More action than a Game of Thrones episode
Paul EmeryIt finally arrives – the first game of the season to defend our League Championship status. Just as the eagerly anticipated and start of the Game of Thrones series, this opening episode did not disappoint. From what initially appeared to be a struggle to get 11 players on the park, turned into ‘everyone who was anyone’ standing up for the Legends cause. This was no fantasy drama series. This was reality, with 17 players donning the City battle shirts and a further 5 prepared as reinforcements, should the need arise. The changing room was buzzing and like Winterfell, the Welsh dragon rose from his plastic throne and formally welcomed the 2019 cast, old and new. Announcing his master plan for the match, two self-declared defenders were to be our forwards – so onwards and upwards, let’s bring on the action. Such was the occasion a photo opportunity was immediately called and meticulous attention paid to both the Captain’s armband and the framing of the two new Masita balls. And in a most unusual scene before the cameras rolled, Jon Snow (The Gaffer) was witnessed playing keepy-up headers and offering very friendly handshakes with his ‘most liked’ referee, even before the match kicked off. The opening 20 minutes of the battle proved frantic. While City dominated they couldn’t pierce the physical and resilient Palace defence. However, driven by some excellent Sinclair flurries from defence, new centre forward White, shooting from outside the box, nearly had a hat-trick before half time. From a throw from Sims on the left, the ball ended up on the right where Parks appeared to miss-control the ball into a Sandringham hand. Clear penalty, and as an experienced centre forward (?), Parks coolly slotted home from the spot. 1-0 City. This seemed to inspire Sandringham. Firstly, they began questioning every referee’s decision – I bet they wished they had joined in the keepy-up tactic at the start now. Secondly, there commenced a personal battle between Tyrion (Scafrace) and his opposite number on the right wing. After two thrusts into the ribs, Tyrion gave away a free kick from which Bron (John Mc) calmly saved a 20 metre shot. Through good positioning and assured ball play, Legend’s defence of Scaface, Sinclair, Jenkins and Rathner, appeared solid and were never really troubled in the first half. However on attack, wayward passes and Sandringham’s high back line, read too many offsides, meant that possession was not converted to goals. With this mind and from the heated battlefield, the call was heard – send on “the Wall”. Yes this season, with intense media pressure upon us, tactics have become more advanced. In this case the pre-game code meant Gregor (Dyksie) – strip off as it’s time to warm-up! Some good interplay between Hughes, Parks and then a lovely return pass from Sims, opened up the heart of the regal Palace creating a Parks one-on-one with their keeper. A dainty touch saw his shot go towards the net and somehow a very determined Sandy defender cleared the ball on the line just as the whistle blew for halftime. So with television adverts at a premium, it was a closed 1-0 half time team talk, and yes Gregor was still doing his warm-up laps. Four substitutions were made, and with Gregor, Lamb, Harrison and Stock entering the affray, Hughes and White became the new engine in the centre of midfield. This proved another fortuitous tactic, as the tiring Sandringham team were opened up on many occasions by short sharp passes. Some good movement and interplays down the left flank between Gregor and Hughes saw Lamb continually outrun his tiring marker. Yes this wasn’t a typo, it does appear that Lambie is three inches quicker than last season, or was this merely due to the presence of his borrowed kids’ shin pads for this game? Regardless, having earned a couple of corners, Lamb then produced a copybook cross to double the scoring. From a crowded box, unmarked Parksie jumped, floated, and powered his header home making it 2-0. The Legends fans (!!) were in disbelief. Was this truly happening? Something previously trained for, but had never actually materialised without defenders, had now miraculously occurred in a match situation. Even more concerning, no one looked surprised!! Having seen Emery dispossess an opponent and then used as cannon fodder (kicked three times before the referee blew his whistle), Gendry (White) took matters in his own hands and surgically removed Palace’s 16 year olds legs. In fairness the smiling assassin did apologise, but was deservedly shown a yellow card for his efforts. However, with locks flowing in the heat of battle, Gendry then made amends. He drove through the centre and beautifully dissected the Sandringham defence with a pass that Parksie found at his feet. With goalkeeper standing in concrete, Martin smiled and slotted home. His only worry, at his age how was he going to celebrate his first hat-trick since his under 16 playing days? Smiles were everywhere and Hughsie (Joffrey) even tried to claim some credit, suggesting that his kung-fu panda pass had initiated the move. Regardless 3-0 it was. As the game opened up chances became available at both ends. A second brilliant corner by Lambie, was nearly a replica of the earlier goal. On this occasion though, Harrison similarly lost his marker, headed cleanly, but unfortunately narrowly went past the post. In fairness Sandringham never gave up and their under 16 player found his legs again, testing some old warrior legs in the process. Fortunately Stock (Bran) controlled him well and on at least two occasions stopped him in his tracks to thwart the danger. Continually chasing us down, Sandringham started to collectively pressure our defence and earned a few corners. From one of these Bron saved a point blank shot before Emery cleared the lines. Shortly afterwards, Big Bron pushed another long range shot over, but was well beaten by a powerful and well placed Sandringham shot that made the score 3-1. With the wrath of The Gaffer heard across the grounds and the Seven Kingdoms up for grabs, the Westeros Legends started to apply their own pressure on the Sandringham armies. One of their soldiers/defenders, under heavy pressure from Parksie, kicked it straight at him and it rebounded 5 metres behind him in the path of a marauding Harrison. No surprises, Harri enthusiastically slotted home to make it 4-1 and as good as end the battle. Implementing today’s incest GoT script to the letter, Martin claimed he was an as”sister” in the goal! But just when you thought there was no more to the first episode of the series, there was plenty more!! Further substitutions meant Moore and Daenerys (Brown) entered the affray for the last five minutes of the match. With his first touch, a good Sims cross from the right, nearly fell to Daenery to tap in from 5 yards. Not sure what happened next but I know no goal resulted. Shortly after this, the ever running Moore chased what appeared to be a lost cause down the left. In stopping the ball inches before it went out of play, he then squared up the keeper and passed it to a well-placed Daenery to finish off. Three theories prevail as to why this was never converted.
- As the current queen of GoT and Legends lead goal scorer before this game, he was too busy smiling at the camera man behind the goal – showing off both his new ‘very comfortable’ Nike boots and go faster haircut.
- He suddenly heard the victory bagpipes of the battlefield and his ghillies were immediately programmed into performing a Highland fling.
- He is a Scottish forward and wanted to make those City tossers understand his misfortune.
|MMM||Memorable moments – The turn-up/support by so many Legends players/actors AND the Gaffer’s unfailing tactics coming through yet again!|
|MMM||Muppet moments 1) White – a booking for leg removal and an unpressured pass directly to their centre forward to encourage them to shoot. 2) Harrison – for falling over the ball on a dribble and then pretending he was a rugby player scoring a try. 3) Brown – for five minutes of hilarity and plenty of subject matter for us to discuss in the bar afterwards!|
|BMW BoP||Park – ability to use his head, his right and left foot to score a hat trick; audacity to claim an assist, miss an open goal, spend some time on the bench, and still request one of our new Masita balls as a keepsake!!|