Sunday 17th of April 2016
It was the best of games, it was the worst of games. It was a game filled with wisdom, it was a game filled with foolishness. It was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity. It was another first half of darkness in the season of White (the year of the Barbarian). It is the spring of hope as the Barbarians seek to impose a summer of despair upon their foes. We had everything before us, determined to leave nothing behind us (on the field). The first and second periods were so far like all the other periods of football in the present period that had both teams not been wearing white it would have been impossible to know which game it was and that the Barbarians were playing the French. And we won, 3-0.
Here follows a blow by blow account of the game as witnessed from the perspective of the man who changed the match:
(Translated from its original Russian by Nick B. The reader is left to deduce which Nick B. or, indeed, if it was actually Mark B)
3.30pm Is that the time? I suppose I'd better drag myself out of bed, gather my effects and get to the game. As I've always said, a good warm up and excellent preparation are essential for players if they are to perform their best and challenge for league titles. Phone to airplane mode so I don't get distracted from my Zen-like state of calm by any panicked phone calls from that pesky Alastair accusing me of being late.
3.59pm Ah, Lido, and with a minute to spare. Perfect. Let me just do three jumps on the spot and smack the ball at the goal from the halfway line once... aaaaaand we're warm. Let's go! Who are we playing? The French? Okay.
4.15pm Oh my goodness, this is the most boring half of football I've ever played in; people are running around and things seem to be moving but nothing is actually happening apart from Nick Beswick swearing at the ref. Or is that Mark? I can't tell, they look so similar those two.
4.20pm Twenty minutes in and still nothing. At least the tempo has picked up a bit. Aw man, we have people watching on the sidelines too; apart from Kev who has a sweet looking cold beverage in his hand they must be so bored. Why is nobody in this game doing anything? I wish I wasn't stuck out here on the left wing, against my will.
4.35pm What's that moving really fast down the right hand side of the pitch? Is it Morgan's wife coming faster than a speeding bullet to shout at him for neglecting his family before dragging him home? No, it can't be, this fast moving object is a little bit taller than her (but only slightly). It looks kind of hairy, and on closer inspection it appears to be wearing football boots. What do know that looks like that? Oh, wait, it's Murchik! And he has the ball! This could be exciting...I had best to get myself to one of those areas that I know he will be crossing it to, and I had best go fast because he's nearly there.
4.35pm Okay, I'm here. Why hasn't he crossed it yet? Oh good, Carlos is here too; this is almost a certain goal. All Murchik has to do is pass it to one of us and he's only about four metres away now.
I know, I'll make this easier for little Murchy and call for the ball.
He's looking up, he's winding up to pass...here we go, there's no way in hell I'm missing from this close to the goal.
What the...? He passed it behind me. Why would he do this? I don't understand. I know I haven't studied physics for a few years, but surely to miss both Carlos and I from so close is more impossible than possible.
Oh no, now I can feel the anger burning like the feeling in your throat when you're sick a little bit in your mouth and you swallow it again. i should probably vent in some way. But how? I know, I'll unleash a foul-mouthed tirade in Russian so that everybody apart from Basho, Murchik, and Dias, who will understand me, think that I'm just offering Murchik some friendly advice, thus maintaining my nice-guy image. A brilliant plan, Sham, even if I do say so myself. All I have to do is control the tone of voice.
Why is everyone in the park looking at me like that? Oh. The tone, I forgot the tone.
4.47pm HALF-TIME Awesome; witnessing all that alleged football made me want to tear my eyes out, I am glad for this break. I'm also glad that the anger has gone.
But who's this standing next to me clutching a bottle of water? Oh no, it is him and another paroxysm of rage is upon me. Can't. Suppress. Urge. To. Scream.
Why is he crying? Meh, I don't care. I feel better now anyway.
Right, what to do about the football though? I don't think I can endure another 45 minutes as dull as that. I guess my driver is in the parking lot so I could just go home. But then I wouldn't be able to watch the games with the boys later.
I know! I'll just start playing properly. let me tell the guys.
"Here we go guys. Here is the plan for the second half: pass the ball to me and I will score. Got it? Let's go."
"Hey, Morgan, you are filming right? Watch this, I will score in the first minute of the second half"
They will enjoy this. I hope Kevin hasn't had too many cold beverages to remember the awesome goal that I am about to score.
"Mark, pass me the ball!"
Oooh, what a delicious pass. I like that. just the right amount of swerve to keep it away from the defender.
I wonder how Alastair would describe that ball in one of his match reports? Probably like this: "a lucky shank by Beswick dropped fortuitously into the path of Sham who, although he had to defy the laws of space and time to do so, controlled a ball that no mere mortal would have reached, let alone dealt with with such consummate ease"
And why does he hate Nick so much? It must be that he wants to look like Mark, too.
That's right. 1-0.
Anyway, where is Morgan? He was supposed to be filming that. Why's he all the way down there in that corner of the pitch? And what's that in his hand? It doesn't look like the camera.
5.15pm We have a corner now. Hmm, I could wait a few more minutes and score another ludicrously good goal or I could score one now and save some energy so I can stay awake during the Leicester game later. Hmm. Oh, here comes the ball I'll probably just head it into the top corner from 16 or so yards. That was easy.
Why are all the Barbarians going crazy and grabbing me and lifting me up and stuff? I'm sure they could have done the... oh.
5.29pm Oh no, Nick is down in the area with a head injury- I do hope he's okay.
Ah good, he's better now. Surely now the referee will tell the French to kick the ball back to us. No? That is probably not what I would call a good decision.
Actually, thinking about the decisions he made last week with the two-footed tackles and the attempts to injure me...
5.30pm Why is Alastair doing the disco hands right in front of 'The Dutch'? That will be sure to compound the anger and self-loathing that almost certainly is welling inside of him following that ridiculous foul throw a few moments ago.
Wait, why is 'The Dutch' getting another chance at the throw in? This confirms long-held suspicion that this referee doesn't know the rules.
5.32pm "EDDIE NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!"
5.34pm "EDDIE NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! Pass it Eddie!"
5.35pm Assessing my options here I think it would be the correct decision to take on the whole defence and score.
Maybe if Gideon is near the area I'll pass to him; he's playing well. Nope, can't see him. not that I looked very hard.
I am enjoying this run, it is really nice humiliating opponents like this.
5.36pm Oh darn, I didn't score. Still, we have a corner though, so that's okay.
"Hey the Dutch, I have but one question for you: do you want to injure me?"
No response, good talk.
5.40pm I wish Marwan would stop shouting on the sidelines, it's really annoying and if he isn't careful he'll exhaust himself to the point where he gets cramp and falls off his chair, squealing in pain, at the IV later.
5.41pm Oh yeah, that's a really nice finish by Carlos. I really hope Alastair doesn't wait until Thursday to write the match report, because if he does there's no way that he'll remember it clearly enough to write a description of it.
3-0. Job done. I'm glad this was comfortable, because we really just played alright today.
5:48pm Yes. Nice. Now to pursue a course of action which will involve Nick Beswick losing his s*** in heretofore untold ways whilst watching Jamie Vardy's dismissal for simulation. This is shaping up to be a good day.
Next up for the Barbarians: Beijing Celtics, Sunday 2pm @ SiDe park. Let's Smash 'em!
Man of the Match: Mark Blackburn (Not Nick. Really.)
Honourable Mention: Sham (making the game his, foul-mouthed abuse of Murchik), Marwan (for his comeback goal in the B game), Murchik (still a machine, putting up with Sham), Carlos (still on the goal train)
Lucas, Hossam, Jamie (not drinking on the sidelines and staying in their kit in case needed)
Donkey of the Week: Sham
Shampagne Moment: Mark Blackburn first half superhero tackle just inside the Barbarian half, whistled as a foul but probably just so the referee could give himself time to catch his breath and appreciate the beauty of the thing.
The Numbers Game
0 Gideon watch. He's losing his touch.
1 Number of Barbarians in charge of determining their own work schedule who missed the game
1 Blatant dive
1 Goals missing from the game film because of untimely micturation
1 Barbarian spotted not 'living like a monk' in the hour before kick off invoking the ire of his manager
1 Barbarian who made up for game day indiscretions with a goal
2 Number of kits the French team have: 1 blue, 1 white. Inexplicably, Greg (who runs the IFFC and who can therefore reasonably be expected to know what colour kits each team has available) brought the white one.
2 Barbarians in the starting XI separated at birth
3.5 Minutes for Gideon to walk from the gate to the bench on arrival, 55 minutes late for the game
5 Number of Barbarians who rushed to Marwan's aid when he got cramp, as Gideon looked on chuckling
7 Minutes to explain to Nasir why it was a little bit ridiculous that the French had brought their white, rather than their blue, kit.
395 Minutes late (Team total. What's worrying is that this is accurate this week)
701 Days between Marwan's last two appearances for the Barbarians (or thereabouts). Welcome back, bro.