City Survive a Potential Banana Skin

Paul Emery

As “Legend”ary folklore goes, road trips to Sandringham are always a great escape from the asylum, and this day proved to be no exception. With memories of late Hungry Jack arrivals, last minute goals, “ordinary” refs, and Brownie’s love of scoring at this ground, today was special. No, not because it was sunny for once or an Election day, but because there were four committee members in one car and we were officially quorate!!

Such was the riveting conversation/decision making of our journey down, our Uber driver/medical prof decided to take the scenic route. However, after a full 45 minutes, we somehow drove past our Doncaster home ground! By this stage though, we had already discussed politics, every Legend players medical x-rays and options, Harrison’s imminent wedding, what to do in the event of a nuclear attack, the Club’s next social event, a Legend’s investment in a retirement home, and of course received the two customary pre-match telephone calls asking “what time is kick off again?”

After sharing the last of our Voltaren medications, we somehow arrived … to our political canvassing friends (read Legend members), greeting us with open arms, just to make sure they got their preferred shirt. Our hosts kindly invited us to share their changing room/goldfish bowl, something that they may have regretted when Lambie started telling them about his goal of the century! However, after about 10 minutes, he clearly realised that DVD sales were not going to enhance his retirement fund. 

More importantly after a quick head count we noticed we only had 10 players. Rest assured chaps, our 11th player, Baz was on his way … to where, no-one was brave enough to ask. As the Gaffer shared his lifelong lessons on how to play on grass and having checked all bunkers this time, he announced the team that included MJ as right fullback – the shock on his face, priceless!! As someone was explaining to Michael what defenders do (where’s Eddie when you need him?), the Gaffer gave us the good news (hmmm!) that we won the toss and were playing up hill.

The game started at a frenetic pace with vociferous offside calls at both ends being ignored by the ref.

Caridi, understandably a bit ratty as he’d just finished his night shift, then decided to rub an enemy pirate up the wrong way. Before, during and after the ball skirmishes between the two, became commonplace occurrences for the next 10 minutes. My only thought was that this was perhaps a time wasting tactic until Baz arrived. Regardless, it seemed to be working because after another off the ball incident, Caridi had a heated tête-à-tête with the ref who at the end of the discussion asked him “what do you think I should do?” Oh dear, if this was how the referee was going to run the game, perhaps we had better put a muzzle on MJ now.

Ron, either must have had a full night’s sleep for once or had an out of body experience, as he suddenly took the initiative and became a true gentleman on the park. After a good interplay between midfield and forwards, he found himself in the opponent’s box. Whereas he normally falls over at this high altitude, on this occasion and just as he was about to shoot, he stopped, put his hand up, and said “Ref I handballed it”.

The New Ron lasted for about 10 minutes, when he rough and tumbled with his opposite number. Whilst he acknowledged he was the instigator of the rightly awarded free kick, his much bigger opponent was not best pleased, muttering something about “you’ve got another 70 minutes to survive this match”!!

Ron continued with his normal determined play but now he appeared to have enemies everywhere. Firstly from point blank range he was struck with a ball by the opponents, and just as he was getting up, one of our players did exactly the same but harder. As he was checking his crown jewels down his shorts, he asked for some breathing time. His pleas were immediately ignored because our new defender, Jenkins senior, tried to throw him the ball, remembering his “take a throw early mantra” from the Gaffer’s 30 second induction programme of being a defender.

Fortunately Baz then arrived, making an immediate impact by stripping in front of Paul’s/our female cheer squad. With eleven on the park, albeit Baz with an injured glut, Ron with an injured whatever, and energy sapping conditions, we perhaps surprisingly started to dominate play.

With our forwards, Stevie B and Paul C’s diagonal runs pulling their fullbacks out of position, the inside channels opened up for our midfield to craft their through balls on which to chase. Both forwards had good one on one opportunities with the keeper that were either well saved or went just wide.

From a resulting corner and crowded area, the ball fell nicely to Paul E at the edge of the box. As their defenders backed off his sweetly struck shot hit the back of the net. 1-0 City. Good to score first but as per last year we knew their never say die attitude would take the match to the full 90 minutes of play.

Fortunately a second goal followed shortly afterwards. From an opponent kicking the ball into Emery’s mid region, we regained possession and after a quick intake of breath, he played a through ball to Paul C. Despite more claims of offside, the referee ruled in our favour and with Johnny Depp on his backside, Caridi lined up his favourite right foot pile driver shot and gave the goalkeeper no chance from close range. Breaking his duck for the season and with his chest puffed out, a wink to or was it from his new wife, meant that everyone was happy, apart from the Sandie pirate.

Counter attacking plays were also experienced at our own end in this first half. But with the new partnership of Little (RS) and Large (GJ) in central defence, two forwards as wing backs (MJ and EL), and Flouro Cat’s (ES) good positional sense, a clean sheet was deservedly kept for this half.

The half time activities are always a fun time to source a reporter’s gossip column and yes Lambie duly obliged. As a full back with little opportunity to get on the score sheet today, he decided to enjoy his day another way. Lifting up his shirt, and going down on all fours, Ray was the lucky volunteer who was asked to get behind him and give him a good rub!! As we already know this Maltese warrior would do anything for his fellow men. From playing with stitches and bruised ribs to ensure there was eleven on the park, to travelling to a family event at Echuca immediately after the game. But really, was Eric’s “Goal of the season’s Scorer massage” really on his job description?

However, perhaps the mere sight of this indecent act put us all off our game, because the second half started with us completely slipping up on the infamous banana. Straight from the Sandie kick off and within 5 seconds and just four touches of the ball, it was in the back of our net!! All I remember was Gary shouting “Goalie’s?”, having an air kick, and then issuing the “Oh shit” as their forward poked the ball past The Cat in goal. Just as a recap, and for Brownie and Erick’s sake, no this wasn’t from last week’s match, this was a similar brain fade and indeed a very generous act that gifted them their goal!

Oh well at least it made the game interesting and allowed the old Ron that we love and know, escape from his personality disorder, and issue sprays at everyone who was either in possession or not in possession of the ball!

The second half of the match was a long and painful affair with Sandringham pressing hard for an equaliser that would open up this game.

However, of the counter attacks we had, we did come close to extending our lead. First there was a long range shot by Michael that went just wide, before he quickly returned to his new and well performed defensive role.

Shortly after this Paul C played one touch rebound football with their goalkeeper and as his third attempt went wide, he held his head in hands before recalling the moment “f…, f…, f….”!  

Next followed a pin point cross from Lambie that Steve headed “perfectly … just where I wanted it to go” – had anyone told him that this was the wrong side of the post?

And then was Paul Em’s dart down the right and cross to John on the far post who again struck the ball cleanly from 5 metres out boasting “at least it I hit the post this time”. From the other end of the pitch, Smee was heard to add “Even I would have scored that one” to stir up the team’s competitive juices.

In fairness, with very tired bodies the last 10 minutes of the match Sandie dominated us. We appeared to be camped in our own half merely defending corners. In this phase of the game, John and Ron’s defensive cover were exemplary, as was Erick’s goalkeeping and command of “his” 6 yard box. In heavily congested territory, he now realised this flouro top enabled him to believe he really was a goalkeeper. This meant he was punching everything clear and on the one occasion he was beaten, a brilliant bouncing Ron jumped, hung and somehow headed a goal bound shot clear inches from the underside of the bar!        

We were all more than relieved when the final whistle went and were happy to realise that we truly survived this particular banana skin – unlike other politicians on this day!

As they ALWAYS do, Sandie then treated us to their excellent company, free food and free booze (worth the trip in itself). To this they added a game of football to watch, continued blue skies, the how to of red wine making, and a full scale hilarious comedy show starring Frank Spano. This indeed was the adult version of “The logistics of working with idiots to wash the Sandie kit”!!!

With smiles and tired bodies we headed home and the committee Think Tank started all over again!

It’s never a dull day at the Legend office. This was a hard fought and ground out win with plenty of Warrior tales to add to our growing history.

MMM Memorable moments – The support by United players who braved the long travel and various injuries to participate in yet another memorable tale.
MMM Muppet moments – The Gaffer for completely “mis-judging the ball, its’ speed, its’ bounce and my own reaction time.”

[Apart from this he had a bloody good game]
BMW BoP Ron Sinclair, for his continued 90 minutes of determined effort, his personality change which led to that final and very memorable save off the line!!

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