Old Boys reveal calf-covering secret weapon

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By FRASER HOPE

DRIFTWOOD CONTRIBUTOR

Readers may think that theories and conspiracies are only to be found in the politics of impeachment or Brexit, but don’t be too sure that their invidious tentacles have not wormed their way into the Old Boys organization. 

How to account for the obvious influences of the Dark Arts that excluded Old Boys reporter Fraser Hope from all team communication this last week? Casually sitting having a leisurely cup on Sunday morning it occurred to Hope that there had been no emails concerning the game scheduled for Sunday at Frances Kelsey against Duncan 48s. Curiosity led to panic as investigation revealed a kickoff time of 10 a.m. 

Yikes! It was a scramble to feed the cats, get dressed, find pen and notebook — never mind the socks — and still make the 9:25 a.m. ferry to Crofton. (Readers will be glad to know Hope was not fully “commando” in dress!) Made the ferry, drove to Mill Bay and was able to witness and record for posterity the final 10 minutes of the first half.

As I hurried over the rugby field from the parking lot it was instructive to witness how slow the movement of both teams appeared. When you run the line up close, every action seems a blur. We are talking about all the Old Boys, not just Ben Cooper.

Suitably embarrassed, Hope stood on the grassy knoll as a detached observer, not wishing to distract from the project in hand. Old Boys had 12 men. Wow! Somewhat unexpected on a foul weather day in the Cowichan Valley with memories of the last two Battles of the Kelsey enough to provoke fear in the Bravest of Men. 

At first the Old Boys looked different somehow. Yes, those were the same faces in the same bodies. Ah! New socks! What a change in outfit can have on the confidence of a team. There will be call for new team shorts at least. 

Old Boys seemed in command in contrast to the home team’s less nuanced approach to tactics. Several chances gave promise of greater things to come from a 0-0 scoreline. Half-time came and Hope was bombarded with team facts so ludicrous that they were obviously “fake facts.” By varying reports it appeared Old Boys had run rampant with scores ranging from 5-0 to 8 or maybe even 10-goal leads.

Tweddle’s team talk for the restart was “The Socks Will Provide For Victory!” (a slogan that could have emanated from North Korea, Soviet Russia or the Long March).

So it was to be as the Old Boys grew in confidence knowing that their valiant efforts would be reported back to the Good People of Salt Spring.

The passing-out defence for goalkeeper Richard Steel onwards through Scott Howe and Martin Thorn, complemented by the silky touches of Dennis Shaw, Tweddle and Donny Brown, gave ample opportunities for the acting midfield trio of Dave Eadie, Matt Johnson, Cooper and Mike Berndt to provide ample opportunities for strikers David Toynbee and Mike McCormick to find the net to open the scoring. As the rain and wind dropped in intensity, the emotions grew more heated and pushing and shoving took some piece of the action.

Rising above the pettiness, Old Boys maintained their composure and after sustained pressure a Duncan clearance fell to the feet of Tweddle, who, staying true to his exhortation, shot from 25 yards into the top corner for a fine sock-inspired goal lead.  A certain caution crept into the Old Boys play, which allowed Duncan to put some pressure on the Old Boys net and Steel in goal had to cope with a couple of fierce shots.

As if to say “enough is enough,” the Old Boys swept downfield and after successive corner kicks a Johnson weighted pass gave Brown the opportunity to emulate his manager Tweddle with another ferocious shot that gave the keeper no chance for a comfortable 2-0 lead. Even a late goal by Duncan could not induce the usual Old Boys panic in defence and the team ran out worthy winners 2-1 in the Third Battle of the Kelsey. It almost went unnoticed that Toynbee was advised by the referee to take “a rest,” a polite euphemism for a red card. It is to the referee’s credit that he managed to keep his red and yellow cards safely out of sight.

Post-game analysis centred on the new socks and the cooler fund was toasted all around for the generous funding of the new red and black snazzy socks. Everyone was of course exhorted to increase the consumption of the fruit juices and bottled water to save for new shorts! Any talisman in a storm. 

The need for ferry sailings meant a virtual race to the terminal, a bit like in the movie The Italian Job (1969 and 2003) with three Minis being substituted by a Ford Focus, Dodge Ram truck and a Toyota Yaris. Readers will have to speculate which arrived at the terminal first.  

The winning car and driver came from Europe. Fifteen years of finding the short cuts that are not long cuts to reach the Crofton ferry in plenty of time paid dividends.  Ensconced in what passed for the Old Boys Executive Lounge on the MV Quinitsa (memo to BC Ferry Corporation: upgrade lounges), thoughts turned to the game and its influence on the rest of season. Yes, the “new socks” was indeed the MVP and the Thanksgiving break had given the battle worn a chance to heal, but once again rivalry between team units arose with the defence claiming all the glory and the attack complaining about the long grass making it difficult to get any power behind the shots, with the midfield suitably quiet, nodding their heads in silent approval.  

Reporter Hope kept requesting answers about the miscommunication. Had the Old Boys servers been hacked? Evasion and mumblings all around gave the conspiracy ever more credence that the whistleblower was being silenced. Reporter Hope suspects he is being fingered for the leaks from the dressing room. The Press will not be cowed! Truth Must Out!

The Old Boys try out their new socks next week at Victor Brodeur Field against Castaways 48s where it will be the usual clash with their nemesis Mr. Darcy. (The Castaways’ goalkeeper, not Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice character.) 

Hopefully Reporter Hope has been given the correct details and will not be sidelined as he almost was on Sunday. The black-tinted Cadillacs seem to be everywhere. Is reporter Hope overly paranoid or what?

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