It was on an exceptionally sunny winter day that the lads gathered at Rongotai college, once again fully motivated to go for victory. For the occasion the pitch was even further reduced in size, by playing it in the width which showed to be just 5 meters shorter than the length creating the expectation for some very technical, compact Samba football.
In order to sharpen/refresh the boys` Samba skills Adam decided for a warm up in the circle, nicely tucked together, for a gayish variation on football-tennis, which funnily enough we all enjoyed very much. It even turned out to be one of the highlights of the day for Dempster, who on multiple occasions and on one in particular managed to hit the ball with three of his bodily parts within the timespan of one second.
Meanwhile we witnessed the Shamrocks team getting complete, the last players arriving only 2 minutes before kick-off. Their squad showed to be a funny mixture of dwarfs, hairy and scary Tibetian tigers and hairy less scary individuals. The goalie sported a cap, which proved to be a wise decision with the sun so low above the horizon.
Completely relaxed after the warm-up the newborn captain of the Marauders got called in for the pre-match ritual. To my disappointment the emergency training I got from Adam earlier that day, wasn`t very helpful as it turned out that the referee, also a newbie in his own duty, didn`t have a coin to flip. As confused as one can be, I had to choose between an empty hand and one filled with a whistle. Advantage Shamrocks. The referee, obviously a bit nervous about the clash that was about to unleash, just wanted to confirm we were all clean boys and I promised that, apart form myself, I had good reason to believe the other Marauders had all had a shower that morning. Friendly hand shake with the opponent`s captain and off we went for a fully enjoyable game in the sun.
Fully enjoyable for the WAG`s and supporters too, who came up in unseen numbers. Three true WAG`s and six (including one unborn but yet very faithful) supporters had a lovely afternoon of high class entertainment, sharing comments on the Shamrocks` haircuts and ultra-whitening washing powders.
The Marauders` set-up was slightly changed for the occasion, defense now being formed by Nick, Dempster, Wiley and Fred. David made a promotion to the midfield (was it really a promotion or did he like leading the defence better?) to join Adam, Jason and Fold who gave their full support to the strikers Mark and Dribble. Our new fill-in was Mike, a man who was definitely capable to give the Marauders the so often needed `body`.
In the meantime the teams were exploring and searching for weaknesses in the opponent squad, the ball nicely going from one side to the other. It was after ten minutes or so, that Dribble found one of their weak points and managed to open the score with a scrambled egg sort of goal.
Minutes later another goal followed, this time delivered by Mark, who hit the ball hard placing it perfectly on this side of the right post. Need to mention that around that time a shot of Adam`s really came close to being a hit as well. We then saw many long and fast runs forward from Fold, but he was just unlucky in the finishing part of his great efforts. Dribble took away all doubt by hitting the nets straight from a free kick, intentionally or not, much to the amusement of the spectators. By that time a group of the spectators had pulled out some guitars, seemingly out of nowhere, and formed a band to complete the picture of happy Sundays. The only thing that was missing perhaps was a sausage sizzle. Maybe the defenders relaxed a bit too much after this, and the Shamrocks managed to kick the ball around a couple of times, maybe even combined one or two passes, and doing so asked for a divine intervention of Josh who made a good run out of his goal to meet the enemy before they could strike. Minutes later however, the Shamrocks feasted on a goal after surprising our defense with an on-side pass.
One-three it remained for the first half.
The second half didn`t deliver much for about thirty minutes. Maybe that was due to a couple of changes in the squad, people taking different positions on the field, maybe it was due to the perceived lack of pressure. Anyway, a few gaps became apparent and the Shamrocks gratefully took advantage of this in the midfield. On several occasions they crossed the midline, something that hardly ever happened in the first half. I think even their ambitious goalie might have crossed the midline in his desperate attempts to get the ball forward. Luckily a little sense of urgency built up amongst the Marauders and that proved to be the formula for success. Immediate interventions, thorough defense by Nick and Dempster, accompanied by Jason for the occasion, swift tackles from Wiley (he managed to injure his ankle again in one of them) and forward action through the midfield, brought what was hoped for and a series of very pretty goals was the result. One particular action involving a one-two combination between dribble and myself, then followed by a center perfectly finished with a header (again!) from Mark, could well outperform the general level of the world cup. In the following minutes, Mark managed to push through two more times, bringing his personal balance up to four goals for this game, exceeding the requirements for the hat trick.
One- Six was also the final score. The Marauders once again came, saw and conquered a very pleasant team of Shamrocks.
Post match festivities were held at `The Cross` where I had to hand over the captain`s band to Adam. It`s an experience I`m unlikely to forget, being the captain for the first time. To all other newbies, I would hardly recommend to endeavour to become an official. The only disadvantage perhaps being a day of tingly fingers because that Captain`s band is really tight indeed.....
The Marauders Football Club