Wednesday, 11 May 2016

Foot the ball comes to town...

Someone profound once said that footy (Guild Ball to give it its correct name) wasn't a game as such - it was more like war, but without the kindness and consideration. And footy had come to town...

It was good to tie your team's scarf to your wrist on match day - good for your health afterwards at any rate, it never hurt to be seen to be a home supporter (well not as much as it hurt to be seen to be an away supporter at any rate). Matt plunged his hand into his pocket and withdraw a coin and then slipped it back in. Said coin was earmarked for a match day meat pie, well, at least it was shaped like a pie and certainly contained meat - pondering on what kind of meat was probably not the wisest choice, although, to be honest, it was debatable that anyone buying a match day pie really cared. Picking a mangled can out of his pocket the boy dropped it onto the toe of his boot, balanced it for a moment, then flicked it into the air and, as it came down, hit it with a thunderous volley that sent it spinning into a nearby wall. Deftly he caught the rebound and placed it back into the depths of his pocket. It was time to get a move on, kick off was in thirty.

Rumour had it that the match was to be on the meadows, one could never be absolutely sure but the throng of blue and white scarf adorned fans heading for the West Gate seemed to suggest the rumour had more than an inking of truth.

So, it was learn Guild Ball day - well at least it was for Mr. C.  for me it was probably going to be learn what we have been doing wrong so far day. Numerous videos have been watched so I was fairly confident I had a handle on what was going on, if not what actually to do. First match I thought I would take my Fishermen '2nd' team with Shark. Later I wanted to try my '1st' Team with Corsair and Hemlocke swapped in. Two weeks to go until the comp in Leytonstone so I needed to be prepared. 

The match was a pre-season friendly, which meant no sharp edged weapons and a the teams would probably reign the viciousness in slightly. Like all matches however it was probably going to run the fine line between all out war and total genocidal berserkness. Technically the Tsunami were the home team, the town being a fishing town. But, as the away side resided in the small town (or overgrown hamlet) the other side of the lush meadows fan numbers wise it was going to be fairly even. So Matt sidled over to the side of the approach to the meadow  where the most blue and white was being worn (being careful not to step in the drain run off on the way - not that stepping in it would be the problem, going through the crust and into what lurked below would. Although, in fairness, a problem one would only have once, and even then, only for a very short time).

Someone had set up the two goals, one at either end of the lush, verdant meadow where the two teams were 'warming up'. Sports headology and science had advanced a long way in the preceding two years. Nowadays teams tended to arrive relatively sobber (with the obvious exception of the 'Occers' who belonged to the Brewers Guild and were, it was reported, responsible for keeping many of the hops growers in the South in business - and in a relative state of 'well offness') not eat too many pies before the match and indulge in warm up activities. These scientifically designed exercises, such as - chase the cow from the pitch, stretch an opposing supporter and the pectoral stretch known as 'hit the opposing captain with a dried pat' all meant the players could last longer on the pitch without the help of performance enhancing materials...

So the crowd grew, the noise heightened, the not so charming chants rolled over the normally peaceful meadow and the visiting Morticians Guild side kicked off - straight to Shark. A hush rippled around the crowd like a reverse Mexican Wave. Home supporters fell silent as the brains refused to admit anyone would do that, the visiting supporters fell silent in a desperate act of denial activity. A few seconds later the brains of hundreds of blue and white clad supporters caught up with reality and a storm of noise rolled down the pitch after the speeding figure of their beloved Captain 'Shark'. Heading for the biggest figure on the field 'Casket' - Shark seemed to be moving too fast to notice the foul odour that hung, mist like, around Casket. A shimmy to the left, a dropped shoulder, a step over and pivot and Shark seemed to propel forward like a longship on the crest of an autumn storm.

Pulling his leather clad foot back he walloped the ball between two defenders. With a hefty thud it crashed into the painted, oak coffin which served as the Morticians goal... Turning to acknowledge the crowd, a few ladies fainted as Shark ripped off his jerkin and slid on his knees, middle finger upright and pointing at the away fans' end. Only the fact that the fans were dazed, and the opposition players unprepared for such an event, saved him from a good kickin'.

Classic nooby's error there, Mr C had won the initiative but decided to kick off. Then kicked the ball as far as he could to the deadliest striker on the field... tough lesson learnt, but one that will never be repeated one feels. 

Bringing the ball out 'Graves' passed to the striker Bonesaw who then set off on a counter attack. Unfortunately for him Salt (the mascot Otter) was desperate to keep his place on the team as a new mascot had been seen lurking under some seaweed, in a tank, in the clubhouse (well local pub but the guys liked to sound posh). A rush in, a tackle and then a beautiful pass to the awaiting Angel. After deciding trying to out football the best football team in the Guilds was a rather punitive past time the Morticians took to dishing out some hurt. And that they did and a skirmish developed near the side line and for a moment the ball was forgotten. Only for a moment though as Angel skipped down the sideline, the crowd in full voice after seeing the fracas going on, and drove a shot goal-wards from  about twenty yards out. Again the meadow erupted in a cacophony of cheers and groans... The match on the field was over.

However, the unofficial match off the field (but in the meadow nonetheless) went on for a good few hours until someone shouted the pub was open and everyone traipsed off to get refreshed! Later everyone (well at least everyone in Matt's town) agreed the day had been a great success and the season was going to be a good one.

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