By FRASER HOPE
Old Boys continue to have difficulty fielding a full complement for both home and away games, as witnessed by the fact that management had to leave the luxurious team bus in the garage for lack of numbers.
Even the blandishment of a “Last chance to bond on the Quinitsa!” note from manager Graham Tweddle was not sufficient to entice more than eight players for the game, or should it be “battle,” with long-time rivals Cowichan Classics.
There was the Second Battle of Thermopylae in 191 BC between the Roman army of Manius Glabrio and King Antiochus III The Great, the Second Battle of Panipat in India 1556 between Hindu King of India and Akbar, the Second Battle of Bull Run 1862 between the Confederate Forces of Lee and Union Army of Pope and McClellan, the many Second Battles of the Marne Ypres and Somme of WWI, but surely the Second, Third and even Fourth Battles of Frances Kelsey between Old Boys and Cowichan Classics is up there in the annals of history. Surely!
Nicholas Mai may not have been able to return to the Old Boys for last week’s game but arrived at Mill Bay with new cleats still showing the price tag. Obviously, Mai must have thought of returning the boots for a refund if his performance disappointed. He certainly earned sufficient “brownie” points by providing a bag of chocolate chip cookies, ensuring a favourable report in the Driftwood by this reporter.
In an attempt to reduce the chance of further injuries, Tweddle had mandated an early ferry so that all could warm up with a routine especially tailored to ensure the team was at peak fitness at game start. I can hear the chuckles of regular readers at this preposterous statement. Old Boys warm up?! Most of the team have survived because of a lack of a warm-up!
With the Classics volunteering Pat and Harvey, Old Boys kicked off with a suggestion that they might park the bus for most of the game in a truly defensive mode à la Mourinho, but being Old Boys soon showed their usual attitude to team orders by ignoring them three minutes into the game. The warm-up worked as Old Boys unexpectedly caught the home team on their heels and had several opportunities to advance on goal.
Scott Howe, cool in defence and advancing play upfield, was an indication that Old Boys were confident of taking an attacking position.
Then tragedy! Against the run of play, Cowichan were gifted an opportunity to capitalize on a rare Richard Steel mis-hit where he was left stranded as the opponent took full advantage to lift the shot over Steel’s head for the first goal. Oh no! How would the Old Boys react? Newly returned Mai after 20 years in the wilderness must have thought old habits never change. A period of chaos ensued and Cowichan player Dan “Robben” lifted a shot into the box that had Steel in conniptions.
Gradually, captain Tweddle restored order and Mai soon shed the rust of 20 years and found his touch to make contributions in the midfield. Mark Aston and Mike McCormick, making use of opportunities from Donny Brown, Pat and Harvey, began to exert pressure on Cowichan.
McCormick had in the warm-up been aiming for the bottom left of the net. Obviously the Cowichan keeper had not been observant because he dove to his left and McCormick calmly equalized 1-1.
Not to be outdone, an opportunity arose for McCormick to capitalize on an uncertainty in the Cowichan defence and he put the Old Boys up 2-1 just before the half-time whistle.
But Cowichan’s Sammy was determined to change the storyline and with a fine cross-field pass from Robben took a shot from 25 yards that as soon as it left his body you could tell Steel was in trouble. It started one way and then swirled to pass Steel without a chance in Hades of stopping it. A 2-2 tie. All to play for!
Dennis Shaw, now showing signs of distress, changed shirts with Steel. It worked last week, why not now?
Back and forth breakaways occurred at each end as stamina ebbed. After giving away a sitter to Robben, Shaw watched as the striker missed the open net completely. Minutes later in a one-on-one with Robben he managed what had to be the TSN Turning Point in the game when he made a double save that was the highlight of the second half.
Cooler talk was positive with opinion that travelling on the Queen of Slumberland and the Bowen Queen contribute greatly to the well-being of the team. This newfound concern by the BC Ferry Corporation for the needs of the Old Boys was welcomed. My only concerns relate to the fact that without fail on both Queens I have been parked at the elevator entrance or the washrooms. Methinks an electronic device been placed on the vehicle. The Deep State is still at work! Thanks, BC Ferries!
The ferry was relatively calm and relaxed with the team nursing bruises and bumps, so little, if anything, was made of the turf field debate, CRD Bylaw 4325 or the upcoming U.K. election and, of course, Old Boys have refused to name what many still trump as a success.
Boosted by Sunday’s effort, which saw them leave the field bloodied but not bowed, the Old Boys will face Zgoda 48s at Fortress GISS on Sunday, Dec. 15 at 10:30 a.m. Come out and support your team. Your team needs you!