Alternative Euro 2004 at Clissold Park, London
Match report: flimsier. Photos: Rollem. 13th June 2004
Well the day started out brilliantly; the sun was shining, for example. Arrived with a coolbox, water, sun-lounger and football kit. Optimism abounded, until the next of our players arrived and announced he had got in at 5-30 to 6.
By the draw at 10.30 there were butterflys in the stomach and tension in the air. We were very excited. While our keeper had not arrived (unknown to us, he was still in Tooting!) we had a full team of 7, and sleaterkinney was trying on the gloves for size.
Urban 75 were the last name out of the hat, and hence the last team drawn in group 2. Group 2 was suitably termed 'the group of death' by the organisers, less due to the way we looked then the quality of the opposition. We had our excuse prepared at that point.
We were not playing until the third game, by which time, goalio had arrived and we had the chance to scout our opposition. The gaffer kept an eye out and with a healthy confidence bordering on arrogance, we announced we could beat both the teams playing first.
By the time our first game came around we were, so to speak, well up for it. Starting brightly, several chances came and went, and relahni and ringolevio were certainly in form. Sadly, after about 5 minutes, one of their midfielders broke into the box, we failed to track him one way or another, and the cross found his feet single figures of yards out. 1-0.
Half time came and went, the gaffer made the substitution; we were not unduly concerned - and then we went to pieces... panicky and nervous, we trapsed off the field losing 2-0 - the second goal a cruel Tonio error - and lucky to keep it that way.
Much chat ensued. The gaffer told us good and proper - shape up or ship out - and twenty minutes later we had to take the field again - to meet a team who had won their first game.
A battling performance! It looked like a different team out there - and you could smell the fear in the other teams from the pitch. Restricting the opposition to half chances, and closing down quickly and effectively, saw us have the majority of possession and chances in the first half, and even better second half.
We also saw the long ball employed to good effect and Chrisfilter had one or two half-chances, and (ahem!) someone had another fistfull of clear cut ones.
If that someone could have put away one open goal from about five yards out (the ball had come at me fast from a filter shot, is the only excuse I have) we would have had our first competitive victory. However, we came off the field none too disheartened and happy with point number one. The first of several, so we thought...!
Forty minutes later, and the break must've had some effect, but it wasn't the one we wanted. This reporter cannot explain it, but lethargy and lead in the boots combined for a 3-0 defeat - no excuses - we were shit. As this paragraph suggests, less said the better.
So, we knew we were out, and take the field against the hosts, recreativo, for our final game knowing they need to draw to go through. We just wanted one goal. Filter had a strained groin, so rested it, forcing a reshuffle...
A much better performance, battling and consistent, passes finding feet and the long ball working well. Relahni playing up front and flimsier moving to midfield seemed to create more chances.
Nonetheless after a few minutes we again found ourselves 1-0 down, with the opposition looking ominously comfortable...
Then it happened, an accurate long ball from Tonie saw flimsier jump to head the ball in the air under pressure. The opposition player is (ahem!) caught and goes down, leaving flimsier to tap the ball to the side of another player and hit a scuffed shot towards goal.
Scuffed, but with enough power to beat their keeper via a useful deflection and nestles in the back of the net...! The cheers were ringing around the ground.... Our goal. Now we had a goal and a point and it was all worthwhile.
The second half cam and went and relahni gets a good chance he can't quite get out of his feet properly, and ringolevio also has an opportunity.
With the massed ranks of urban 75 fans on the sidelines, we felt driven to score. The hosts were panicking; they'd thought they were going to roll us over easily...!
In the end, they scored from a corner with the last touch of the game. By then we don't really care. We've played well, and without doubt are better at the end of the game than at the start. Team photos and congratulations all round. And we had someone in both semi-finals, even if it was just to referee.
Well done to Tonie, Line Dancing Rudeboy, Brixton Hatter, Relahni, Sleaterkinney, ringolevio, chrisfilter, and of course Rollem.
Many thanks to Rollem for organising this all too. The day ended with us all looking forward to a beer, and promising we'd be back to take our trophy back with us!
Thanks to everyone who turned out to support us!