Story by Nintendo
I steered the Nissan Primera past the Urubamba river, winding my way up two and half thousand metres, up past Machu Picchu til I found myself above the cloud line at Newlands park .
After circling the facility for an hour and abandoning the car near the unbroken yellow lines that decorate the suburb, I caught a glimpse of some Incas in the mist. Bronze-skinned, potbellied warriors with fearsome mullets – Wainui Pacifica.
The temperature goosebumped to a healthy six degrees, the mud coagulated in the light rain and the sky lowered a little further as the gods and goddesses sat in their armchairs above to take in proceedings.
The email plaintives has resulted in a record turn out of past, present, never present, barely present and Argentine men in black. I arrived a little late and was immediately met by a menacing figure in sheepskin lined suede jacket holding a stool. This lion tamer of man informed me I wouldn’t play the first half and would instead be taking photographs. And so like Mathew Brady approaching a civil war battlefield with due reverence I whipped out my mobile to begin recording proceedings. But it wasn’t possible. There wasn’t enough light. The Gods had closed the sky and the figures blurred into a morass of grey and indigo.
Newlands Park will one day become an airport or a city in its own right, but for now it must simply be what it is – the world’s biggest soccer field. A Wembley to the power of ten. The first half was an end to end slug fest but the Bombers more than held their own. There was running, passing and motivation not seen since we’d scaled the Dardenelles in ’15. Our snow bear, the Controller nodded approvingly from the sidelines. The combo of Ignacio, Ragg, Stent and Jackal started to fire, but the revelation was yet another import – an Irish Danny Boyexcept he’s called Graham who once played football at a very high level and we’re not talking altitude here, we’re talking ability and Graham’s ability to mop up every loose ball and stray limb in the midfield was a wonder to behold. The mud also enabled plenty of sliding tackles by Son of God . Meanwhile Hilda, Mingus, Hansie, Mike and Doc looked as relaxed and assured at the back as travel agents at an annual beach conference. Operation Inca was going to plan.
After 38 seasons in the mud, the Bombers had at last achieved parity in the midfield. I’ll leave that sentence tall and meta tag it so it can be googled by football historians when the gods write our story on the walls of Olympus.
The second half began in drizzle and we slowly gained even greater dominance in midfield and started to thread serious passes together. Triangles, rhomboids, parallelograms. This intricate stitching paid dividends when the ball reached Malvinas and he lashed an uncatchable shot goalwards. It was parried by their keeper but the greyhound of the Bombers – the Jackal – hurled himself at the rebound and nodded past the prostrate keeper. One nil.
Wainui doubled their efforts but for once we responded in kind and after more midfield embroidery the ball reached Graham who sent a peach of cross sailing into the box where once more it was met by Jackal’s dome and dispatched into the net.
The Wainui team knew there was only one way to respond at Masters Four level. It was time to abuse the ref and dispute every call. The remainder of the match was spent in this testy fashion as Graham’s challenges became more medical in their intervention. The fleet footed Incas of the Valley poured forward but mild mannered Mike employed an offside trap with slide rule precision and the home refereeing did the rest. Hilda made an exceptional save from a corner after Nintendo blithely invited the Head Mullet to have first go at the ball.
Wainui fashioned a few more presentable chances after this but were sporting enough to spurn them, even from a metre out.
Despite the two film-ready goals scored by the Bombers, the clear highlight of the game came when Nintendo, prone to falling over at any time, was toppled by an eddy in the lightly roaring Southerly somewhere near his own penalty spot. Nothing unusual in this, except he fell onto the ball and hugged it like a branch in a swollen river. Gyles retreated to the corner flag to claim he was unsighted and immune to the strident and justified appeals of the refugees from the Raj. Accordingly, in line with the proud traditions of their culture, six of them started kicking at Nintendo. Mikey Mike, Hansie and Son of God joined in. Hartina Mingus flew in with perfect foot stabs. Nintendo squirmed in the mud like a banker in a sex cellar - in pain and delight. Two strangely compelling minutes later his little stick arms released the ball - to the disappointment of everyone and the clear annoyance of JB who had jogged 76 metres from halfway to join the angry jerk circle.
The Bombers soaked up the remaining 20 minutes of the game by retrieving the ball from the nearby school in time-honoured fashion and in a flash the twenty minutes had become five then three and then two and a second later after the word two was uttered the whistle went and the time space continuum collapsed into the black hole of full time.
The Urubamba river filled with beer and was diverted to Khandallah where jug after jug was consumed accompanied by chips. Three wins on the trot. Fourth equal. Football doesn’t get any colder than this.