Les Vikinques beaten tres mal
Vikings vs. Le gaulois: 2-6
Saturday, April 1; 4:30 pm at Patana
1 – 0: Henrik (assist by Keld)
2 – 3: Martyn (assist by Henrik)
Yellow: Sweeper, Keld
Man of the Match: Martyn
Pre-match banter was dominated by a winner-takes-all Viking game of Cards the night before, in which Morten was the unlucky victim. Morten was also a noticeable absentee from the sidelines, apparently not having enough money to afford a bus ticket. Poor lad. C2 then proceeded to rally the troops with an inspirational (?!) pep-talk, which mostly centered around one of the opposition players named Davidoff (or some other eau de toilet, I don’t know, I wasn’t really listening) and how we would all have to be at our best to stop Les Bleus. He also imparted pearls of wisdom like, “if they haven’t got the ball they can’t score”. You can’t argue with logic like that, brilliant. Following what felt like (and in fact was) a long time, I believe C2’s closing words (as the whistle blew to start the game) were, “and don’t forget to warm up properly”. Hmmmff…
Anyhow, undeterred, the Vikings lined up with Paul Breitner in goal; Matt, C2, Sweeper and Ole at the back; Keld, Uddmann, Martyn and Jacob in the middle; Henrik and Richard up front. The bench was a strong one, with Jesper and Chris coming on to good effect. The French lined up with Monsieur Frog in goal; le frog, la frog, une frog and de frog at the back; the boy frog, frogman, frogmarch, and frog legs in the middle; and of course Davidoff and Channel no.9 up front. The match started well, in fact it started ‘tres bien’ indeed, and on 5 mins Henrik expertly stuck out a ‘go-go-gadget’ leg to unerringly lift the ball past the advancing Froggy keeper, 1-0. Keld was the supplier, having played a perfectly weighted ball over the top.
What followed was arguably the best 20 mins of Viking football ever to grace the haloed Patana playing fields. The frontmen were full of movement, the midfield full of purpose, the defense full of determination, and C2 (as can be expected) full of sh*t. In fact, it was an incident involving the latter and a clash with a loose frog-leg that saw him limping off, and with it came a turning point in the game. Sadly we play 40 minute halves in the Casual League, not 25, and the remaining 15 mins saw 3 quick-fire French goals from their very pacey (not an escargot in sight) attacking quintet (Sweeper claims this is the collective term for the 5 most forwardly advanced footballers, then again, by definition Sweeper plays at the back, or with himself, so what would he know). To be honest some of the goals may have been our own undoing, but let’s not split hairs, and it’s fair to say that French gobbled up their chances quicker than a freshly smeared baguette.
But wait, commeth the moment, commeth the man – and on 40 mins that moment arrived – as we saw a flying Dutchman (all 175 cm’s of him) rise like a salmon in spawning season and head home a well-flighted Henrik free-kick, 2-3. The half time talk was full of optimism, and if only we could recreate our early form we could do a Waterloo and send these fancy French packing from whence they came (i.e France). It sounded good in theory, in reality, it started badly, trailed off in the middle, and the less said about the end the better… However, there were some note-worthy second half incidents, in which the referee (as always) played a starring role. C2 (who had come back on) was now playing up front, and when the ball broke to him on the edge of the 6 yard box he instinctively rifled it into the roof of the net. Inexplicably the linesman ruled that Henrik had been standing off-side and the goal was disallowed. Henrik explained in his most diplomatic language (complete with helpful hand gestures) that he was not altogether in agreement with the decision. 5 mins later Henrik received the ball on the right wing and proceeded to blast the ball goalwards (i’m giving him the benefit of the doubt) via the unsuspecting head of the linesman. The shot narrowly missed its target (I’m not talking about the goal) but what ensued was sheer commedy. The referee decided to substitute (note, not send-off, but substitute) Henrik on the grounds of suspected unsporting behaviour. The linesman realizing that he’d apparently been wronged had to be restrained by some players, and all the while we had a band of French supporters shouting expletives that were less about the Sportif and more about Le Coq, if you catch my drift.
At the end of the day, football is a game of two halves, and the ball was bouncing their way all afternoon (felt it was time to throw in some token footy-talk) and the result was the French sticking 3 more in the ‘onion bag’ in the second half. The midfield, particularly the hardworking Uddman, Jacob and Chris never stopped running. Sweeper at the back was keeping a very firm grip (quite literally) on Davidoff and his fragrant French teammates, and without some clever interventions from Cockney Swede Paul Breitner in goal the tally could have been higher.
Few would disagree that despite a valiant Viking effort, and some great football along the way, the French on the day deserved it. Having said that, if the Vikings can bottle some of their football in the first 25 mins, it bodes very well for the next game – bring on ze Germans!