Steve 3,Allan 2, Paul 1

Spartans take on the Space Invaders from N.A.S.A.

Ready for lift off? On one of the finest Sundays I’ve seen in a long time in HK, the men of the Spartan cloth got ready for a rumble with an outfit that purportedly would be a tough nut to crack, having drawn 6 of the 8 games they had played.

Expecting a match up with a well-organized and disciplined team the Spartans opened up cautiously with the good ol’ 4-4-2, with Andy L, a sober Henry still crooning Waltzin Matilda after Australia’s victory in rugby (never ever let a good team get back into a match), all-world gangsta Mr. T (It’s a Thugz Life), and Will (I really really wasn’t drunk and shitfaced last Friday) on the back line, Tony moving up to left mid to fill in for a few absences with the Generalismo Paul (promoted from Guvnor) and the Eternal One (Ol’ Man River) Flabbo forming a center mid partnership and LA Boy Lionel on the right. Up front were in form striker Alan and DJ Stevie, the wheels of steel.

Oh and Ben sporting a nice bruise on his shin from the Boca clash the week before was in goal. There was a small ‘wardrobe malfunction’ (not quite as bad as Janet Jackson’s during the Sup Bowl last year) when Ben sporting his fav black goalie shirt (black being a rather useful color when one has certain things to hide, and Chelsea’s away kit color if u didn’t know that already) was forced to disrobe and reach into his bag to pick out an aquamarine (almost Azurri-ish) shirt to reveal all too pale arms (I sometimes imagine that if it weren’t for afternoon footie matches, Ben would hardly ever see the sun, the light of day, nocturnal creature that he is).

Even though being a 2nd division Spartans get tagged with the shitty pitch while 4th division teams get to show their wares on the immaculate pitch #1… We start with the ball going downhill and we’re off, doing a good job of spraying the ball out to Lionel down the right wing, and looking for Alan and Stevie at target men, playing the ball to their feet, and letting them strut their stuff, with quick feints and cuts. Alan is having a blinder of a game and is winning some dangerous free kicks, faking out 2-3 players before being ruthlessly scythed down.

One of the free kicks is a bit off to the left, about 25 yards from goal. The Generalismo strides up confidently to take it, and hits the ball sweetly across the goal mouth, skids off the head of a NASA player, and fools the goalie to find the back of the net. 1-0! We’ll be generous (it is Thanksgiving after all) and we’ll give Paul that goal.

NASA’s only dangerous player is #4 who’s got a decent burst of speed but Will’s locked in a tussle with him. NASA get a free kick off their own right outside the box but even though well struck Ben’s there to smother the ball and catch it after only one fumble. We go down the other way and get a corner kick. I make a run to the near post drawing half the NASA defense after me and opening up a huge lane for Henry to come chugging down. The ball soars above my head and keeps going to the far post where Henry meets it square on the forehead, already planning his goal celebration (the front flip?), and ends up booting the ball majestically all the way down to Sheung Shui KCR station.

Beautiful clearance there Henry!

But he redeems himself with a gorgeous through ball over the defense to a rushing Stevie who brings the ball down nicely and rounds the NASA goalie for a goal. 2-0!

Alan then wins another free kick and up steps Flabbo who displaying that award winning penalty kick taking form of his pummels the ball as wide left as possible only for the ball to ricochet off a NASA bowling pin and rebound right in front of the goal for Stevie to cashier goal #2 and a 3-0 lead for Spartans at halftime.

Remind me never to play pool for money against Flabbo, the way that man sees the most acute of angles and trick shots I’d never stand a chance. Pure genius defies description as do Flabbo’s free kicks (hopefully I haven’t confused the two in anyone’s mind). But he’s doing a good job in the midfield with that ‘burst’ of speed (ok you only get to see it once a game as I found out later in the 2nd half when I tried to ‘lead’ him with a ball – that Wednesday nite speedracer bit was a bit of a mirage after all) and looking to put Alan and Stevie into scoring positions with clever 1-2s.

Halftime and no Kenny around to liven things up with his ball tricks. The defense is a bit bored as NASA have hardly crossed the midfield during the entire first half and the players seem a bit short for pace. Everyone’s looking to go up and get in on the scoring. Or at least break a sweat. [See the harmful effects of that fantasy league table – I think Spartans are more concerned with their standing in that ‘league’ than whether we actually win games or not. But I’ll save my fantasy league rant for the end of the report and how unfair the model is towards defenders.]

Everyone’s chilling. Flabbo’s telling us not to be complacent. Alan’s dog’s (I keep expecting him to talk, looks like the mutt from Men In Black with Will Smith) taking a liking to Flabbo’s boots, getting ready to ‘baptize’ them. Lionel’s hot after that shutout (something to do with goal differential, a concept altogether too complex for me). Paul’s yelling ‘Stick it to ’em’. Ben’s lighting up his fourth cigarette of the half. But before he can finish we’re striding on to the pitch for the 2nd half.

2nd half memorable moments: Alan scores twice and Stevie once to complete his hat trick.

Stevie"Hatrick Hero" proudly holds up his MOTM award, courtesy of Mrs. Fields

I’m saying someone pinch me. 2 games, 11 goals, that should do wonders for our goal differential. Alan should have scored a 3rd one late in the game when Stevie sets him up beautifully only for Alan to do a moon shot. Even Will is getting into the act. Alan sets him up nicely with a square ball but instead of one timing Will tries to deaden the ball only for it to scurry away from him. Or maybe it was that nosebleed that got in the way.

We shift to a 3-4-3 with Andy L going up front. Andy shoot please next time! He has a couple chances right outside the box but lets NASA close the window. We’re moving the ball around well playing out from the back. NASA try once or twice to go with the long ball over the defense to a streaking right winger. But there best chance comes off a corner where Flabbo making the call lets a Hobbit (looked like Bilbo to me) outjump him and put the ball on goal only for Ben and Will to clash and give #4 a chance to poke the ball in. He does a valiant lunge but ends up twisting his ankle in the process. Once again the Spartans are playing well, even though we haven’t yet touched our potential. And the fight goes out in NASA. While the Spartans could have kept going on and on.

Then the interminable train ride back to Wanchai. [Time for a team bus?] And everyone’s chilling at the Stag wolfing down a burger and hearing that Boca have tied A&P 1-1 [did we really lose to that team 5-2?].

Yumyum… hits the spot and none of that prissy Tuna Baguette

Paul’s off to don the Armani and come back with a couple Virgin stewardesses and Alex to watch the Liverpool game. A magical day indeed ends up with Liverpool nipping Arsenal with the oft-disparaged Neil Mellor scoring the winner [I guess Paul and Stevie can eat their words]. Heck even Spurs win! [You know what they say about a blind squirrel or a broken clock…] Hope everyone comes out for training tonight and celebrating the Stag’s 3rd anniversary later on.

Spartans are back, in fine form. Hope everyone gets this week kicking off well and not with a massive headache like yours truly. One celebratory Sol too many, plus trying to do the limbo, not good for the back.

Oh and about that fantasy league thing, new rule instituted. Defenders get 6 points for a clean sheet!

Henry and Will all smiles, Henry’s eyebrows doing that pointy thing, would you buy a used car from this guy?