Game 6. Season 35. Calamari, pork chops and a slice of vengeance served cold

 “You’re doing the match report Calamari”. Fuck. Wish I paid attention to the game.  All right then. Here I am over 24 hours later, trying to remember all the details, the minutiae, the events, the highs, the lows, the turning points. Then I remember a quote on the wall as I left the pub after the game. It read;

“Glory lies in the attempt to reach one’s goals and not in reaching it.” Mahatma Ghandi

Let’s for now assume this is not a load of bollocks. Let’s not concern ourselves with why the hell this would be on the wall of a pub. Let’s say Gandhi was bang on, because that would mean then the Bombers effort against Mirimar (or whoever the hell it was) was one of the most glory-stuffed 90 minutes of football ever played by this collective of misfits. But I get ahead of myself…

I should have known it was going to be an odd afternoon when arriving at the game, the earlier game on Nairnville 2 (or whatever the hell pitch we were on) had a goalkeeper almost throwing the ball into his own net. He doesn’t say a word, nor do his defence. Does it happen often? SoG is yelling at the players like he is the coach. I ask him who he knows in the game. “No one” he says. 5 minutes at the ground and it’s already weird.

Bombers get changed and I hear a sentence I did not want to hear, “Calamari makes 11”. 90 minutes of football? Shit. I hope at least one more shows up. I was wrong, seven more show up. Assistant Gardener is there as well and he will referee. 19 bombers will be on the pitch over the course of the game. 19 Bombers. More weird.

“Come together” says AG and instantly I feel like I am home. Those familiar words snap my mind back to reality. That’s more like it. Then he quotes poetry. Fuck, it’s getting weird again.

“We have 7 subs” says AG. “They look short-handed so let’s run them ragged”. That could be one of the funniest things AG has ever said. “OK, positions. Sort yourselves out”. This could be the silliest thing AG has ever said. When the Bombers line up there are 12 on the pitch. JB plods off.

Off we go. Tiberius gets the ball, long ball through their defence for our strikers to run on to. Doesn’t work, Tiberius gets the ball again, another long ball, another loss of possession. Tiberius is resilient and thinks it must work sometime. It doesn’t. On the Gandhi scale he is a glory machine. Stent Boy, Chromesome and SoG are running around with purpose, mostly after the balls that Tiberius is putting through. Hansie is doing what Hansie does best, which is being Hansie. Zeus is organising the defence. Mike (nick name pending) looks like what I suspect Zeus looked like before he got old, grey and shorter. Mingus is doing what he does best which is being not as good as Hansie. Hilda is yelling a lot because he has little else to do. Sceatsy/Nickname arrives on the pitch at some point. He does stuff. Nintendo arrives on the pitch at some point. Zel-boy arrives on the pitch at some point. I think players might have left the pitch as well but I can’t be sure. Hilda is bored so he rearranges the formation. I think at that stage we were playing 5-5-2.

I’m on the side-line and after 20 or so minutes, then it’s time for me to replace Mingus at right back. It’s good to be on. Much better view of the circus. I soon notice that it seems that Bombers passing the ball more than twice in row is now illegal, because we seem to keep kicking it away a lot. Their goalkeeper is a large fellow who is surprising nimble. He keep them in the game. The Bombers also keep Mirimar in the game. Fish is called offside. Doc is called offside. Doc is called offside again. We kick the ball away. Bombers doing what Bombers do best.

It occurs to me that while I am watching all this I have had to do fuck all. They seldom cause the defence any trouble. Right. Time to inject myself into the game. I see a pass about to be given so rush up and intercept the pass. My timing is perfect. Ball intercepted and at my feet ready to launch an attack. I trip over it and fall to the ground. The bitch goddess quietly sniggers to herself.

AG blows the whistle for half-time. 0-0.

Half-time at a Bombers game is a study in human psychology. 2 or 3 people are saying things that often contradict each other and 4 or 5 people are not listening at all and chatting amongst themselves. Others talk to themselves. Hansie doesn’t talk at all. It’s a wonder to behold. Controller (who’s there as a spectator) wonders why the nets are up. They don’t seem to be being used. JB is twitching. I’ve never seen JB twitch. It’s getting weird again.

The second half begins and Mingus is back on. JB is up front. God knows who else was on and where they were playing but I remember Hilda was still in goal. We quickly go 1-0 down. Quelle surprise and quelle domage. Mirimar can’t believe it. They attack some more. Long range shots pepper the goal and Hilda pulls off a good save from one particularly good shot. Ragg boy wanders offside. He’s looking tired. He shoves a defender in the back to get the ball. He gets away with it. Then I notice something. JB is causing the defence trouble. He’s making runs, his first touch is good. He passes when he should and shoots when he should. He’s barking orders, he’s inspiring the troops. Bombers begin to believe. Things are looking up. Wave after wave of Gandhi glory-stuffed attempts go wide, over the top, at the keeper, saved by the keeper, deflected by defenders, deflected by our own attackers. Chromesome has an open goal a tight angle. Clearly wanting to avoid any heroics he decides not to score. The back of the net is safer than a pork chop at a bar mitzvah.

Time for Calamari to go back on. “Be the attacking right back you know you can be” says Obi-wan Controller. Inspiration pumps through my veins. Gandhi’s words (that I would not read until 90 minutes after the game finished thereby setting up some weird time/space wormhole) lift me to a higher plane. There’s space to be found on the right. Land worth about $3m if it was in Auckland. We need an equaliser. We need a hero. Remember that guy JB I was talking about? A shot from JB wide out looks like another pork chop will live as I think it’s going over the top, but somehow it dips and the net, which has somehow avoided any contact with a ball for the last 75 minutes, is woken from its slumber. 1-1. Game on.

Calamari, Alistair and Fish start to own the right hand side (that’s a million each. Cool.). We are getting to the goal line at will and crosses are going in. Low and hard where Bombers just can’t get a foot to it. So after another surge down the right hand side, I pass to Fish who crosses to the near post where, as it happen there are no Bombers. There are, however, two Mirimar defenders. One of them heads it nicely into his own net. The bitch goddess giggles. 2-1.

AG says “5 minutes left”. Doc yells at Fish for not defending enough. Our midfield and defenders often don’t defend enough so a harsh call on a striker methinks, but I love Doc’s passion. Strangely attractive. Miramar throw players forward. They win a corner. This could be the last play of the game. The corner comes over. It’s not cleared. A melee ensues with Hilda and others all leaping for the ball, they all want to get that crucial touch. I decide to hang on the goal line, you know, just in case. The ball is headed towards our goal. It feels like a scene from the matrix with ‘bullet time’. Time slows and I am calm. I see the ball move slowly towards the goal line and I clear it off the line with not a hint of panic, thereby breaking the hearts of Mirimar supporters everywhere and hopefully gaining the love of Doc.

AG blows the whistle for full time and it’s over. Bombers victorious. Payback for how Miramar toyed with us in a storm last year. JB practically out of sight for Golden Boot although OG poses a clear threat. We deserved to win and we deserved to lose. Football was the winner and the loser.  19 bombers made a difference (in the same way a fart makes a difference at a church service) and we were off to the pub. Overpriced calamari and faux craft beer awaited us. Oh yes, and Gandhi was waiting too.

19 Bombers - Player ratings

AG – weird pregame speech, halftime speech a mess and the only thing that stood out about his refereeing was his bright orange shirt. 6/10

Fishboy – usual game. Running and not running. Extra points for tricking that defender into the own goal. 7/10

Ragg Boy – uninspired. Not sure where his mind was. I like him more when he’s swearing. 5/10

Michael (row de boat ashore) – Solid game. Made Zeus look better than he was. 7/10

Zeus – Good first half though was made to look better than he was. Injured himself again. 7/10

Stent Boy – Gandhi would call his effort “glorious”. Lots of running. No scoring. 6/10

Tiberius - More glory in the Gandhi vein. Needs to learn to slow the pace down and trust the players around him. Fat chance with this team as who would trust a Bomber? 6/10

Chromesome – on a results basis, missing a one on one with the keeper and then an open goal the rating is 2/10. On an effort basis the rating is 8/10. Averages never lie. 5/10

Mingus – Mistake free game. Came off when I wanted to go on. Awesome. 8/10.

Hansie – Once again made players younger than him look slow and foolish. A couple of his first touches also made him look slow and foolish. Not one of his best games. 6/10.

Hilda – Let in one goal, and would have let in one more if it hadn’t been for CCC (cool calm calamari). Bonus points for lots of yelling and a good save. 7/10

JB – the best half of football I see him play this century. One goal and an inspirational “follow me lads!” leadership. Man of the match. Point off for supporting Chelsea. 9/10

SoG – kicks, tackles, passes, heads, and slides. Not so good once the game started. Also, points off for pretending to manage one of the teams on before us. 6/10

Zel Boy – Doesn’t say much. Played left back. Like a tall and younger Hansie. 6/10

Sceatsy/nickname – As far as I can tell he only played a quarter of the game. Perfect when he was on. 2.5/10

Doc – Caught offside twice. Only person from both sides who thought he was not offside. Family holidays with him must be a joy. Marks off for yelling at Fish when, for once, he didn’t deserve it. Marks back on for apologising. 6/10

Alistair – Worked well on the right in the second half. Extra marks for not being better than me. 7/10

Nintendo – Strangely quiet game. Marks off for not saying “wing me” once. 5/10

Calamari - 40 odd minutes of solid football. Saved a goal and assisted in winning goal. Good match report though needs an editor.  Marks off for tripping over ball. 8/10

Supporter ratings;

Controller – Insightful understanding of the game, if the game is sarcasm and abuse. Marks on for giving me permission to be all I could be. 7/10

Marky mark - Beat poet chic and smoked cigarettes. Style and puff, which is pretty much what he is on the pitch as well.  8/10