After navigator Roger Betts had given driver Trevor Phillips a detailed and intensive tour of North-East Kent suburbia we eventually arrived at the superb facilities that is The Sports Centre, Strood.
After some discussion on the rules both managers eventually settled for 8-a-side over 4 x 15 minute quarters. An unusual format which probably worked to our advantage in the end.
Medway started in bullish and confident mood and seemed somewhat surprised by the movement and sublime interchanges between the Canterbury players. They were even more surprised, stunned even, when Fishlock (The Sword) sliced through their defence and unleashed a thunderbolt which was still rising when it smashed into the back of the home team’s net. Canterbury were soon 2 – 0 to the good when Phillips shot across the keeper into the far corner. The Medway team rallied and soon pulled one back when a shot from range ‘a la Fishlock’ curled round a group of defenders to leave keeper Jan (Iron Curtain) Knott unsighted, just inside the post. Game on!
The Sword (Fishlock) strikes again 3 – 1 to the boys. Then controversy. Steve (Jaap Stam) Mundin shields the ball on the edge of the ‘D’ and toes it back to the keeper. 6 Medway players and the lady making the sandwiches 50 yards away in the canteen shout “PENALTY”. After a pause that seemed like an eternity – the referee blows up – penalty, Jaap Stam is mystified and starts thumbing through his mobile to find the number of ‘a bloke he knows’ in Amsterdam. Keeper Knott almost saves the pen – but it creeps under his body – temporary demoralisation sets in and the Canterbury team soon find themselves on level terms by the halfway stage. 3 – 3
Peter (The Wolf) arrives and it becomes 9-a-side; he’s wearing a Wolves home shirt – is this an omen?
Canterbury resume the game after the break determined to take the fight to the home side – slick inter-passing, backing each other up, talking to each other, working hard – a better display of fortitude has not been witnessed since 300 Spartans stemmed the tide of a million Persian Warriors in 480 B.C. Iron Curtain, Knott adopted a policy of “Nothing is coming past me until hell freezes over.” Defenders Mundin, Betts and Ballantyne were Lions, savaging any humans that were foolish enough to enter their domain. Midfielders, Fishlock, McMullen, Butcher and Morris bamboozled their Medway counterparts with movements that would make Carlos Acosta hang his head in shame – “It was ballet I tell ya! F**king Ballet!”
Another thunderbolt from McMullen – back of the net – 2 more from Phillips – back of the net – Butcher – back of the net.. Bish bash bosh. Medway put to the sword. Phillips bagged 5 – but that’s his job. 1 was disallowed for ‘running’ (running my arse!) The best of which was a left foot volley from a sharp angle, which whistled past the keeper’s ear at such speed that it broke the sound barrier, was still rising when it crashed onto the underside of the bar, still accelerating when it smashed against the far post and into the net. Sublime. Result 8 – 3 win.
This was a truly magnificent team performance – Stars in their eyes – “Today Matthew, we are going to be……………BARCELONA!”