By FRASER HOPE
The “mystery illness” that caused the cancellation of the Old Boys game last week seems to have been contagious.
Various conspiracies have been mooted to explain the depleted 10-member team that arrived at Victor Brodeur Field in Esquimalt to play the Vantreights on Sunday. An email “virus” that had contaminated the team communication system that prevented players from accessing the time, place and opposition for the next game, long injury reserve list brought about by the intensive midweek training and calisthenics of manager Graham Tweddle, the list goes on.
Reporter Hope, in seeking out “fake news,” was only able to ascertain that the important issues of the day more concerned would “the Boardwalk to Nowhere” allow an unimpeded route to the refreshment locations of Moby’s and Shipstones, the merits of the new location of the taco stand and whether the resurrection of the defunct SOS group had anything to do with Old Boys woes rather than the protection of the island shorelines. Constitutional woes of Catalonia, or whether there was any truth in the rumour that congresswoman Wilson, Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and the Umbrella Man were on the grassy knoll, took second place to the real issues affecting islanders!. Only the “Umbrella Man” has been recognized as fact.
It would be all about the numbers! Tweddle had been seen sitting in the ferry lounge perusing a copy of Fibonacci’s Liber Abaci (Book of Calculations) 1202 in a vain attempt at a team formation that would rival his favoured “diamond” attack. Another Italian hovering around seeking employment a potential rival to Ancelotti? Tweddle’s Shoogly Peg even shooglier?
Prior to kick-off, Vantreights kindly offered two subs to the visitors to even up the sides. Glen and Rick performed admirably in the rejigged Old Boys starting lineup. Under brilliant blue skies, the Old Boys group cheer “Scott!!!” rang out loud and clear. Would it be all about Scott? Scott Howe quickly affirmed his new status with a confident clearance on defence repelling an early attack.
Old Boys were moving the ball around finding fellow team-mates rather than opponents. Fibonacci as manager seemed a possibility. Fine attacking moves out of defence saw regular onslaughts on Vantreights only to be thwarted by the goalkeeper, the nemesis of Old Boys throughout the years. Goal-bound shots by Mark Aston, tipped over the bar, a raking one timer by David Toynbee clawed away for a corner kick and several chances by Mike McCormick saved to keep the score level for all of the first half.
Old Boys goalkeeper Dennis Shaw had a leisurely first half protected by his competent defence of Tweddle, Scott!!! Howe, Martin Thorn and central defender Stefan Cermak. The Fibonacci midfield of Aston, Antonio Alonso and Kerry Walker fed the forwards with raking, incisive through-passes to give the strikers Toynbee and McCormick, ably aided by their subs Glen and Rick to keep the home keeper the most active player on the field.
Half time saw the Old Boys having most of the possession and I mean possession in the sense that they did not give the ball away carelessly to the opposition as can be their want. Not to be discouraged by the lack of success as past performances have shown, the Old Boys can wear down the opposition to provide a few chances that even their goalkeeper cannot repel. Reporter Hope opined (mindful of team protocol) that shooting low shots and making the goalkeeper commit could be a successful tactic.
The second half was much like the first with Scott!!! Howe prominent in defence and launching attacks for the midfield trio to capitalize on, but still no breakthrough came.
The Old Boys made a goalkeeping change as Shaw had been called up for higher duties and unexpectedly the tradition of Scott!!! Howe taking on the gloves and jersey was broken with Walker taking over in goal. Tempting providence? Old Boys archives show that when Scott!!! Howe replaces Shaw in goal, both keepers obtain a shutout. Would the streak be maintained?
In Hope’s capacity as a volunteer but static assistant referee, he urged the Old Boys to use a corner kick to implement his half-time advice. A man on the near post took a hard, low shot to the penalty area. Bingo! A hard-driven corner from Alonso was pinballed about the penalty spot for McCormick to slot, stab and stub the opening goal for the Old Boys. The relief was beyond belief. Old Boys knew they had 10 minutes or so to hold on for the win.
Attack is the best form of Defence: George Washington, Mao Zedong Machiavelli and Sun Tzu.
The Old Boys dropped back into a more Tweddle-like Fibonacci set-up, leaving midfield destroyer Alonso up front to take the pressure off Toynbee. They were able to use the Vantreights’ all-out attack tactics to their advantage when in a rapid counter-attack Aston sent a 60-metre/yard pinpoint pass out to Rick Vantreight on the left wing, who crossed into the penalty area for McCormick to neatly chip shot an over-head looper past the stranded keeper to go two goals up.
Confidence just oozed from the Old Boys as pain and cramped muscles disappeared as the game was played out to a satisfying victory for those able to make the journey to Esquimalt. With shut-outs for Shaw and Walker, a new streak is born. Man of the Match was “the Beast,” AKA Cermak, who covered in defence and occasionally found himself in the opponent’s penalty box to wreak havoc.
So it was not all about Scott!!! who did play his part in a truly exciting, entertaining victory.
The sniper was on the field in the form of McCormick and no “Umbrella Man” was seen on the grassy knoll above the “Johhny on the Spot.”
It reminds me once again for our need of washroom facilities at some of the island stadiums.
The small band of Old Boys returning on the ferry were quietly pleased with their performance and surmised that they always give of their best when low in numbers and occasionally assisted by the opposing team’s temporary transfers. Thanks to Glen and Rick Hoogendoorn. It seems Tweddle and his assistant coach Fibonacci are safe for the time being.
How(e) far along the Fibonacci Sequence the Old Boys will travel will be tested next Sunday at GISS field at 10:30 a.m. versus the Castaways.