Hello and welcome back to what is rapidly becoming an occasional series of whimsical reflections on the comings and goings of a group of men in their twenties, thirties, forties and fifties gamely trying to play football on a Friday night in central London, with wildly varying degrees of success.
I think that I’ve missed two match reports and three games, one of which I wasn’t playing in, and all that remains of them are slightly forlorn looking scraps of paper that relate who was playing. Memory can be capricious at the best of time, but I’m blaming my apparent amnesia on Simon blowing the footballs up too hard – a recent piece of research confirms that repeated heading can lead to memory loss. Patrick and Peter should beware their great height and aerial prowess; it may be that in ten years’ time they’ll be wandering around the foyer of the Renoir Cinema in the Brunswick Centre in a fugue-state of confusion, aimlessly looking for a Muswell Hill-based gentlemen in a linen suit.
I’m aware that since I last posted anything Liam has been Aitoned – Steve took not one but two swingeing attempts at his getting his man and duly succeeded in knacking Liam’s ankle ligaments, but not before the wee will ‘o’ the wisp had succeeded in scoring his usual brace of goals. And I think this was the same evening that Bristol Paul spent the majority of the evening in the company of a much younger lady in the Skinners, whose virtue I had the temerity to question when next I saw him.
The game two weeks ago was memorable chiefly because it ended in a draw, which always sticks in my head as it tends to prove that my team selection worked. (This despite a late withdrawal from Ian Baggies and Ian Gooner playing very gamely with a stinking cold).
Before my memory clouds over once again, let me report on what I can from last Friday’s game. At around 1.15 pm that afternoon I stooped to put down an empty mug of tea on my desk and suffered an alarming spasm in my lower back that felt as if some malevolent sprite was holding a match to my spinal column. I decided to take 400 mg of Ibuprofen and hope for the best and duly picked the following two teams to do battle –
Yellows: me, Ross, Patrick, Joseph, Simon Ink, Tom, Nick and Mario
Blues: Simon Gas, Yev, Peter, Michele, Mark, Geoff, Mick and Alan
No fewer than three players rocked up late, (Yev, Peter and Joseph) – NB: not Geoff – so the game began in slightly farcical circumstances, with seven playing six. Despite not being able to do much other than count the players and jog in a straight line, I meandered around the pitch while Ross started in goal for the Yellows and there was a quick exchange of goals as we waited for the full complement to arrive, (Patrick and Peter doing the damage, I believe).
At this stage I then decided to take over in goal from Ross: cue disaster. I duly conceded three goals in probably a little less time than Arsenal managed to ship against Bayern in midweek. The first was comfortably the worst, as I raced out of goal to try and bast the ball back upfield as Michele bore down, delivered an air kick and saw the ball bounce apologetically into an empty net. “Wow”, said Yev. Wow, indeed. Peter then advanced towards me and as I came out to try and narrow the angle and he deftly lobbed it over my head to make it 3-1 to the Blues. Goal number four arrived about a minute later; Alan had yet another one-on-one and despite saving the initial shot my aching back prevented any meaningful attempt at a recovery save and Michele pounced on the rebound.
I then accepted what I should have recognised about five hours earlier, i.e. that I was in no fit state to run, jump, turn or perform any of the other gross motor movements which are necessary to play football and left the field of play. Yev took my bib to make it eight v seven in favour of the Yellows, but as I sat on the edge of the pitch the Blues scored twice more. I then went off for a shower.
As I returned ten minutes later to drop the key back into Simon Gas’ ballbag (cough), I saw Patrick score one, with someone else reducing the arrears a minute or so later. Evidently, the final score was Yellows 6 Blues 8, which is a moral victory considering the plight of their start. And apparently I wasn’t the only casualty on the night, as Michele was also forced to depart, albeit with the somewhat more manly injury of knee ligament damage. Props go to Simon Ink, who evidently bagged a hat-trick on the night, and also to the other usual goalscoring suspects, i.e. Michele, Patrick and Peter.
Given that I couldn’t file much of a match report, I decided to head to the pub. There, I was joined by Mick and Patrick, followed by Yev, Alan, Simon Gas, Geoff, Nick, Ross and Mark. Topics under discussion were many and varied and included: Nick and myself concluding that Tom looks, plays and sounds exactly like a chirpy Australian wicketkeeper in the manner of an Ian Healy or Brad Haddin; the potential next manager at Arsenal; a proposed trip to Kiev next Summer, with Vitaliy as putative travel agent. Don’t pretend that you’ve not been warned.
Hopefully the next blog won’t be as long, but much depends on the progress of my problematic lower back.