By FRASER HOPE
Most pre-match discussion last Sunday revolved around important matters that were of consequence for the residents of Salt Spring.
Would they ever come to terms with the “Queen of Slumberland“ and the “Quititsa,”or whatever it is called in more polite conversations? Can we believe an Island Health study that shows residents of the other four Southern Gulf Islands have fewer mental health problems than Salt Springers, attributing the difference to the ambience and conviviality of the vastly superior passenger lounges of the Queen of Slumberland, as compared to the Skeena Queen’s more sterile utilitarian set-up?
The Old Boys would love the opportunity to have some input into the Skeena’s mid-life refit so as to have a private members-only Old Boys Lounge but with the opportunity to still mingle with the hoi poloi (of course I mean our friends, neighbours and colleagues).
On a more sporting note it appears the sock-inspired victory at the GISS Fortress last week has allowed manager Graham Tweddle’s jacket to be a little more secure than it’s previous shoogly-peg position. So far he has avoided the ignominy of Pochettino, who was summarily dismissed and replaced by Mourinho at Spurs. Old Boys and their fan base dodged a bullet there! Can you imagine the Special One coping with the fan abuse from some of the Old Boys’ more vociferous followers?
During the past week some Old Boys, jealous of David Toynbee’s front-page coverage in the Driftwood, were looking for various ways to be carried like royalty from the field of battle and give a royal wave to the masses in the home-team stands. It was only when Toynbee hobbled to the reserved-for-dignitaries area in the main Rainbow Road stand wearing his Das Boot (1981 film) did they change their plans after hearing the extent of his injuries. As one of the leading contenders for The Golden Boot Award he will need all his skill and his elbows to make a run for the trophy when he returns, hopefully after the midwinter break. Toynbee’s “Das Boot” is a fitting metaphor for the Old Boys, who like the U-Boat crew “must contend with tense conflicts and long stretches of confined boredom.”
Last week there were more balls than Old Boys at the warm-up, but this week, astonishingly, the Centaurs arrived with more players than the home team squad could deploy. Fans and team management had wondered which Centaurs would turn up: men or beasts? The only other note of concern was the absence of a second assistant referee to run the far-away touchline. The referee warned both teams that he would not call any offside in that half, to the consternation of all.
The Old Boys were still unclear if they should play Tik Tok or Tiki Taki tactics, but straight from the whistle it became abundantly clear that the 15-second slow- motion app was their tactic of choice, or should that be tactic of chaos? But a certain amount of self-inflicted pressure saw the Old Boys gird their loins and stride majestically down the right wing with Rainer Funk releasing Mike McCormick for a chance at an opening goal. Funk had a great opportunity from a free kick but almost disturbed customers in Windsor Plywood’s yard with his shot. Mike Davies and a Centaur defender had a clash of heads, which according to game rules must be halted. Davies had to be subbed! (Betty, he is fine, just a bit jangled and maybe still recovering from playing 92+ minutes in the previous week’s game.)
Using his speed, Ben Cooper tracked down a Centaur breakaway, averting an attempt on goal. Cooper also came to the rescue when he deflected a powerful shot that gave goalkeeper Richard Steel some difficulty. Then Cooper made a run from his own defensive third into the Centaur penalty box, but the build-up of lactic acid in the legs meant he was easily bundled off the ball to cries of “penalty” from the crowded stands. No penalty was called.
There seemed to an atmosphere of chaos in the team’s actions, maybe as result of the usual diamond formation being disrupted due to injuries and absences. The press box likened it to the televised impeachment hearings on C-SPAN lacking “pizzaz.”
The only remotely entertaining action came from Mark Aston, who was using his recent emergency kayak-rolling classes in the pool to good advantage. He would roll over at the slightest contact and dramatically appeal on his knees to the referee. He self-subbed before the ref had time to get his yellow card out for Aston’s “yapping.”
Funk got himself in a right funk and missed a Golden Boot Award chance with the net gaping, but managed to hook it past the post. Donny Brown decided now was the time to stamp his contribution on the game, but saw the Centaur make a great save to keep the scoreline at 0-0 as the half ended.
Half-time tactical discussions were non-existent and so the second half started much as the first half with a change to Wimbledon long-ball tactics with the big guy, Mike McCormick, up front. With little support from the midfield and short of their other main striker, Toynbee, chances on goal were far and few between. It seemed that the Old Boys had just been “cancelled:” disappeared from fans on Twitter and social media apps, Instagram, What’sApp (What’sUp more likely) and Tinder (maybe not Tinder!}. Even Tik Tok fans had stopped their Old Boy memes. Too slow even for slow-motion video?
Old Boys were in the wars. Dave Eadie had to leave the field — unaided, it should be noted — with a calf injury, and Dennis Shaw was struggling to find his early-season fitness. Back to the gangways instead of the elevator, Dennis. Even iron man Cooper was felled by a vicious close-range bullet to the nose, but up he popped back into the fray. The team’s medical staff were concerned that the second concussion may have cancelled out the first and would only act if he managed a third for his first “concussion hat trick.”
With Old Boys down to 10 men, Shaw bravely volunteered to return to the field, saying he “could not just stand about doing nothing” to help. A wag in the stands said, “You will not look out of place!” Ouch! But that fairly describes the state of the game as it stood as the minutes dwindled down to full time.
Cooper lit the blue touch paper and took off, and like many a firework it zig zagged across, up and down the field, but fizzled with no support up front. Not to be discouraged, he took a fast dribble, made a pass and streaked through the defence, looking for a return pass, but he was inadvertently tripped by a Centaur defender and went flying through the air with the greatest of ease. Fans in the bleachers held up cards — 9.9, 9.8, 9.9 and a 10 — in admiration for his ballet-like performance.
With no more rocket fuel in Cooper and everyone looking at the seconds tick off on the stadium clock, the referee brought down a veil to the proceeding with a 0-0 final score. It was a fair result with the Old Boys spurning enough chances to win and both goalkeepers performing to keep the score-sheet clean.
Post-game analysis was very muted with no one willing to blame or take the blame for a lacklustre performance. “There is a point when it becomes pointless!” Finally, some spoke up, indicating they had forgotten their “lucky” socks and everyone gave sighs of relief as the power of the socks had been interrupted. Still unbeaten at Fortress GISS!
In after-game conversations it was discovered the Centaurs had emailed out for volunteers to play the Old Boys as a counter-attraction to the Grey Cup final in Calgary. They offered free ferry tickets and their choice of tisanes or soft drinks in the Queen of Slumberland’s Tisanerie and it seemed to have worked, with a manager and four substitutes as well as 11 on the field of play.
Old Boys leave the comfort of Fortress GISS to play Cordova Bay 48s at Lochside turf field at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 1. Old Boys PR will send out emails reminding players of essential dress code items. It’s the socks!