By FRASER HOPE
The portents were there for everyone to see. A depleted Vic West side with five travelling players. A tsunami warning that never materialized. A waterlogged pitch with a forecast of heavy overnight rain. Warnings of rising world sea levels. A lack of enthusiasm by several players anxious to avoid further injury. A field inspection protocol that was ambiguous at best. A call for more “volunteers” to enable a game to be played — inside or outside!
Despite an improved phone tree, the decision to play or cancel was not made in sufficient time to allow the “intrepid five” of Vic West to make alternative arrangements for their Sunday entertainment. After a conference between the refereeing officials and the two teams the decision was made: “Game on!”
Manager Tweddle decided to loan five Old Boys to Vic West (Kerrry Walker, Martin Thorn, Ben Cooper, Mike Berndt and Grigor Hope) as it was still inside the January transfer window. Vic West provided the defensive five and Old Boys the offence. Some speed to trouble the Old Boys? I am amassing a vast collection of opposition shirts as he is yet to appear on the Old Boys side of centre line.
GISS looked in perfect playing condition from the stands and press box but as soon the ball was kicked off it was obvious that the speed of the passing moves would depend on the tides and currents and the depth of standing water cunningly concealed in the grass. Knowledge of the laws of fluid mechanics would also be a distinct advantage in weighting the strength of pass to overcome the surface tension of the surface water.
The underfoot conditions made it difficult for the teams to play their natural game and strengths, but pressure from Old Boys saw three goals for Mike McCormick (one goal a definite pass that fooled all the defenders) and two assists; and two goals for Dave Toynbee. Mark Aston, despite sickness, travel fatigue, tweaked hamstring and a shock Liverpool defeat to West Bromwich Albion, laboured manfully in support of the team and got a goal and an assist.
Scott Howe, our “rock,” managed to get on the scoreline after “rocketing” in a superb one-yard shot from a Ben Cooper cross. Unfortunately the “rocket” was into his own net. An own goal but an assist in the Golden Boot Award! Kerry Walker combined with assistance from Grigor Hope for Vic West’s second goal.
As the half-time whistle blew, spectators and press alike knew as soon as the teams and officials milled about at centre that abandonment was the likely decision. In deference to the ground staff at SD 64 it was decided not to inflict any further damage to the playing surface and the game was abandoned with a scoreline of Old Boys FC 6, Vic West 2.
Thankfully no pitch invasion or rowdy home or visiting fans brought about the decision. Two of the fans (the only two fans) demanded their entrance fee back, but management managed to persuade them to take a “rain check” for the next home game with the added bonus of entrance to the luxury hospitality suite.
Although played under deplorable conditions, the game was entertaining in the quality of the play. It may have been the case that for once the player was faster than the ball, allowing the over 48s on both sides to appear to be faster than they were in reality.
Ben Cooper seemed to make light of the deep water but he had to ensure his snorkelling mask was mist free, allowing him the opportunity to find his fellow attackers.
Was this game a first for the archives? All goals, assists and own goals were scored by Old Boys players. A Guinness Book of Old Boys Records entry!
On reflection, both sets of players seemed happy to head for the dressing rooms to relieve the aches with a hot shower. A hot shower? Forgot most municipalities have proper recreation facilities! So in compensation we all enjoyed the homemade cookies that Vic West brought to the after game festivities.
What obstacles would next week’s scheduled game vs. Cowichan Classics 48s bring to the home game at GISS? Teams in the South Vancouver Island Soccer Association are finding it difficult to field full teams plus substitutes, Old Boys included. Is this a sign that “the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak?” (Matthew 26:41) There were enough enthusiastic “volunteers” on Sunday willing to ensure that soccer still remains strong amongst senior players on the Island.
Next game is on Sunday at GISS at 10:30 a.m. or at Frances Kelsey v Cowichan Classics 48s at noon, depending on the portents!