Monday, 9 October 2017

You can call me Al(phonso/essandro/berto/ etc. etc.)

Welcome back, one and all, to episode four of the 2017/18 Spizzenergi football blog.

A double report this week, the second half of which comes thanks to Paul’s extremely detailed dispatch over the weekend just gone. But first, news of Friday 29th September’s game, which featured two teams that lined up thusly:

Yellows: me, Ian Gooner, Simon, Danny, Liam, Patrick, Nick (Joe’s mate), Ross, Adolpho, Paul (Guvnor)

Blues: Geoff, David, Mick, Michele, Yev, Joe, Peter, Alessandro and Alan

A nice, tight game this one, with the Yellow team prevailing by the odd goal in eleven. Alessandro got things underway for the Blues with a deft shoe-shuffle followed by a rasping effort which slammed into the top corner on the near post and promptly lead to Danny ending his sojourn in goal with immediate effect. Also on target for the Blues were Yev, who grabbed a brace, while Alan toiled in vain for a goal and uncharacteristically fluffed his lines on a couple of occasions when well placed.

On the mark for the Yellows was Nick, who got at least one goal, including a typically elegant finish for what proved to be the winner, Liam, who continues to belie Gordon Strachan’s dismissal of his fellow countrymen as being “genetically behind” by both being under six foot and consistently deadly in front of goal, and none other than myself. (My goal was a real thing of beauty, capitalising on Alessandro dropping the ball in front of me whereupon I threw my ‘burly’ frame into the ‘keeper and backheeled home from all of two yards).

On the subject of the Italians, of whom we seemingly have more and more each week, some of our players need to be aware that they have different names, some of which start with the letter ‘A’, but some do not. Last week we had calls for ‘Alessandro’, ‘Alphonso’, ‘Adolpho’ and ‘Alberto’: there were two people playing called ‘Alessandro’ and ‘Adolpho’ and sometimes the people calling their name were directing their shouts at the players with that name, but at other times they weren’t. And last word on this game goes to Adolpho, who I have just remembered opened the scoring for the Yellow with a tremendous goal that saw the midfield maestro juggle the ball off his chest and volley home from the halfway line. He then had the unbelievable good grace to apologise for shooting, as he (correctly) surmised that there wasn’t too much else on.

Final score: Yellows 6 – Blues 5

And onto the Skinners where the evening’s stand-out event was Ian celebrating his freedom from the tyranny of home loans by standing a round of Laphroaig to toast being mortgage free at fifty-three. Chapeau, big man.

I missed last Friday’s match as I was out with work colleagues trying to foster some esprit de corps. But Paul messaged over a comprehensive round up of the action, on and off the field, which I’ll endeavour to convey now.

I am reliably informed that Friday’s match was another relatively evenly contested affair, with Michele getting a great goal for the Yellow team. (It would seem that his compatriots have had enough of being wrongly identified, as he was the only Italian playing).

Also on the scoresheet was Mick, who apparently caught Simon Gas unawares by clipping home into the Chief Executive’s near post; his son Stan also had a good game by all accounts, with Paul likening his passing to Spanish legend Xabi Alonso.

However, the Blue team ran out 4-3 winners thanks to what Paul labelled a ‘goal blitz’ (in true tabloid style) from Patrick, as well as a great performance from Yev, no doubt aided by the fact he turned up on time.

Also mentioned in dispatches were Charlie, doing some sterling defensive work for the Blues, and the Caledonian triumvirate of Liam, Mark and Steve for the Yellows, who could not quite do enough to force the draw despite a strong final ten minutes.

With the average age being younger than usual it sounds like a good game to have missed and it would seem I was not the only one, with Bristol Paul being absent – somewhat implausibly – playing golf in Northampton ahead of Rovers’ game there on Saturday.

And it would appear that congratulations are in order as Ross has accepted a proposal of marriage – Paul didn’t say otherwise, so one can only assume this is from his long-term partner and the mother of his daughter, as opposed, say, to his long-term bandmate Simon Ink. We wish them well.

In other off the field news I am told that no fewer than three people have attempted to coax Tony back to the fray, but presumably he’s busy helping David Davis with the Brexit negotiations.

I’ll end this week’s post with a verbatim quote from Paul’s report:

Danny had a strong performance and suggest[ed] a comedy evening for the Xmas bash, but don't we see comedy every Friday.

Thursday, 28 September 2017

Memory loss

Welcome back, one and all, as football in all of its forms continues apace. Unbelievably, we’ve already had three games back in the new season and they’ve all been evenly contested games, which is better than having unevenly contested ones. Last Friday’s game may have been a bit low on quality, but it was a tight match in which the lead changed hands at least three times. Here are your two teams, with one side having ten and the other nine:

Yellows: Simon Ink, Mark, Simon, Danny, Yev, Peter, Patrick, Liam and Mario

Blues: me, Ian Gooner, Ian Baggies, Bristol Paul, Mick, Michele, Callum, Joe, Ross and Adolpho

A couple of late arrivals meant I spent the first five minutes (or so) on the Yellow side before Joe and Yev both arrived and the teams settled into the two line-ups provided above.

By the time I crossed the Rubicon (i.e. the half-way line) the Blues were already one up, although posterity cannot recall the scorer, (Posterity is clearly not the man he once was).

For some reason I am having enormous difficulty remembering any of the goals this week, but the story of the game is best characterised by a lot of huffing, puffing and misplaced passes. Both teams went a bit more direct than one would usually see, although props go to Patrick who endeavoured to jink and shimmy his way through, and Adolpho (who was erroneously referred to as ‘Alessandro’ throughout the game by team-mates and opponents alike) who demonstrated a passion for the beautiful game.

Perhaps more agriculturally, Peter managed to larrup the ball so hard that it cleared the crossbar, the fence and even the threshold to the Foundling Museum, where it presumably finally came to rest, disturbing the ghosts of eighteenth century urchins whose syphilitic mothers had perished in the shadow of the workhouse. Not to be outdone Patrick soon followed suit, and then Michele had a go at the clearing the admittedly lower fence at the other end. Not a match for the purist.

Whilst the specifics of the goals elude me, I can remember that having taken a one-nil lead, the Blue team increased their advantage to 3-1 before being pegged back first to three apiece, before the Blues took a 4-3 lead – I have a feeling that this score came from a corner that flew over a melee of heads and which Ian Baggies could only parry further into the goal. Given that Mario, Liam, Peter and Patrick were all wearing yellow bibs I think the Blues did well defensively to restrict the Yellow team to four goals, even with the extra man.

At the other end Ross did some sterling work in holding the ball up for Callum and Adolpho to run onto, with the former getting at least one goal and Michele also on the scoresheet.

Final score: Yellows 4 – Blues 4

That’s your lot this week; hopefully I’ll be in firmer mental shape after this week’s game.

Finally for this week, here is a photograph of a grown man I spotted on the train into work yesterday morning.  

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Hands across the ocean...

Welcome back, one and all, for the inaugural match report of the 2017/18 season. It’s as if we never went away.

Two games to report on so far, the first of which is already fading from memory like the spectral face of a Victorian wraith that appeared in the shadows on the way home from the pub. The overriding recollection from what UEFA would no doubt label ‘Match Day One’ was the fact Mario has clearly been spending the Summer in some sort of Alpine training camp with a team of nutritionists and a bespoke fitness programme, as he plundered no fewer than four goals, including one where I was mugged from a cross from the left and a ridiculous goal from around the half way line that left Alan floundering in the shadows. That said, it could just be that he’s better at football than most of us.

Also back among the goals was Joe, who managed to grab some headlines despite, or possibly because, of a few lunchtime liveners - the elegant midfielder calmly steered in a couple of goals after trademark lolloping runs. Mick equalised with virtually the last kick of the match after drifting unnoticed into the area and calmly placing the ball home from a corner to make it five apiece. And I have a feeling that Simon Ink might have scored, too, but you know what the say about feelings.

Let the records state the two teams were (roughly) as follows:

Yellows: me, Simon Ink, Mark, Joe, Danny, Liam, Alan, Bristol Paul, Mick

Blues: Ian Baggies, Ian Gooner, Michele, Yev, Mario, Peter, Ross, Andy and Simon Gas

All in all, a very good game to usher in the new campaign. This week’s match was another selection triumph for my much vaunted Player Attributes Statistics System, with the following two teams:

Yellows: me, Ian Gooner, Nick (Joe’s mate), Liam, Danny, Joe, Alan, Mark

Blues: Ian Baggies, Paul, Bristol Paul, Simon Gas, Peter, Mick, David, Michele

We managed to get underway on time for once and a pretty decent game ensued, with David opening the scoring with a bizarre own goal which crept past an astonished throng of Blue defenders, before Alan extended the Yellow lead with a smashing volley that was crashed home after a partial clearance from a corner. Liam was also involved in the goals, but the game was won by two marvellous finishes from Nick, (Joe’s diminutive mate as opposed to the bearded six-footer); the first came after some deft interplay at the edge of the Blue area that saw Nick crash the ball home with a barely perceptible turn of his foot. The second, and ultimately winning goal, came after some good work from Danny saw Nick calmly cushion the ball with his left before slotting home with his right, the greasy surface proving no impediment.

On the scoresheet for the Blues was Ian Baggies, with a bizarre goal which Joe mysteriously left for Ian Gooner in goal to mop up, only for the giant ex-punk to find himself horribly wrong-footed.

Final score: Yellows 5 – Blues 3

And so to the pub, the first time for me this Autumn. A reasonable turn out at the Skinners this week, with Simon Gas, both Pauls, both Ians, Mick, Alan and myself all there for at least a couple of drinks. In amongst the dire predictions for Sunday’s London derby ( at least as far as Arsenal were concerned) were discussions of 1970’s Working Class Christmases, travelling in North America and some music chat, which ended with an anecdote about Tom Robinson and Eddie Grant.

But the final word this week goes to the Cologne fans who had boosted Craig’s coffers by emptying his barrels of Carling over the previous 24 hours ahead of their extravaganza at the Emirates. Some of them were still partying a day later, as the pictures prove. Hands across the ocean and all that; for reasons that are not entirely clear, Mick is pretending to be a goat in this photo.

Until Friday… 

Monday, 4 September 2017

Another Summer over

Another Summer over then. Many apologies for the complete absence of the final two match reports of the old season. I did block out one day at the end of July to write them up, but my PC decided to install an ‘upgrade’, (i.e. a totally superfluous revision of some of its operating system which takes it one step closer to obsolescence and thus necessitating another financial outlay – that’s late capitalism right there), which literally took all day and hence made it impossible to do anything on the computer. After that, the last few weeks have gone by in a blur of rainy weather and Daddy Day Care stuff. Oh, and some work.

I have kept my notes from those games, so all is not lost. The two pictures here illustrate that the penultimate game of the 2016/17 campaign ended in a 6-4 win for the Blue team, with all ten goals accounted for: on the mark for the Blue team were Simon Inkpen, who my notes tell me “blasted from outside the area”, David, who I can still see spotting Nick off his line in goal and deliciously sailing the ball high over Nick’s head as he lurked guiltily on the edge of the area, Adolpho, who scored straight from the kick-off after the Yellow team had got back to 2-1, Yev, who evidently scored from “close distance” after a goalmouth scramble, Alan, from wide left on the left with his left foot, and Peter, who posterity does not provide us with any more details.

The four Yellow goals came from Alessandro, who passed the ball home, Will of the Fylde coast who the Coram Field parchment states “leathered in from outside the area” and a brace from Liam, both from “close range”. Well done, everyone.

The historical document capturing the final match of the season is, sadly, less detailed, but still records all the players and most of the goal scorers.

You can see for yourself who played – I’m a busy man, just enlarge the image – but the Yellows’ goals came from Andy (“a stooping header”), two from Mario, one after he very nearly ruptured my spleen in a collision as I vainly attempted to prevent from him scoring, with the pocket dynamo rattling the ball home from the ensuing stramash, Peter (again, no details) and Yev. 

Three goals for the Blue team, two of them from Mick. I’m usually accused of underplaying Mick’s always magnificent contributions, so let the record state that he got a credit for his brace, while the other goal is chalked off to the memory of the Unknown Goal Scorer. 

That game finished 5-3 to the Yellows, in case you weren’t paying attention.

Which brings us nicely up to date. What will this season bring? During a Summer break in which football finally shed any residual scraps of reason and credibility – I’m talking about you Kyle Walker, worth £50m for running Very Fast, I’m talking about Neymar, bought with the largesse of an oil-sodden Arab state and I’m talking about you, Arsène, who has reduced my club to a laughing stock – can the good denizens of Coram Fields remind us all about the true spirit of the game, where values such as team-work, integrity and old-fashioned hard work still count for something? Or will it all descend into moaning within five minutes of the kick off? I think we all know the answer. Come on then, Players of Friday Night, for the good of the game; dust off your boots and air that old Ayr shirt as we all count down to the real kick off to the season on Friday.

See you all there.