In World Cup year, 2011, when Steve Hansen uttered the obscure mantra: ‘walk slowly towards the pressure’, he unwittingly supplied the third leg of the Bombers overarching strategy tripod. The others being heroic levels of substance abuse and panicking when under the lash. (Much like the All Blacks, actually…)
In the succeeding years we have cleaved to our ragged destiny, inviting the Bitch Goddess of Football to sit and spin on our well-manicured digits.
Though sharing a common purpose ( heavy post-match drinking and the exchange of hearty male banter), each Bomber has his or her own idiosyncratic pre-match routine to manage the crushing weight of public non-expectation.
Here is a sampling of a few of the more disgraceful of those…
Picture Tiberius, box of tissues and bumper pottle of hand lotion secreted in his Barkers blouson, sidling shiftily to the secret room behind the garage, to lose himself in ecstasy amid his beloved collection of foreclosure memorabilia…
Or Son of God, in full Nazi battle garb, watching The Night Porter for the 612th time. Ditto tissues and hand lotion.
Or Marky, ( demi-God of louche desuetude) woken late by the cavorting tuis, putting pants on, one leg at a time . Unfortunately, they were not his trousers. That was not his house. That was definitely not his preferred shade of lippie…
The Band of Brothers, stout and…er… stouter… begin to dribble in to the seething cauldron that is Nainville Park. Unfortunately all the seething was happening at the kids’ game on the upper field. JRag dribbled more than most as he lingered on the sight of the delightfully well-upholstered yummy-mummys bouncing unrestrained encouragement to their little Tristans and Samanthas.
Predictably, the unbeaten men from Upper Hutt had arrived early and were engaged in arcane tactical discussion, in muted over-confident tones, casting occasional disdainful glances at the ragged collection of mis-fits and crusty OAPs who were to be their canon-fodder du jour.
With a luxury 15 body-shapes to choose from, Assistant Gardener went through our time-honoured ritual . JB spoke strategy in a deep and manly voice. We tittered nervously and ignored them.
Kick-off. Still 0-0 after 30 seconds. We were on a dangerous roll!
Early dreams of an upset were shattered scant minutes later by a couple of well-taken, but relatively soft goals. After 20 minutes or so Asst Gardener was assisted from the field with a bruised psyche and burst time release-pouch of monkey-gland hormone.
Hilda donned the Jersey of Shame and strode like the colossus he is into the hungry goal.
There was ebb, there was flow. We were doing quite well. They scored again. Premonitions of soap dropped in the showers. Then, in a moment of magic, JRag laid a magnificent pass on to Jackal who slotted one home with magisterial authority. 3-1, with 10 to go ‘til half-time. There was excited chatter amongst the sideline Bombers of a 3-2 half-time score, with an upset in the offing. But t’was not to be.
All were unsettled by the sight of Wriggle’s, in horrific golfing strides, muttering darkly of joining the fray. Contoller, major-domo of his supporters’ club of one, muttered knowingly of Tiger Woods and Muhammed Ali.
Someone offered a battle cry: “ They’re fucking cunts, so treat them like fucking cunts.” Pure Churchill.
And, despite long periods of parity of play, the mouthy, dyspeptic, Ritalin-deprived tangerines from the Badlands served up another 3 well-taken goals.
But there were highlights. Wriggles come-back. The nose for goal is still there, the technique a game or so away from recapture. And who will ever forget the sublime interplay of Stent and Tiberius at that late free-kick. With an intoxicating move, straight out the sheltered workshop playbook, they changed comedy forever. We gasped in dis-belief at their audacity. The intellectual property is priceless, and the folks from the feeb- farm are unlikely to sue.
Final score 6-1. Congrats Upper Hutt, on a workperson-like performance.
Individual player ratings (in no particular order, and poetically unlicensed):
Assistant Gardener – Put what-s left of his body on the line once again. A hero for the ages. How’s the monkey stuff working for you, or are we asking the wrong question?
Hilda – Bestrode the mid-field like a colossus. Injured back later, retrieving ball from back of net. Blue lady boots are growing on me. Half point off for working in Johnsonville. Otherwise commanding.
Hansie – Our Dorian Gray figure. Unfortunately this petite perpetual-motion machine is easily confused. His beautiful, unblemished, self is still in the attic. Would be perfect if he wasn’t such a chatterbox. The Elle McPherson Commemorative issue of Sports Illustrated recently shattered in his sticky little paws. Devastated. On cum-back trail. Role-model for the less discerning.
Nintendo – The sea-wall that tsunamis prefer to avoid. A velvet glove over a prosthetic titanium fist. Poet of brutality and inventive foundation garments.
Mingus – Power to you, little shower-buddy. Saved certain goal. There are some good tackling videos on YouTube. Don’t you think he looks more like Eric Clapton? Next week, lover.
Mike – Absurdly composed. Profile should be on old Greek coins. A role model for solo mothers and laboratory animals.
Al – Is Mike Al’s love-child? They share a preternatural grace under pressure. Must drive his wife nuts by refusing to argue. A Havana cigar on a leather Chesterfield.
Stent-Boy – Still channelling his inner orang-utan. Attenboro wants to do a series on him for Animal Planet. Caught virus from JRag. Appropriately huge heart, and speaks very nicely. Hippocratic and tres copacetic ! Sweats like a rapist.
JRag – Could even a mother love a face like that? Adopted recently by Bombers (against well-priced professional advice) to give him a chance at a better life. Jury’s still out. A very sexual animal with an extra gene that nature usually manages to catch before it activates. Rumoured to be sleeping with all six of his probation officers. Often at the same time. Party on, sad boy!
Tiberius – Morally-bankrupt foot-balling machine. A danger to the fabric of female under-garments and society at large. Runs all day. Usually in wrong direction. Thank Allah he’s on our side. Family motto: Run that past me again, slowly.
Jackal – Great Finnisher (geddit?) What else is left to be said about this skitey over-achiever? Rumoured to have left last team after rash of jock-strap disappearances. Still under careful watch. May be a keeper, despite marked criminal tendencies.
Son o’ God – Leader of un-charismatic sect of one. Un-troubled by self-reflection or genital herpes. Tolerated for excellent corners, fearless tackling and frequent toadying purchases of deep-fried food platters at after-match functions. Has found spiritual home in Bomberland. Who else would have him?
Chromosome – The Big Unit has grown an extra leg since spurning the daily romance of commercial law. Living the dream in Ngaio. Suspected closet jogger. Shame on you, Big Man.
Wriggles – Impact player bar excellence (Geddit?) Frequently does the unexpected, and scores. More cross- bar conversion attempts than Charles Manson, though they share an uncannily similar psychological profile. Welcome back, old fool.
Controller - Flawless sideline performance. Finger will have grown back by next month, and we need the eggs (old Yiddish joke –ask JB to explain).
JB – And, speaking of the Devil… The Haemorr-Boyd. This epileptic ballerina continues to thrill us with his oblique runs and assortment of garden furniture. Born in baby Ray Bans. The rich man’s Bukowski. Read on, Charles…
Marky - Semi-mobile fugue state. Implicated in recent FIFA scandals. Implicated in many atrocities, but never successfully indicted. Role-model to the lost and confused. Always trained –to- the –minute. Unfortunately that golden minute passed decades ago. Tolerated because he makes other Bombers feel much better about themselves. Sometimes beauty is no longer enough…
Next week we take on the might of the Island Bay Blind Institute B team.
Quietly confident of a crushing victory to come, the weary Bombers drift into the setting sun, collective rectum prolapsed by the Upper Hutt popinjays, yet still holding fast to the vanishing dream of foot-balling perfection.
Report dictated by Special Rapporteur Marky Mark, from a love-dungeon somewhere in the Darklands