After our record breaking win in our last game we were up for this match as we were playing the team who we didn't lose to last season having had a hard fought draw and a last match of the season victory. Could we follow our record win (albeit against 9 men, two of which were our 'loaned' players) with a second victory and make it two wins on the bounce?
The omens weren't great as we were without our midfield engine room of Euan and Football Phil (back in sunny Scotland and taking his wife to the airport respectively. Eh? You serious? Hasn't she heard of taxis or Loymerbus?). I was still suffering from a serious bout of 'man cold' and Stevie Twiselton was coming down with 'man flu'. My wife, Debbie, didn't think I should play as she said my breathing during the night was laboured and she said she thought a few times I'd actually stopped breathing! “Well, take the pillow from over my face, then!”
I know most of the female readers won't understand but 'man cold' and 'man flu' are far more serious than normal cold/flu and in most cases it's a miracle we come through it but that's the nature of the male species. Childbirth, you're having a laugh. Imagine being in labour for 3-4 days solid and multiply by two and you're getting close to 'man cold' and 'man flu'.
I couldn't meet with the team at our usual spot and made my own way to Nerja sucking on a Fisherman's Friend to clear my blocked tubes. I was beginning to feel better as I made my way then my phone rang. Stevie Twiselton gave me an update on the rest of the team and who was making their way to the venue; we had nine players. Are we Maui in disguise? The tables had been turned and we would have to play with just nine players, two of whom were so close to death's door we had a hearse following us just in case.Arriving at Nerja we knew how Maui must have felt in our last match as Nerja Feliz had a squad big enough to play 11-a-side on their own. As I introduced myself to their manager and explained our plight he offered a couple of their players to make a game of it but, feeling increasingly fitter, I declined. I said that we'd see how it went by half-time as I was confident we could still give them a run for their money. (You see, 'man cold' can sometimes cloud your judgement so listen up, ladies, and remember, next time your man catches this dreaded disease, the suffering he goes through, mainly in silence)
Mick had been brought out of retirement to make up our team of nine and for regular readers you may remember Mick was 'unretired' then retired in a matter of minutes, some weeks ago. This time he was to don his boots for real for the first time in 35 years and expected to pull his weight. Bring back that Golden Boot we bought for your retirement gift, Mick, we need the cash to sign more players. You can see from the accompanying photo (Opposite Page)) how alert Mick still looks despite his seniority. Like a coiled spring. The thing is he didn't move much from that position all match. (Only pulling your leg, Mick) Damo turned up to watch and couldn't be persuaded to go between the posts to make up the numbers as he is suffering from bad knees and needed them for his work. Some people are so selfish and think only of their livelihoods. He was to shout encouragement from the terraces.
We kicked off and literally within 2 minutes we were 1-0 down. I have to say I take responsibility for their first goal as their forward turned me on the edge of our box before firing home. I'd been slower than usual and the Fisherman's Friend was still taking time to take effect. We then settled into the game and despite only fielding nine players, two of whom were still having their every move tracked by The Grim Reaper, we were doing OK. Mick was certainly not lost amongst the younger players and was doing more than just making up the numbers – it's amazing what Sanatogen can do for you.
Up front we had Tom and Sam running their socks off supported by Jamie, who was a mate of Sams and had been dragged from his pit to help out. I'm sure the first he really knew he was playing a game of football was when he was forced to head the ball clear and was stunned out of his slumber. “Eh, what? Ouch! Gary Lin…..eh….what the f…..turn the light off…..it's like the sun….what are all these people doing in my bedroom?….!”
Vinny was doing his best to make a nuisance of himself in midfield but true to form he was making a nuisance of himself by not shutting up and going on if one of us made a mistake. Sam was making some good saves in goal and between Stevie Twiselton, Simon the Pieman and myself we were doing our best to keep them at bay. Evidence to that testament is the photo (opposite Page) showing Steve and I moving in at great speed to sandwich their forward as he was about to 'pull the trigger'. The next photo in the sequence had to be censored to protect those of a nervous disposition. To be fair we were doing a decent job despite the early goal but we didn't really threaten their goal. They managed just two more goals before half-time and we went in 3-0 down, which was a good effort with nine men, two on death´s door and one who should be doing a bit of gentle gardening in his allotment.
As I could see we were tiring and with another half to play I went over to their manager to take him up on his offer of a few extra men to make a game of it. Clearly they'd had second thoughts and he said their guys felt they'd prefer the points so weren't going to entertain it. In a way we drew confidence from that as we realized they thought they might struggle if the numbers were equal. We had them worried. But we were knackered. As a sop to our request their manager said he'd play in defence for us so we took him up on the offer. With all due respect to him and with a thank you for his help, he was a big lad and took up the space of two defenders. Suddenly we were almost equal in numbers.
The second half started and we were 4-0 down before we got a free-kick on the edge of their box. Vinny stepped up Robinho style (a few pounds heavier, granted) and managed to find the back of the net with a low taken shot into the corner of the net. Only three more needed to draw level. We still pressed and won a few corners one of which I managed to get a foot on only for Jamie to take over and fire wide. Maybe he was still asleep. Despite this they still managed two more goals before the end but as the final whistle approached we had one final chance. As the ball came over from the wing Stevie Twiselton managed to get a head on it only to see the ball hit the post. A valiant effort for one suffering man flu. The full time whistle went and the Grim Reaper skulked out of the ground empty handed. We'd put up a good fight in the circumstances and they certainly knew they'd been in a game despite the result, 6-1, which didn´t reflect our efforts. Special mention must go to Sam Fulleylove in attack who ran his socks off up front and from the watching throngs of our supporters was voted Man of the Match.
So it was back to Cómpeta and a power Lemsip for Stevie Twiselton and I to continue our fight against man flu/cold and get ready for the season to start again after the Christmas and New Year break. Going into the break the league table looked like this: