One hundred and four indulgent, booze-soaked, drug-fueled, hedonistic, decadent days after the Barbarians’ last competitive appearance, Keith ‘I am the Resurrection’ Bradbury prized his shin pads from his legs last Friday and gave them a good wash. He’d convinced the footballing world that he’d left the game forever after Barbarians’ title win through his assertions that he’d played his last game and the beating his shin pads had taken over the course of his personal crusade to celebrate himself into an early grave.
But Bradbury finally realised late that Friday night that if he continued to lie to himself and everyone else in this way, the world and Mrs Bradbury would be confronted by something far more tragic than the thought of a footballing world bereft of his mercurial talent: Fat Keith.
And then he was risen, and it was good. At least for now. And it was in good time too, which was nice.
One hundred and five indulgent, booze-soaked, drug-fueled, hedonistic, decadent and,without football, purposeless and soul-destroying days after their last competitive appearance, the Barbarians sashayed back into the fray Saturday with a comfortable victory over an undercooked Japanese XI.
Barbarians’ fiercest rivals Time and Punctuality did their best to sabotage the pre-match preparations, meaning that debutants Henri ‘Thierry’ Heikura and Carl ‘CC’ Christian started the game for the Barbarians alongside nine familiar, albeit more haggard-looking than before, Barbarians.
Both debutants put in assured performances, much to the chagrin of Colum ‘I was CC until that upstart stepped on me toes- and you can quote me on that but don’t ask about it ever again or you’ll wash up on a beach somewhere in little pieces’ Curtis. The reasons for Curtis’s displeasure are, as yet, unclear. Club secretary Mark Blackburn said that the club will release a statement later in the week.
Barbarians started the match brightly, moving the ball well and fashioning a number of decent chances that on another day (in a parallel universe where the Barbarians were clinical in front of goal) they might have taken. By contrast the Kozo team struggled to fashion any meaningful opportunities to threaten Collins’ goal, seeming content to gently pass the ball to one another for a while before sacrificing possession with a long diagonal punt whenever they found themselves in possession.
Around the thirty minute mark, a sublime through ball (not from Nick ‘Pork pies make you better at football’ Beswick, and in fact not even a sublime through ball but a delightful reverse pass from Lucas ‘Summer BBQ Edition’ Bulus) found C ’It stands for Class and Composure’ C through on goal, and he slotted home to give the Barbars a deserved 1-0 lead.
As usual, the lead didn’t last for long. Remembering how successful their tactic of ensuring that they were always behind or level at the interval proved last season, the Barbarians contrived to concede right on the stroke of half time.
As the rest of his teammates contrived to allow a corner to drop and pinball around the area before reaching the Japanese number nine at the left hand corner of the six yard box. At this moment Super ‘Gideon Mwsegwa’ Gideon, sporting his new and not at all ironic ‘Taxi Driver’ haircut (he’s just a huge De Niro fan) left the post he had been guarding, and strode in the direction of Fangyuan Xi Lu. God knows what he could have been hoping to find there.
Gideon gone, the goal was smashed in at the near post. 1-1 at half time.
And with that, Sham arrived as if from nowhere. Or Shanghai. Chabuduo. And with Sham, it was certain that the Japanese would be vanquished.
And they were. Quick as a flash.
Well, in less time than it took to shave the lightning flash into Steppe style icon Sham’s hair.
The thirty five seconds and nine kicks of the ball which followed half time must surely rank among the most exhilarating and incisive in the history of the Barbarians, although Bradbury would surely argue that most or all of the 9,072,000 seconds between the Barbarians’ last two matches were equally, if not more, exhilarating.
With his usual brother in destruction Murchik ‘Business Time’ Munchkin away on ‘business’, Colum Curtis was forced to combine with his other brother from another mother to restore the Barbarians’ lead.
Receiving the ball directly from the restart, Curtis had enough time to scan the entire field for (in his eyes) the best haircut. Failing to find any flowing locks that matched his high, well-conditioned, standards he resigned himself to targeting Sham. With the Japanese defence summarily drained of energy by their three hour pre-match warm up, and pushed to breaking point by being forced to help their manager solve Sudoku puzzles posed on the magnet board at half time, Curtis had enough time on the ball to communicate his vision for the next passage of play to his intended recipient.
“Sham, go on lad”
“Really? But it’s warm. I think i will just tell you I don’t understand what you want.”
“Don’t be like that Sham. I thought we were friends.”
“We are, it’s just that I want to save my energy so I can dribble eleven players in one go later on and humiliate the entire team.”
“Oh, I know that feeling. But we could do that without too much effort here if I just give the ball a wee dink over the top and you jog past that guy who runs the hundred metres twenty seconds slower than you.”
“I am not too sure, Column”
“It’s Colum, not Column. Anyway, that’s not too important right now. Come on Sham, I’m probably never going to want to pass the ball ever again. Plus I want to see if I still can- I’m fed up of scoring goals, did I mention I’ve had ten in me last two? I want to give you a chance to at least feel like you can catch up to me.”
“Ah. Mmm. Now I’m kind of sad that you would say that, and I’m contemplating quitting the game.”
“Aw man. But what about this double that we said we were going to win for the Barbarians? They can’t do it without us.”
“Meh. You should probably consider your words before you throw them around like that you nasty little [racial epithet redacted].”
“[Gasp] I am shocked and appalled that you would deign to call a fellow member of the human race something so…so…cruel. And I was just about to tell you that I liked the way you’ve reworked that hair of yours Sham.”
“You were? Oh my goodness, that’s the nicest thing anyone’s ever said to me. I’m so sorry- how can I make it up to you?”
And with bridges rebuilt the ball arced over the Japanese defence, Sham strolled onto it and dispatched it past the despairing ’keeper for 2-1 Barbarians.
From the kickoff Kozo tried to emulate what they had just seen, but the ball went long to Collins.
From Collins to Dawson.
From Dawson to Curtis.
Curtis turns, puts his foot on the ball. Looks up.
Over the fullback. This one’s a foot race. No, wait, it’s not; the winger’s already fifteen yards clear.
Mos, into the box.
He’s one on one. Could this be three?
Mos winds up. He squares it across the box to…
The boy (in the body of a forty year old) from Brazil, stroked home his first of the season and Barbarians’ third.
The game’s fourth goal effectively killed it as a contest, and so there’s no need to go into things that might or might not have happened like Dawson missing a gaping open goal from 2.3 yards or Marwan ‘It’s called style guys, you guys just aren’t young enough or cool enough to understand. And next week I’m going to turn up with only black socks and the wrong shirt just to piss Ali off Aleid doing anything good.
Something that did happen, though, ten minutes from time, was the less hairy of the CCs chasing a well-weighted through ball, outmuscling both opposing centrebacks, and rounding the keeper to cap an outstanding debut with his second goal. A debut made all the more noteworthy by the fact that his warm up (a full game of Rugby in the morning and a game for Vikings in the cup immediately beforehand) was more rigorous than Kozo’s.
CC’s second and a host of missed chances aside, the second half consisted of Kozo playing to their strengths: passing the ball in straight lines across the pitch in a hypnotic attempt to lull their opponents into a deep slumber before attacking.
The only man really in danger of falling asleep though was Keith ‘Ronaldinho’ Bradbury, a testament to just how focused the other Barbarians were on beginning the season with a resounding victory. And testament to the ruinous effects of Bradbury’s decadent preseason.
With the final whistle the weight of Bradbury’s eyelids lessened slightly as he found himself once again on the victorious side, and only seventeen more games away from another set of shinpad-shaped tan lines.
Next up for Barbarians A, a historical a grudge match (but then again, they all seem to be). Will they or won’t they smoke Beijing Tobacco to continue this supreme start to the season? Watch this space. Or go and watch the game. Or do something else.
Man of the Match: Super Gideon Mwsegwa (We didn’t really think he played awesome, we just wanted to be able to sing his song thousands of times in the pub.)
Honourable mentions: Bradbury (Services to partying), CC (The new one- fabulous debut), Henri (For being the only person present who could pronounce his name properly. And for a solidly impressive debut), Sham (having such a big impact on a game in which he played a grand total of twelve minutes).
Donkey of the Week: Marwan ‘Paul’ Aleid (More reasons than you could shake a beard comb at)
The Numbers Game
Will return next week.
0 - yet to recapture his late-season good form