BY FRASER HOPE
The Old Boys turned up to play Centaurs from Victoria on a damp, blustery Sunday morning, surprised that the game was playable after the constant rain of the last week. Kudos to Mike Brown and the SD64 maintenance crew!
Luxury of a full on-field line-up, three subs on the bench and a North Baffin player on loan waiting for his agent’s contract details and medical clearance to come through, Old Boys faced a full Centaurs’ squad who had the luxury of a travelling team photographer. Dave Eadie a made welcome return from his venture to the base camp of Mount Everest in Tibet to face an even greater challenge: how to break into the well-honed Old Boys midfield engine?
All concerns and rumours concerning alleged attempts by some players to interfere or edit last week’s game report to their advantage in the Golden Boot Award race were laid aside in an attempt to build on a well-earned tie in Cowichan. Centaurs always pose a significant challenge and arrived on island determined to maintain their unbeaten streak.
A large crowd of fans eager to dispel Black Friday “hangovers” from shopping in downtown Ganges turned up in their droves. Well not exactly droves! More the usual suspects with family members and the walking wounded providing the majority, including Scott Howe, who was feeling a little delicate after an ankle injury. So delicate that he opined he was more of a delicate porcelain figurine (Salt Spring etiquette and Driftwood style guidelines frowned at the use of “China Doll.”)
No need to water the field to give an advantage to the Old Boys’ slick passing game as underfoot conditions proved enough of a challenge for some of the players whose early slips (Over 48 league rules deem a slide, slip, trip over your own feet as tackling offence worthy of a fee kick to the opposition.)
Old Boys, spurred on by the success of last week’s game, continued to spray passes about the field and quickly set up camp in the Centaurs’ end but the ground conditions meant most shots lacked the power to threaten the goalkeeper or ended up giving the Windsor Plywood yard employee something to keep him occupied by throwing balls back over the fence.
A mental error by a Centaur defender, thinking he was still playing on the fast surface of Finlayson turf field, misjudged a pass back to the goalkeeper to allow a slightly astonished Mike McCormick to waltz in around the GK for the first goal.
A raking pass down the right wing aided by an Andrew Haigh selfie, a jump over the ball out of skill or fear, found McCormick, whose powerful shot was met by a determined David Toynbee with a bullet header that had the crowd initially bemoaning the missed goal opportunity, but brought a round of applause after the referee signalled a goal and Toynbee received the congratulations of his team mates. A YouTube video has gone viral! What a great opportunity for Windsor Plywood to provide a giant stadium screen for instant replays. What about it Ken and Mike?
Centaurs finding their feet and adjusting to the speed of the ball on real grass came more into the game and caught the Old Boys in two minds, which allowed a scrambled goal to peg one back. Further problems occurred on a free kick where Ben “Wheels” Cooper, still in two minds of whether to jump or not to jump, that is the question after his OGs in previous games, pulled his head in like a tortoise and confused the rest of the defence with the ball nicely dropping onto the attacker at the far post or the 2-2 equalizer.
Such is the confidence of the Old Boys that they came storming back with Rainer Funk providing a nicely judged pass to give Toynbee the opportunity to slam home the third goal for the lead. Several further attempts were thwarted by the keeper or were nullified by over-eagerness on part of the attackers.
Half time saw the Old Boys pleased with their performance. Interviews confirmed that McCormick was always waiting to hear the ref’s whistle for some infringement on the first goal and Toynbee is certain that the power of header ripped through the netting and had not found a hole.
The weather still cooperated despite the heavy cumulonimbus cloud cover threatening and the Old Boys continued to dominate with various attacks culminating in an unforced handling in the penalty box by a Centaur defender. A penalty!
McCormick on two goals, Toynbee on two goals! Who would take the penalty? Football has its penalty controversies! Neymar and Cavanni at PSG! Ronaldo and Tevez at Man U! Di Canio and Lampard at West Ham, that Man Lampard and Drogba at Chelsea and Balotelli, Sturridge and Henderson at Liverpool! Would Toynbee and McCormick wrestle with the ball in an attempt to move up the Golden Boot Award Ladder? Fortunately it was all settled amicably as Toynbee was on the bench having been subbed previously. McCormick slotted a low left shot for his hat trick.
Various niggling injuries saw several substitutions in the last 20 minutes of the game and Grigor Hope, the North Baffin on-loan transfer came on to move up front in attack. Financial and medical details had been successfully negotiated with the options of playing after the winter break tentatively agreed to.
Eadie’s high-altitude aerobic train in the Himalayas paid off with renewed energy in the midfield and a through pass plus a “ghost” assist from Haigh, much like Messi’s “ghost” goal against Valencia on Sunday in La Liga, rounded out the scoring for a fine, rare 5-2 win over the Centaurs.
Dennis Shaw, deputizing for a twerked back injury by GK Henry Braak in the first half, Braak scrambling on his hands and knees in making a save, had a shut out, making up somewhat for his “Out in Left Field” penalty infraction earlier in the season.
With Rita Tweddle providing much missed candies to reporter Hope and fans in the stands and the cooler open for iced tea and certain foreign fizzy drinks, the analysis was all positives.
The team’s physiotherapist, buoyed by the success of Eadie in the mountains, has now mandated high altitude training for all: up Mount Maxwell with Tweddle and Enfield before dawn three times a week. For others a climb out of the cab for coffee at the various literary coffee houses in town will suffice. The caffeine high is as good as the blood-enriching oxygen of the mountains for most.
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The Old Boys face Duncan 48s at GISS on Sunday, Dec. 3 at 10:30 a.m.