Old Meadonians VII 2-1 Clapham Old Xaverians V (1-1 at half time)
Riverside Lands - Saturday 10th February 2007
Report by Michael Green
In 1916, British soldiers fighting for our country’s freedom were knee-deep in mud, covered in dirt, covered in blood, a mass of bodies holding onto each other, memories of life held for rare moments of comfort. Rallying cries were heard all around, waiting for the order to go over the top… Maintaining position in their trenches, sodden, crooked, facing death. This was the battle of the Somme. On February 10th 2007, Meads 7’s came the closest they’ve ever been to such a battle. They faced Clapham, a team notorious for cheating, a team notorious for filth, a team full of scum-bags. With Sergeant Mallet already drawing from his ancient relic of a scout Corporal Nick Holmes, the team were informed early doors what to expect. Our young troops gathered in room M4 in the clubhouse barracks before embarking. All 14 soldiers looking in each other’s eyes knowing that they’d have to scrap, knowing they’d have to punish their own bodies, lay their lives on the line for the most important victory of the season so far. They’d seen war before but what was ahead of them, no-one could prepare for.
After intravenously pumping their veins full of Lucozade sport, private Ed Haxton and Private Ryan Kohn took time out from swapping gym stories and took to the field. Ryan’s animalistic stare would have to be deterred from Ed’s body crafted by the Gods at some point. Skip and Major Green once again formed a partnership for the back line of defence adding Privates Rowland and Fisher respectively to their ranks with Tony “The Tiger” Wallace on standby. With such decorated figures as Jacobs, Trotter and Yorath missing, 65% of Meads Army’s firepower was down. Drafted in were privates Rhys-Dee and Richards with Brigadier Ringo on standby. From the foreign legion, Gringos Castella and Adrados (“Jorge”) were added from the Spanish Armada and from the land of breasts, blondes, yellow & blue, porn, jugs and meatballs came lieutenant Alexander Goodwille, the Good Will ambassador of Sweden. Sergeant Mallet looked around him, surveying the land, taking it all in. His 14-man team took to the ground early, the familiar two trenches near the goal-mouth posing no problem during warm-up. Orders were barked, nutmegs were had (Hi Ed), much sought after hydration liquor was passed around after many had been to see their loved ones the night before battle. Some even leaving late messages at 4:30am. All now forgotten as the enemy approached. War veteran General Peter Busby showed his displeasure at one particular goal-mouth’s condition. Sergeant Lee promptly backhanded him round the face and made him drop and give him 20. We were ready. We huddled close, real close, some closer than others, Ed and Ry had to be separated, there are no gays in the army, and we waited. We waited with bated breath, limber limbs, eager eyes and clenched cheeks. We were moments away…
The whistle’s shrill shriek pierced our ears and away we went, 1ST HALF was up and running Meads charging forward at every opportunity. On such a muddy and sticky terrain there wasn’t much time for fancy footwork but our central partnership of Haxton and Kohn were flying into every challenge with bravery and guile. Up top, Adam Rhys-Dee, an actor by trade, was winning all of his one-on-one battles, many times against a man twice his size. Michael Richards, often mistaken for Michael Green in social circles, was magnificent in holding up the ball, beating men with slyness, turning quickly and punishing with clever feet. Good Will ambassador Goodwille was out of position on the right flank but despite being pumped full of all sorts of drugs after government testing, he threw himself into combat often linking up with MR, AR-D and LF. It was Goodwille who provided the enemy’s first scare, after a venomous corner from the little Cheating Spaniard (affectionately known as) the Clapham defence failed to clear. Goodwille found himself some space and fired a fierce half volley goal-wards only to see it cannon off the post and away from danger.
At the back there were examples being set. LF in the RB position was immaculate and calculating in his distribution. GPCC Captain Skip Lee was showing all the traits of a footballing hero with last-ditch challenges and sensible defending against an enemy front-line who posed a relentless physical battle and a malicious mouth. Whenever the back-line was breached Lee was on hand to eliminate the threat. Meads are truly lucky to have such a talented Goalkeeper in their side one who leads by example and breathes confidence right down the spine of his men. On quite a subdued pitch it was Kohn and Lee who were heard the most, rallying their men at every stoppage. However there was a louder sound that would become more and more prominent throughout this battle.
After a few opportunities for both Raging Rhys-Dee and Ravishing Richards it was the smaller of this little and large partnership that bagged a goal. Steadying himself under pressure, Rhys-D fired a hard, low and tricky shot under the goalkeeper who’s handling left much to be desired. It was a well-deserved goal for the team but especially for Juan Pablo Rhys-Dee who justified his starting place with every ounce of effort he put in. 1-0 up and back to 0-0 Meads started over, the feeling of glory short-lived. Posing an obvious threat at set-pieces Meads failed to deal with a Clapham corner more than once and were punished at the back post as Fat-Fuck Utd (affectionately known as) brought the game back to 1-1.
Their captain, no.16, pissed and moaned his way into countless conversations with war veteran ref Busby who had limited vision and impaired judgement – his leadership was questionable, encouraging fouls and cheating at every opportunity. A Nazi regime. These tactics are not uncommon in amateur football, but useless against a Meads team fired up for success. The afore-mentioned sound was now apparent on the pitch. It was coming from a power source that no-one expected. In every challenge, every one on one, every header, Private Greg Rowland was coming out on top. His breathtaking stamina, never say die attitude and warrior-like exhalation of breath and sound when clearing the ball had him likened to sporting legend Monica Seles by our Gaffer. There was nothing girly about his performance in the 1st half and there were 45 mins still to go.
HALF TIME TEAMTALK SUMMARY:
Self-belief. Teamwork. Ask yourself, How much do you want this? Fight. Who’d like an orange. Win every single one of your battles. League is priority, we want to put them in second place. C’MON MEADS LET’S FUCKIN AVE EM!
The war cries could be heard from miles around, Rowland’s war cry floored Daniela Castella who was picked back up by his compadré, dusted down and slipped the tongue in a strictly team-bonding fashion. Ed and Ry were inseparable. The 2ND HALF was an end to end siege, Clapham using the flanks well and peppering our area with aerial attacks. Anything they tried down their right flank was viciously rammed straight back down their throats by Rowland, and on the rare occasion they did find joy or were helped by veteran Busby, Skip would pull a last minute tackle out the bag and then Sergeant Lee was there to save the day. Half-chances came and went, possession was at a premium, the mud becoming an increasing obstacle. Cynical fouls by the oppo only inspired more from Meads. Alex Goodwille suddenly got hit with uncontrollable drug-induced stomach cramps and had to go off. Jorgé Porgé came on and filled in on the right flank showing lightness of foot and deftness of touch. Our set-pieces were squandered and time was running out.
Matty Ringadingadingo replaced Castella and added much needed bite. Clapham brought on a poor man’s Ya-Ya whose contribution was to provide us with free kicks in our own half. With 4 minutes on the pocket-watch and after being foiled by Skip twice, the oppo’s sub gave away another free-kick which 1st Battalion Private Green stood over. Looking up and picking his spot he floated a 30 yard ball over the top which Ravishing Mick Rude Richards latched onto with style. The ball bounced at a teasing height and as the fat fuck goalie approached him, Mikey lifted the ball on the volley over his head and into the gaping net before peeling away to join his men in a mass celebration! 2-1 up and with minutes to victory, Company Sergeant Major Mallet was furious with his team at such jubilant scenes as there was still a job to do. Greg on the left now was winning the match all by himself, everything he did was met with determination, grit and with a manly and shiver-inducing growl. Clapham had no reply to such a team as Meads and after fighting for every inch Busby blew his whistle and sounded out Meads’ victory.
This was truly a battle that will be remembered for years to come. Meads 7’s are a team whose spirit, bravery and most importantly, football is of the highest quality and un-matched by few at their level. Before the match, Manager Lee had re-iterated that the League was his priority, by the end of the match he was leading the chant of “WE ARE TOP OF THE LEAGUE SAY WE ARE TOP OF THE LEAGUE!”
Man of the Match medal awarded to Greg Rowland
T Lee, L Fisher, G Rowland, E Haxton, M Green, N Lee, A Goodwille (J Adrados – 65 (T Wallace – 88)), R Kohn, A Rhys Dee, M Richards, D Castella Delgado (M Ring – 85)
Goals: Rhys Dee 20