BY FRASER HOPE
All week Old Boys coach Graham Tweddle begged, pleaded and even plastered posters at strategic points throughout the island with the message “Your Team Needs You,” hoping to avoid the ignominy of a cancellation with the scheduled game versus Cowichan Classics in Mill Bay.
Injuries to key personnel saw only nine Old Boys answer Lord Kitchener Tweddle’s call for more troops because, let’s be clear, it usually is “war” when Salt Spring plays Cowichan or Duncan.
A Fellini nightmare scenario was in the offing with Tweddle starring as the dispirited coach suffering from creative inspiration as he tries to direct the Old Boys in an epic struggle against one of the best teams in the league.
Team transport was whittled down to three vehicles as the ferry traffic threatened a one-sailing wait for late arrivals. A Salt Spring Ferry Advisory Committee member was on hand to provide updates about the BC Ferry Corporation’s plans to bring order to the expected chaos of the upcoming summer schedules, much like Tweddle’s plans for the game: order out of chaos.
So into the Cowichan Valley of Death rode the nine Old Boys. Off-island shoppers to the right of them! Off-island shoppers to the left of them! Off-island shoppers to the front of them!
Bolstered by two of Cowichan’s finest reserves, the Old Boys started off like Scotland’s national team. Not a good start then! They were two goals down to the opposition, in Scotland’s case Kazakhstan, in the opening minutes. The advantage of surprise saw goalkeeper Richard Steel, one of the walking wounded, outdone by a magnificent 40-yard shot that dipped at the last to come off the crossbar for the early lead. Within minutes the speedy upfront home attackers used the wide-open steppes of Kazakhstan to sweep in behind the Old Boys’ defence for the second.
But true to the fighting spirit of previous matches, Old Boys roared back and a shot from David Toynbee, ably assisted by Mike McCormick, had enough power to break through the goalie’s gloves to cut the deficit. Lo and behold the same duo managed to work into a goal-scoring position, helped by some deft footwork from Andrew Haigh, to equalize the score to the consternation of all at the field.
The Cowichan coach had a fit of apoplexy, berating his team in German for their casual approach. “Just Don’t Talk About the War!” (Fawlty Towers BBC 1975-79.)
Disaster coach Tweddle left the field with a pulled hamstring after trying valiantly for the lead. The team was up the creek now with no coach, never mind a paddle. Cowichan pressed their continuing advantage and passed up bountiful opportunities to bury the Old Boys. Half-time came with the score tied at 2-2. The greatest heist since The Great Train Robbery of the ‘60s!
Against all evidence to the contrary, the Old Boys now felt a win was well within their grasp.
As the second half wore on, the game became a little more testy. Players on both sides niggled at each other and the referee was having some difficulty in bringing about peace in our time.
Over-exuberance in the counter-attack saw Cowichan on a half-way break that left Steel facing three possible scenarios for saves but each with little chance of success. Cowichan took a 3-2 lead.
Toynbee then was caught reacting to an upturned boot and was dismissed from the field by the ref. It was a golden hattrick: two goals and a red card all in the same game! A first for the Old Boys archives.
Shortly afterwards, Dave McColl interacted “forcibly” and was warned by the referee. Not surprisingly in “shadowing” an attacking forward into the penalty box, a stumble was interpreted by the ref as a blatant foul and a penalty ensued, giving Steel no chance.
McColl was red carded and joined Toynbee on the sidelines to enjoy the warm sunshine. Two Daves. Good name for a pop group! The referee, deciding that his control of the game was slipping, (a bit like Theresa May and her Cabinet) blew for an early full-time. The Battle of Frances Kelsey was over with a 4-2 win for Cowichan.
The ferry schedule out of Crofton allowed more time than usual for postgame analysis around the cooler. Thoughts revolved around the parentage of the referee, but as the saying goes, “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life” (Monty Python Eric Idle 1979).
Natural Resources Canada’s cartography section and Google Maps have been asked to update their maps with a crossed-sword symbol to mark The Battle of Kelsey Field 2019. In fact, they should wait one week before updating as the Old Boys play the other half of the Devil’s spawn, Duncan 48s, at the same location, Frances Kelsey Field in Mill Bay on Sunday, March 31 at high noon.
Black balaclavas will be issued to whoever turns up to play for the Old Boys in memory of the Battle of Balaclava, Crimean War 1854 and the First Battle of Frances Kelsey, 2019.