L.O.B. vs Jacklington Stanley – Keep Playin’

Keep Playin'
The latest third-person account of my weekly attempt to play eight-a-side football – we wear grey… Keep playin’

It was pissing down before kick-off. Cold. Wet. And miserable. Referee Ash Pedantic was wrapped up like he’d parked his sled dogs around the corner and both teams looked about as enthusiastic as Louis Van Gaal before a surprise game of Twister – in Denmark. But things soon changed when the whistle blew.

The rain seemed to fall in slow motion and the Greys swapped nods and glances like sports movie underdogs ready for the big finale. If it was a movie, Al Pacino had just given his big Any Given Sunday speech and the chorus of “Eye of the Tiger” was playing on infinite loop; Jacklington Stanley didn’t stand a chance.

As usual, Manu pulled the strings in midfield, turning Jacklington Stanley inside out and spreading the play out wide. “You little…,” “You fuckin…” moaned the yellow-and-black-striped opposition, as he snuck by with a few deft flicks of his feet.

New recruit Karim made an instant impact down the left wing as well. With his big frame he resembled Manchester United flop Memphis Depay, only this dude could play, cutting inside, avoiding tackles and unleashing powerful shots that flew just over the bar. One of his long range efforts looked destined to ripple the back of the net, but Jacklington Stanley’s keeper pulled off one of the best saves Coram’s Fields has ever seen.

Finally, the Greys broke the deadlock; Manu’s outside-the-box shot was blocked by a charging Stanley defender and the rebound fell to Thomas, who knocked the ball cleverly across goal, putting it on a plate for Alex. And of course, Alex didn’t waste his chance, slotting the ball neatly past the desperately scrambling keeper to put the Greys 1-0 up.

After that, only more heroics from Stanley’s keeper stopped the Greys scoring at least four more. Then, against the run of play, Stanley snuck one back, when a long throw-in bounced off a striker in yellow and black and flicked up over Greys keeper Yusuf’s head. Half time.

In the second half the Greys swapped to two at the back and Julien and returning defender Paolo did well to keep a lid on things. In fact, despite the torrid conditions, the Greys played out of their skins, knocking together some of the best football they’ve ever played.

And finally, after more Gordon Banks, David de Gea-type moments from Jacklington Stanley’s keeper, the Greys got the goal they deserved; Manu cut inside from the right wing, dazzling his way past swearing, ghost-faced defenders and delivering a perfect ball to Alex, who finished the chance off coolly, putting the Greys 2-1 up.

And that’s how it ended. The Greys dug in their heels, shut up shop and strode off the pitch like warriors – soaked to the bone but gleaming with pride.

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