Match 13 against Naenae opened in conditions very much like Match 12. The air was cold. The rain was wet, but stopped in time for the match – the Son of God had beckoned skyward.
Number 13 – our lucky number, just like all the others.
It was an optimistic bunch which sauntered out to the Fraser Park pitch, which was more sodden than a biscuit at a circle jerk party. They looked up, sniffing the air, noses wrinkling in distaste. No, it wasn’t the buried refuse that held up most Wellington parks; rather, it was the rancid compost and decayed sweat of unwashed gear that sent swirls of greenish clouds wafting skywards.
Realising their mistake, the men stopped the foolish cursing of their unfortunate women-folk, looked around as if someone else had farted, farted, and started their warm-up routine.
The warm-up shots were powerful, lethal bullets of leather that went sailing over and past the posts, out on to the road. Cars braked heavily, unsecured toddlers went careening into dashboards, pizza boxes overturned, and mayhem ruled. The Bombers had arrived and meant business. They just didn’t know how to run one.
The game began in good spirits and remarkable form. Our foolhardy, smelly men were up for it. Hilda, Son of God and Stent discovered the art of passing and sent Carl away time and again on sweeping runs up the right hand side. The Jackal peppered the goal with shots and crosses, all of which went straight out on to the road, causing more pile-ups.
The defence too were learning their job, after 35 plus years of practising the off-side trap, the ref actually noticed, and several counter-attacks were foiled by the defenders’ inability to run as fast as the opposition.
Constant pressure paid off for the Bombers when Stent Boy took his chances in the opposition goal mouth and poked one in for the team. The Naenae defender objected to the ref and Stent withdrew, tapping the ball in with his toe as he did so. “Take that, Probable Recipient of State Housing Largesse and Inadequate Benefit Entitlements”, he cursed.
This blatant lack of sportsmanship by the Bombers aroused the opposition to anger of Braveheart proportions, and they charged down the field with erections held high, blue paint smeared across their foreheads. The Bombers held on until a corner in the 40th minute was left unchallenged and a man with a distinct lack of charisma decided to put it in the net.
Half-time and 1-1. We had acquitted ourselves well; even Gyles said so. We had passed, run and kicked, just like he said we should. We felt good. Some men kissed each other, but that was a step too far and they were told to stick to back slapping.
The second half opened badly. The Bombers became uncertain in their passing, some of them must have had dirt on their contacts, as they began passing it to the opposition, who duly took their chances and scored – twice in quick succession. This wasn’t rock n roll, this was genocide.
3-1, with 30 minutes to go. Still a chance if the Bombers could muster courage and fortitude. Not very fucking likely, but you never know.
But the Bombers did rally and assailed the opposition goal for a good 10 minutes. Eventually Stent and The Jackal combined. We pulled them off each other and kept going. Another goal mouth melee and Carl slots one in the net. It was all on.
Further attempts at scoring were messy, reflecting the state of our marriages and minds. JB looked lost, waiting for the magic through ball which would allow him to walk the ball into the net and claim his Saturday night conjugal rights. It never came.
Balls went sailing over the top, hitting the crossbar, the upright and our own team members. The shapely bottom of success wiggled just out of reach, promising so much, yet never quite letting the hand of fate settle and squeeze.
Madness ensued. Bombers bombed and backed out of tackles, sharing the ball with their opposite numbers like three-year olds at kindy. Jon the Ragster did his best to kick the opposition in the head, feigning incompetence and a complete lack of skills so well that the ref let him away with it. Nigel also did his best, trying to mate with the Michelin Man, dancing on his feet and generally shoving him around by sinking his elbows deep into the jelly-like flesh of this angry blancmange. Even Doc’s pretence at a shoulder barge saw him bested by a little guy with bones of titanium, putting our caring practitioner flat on his back.
Alas, all to no avail. Having being given the ball so often, Naenae decided they should counter-attack, and sent the ball down the field. A race between our 102 year old goalie and their centre-forward saw the Gardiner attempt to repeat a manoeuvre he had experimented with last week, which he did perfectly, sending the ball at a 45degree angle to another Naenae player, who joyfully punted it back past him into the goal. 4-2. Oblivion.
Finally, in the most dangerous phase of the match – the shower – Mingus again managed to retain his heterosexual integrity and get out whole. Women sighed in gratitude. Somewhere.
his Bombers team is in free fall. It is beautiful and compelling to watch, but the heart yearns for more.