The Pre-Match Hype
So it all started on Monday. I get a text message from my student asking me if I could join his team for a 5 aside football tournament on Saturday. I thought why not so I signed and paid up. Later that day I asked my coworker if he was playing. He told me that he'd thought about getting a team together and lo and behold, on Tuesday he'd got a team together with many of these players being friends of mine. Game on! Needless to say that the rest of the week involved various pre-tournament predictions and come Friday, the buzz of excitement was immeasurable.
The Pre-Match Talk
So Saturday morning rolls up. It's 7:20am and I receive a text message from my student tell me to be at the venue by 8am to discuss our plan. However, this is all a little too serious, and more importantly, too early so I arrive at 8:30am via the corner shop and my favourite breakfast stop off. Armed with a couple of isotonic drinks, 2 doughnuts and some pizza bread I'm ready for combat. It's at precisely the moment I get off the motorbike that the banter starts with my coworkers. I had the feeling it was going to be an entertaining day! I was looking forward to playing against them, but there was one problem, we both had to win our first two games to get to the final....
The First Two Rounds
We had a very attacking side. I was up top, we had 5 attacking midfielders and a goal keeper. We actually played some good football. We flooded forward well and created numurous chances. In the first game we were playing against an inspired keeper who made a number of fantastic saves and somehow we found ourselves 0-2 down at half time. We couldn't understand how as we'd dominated the game. Fortunately the games were 15 minutes a half so we still had time to turn it around! And that's exactly what we did. 3-2 was the final score. How did the staff team do? They squeaked through on the same scoreline....
The second round was far more convincing for us, even if once again we were down at half time. This time our wasteful finishing was why we were losing. We also went down 0-1 after 14 seconds as our non existent defense was torn apart. However, in the second half we really did play some good football. Our skipper curled in a class goal into the top righthand corner from just outside the area to bring us back onto level terms, we were awarded a penalty immediately after a similar claim was rejected and I completed to victory by racing through there defense before slotting home with the left peg. 3-1. Of course the staff team won to bring us the final we all wanted!
If there was ever a great injustice in football I would like to see it. We dominated. How we didn't win in normal time I'll never know. We had the pace, fitness and played good attacking football. We must have created 3 or 4 clear cut chances and hit the wood work 3 times during the game. Their keeper was inspired! However once we took the lead in the 2nd half there heads dropped a little and then we had our chance. The game changed with a fantastic triple save. Our best player (in my opinion) Minh took a bobbling shot which Dan (the Keeper) fumbled, I drilled the rebound into his body (when I should've done better) and the follow up fell nicely into his hands. It was at this point I believe the footballing God had decided that we had just been too wasteful infront of goal. With the final whistle approaching, the inevitable happened. They literally had no shots on goal or clear cut chances the whole game. Everybody on the pitch was tired, and I watched from the touchline as an incredible one-two lead to Steve being one on one with our keeper. However, I'd failed to notice Simon to his left. Two on one. Steven squared the ball to Simon who slammed the ball home and with that, penalties ensued.
Well the less said about this the better. We missed all three and they scored all three end of story. I was particularly disappointed as I missed our first and set the tone. I tamely planted it down the middle. I don't think I'll ever try to put it in the top centre of the goal again as I'm just not comfortable with that shot, but we live and learn as the expression goes!
Well what do most British sports people do after a sports match? We go to the pub! The staff, and their trophy, and one loser (me) enjoyed a well earned pint and some tucker. Of course I took a lot of stick, which I thought I dealt with well, and was asked if I would be joining the staff team next time. The truth is they hadn't approached me and I would've played had a team been in the offing. However, I must admit I enjoyed playing against them and at least I can draw some consolation that my team did dominate the game. The old saving that football is a funny old game couldn't have been any more true!
So why was it one the stupidest things I've done?
Well for 2 reasons:
1) It's never a good idea to play against your work colleagues. There's always the chance you'll end up playing against them and that they will win. If they do win it will result in days of mocking and ridiculing! Fortunately I'm big enough and ugly enough to look after myself and I give it back as good as I've got, but having some of my students laughing at me because my coteacher was on the winning side is a little annoying I have to admit! (in a totally positive way!) Also, had we won, there are a lot more of them than there are me....do the maths!
2) I forgot to apply sun cream! We were out for 6 hours in the blazing sun. And Saturday was hot. No I mean it! And come the evening I was as red as the giant tomato man! (I'm sure he's a real person!!) On Sunday I couldn't move. In particular, the back of my knees were in serious pain and walking was difficult. How could I be so stupid?!?! Well one answer to that question is that I am indeed....stupid. The second answer is that when sport is involved, I rarely remember that I'm getting burned and that the sun is (apparently) so hot! Oh well! I have some amazing after sun location so all is not lost!
For any of the lads who may read this...I don't know which team I'll play for next time and I know that you are enjoying being the champions but if I am on the opposite side of the field....Game on!!!