon Gas suggested I label the ‘Wheel of Misfortune’, where a tight game – they’re all tight these days, thanks to my trademarked Player Attributes Scoring System – could and would have been settled by the team that Danny, Bristol Paul and Peter were representing, had it not been for the fact that Peter’s characteristic thunderbolt of a shot (hit with customary violence from just outside the area) cannoned back off the post, flew across the line where Mick was in goal, pinged off the opposite post and was apparently clawed to safety.

As far as Bristol Paul was concerned, who reacted first to the rebound, it was a goal, but Mick and I felt that due to some freak of physics the ball hadn’t crossed the line at any stage in its extraordinary journey from Peter’s laces to the edges of the penalty area. A minority opinion emerged in the pub afterwards that the ball had, in fact, hit the wheel inside the goal which helped to explain the trajectory of its arc and that owing to the sheer velocity of the strike this fact had evaded the naked eye. Older readers may recall a similar incident at Highfield Road in 1980 when a young Clive Allen had a perfectly legitimate goal ruled out for Crystal Palace’s ‘Team of the Eighties’.

All that aside, the consensus seemed to be that it was no goal, and just like Terry Venables all those years ago, the apparently wronged party remain aggrieved. My advice: don’t hit the ball so hard. I believe that this game ended up four apiece, with all the usual suspects scoring goals along with two opportunist strikes from the Emilio Butragueño of South Yorkshire, Andy.

Onto the following week and my main recollection is of another ball over the line affair, which once again saw a difference of opinion between Danny and myself. This time I can write with authority, as I was inches away from the action. Liam, if memory serves, had an effort partly parried by the keeper (this was a glancing effort following a corner). The ball looked like it was over the line, but I was on hand to nudge it further toward the back of the net as Simon Ink (?) forlornly tried to recover the ball. Rather than hack away in an unseemly fashion I wheeled away, in a manner reminiscent of Roger Hunt in 1966, as the ball had clearly crossed the line. Danny, I think it’s fair to say, didn’t agree. Regardless, the goal stood and may have made the difference as I am sure that this game finished 5-4.

Two games to go now, with more details emerging from the mist of my memory. The game on the 27th October finished four all, although there was a final strike from Alessandro just after the whistle went which warrants reporting. Following a cleared corner the ball came back to me and I sent over a sumptuous cross-field pass with the outside of my right foot which was met on the half-volley by Alessandro. Ian Gooner was having none of it, so the final score remained 4-4, with Liam on the scoresheet for the Yellows, who had roared into a two-goal lead at the start of play thanks to the fact that the Yellow team were only semi-conscious that the game was underway. Happily, I still have the two team lists from this game, which saw the return of specialist goalkeeper Ed.

Yellows: Ed, Simon Gas, Ian Gooner, Adolpho, Mick, Peter, Yev and Michele

Blues: me, Joe, Alessandro, Mario, Andy, David, Bristol Paul, Liam and Nick

As is custom, Yev was late so we had a bit of jiggery pokery with the line-ups, but much fun was had by all. And a word of praise at this point for Ian Gooner, who is manfully fighting the Battle of Wounded Knee, i.e. his own. Let’s hope it’s a battle he can win, aided and abetted by the pharmaceutical shock troops of Co-codamol. I can also remember a bit of pub chat from the evening, with discussions about black female literature, England’s Ashes prospects, the merits of REM’s cover versions of proto-punk classics (including Spizzenergi’s Where’s Captain Kirk)* and a live review of the Tom Robinson Band gig at the 100 Club. Foremost in the memory was an extraordinary tableau at the start of the evening as Ian was forced to send a text message to the various people at the table to get their attention, as they were all glued to their smartphones like a gaggle of delicate millennials.

And thus to last Friday.

With Ross and Ian Baggies pulling out of the action due to sickness, Simon drafted in the services of Stan, Son of Mick and Brother of Patrick, to make a triumvirate of Kavanaghs (who were joined by the three Simons: myself, the Muswell Hillbilly himself and Simon Ink, to form what I am going to label a ‘Politeness’ of Simons). Here are your two teams:

Yellows: Andy, Mick, David, Steve, Alan, Mario, Peter and Nick

Blues: Stan, Danny, Simon Gas, Simon Ink and me, Michele, Joe and Patrick

Ten goals to report on here, some of them better than others. The Blues took a quick two-nil lead thanks to some mazy dribbling from Patrick and quick feet from Michele, but following Nick’s arrival around the ten minute mark the game settled down and thereafter was a closely contested affair. After the Blues scored a third, the Yellow team staged a tremendous come back with Peter getting the first goal from close range – he coolly took aim at Simon Gas in goal on the near post and lashed the ball into Simon, the velocity proving impossible to repel – before Mario scored a tremendous volley from close range which was in the roof of the net before I had a chance to move.

After retaking the two goal lead Mick forced home a third goal for the Yellow following a corner which I could only parry back into his knees. Either Patrick, Stan, or Michele then got a fifth for the Blue team, which should have been enough to prevail on the night. The two brothers displayed a tremendous understanding and linked up well with the quicksilver feet of Michele, while Joe was his imperious self at the back and Danny displayed his usual box-to-box athleticism and determination.

But with the score at 5-3 to the Blues I handed over the gloves to Stan as we waited for the Yellow team to kick off. I say handed over – I left them on the ground as Stan trudged back to take them, but so slow was his progress that by the time the Yellow team had restarted he was still facing away from ball and his father’s eyes lit up as he steered home an easy fourth goal to give him a brace on the night. Cue understandable rage from Danny, although I was at pains to point out that the ball was dead when I handed over goalkeeping responsibility to Stan. With rancour and discontentment still festering in the Blue ranks a fifth – and equalising – goal for the Blues soon arrived, as the ball was inadequately cleared.

Final score: Yellows 5 – Blues 5

What else?

Well, we had two matches in a row disrupted by fireworks on the pitch, as the young scamps living in the area strive to keep English folkways alive by behaving in the most anti-social manner possible, with the whiff of cordite mixing in the Autumnal air. We’ve had relatively few balls going missing and the Skinners has had some really good beers on.

This Friday marks my final game for two weeks, by which time our spiritual leader, Simon Gas, will be on his ‘Mission of Burma’ (another one for the teenagers there), as he tours other people’s misery, before ending up on a Holiday in Cambodia. He’s either on a work assignment or performing a one-man punk tribute holiday.

All this means that I’ll be responsible for finding out who is playing each week as well as picking the teams, allocating bib washing and collecting the subs. You’ve been warned.
*sample youtube comment: “I loved them elate 80 or whevever before green but this is shit”