Old Boys on standby waited expectantly for the text, email or tweet on Sunday morning, not from the President and his “outhouse” staff but for the more important news from manager Graham Tweddle that the game was on at Lochside against the Fighting Perch of Cordova Bay.
Reporter Hope found both laptops completely “locked” by unknown hackers. Suspecting payback from the forces of darkness, he was relieved to find that a junior member of the family had been distraught at the news Ed Sheeran had “assaulted” Justin Bieber with a golf club in the face and had entered the wrong encrypted passwords!
Old Boys’ Magnificent Eleven embarked on the ferry determined to revenge an earlier season upset loss to the Fighting Perch and armed with the knowledge that the 2-3-1-4 system had gelled in the psyche of the Old Boys. It was a system that had brought a draw and three successive wins against all comers!
A press release from Old Boys FC (British Virgin Islands Company #2134) medical staff maintained that the box of testosterone patches found in the ice tea drinks cooler found by the World Anti-Doping Agency investigation had been delivered by mistake and were categorically not for performance enhancement by team players on or off the field. WADA could not be reached for comment prior to publication date..
Near perfect conditions saw a lone Old Boys fan swathed in layers on the bench and a border collie — as border collies do — continually circling the field as the only witnesses to a Salt Spring attempt to continue their winning ways.
The Old Boys started off encouragingly with Dave Toynbee presented with a golden opportunity within seconds of the start, but not so encouragingly he was left scratching his head in disbelief at the miss. Most of the early pressure came from the visitors but Perch were always a counter-attacking threat. Goalkeeper Henry Braak mopped up early pressure from a corner kick and immediately launched a long ball attack. A miscommunication amongst the back five defensive, or a phantom call, saw Tweddle walk away from a lobbed ball over the top latched onto by a lone Perch attacker who fortunately was distracted by an aggressive Braak attack to miss an opportunity for a home side lead.
Bewilderment on the faces was only replaced by relief after Braak’s goal-saving intervention.
Was this to be a repeat of the earlier game that saw the Old Boys in command but the Fighting Perch sneak a surprise win? It looked that way when a burst through the middle of the defence saw Perch bundle the ball for a goal, but eagle-eyed reporter Hope, doing double duty as assistant referee, signalled for a hand ball and the goal decision was reversed. Toynbee cut to the byeline after a lead-up play by Mike Berndt and a dummy by Mike McCormick rounded his defender but his shot whistled passed the far post.
The game played at a fast pace, fast for Over 48s. It begged the question: With no subs for the Old Boys and only two for the Perch, would the intensity last for the full 90 minutes?
A good lead-up play from Sean Goddard, Berndt and Donny Brown gave the ball to McCormick, who diddled and piddled and just shot over the bar!
McCormick, along with Stefan Cermack, vying to create a historic Old Boys record of three successive hat tricks, appeared to find the task weighing heavily on his performance.
Braak was concerned that vocabulary misunderstandings between the defence may have led to indecision and catastrophe. Situation normal for the Old Boys! Braak’s fears were realized by indecision in the defence, which allowed a Perch attacker to nip in and just curl a shot passed the post.
Finally, good work from Cermak down the right wing saw intricate play from McCormick, or was it Berndt or Donny Brown, give Toynbee time to measure — and I mean time — to pick his spot with such accuracy, using the inside of the post, to provide Old Boys with a much-awaited goal for a 1-0 lead.
A long, arching lob just before the whistle saw keeper Braak’s hands shake significantly in anticipation of a difficult ball and an onrushing defender, but he managed to look cool, calm and collected to clear the danger.
At half time, manager Tweddle emphasized the need for continued focus for the remaining 45 minutes, but as the legs get weary, the lungs collapse, and the brain suffers a lack of oxygen to the brain . . . anything can happen.
Within minutes, a Perch corner kick led to an over-enthusiastic Berndt tackle. The ref pointed to the spot for a penalty. The Perch is a known “flopper,” but to be fair, the tackle left the referee no option. Braak had no chance and the game was tied 1-1.
Would it be a Perch comeback or an Old Boys recovery? A quick attacking move saw Toynbee feed Berndt, who joyfully rammed home a goal to compensate for his penalty give-away. Old Boys led 2-1.
In the pre-match warmup, discussion and practice revolved around Tottenham Tactic, which had brought about a spectacular goal from a free kick in the EPL game versus Everton. Tweddle and McCormick spent considerable energy and time trying to replicate the move. Suddenly an opportunity arose, with a free kick outside the Perch penalty area, for the Tottenham Tactic to work. Alas, pressure to score saw McCormick just miss the opportunity to score a classic.
The remainder of the half was notable for a McCormick miss when presented with an open net by Cermak: He managed to sky the ball over the bar from three yards out!
A great Braak save maintained the lead, and a team effort saw the Old Boys continue to attack for the third goal despite exhortations from Braak and reporter-cum-linesman Hope to take the ball to the corners and run out the clock!
It was sweet revenge for the Old Boys to register a win against the Fighting Perch, who have had a stranglehold in wins over the Old Boys for several seasons.
It was a fine team effort with no substitutes, which meant players gave “110 per cent” and “left it all on the field” in their praise of manager Tweddle’s successful system. Claudio Ranieri and Amor Karanka, your CVs have been returned as Tweddle’s position is secure.
Toynbee hoped his opening point blank miss would be overshadowed by McCormick’s howler of a skier into Row Z, but no such luck. Reporter Hope plays no favourites. Medical staff unlocked the soft drinks cooler under the watchful eye of WADA officials. No performance enhancements needed to continue the streak!
Old Boys play Duncan 48s at Frances Kelsey in Mill Bay at noon on Sunday, March 12.