With the extended winter break ending and the transfer window open until February 1st, a large crowd of home supporters turned up at GISS field (White House spokesperson Spicer disputed the numbers, implying that the press photograph was “manipulated” to make President Trump’s hands look smaller) on the rumours that a Chelsea FC player of note had been signed by Old Boys management to support the regular strikers Toynbee and McCormick.
Was it to be Costa? John Terry in a final move before jumping to the mega rich clubs of the Chinese Super League next season? No! Some Old Boy Geezer making a belated comeback to provide some “Steel (e)” to the midfield diamond of manager Tweddle’s magic roundabout (team formation). Welcome back to the fold!
Andrew Haigh made a welcome return to the team after an extended period on the injured reserve list. Manager Tweddle was concerned about the lack of substitutes as kick-off approached, an unheard-of situation for Old Boys home games. Sickness and vacations in far off sunny locations were posited as reasons for the less than full turnout, but the change of location may have flummoxed the “south enders!”
Both Old Boys and The Fighting Perch of Saanich Fusion showed signs of the extended winter break with many misplaced passes, slips and trips on the unaccustomed greensward of GISS field, newly opened after its now regular fall and early winter reseeding after summer drought. Old Boys benefiting from winter break training session at the Frosty Balls Tournament appeared to have much the better of the possession and made several scoring chances in the first 30 minutes of the game, but Fighting Perch always appeared dangerous on the break.
Toynbee, McCormick, Aston and Norgard all had half chances to appear on the score sheet but “Big Tony,” Perch’s giant of a goalkeeper, was able to mop up any shots on net and watch the others passing harmlessly over the bar or beyond the posts to safety. Old Boys were far ahead on ‘style’ points though with Martin Thorn doing several nifty ‘cross overs’ to bedazzle his opponent and himself – 9.9! 9.8! 10! came the scores of the judges in the stands. Pity his large fan following arrived too late to see his dribbling wizardry.
If it was not missed shots it was offsides that blunted many of the Old Boy attacks but fortunately a quick counter-attack out of defence saw swift inter passing from …..? to ……..? – reporting fails as ink ran all over the soggy reporter’s notebook – to Richard Steele on the right wing who laid a carefully weighted pass into the path of not one Old Boy but three in total who amazingly were all on side before Toynbee slotted home the opening goal.
The first half ended with Perch fighting back to equalize but stout goal keeping by Henry Braak kept the Old Boys lead intact at the half.
There was some naivety amongst the young fans experiencing their first Old Boys game who took the overwhelming possession and goal chances of the Old Boys as evidence of comfortable control and a victory seemed assured! Technical difficulties forced reporter Hope to seek the assistance of the Old Boys IT staff with Naomi Tweddle showing him how to enter the digital age with a voice memo app on his phone replacing the analogue pulp mess of unreadable facts of the first half. Armed with a microphone the reporter went in search of “alternative facts” to explain the lack of goals but both teams wishing to prevent hypothermia had returned to start the second half.
Hope, returning late to the Press Box after sampling the delights of the VIP Lounge, witnessed a lonely Toynbee standing at the penalty spot (a bit like Costa v Hull City on Sunday) surmised a penalty had been awarded to the Old Boys. Toynbee stepped up and shot past the post! A chance lost! In fairness to Toynbee, post-match interviews indicated Big Tone got the merest of finger touches to make the “save.” These ”alternative facts” keep cropping up with increasing frequency. Seems the MSM has been “infected” by some sort of virus.
Despite many more chances it seemed the Old Boys Frosty Balls foray was not enough training to maintain the high tempo of the first half as the visitors increasingly dominated the half with several bouts of consecutive corners! The Nemesis That Dare Not Speak Its Name: Corner Kicks! Reporters and fans alike thought the hex had been broken as corner kick after corner kick was repulsed with determined defending and of course considerable luck with Scott heading off the goal line a Norgard header, which cleared with the assistance of the crossbar. GK Braak had an MVP performance in holding off the Perch. The fans dared to dream but after 11 CKs a lone Perch Poacher tapped in for the equalizer.
Old Boys mounted several attacks but were alas thwarted by the FP GK.
Just as the final minutes wound down, an attack on the Old Boys goal saw Ben Cooper penalized in the penalty box. A penalty to Fighting Perch! He shoots! Braak saves! Perch shoots off the post! Rebound! Perch scores! Old Boys fall behind 2-1!
A last attack in “Fergie Time” saw the shot pass the outside of the upright. Final whistle . . . a loss. Some mumblings about “the press will slaughter us” and “the media are biased” were recorded but Hope was unable to find an Old Boy willing to be interviewed. Cooper, before he left for Mexico on vacation, described the “alternative facts” to the penalty award opining that “he was already falling when he fell over my outstretched leg…” Hasta la Vista Ben!
The cold refreshments in the team cooler were studiously avoided in favour of heading off for a warm bath with the definite feeling that all the good lead-up play by the Old Boys was negated by an in-form Big Tony. Both Henry Braak and Big Tony were the MVPs of the match, which was highly entertaining despite the dismal condition.
Old Boys versus Vic West 48s runs at noon, Finlayson Turf Field, Sunday, Jan. 29.