Allan 2, Flabbo 1, Mark 1, Marco 1
Spartans versus Boca Seniors: The Scourge of the White Stag (for Spartan Eyes Only)
Last Sunday the Spartans had on their plate Boca Seniors, the ‘other’ team sponsored so generously by the White Stag. Bottom-dwelling and feeding (if you saw them hanging out after the match and ‘trawling’ for what Americans in the South graciously call "coon") Boca were coming off a 5-3 Cup victory the week before and were feeling rather confident that they could inflict a mortal wound on the Spartans and creep into the crepuscular with their 1st victory of the season.
The Spartans were missing inspirational midfield guvernor Paul Hoy who perhaps had been a tad too exuberant over how much partying he’d get done in the absence of the Missus down under and one suspects pressure had been applied in all the right spots to get Paul to pack his bags and join her… and right winger whippet Lionel basking in the glow off the Pacific on some beautiful Southern Cal beach… and Kid Will to a viral infection (hope you’re feeling better, although I’m told that didn’t stop you from going out Friday night)… and everyone’s favorite Martian (Alex)
To add an extra edge it seemed for the briefest of moments that the Spartans were going to have to kick off with only 6 players as our beloved Captain had sent out an email earlier in the week with the wrong starting time [must have picked up a middle of the week ‘distraction’ or two at everyone’s favorite subterranean disco].
Some frantic texting later disaster was averted and the Spartans rolled out a lineup with Tony C on the left, Henry (who for once had decided not to go out on a Saturday night, a decision which had elicited its fair share of disbelief, until it was discovered that Friday’s sortie to the Groovy Mule had inflicted more damage than humanely thought possible, and Henry was heard to moan the famous Hamlet-ish soliloquy of "never again, never again… blonde before brunette, blond before brunette, must remember…"), backed up by yours truly, and Keith (Mr. Wedding Party Goer for Hire) on the right. In the middle Mark (the ‘famous preying grouse’ – I’m throwing out the window all my obscure Scotland references) and Flabbo started out with Marco (sporting a new ‘fro) and Rickman on the wings. Up front Alan was salivating at the prospect of thrashing Boca’s defense.
Andy Leung came in five minutes into the game as another forward when it was looking like it would take Andy Crooke longer than usual to find a parking spot for his Testarossa. We were playing on the lower pitch at King’s Park which is unusually narrow, tight and dry, in need of lubrication. Oh and I forgot to write Ben in goal who had earned a few HK centavos the night before moonlighting as a bouncer (now is this the kind of guy you’d think of getting into an argument with? Gentle Ben? Don’t think so).
Gorgeous day and a game that’s actually not starting at 8:30 in the morning. What more could you ask for? The ref blows his whistle and we’re off. Rickman and Keith are combining well on the right side. Keith is tasked with covering the elusive Paul Wong and I must say Keith had been a bit apprehensive beforehand 😉 But nerves fade away as you’re tossed into the hurly burly of the match.
Paul Wong concedes another throw in with that diabolical first touch of his and Rickman does a long toss that grazes Flabbo’s head into the path of Alan who deftly plucks the ball out of the air with a one-time shot past a flat-footed goalie. And Spartans are up 1-0 and smelling blood. Boca shellshocked but they do a good job of regrouping and go the long ball route. Ben is of 2 minds (or maybe 3? I can picture the internal conversations he holds) whether to come off his line and claim the ball and there are one or two tricky moments of danger. He comes off the line bravely once and gets clattered into badly by a Boca player. Ben’s writhing around in pain and everyone’s thinking the worse. ‘Oh shit something’s broken…’ Henry comes over to console him and Stevie is getting his gear on. Ben, ashen-white face, ‘Let me come out for 15 minutes and I’ll be alright.’ Henry had to break the bad news that once you’re off, you’re off.
Limping on one leg Ben pulls himself up and returns to man the goal. Sensing that they should relieve some of the pressure Spartans start pushing forward, with many a foray started by Henry linking up with the midfielders and through balls to Andy, Alan, and Marco. One such ball ends up on Mark’s right foot and this time he makes no mistake and slams the ball into the left hand corner past the outstretched hand of the Boca keeper (who’s been suffering from a case of the droppies). 2-0 Spartans and we keep pouring it on. Marco with the speed had just been missing connecting on a thru ball all first half (dry ground the ball tended to skitter away from players) but in the dying minutes of the first half Marco lashes unto a ball and with absolute precision, off a difficult angle, puts it into the right hand corner for a well-deserved 3-0 lead at halftime. Tony has been shutting down Stuart W (Boca’s speedy winger) and rendered him totally ineffective with that nifty stepover and turn.
Halftime and Flabbo says something which I’ve completely forgotten and will not go down in the annals of great halftime speeches. Everyone’s smiling and Rickman decides to answer nature’s call and relieve himself in a corner only for someone to belt him with the game ball (was that you Kenny?) which gets doused in the process. Talk about putting out a fire.
Naturally Spartans have to make things entertaining and yours truly decides to get a little physical with a Boca player in one of the corners and cheekily concedes a free kick (with Flabbo casting me a long, nasty look). Keith and I man the wall and I’m thinking that we’ll manage to escape my lapse of "youthful indiscretion." Someone up there has it out for me and Boca score a goal off a ball kicked back into the box which Boca’s #11 somehow gets his big toe to and redirects past Ben. 3-1 and Boca feel somewhat re-inspired, that they might make this a game.
Andy Crooke comes in, Stevie comes in for Marco. We totally dominate the midfield (what a difference that makes!) and Flabbo is sprung through to put Spartans up 4-1 with a well-taken right footed shot. For once Spartans are capitalizing on all the opportunities they’re creating and not letting them go askance – finishing, finishing. Boca demoralized and dispirited are then just taken to the cleaners.
Spartans are swarming all over the place, doing 1-2s left and right, playing glorious football on a glorious day, and we could have kept playing for a couple more hours. Kenny comes in for Keith on the right side. Boca get one or two sniffs but nothing dangerous. And Alan is put through with a nice ball and fighting off one defender, shielding him off through brute strength, manages to score his 2nd goal of the match. Everyone’s got a big smile on their face and Boca are gasping at straws, shouting at each other. 5-1 the final score.
Spartans playing well, clicking on all cylinders, hitting our stride, taking it one game at a time. It’s cliché time so this must mean the end of the match report is near. Time for us to make some noise and move up the table. Go down to the Stag for a quiet celebration.
I get control of the satellite remote and go crazy looking for that big fight in the NBA and we end up watching Australian cricket highlights much to Henry’s contentment (we’ll see what’s what after Sunday’s Australia-England rugby match) and everyone orders the burger and Flabbo drops the kids off and Ben shows up with his smokes in hand and we bump into the Bocas doing the humpty-dumpty and somehow I end up not going to bed until 3 a.m. (but that’s a match report of an entirely different sort 😉 Let’s just say all’s well that ends well, to quote the Bard.