Minutes & Reports
Match reports: season 2016
Round 6: TOPSA 3 - 1 Boronia (W)
Goals: Cameron Teiermanis, Ben Smart, Trent Harrison
…Boronia Soccer Club. A team that for the past few years has dominated the majority of the Bayside divisions but in particular, the Premier League. Last year they were on for the perfect season of 14-0, until bottom of the ladder TOPSA pulled off one of the shocks of the season with a 2-2 draw at the fortress that is the Detmold. Who would have thought then that going into this match, it would be the home side starting as odds on favourites.
As always though I was more than willing to write this match report as it was going to be a cracker. After the “boozelympics” the night before, the Speedies to their credit had brought the team chemistry to an all time high. What was not peaking as players began to rock up however was their physical state and it was already taking its toll early on in the contest.
What hungover people usually prefer to do on a Sunday arvo is sleep on the couch with a cup of hot tea while watching the footy. Unfortunately we were experiencing the opposite, running around like headless chickens with bigger, tougher opponents trumping us both on and off the ball. That was combined with many players (mostly me) performing like flamingos on ice and losing their footing on multiple occasions. This often resulted in crucial turnovers and the one other thing hungover people don’t like hearing, the high decibel catch phrases of Stan Packer “NOT THERE! AHHHHH! SORT IT OUT!”
Luckily it remained 0-0, and after a rare forward fray saw us win a free kick. Simmo whipped the ball to the top of the box where Cam teed the ball on one touch before volleying the ball around the keeper to give us a perhaps underserved lead. The game started to level out, Boronia missed another sitter from 7 yards out and instead of it becoming 1-1, Cam decided to take it to Boronia himself and ended up being taken down in the box. Ben stepped up and slotted home another convincing penalty and all of a sudden we were 2-0 to the good.
Everyone was all of a sudden on a high, but spectators of last year’s game would well know that we were in the exact same position, before letting it slip in the final moments. Not this time. Before the break, Ben was able to dink the ball over the top to which Trent ran on and tucked it away neatly to shellshock the current champs. Did 3-0 flatter us at the break? Sure, but for once, we’d converted the chances we’d created, 3 from 3 and Boronia’s misfiring forward line able to do nothing but run into the midfield and lay it off left them rattled.
We knew they were going to give it all they had 2nd half and we’d have our backs to the wall. Sure enough we were under the pump. But we held our nerve, and kept the formation solid for the first 10-15 minutes that saw no big chances. Boronia were getting frustrated, from missing the general pass and yelling at their own players, to pulling players down by the shirt... That was my take on it anyway. Soon however, after a short clearance, the backline was caught out of shape and Boronia put one away. 3-1, and the pressure intensified.
After Boronia had complained our penalty was a dive (it wasn’t) and our 3rd goal was offside (it wasn’t), soon they had something legible. After a ball over the top, Lyndo was culpable to a mishit clearance, unless he meant to kick the guy in the shins and get none of the ball. Boronia were in uproar (rightly so) and if anything it only helped us surge on to keep them at bay. Their frustration grew and grew and before you know it they had a player sent-off. With Brando and Scholesy tag-teaming on Roper, we knew we had it in the bag. Finally the whistle went and TOPSA Soccer Club had done it. They’d beaten the Premiers in what was “the biggest victory in their short history”. A moment we should be proud of, and if we weren’t before, we are now legitimate title contenders. And so we look on to next week where it’s a top of the table clash against Seaford. Another test, but even with myself and Mr. Golden boot missing, I’m sure we can still go in confident of getting another positive result. Good luck for the next few weeks lads, I hope to see you on 10-0 when I return. Up the Flamingos!
Round 5: Croydon 0 - 4 TOPSA (W)
Goals: Matt Smart, Ben Smart, Louis Brownlee, Trent Harrison
Having not provided a match report for the past fortnight, my fans have been left bitterly disappointed. All 1 of you have claimed that I had dropped the ball and I can only apologise. I can make as many as excuses for not writing one as Mash can for not running the line but essentially, I couldn’t be fucked. And when you don’t have the creative content, these reports can become as boring and humourless as your girlfriend’s grandma’s 93rd birthday, just ask Prenda, he knows.
So a quick summary of the previous two games: were we lucky to get the 3-2 win over Rosebud? Probably. Did we deserve to lose 2-0 in the Cup to Dandenong? Undoubtedly, we were rubbish to be honest. But to be fair, playing against Dandenong is as fun as looking after Andrew Kevan on a night out in Geelong.
Now let’s compare the state of today’s opposition. Croydon Ranges (no it’s not rangers, yer I don’t get it either). Last year they pipped us for 2nd bottom and assigned us the wooden spoon. Come 2016 however and all of a sudden TOPSA are 5-0, while Croydon sit 0-5 and oh how times have changed. It appears Croydon are now putting in similar performances to when we went to Mount Lilydale and put out a side so weak, even Matt Day got a run. Yep, it was perhaps the darkest day in the club’s history post-Furher era.
Going off these stats we were obvious favourites. In fact betting agencies weren’t even taking odds. Not because we’re that good, just because no one gives a shit. So the game started and 30s in we should’ve scored after a quick run down the right hand side from Simmo, saw a ball cut across goal to which neither Trent nor then Louis could quite put away. No matter, within the next 3 minutes we’d have another 2 chances but neither paid off in a final result. With the keeper deciding to line up goal kicks as if he was Jonny Wilkinson (rugby reference you numpties) and take 30s each time, we were getting frustrated to which the ref did fuck all.
It wasn’t uncommon for us to start games on the offensive, even in past years. Usually however we’d let in a cheap goal and crumble from there onwards. This year though we were consistently persistent and this was the same today. Eventually we decided to go route one. After winning the ball in midfield, I laid it back to Chief Flamingo Lyndo who knocked it long straight over the top for Trent to run onto to and cutely chip the keeper and give us the more than deserved lead. It may not have been the great passing football that we usually show, but it worked.
For all the chances we created however, to head in 1-0 at half-time against a struggling Croydon was indeed disappointing. Stan told us the obvious, we were trying to be too perfect and take too many touches before shooting. We needed to be more direct and quicker with our usual two touch and pass mentality. We took this all to heart and looked much better straight from the off in the second period. Andy had come on and looked menacing; Cam was running aggressively with the ball meanwhile Simmo had somehow convinced the coach to put him upfront.
Still the goal wouldn’t come. What you need at a time like this is for a real leader to step up and steer the team in the right direction. It’s ok though guys, Smarty is playing, and no Matt Day, I don’t mean Ben. So after Cam made another good run down the wing and put the ball in the box for Simmo, the new striker decided to conveniently fumble it straight into my path and I was more than willing to slam home my first for the season through a crowd of defenders.
And so the momentum piled even further in our direction. With the brother rivalry having closed from 2 goals to 1, Benjamin obviously couldn’t let me have the glory, so after being put through by Eric, who had been delivering the goods all game, Ben ran past multiple defenders before being taken down in the box which for once was given. He dispatched the pen with power and quality into the top right corner. Ugh sigh…
With barely minutes left on the clock, Louis decided to take things to another level. After seeing a long throw bounce over his shoulder, the ferret fired a first time volley from the top of the box into the bottom left hand corner. It was the sweetest thing the man’s produced in 20 years since he featured as the cute Yoplait kid. That ended the game at a more respectable margin of 4-0, we should’ve even won by more but at the end of the day, we’re still undefeated and top of the table. Up next, the reigning champions, Boronia. Somehow I feel Brando’s mysterious injury will have somehow healed itself for this particular game. Up the flamingos.
P.S Forgot to mention, Scholesy was a rock all day, but he provided nothing of comedic value so his votes have been rescinded.
Round 3: TOPSA 3 - 2 Bayswater (W)
Goals: Ben Smart x2, Trent Harrison
Two games into the season and TOPSA are top of the table heading into their next clash with Bayswater. Meanwhile pigs can fly, Matt Day has scored a goal and one of Stan’s jokes gets genuine laughter. All about as likely one would’ve thought this time last year. While you can’t necessarily read much into these things so early on, to say we’d started the season on a high would be an understatement. The other sides must be thinking to themselves ‘ok boys you’ve had your fun, now go back to the bottom of the ladder sort of operators we know you for’. Yet the feeling within the club was all positive, thinking more along the lines of ‘maybe we could be Leicester City in disguise’. Going off the Bayswater we faced last year we knew there was a good chance of picking up another win today, but their recent form also suggested they’d improved during the offseason.
So it came to around 3 o’clock and both sides were ready to show what they were made of. Some 20 minutes later however and the game was under way and from the off we looked much brighter than last week against Dandenong.
Our passing game was on point and we’ve started to become the team who like to play it out of the back line. We seemed much more confident to find the right ball into the midfield instead of a certain ex-coaches' tactic of booting it long to speedy forwards with questionable hairstyles. Todd continued his good form from last week even though many worried he’d go into hiding on a warm day after forgetting his sunscreen. Eric also put in his best performance so far for the club and will surely keep his spot in the starting line up next week.
Meanwhile Cam had started this game in the new role of CAM with Simmo pushed out to the wing and the combinations were working well. His speed, hard running and creativity allowed me to sit comfortably in the middle of the park and together we easily controlled the opposition who seemed bamboozled at this point. The first goal saw almost all of the midfield involved as we won the ball in the centre of the park, only to push it out right and soon enough Louis (or maybe Trent could be wrong) was put through only to lay it back for the supposed better Smarty to tuck home his first goal for the club.
It was all looking very comfortable as we pushed for a second and then the unthinkable happened. After the other Smarty cleared away a corner from the near post, we were too slow to close the opposition, who slotted it through a crowd of players and past Parson’s who saw his 100% save rate blemished. 1-1. An odd feeling conceding a goal and one that was undeserved, something that shows how far we’ve come already.
Not to worry though, right before the half ended, Trent dribbled his way through the heart of the defence, and while his shot was parried, B. Smart was there to pounce and double his tally. Going into half-time I copped the banter you would expect “how does it feel to not be the best player in your family? (Jack Massey)” “he really is Smarty 2.0 (Ash Scholes)”. Just… ahh rekt.
The second half came and it was much the same story as that of the first. TOPSA was dominating, Bayswater were hanging in there and the ref was making more ripping calls like an offside from a corner even though there were two defenders on the post. Eventually our warranted 3rd goal came as Ben decided this time to lay the ball back to Trent who turned his opponent and curled it past the keeper for a goal he’d deserved.
Andy had come on and had done himself no favours if he’d wanted to play two’s next week as he provided many threats down the right hand side even with the glaring sun directly in the eyes. Bayswater got a late penalty that they converted and soon after, the whistle blew denying Andy from what would’ve been a 40-yard screamer, leaving the final score for a 3-2 home win. A scoreline that flattered Bayswater, which I don’t like to say, as the vast majority of them weren’t flogs unlike last week.
A great team performance, I don’t usually mention votes in these reports but Stan has a tough job this week. Todd, Cam, Eric, Trent and the “better” Smarty (yes get around me) would all get votes any other week and I’m probably being harsh in missing 3 or 4 others. Again this highlights the strength of our squad this year as perhaps now the rest of the league will start to turn their heads and see the threat we pose to them this year. Up the Flamingos!
Round 2: Dandenong 0 - 3 TOPSA (W)
Goals: Louis Brownlee, Kartik Jagetheson, Pavithran Mohan
Upon rocking up to Dandenong, the boys were still on a high from their opening victory over Mornington the week before. Watching the game prior to ours we saw what appeared to be Dandenong’s U12 team playing on a perfectly mowed pitch in front of a grand stand with a large crowd looking on. Jesus if this is how good their youth academy is, just wonder how good a side we’re going to play today. But hey, we’re in good form, let’s go play on the big stage.
This however, was not the pitch we would be playing on. Instead we found ourselves playing on a ground where the nets were gaff taped together and the pitch itself was made up of overgrown clumps of grass, joined together by weeds, sand and strewn with dog poo. This pitch was just asking for someone (almost certainly me) to roll their ankle, injure themselves and fall into dog excrement, coming off more rekt and smelling worse than Matt Day after the season launch party. Is this a joke? No, apparently not, the joke was the side we were about to play.
We had gone through the warm-ups, determined the line-up and heard the pre-match amble from Stan, and with five minutes to kick off, there was still no sign of Dandenong City. On the dot of 10:58, 10 players ambled their way on to the “pitch” and practically rock-paper-scissored to decide who would be in goals this week. As soon as the game started all one could hear was the whinging you would expect to hear at an English all girls’ school.
- Get winded blocking a shot to the gut: “HANDBALL REF”
- Win 100% of the ball in a tackle: “PENALTY, THAT’S DIRTY”
- Call one offside: “REF THEY PUT THE FLAG UP EVERYTIME”
You get the gist of it. We tried not to let this get to us and play proper football but to be honest, we were extremely flat in the first period. While there were strings of good play showcasing the style and class we poised last week, there simply wasn’t enough of it. The chances we did create weren’t ending in goals either. Somehow their goalkeeper had pulled off a couple saves, with multiple shots being deflected onto the woodwork.
It was showing how difficult it could be to play against 10 men, and the frustration was getting to us, as even Dandenong wondered how we weren’t in front. After badgering on asking how long there was in the first half, the Ref suggested only 8 seconds. Todd took a long throw in and Louis outmuscled his opponent and squeezed it in at the near post which the keeper, or should I say, last player to rock up to the game, had left wide open. Instead of us celebrating however, we heard these idiots again complaining as to why the ref hadn’t blown for half time. “You said 8s ref, it took them at least 10s to score”.
The second half however was a much better display; Kartik had come on and looked bright, breaking free of the defence only to be denied by the new keeper for this half. Kartik would go on to score only minutes later as Ben put in what’s already being described as his vintage left-footed cross to the back post where Kartik was happy to apply the tap in finish. Not long after that and up stepped the nervous wreck from last week that was Pav. He was all nerves of steel this week however as Trent smartly laid the ball back to the lad on the edge of the box who curled it first time into the top left corner.
Confidence grew and the balls from the centre of midfield were starting to find the wingers. Cam had come back on and was making good runs, being put through only to be denied by this keeper who seemed to have some idea how to do the job. Meanwhile the defence didn’t have much to do, Dandenong rattled the crossbar from long distance once but other than that the back 4 had done well to keep their opponents quiet. And by being quiet, I mean having little to no influence on the game because they were still making the noises of a three year old in a supermarket.
Even after the inevitable happened of some unlucky fella (Kartik) rolling his ankle on the turf and being legitimately injured, the actions of this team who had been diving and screaming the whole day were putrid. Pulling the lad up from the ground and ordering Stan to stay in his technical box, which didn’t even exist.
The game ended and they were still having a go at us for manipulating the ref and telling Mikey D to keep his pretty mouth shut. Oh the irony. You have to feel sorry for the one or two players who joined the club to actually play football, only to end up with these muppets. At the end of the day however, we won convincingly and continued our perfect start to the season. One we’ll be looking to continue as we play our first game of the year at the fortress that is the Detmold against Bayswater. Up the flamingos!
Round 1: Mornington 0 - 2 TOPSA (W)
Goals: Louis Brownlee x2
TOPSA Soccer Club, a team often regarded for its’ banter on and off the field, but not necessarily well known for their results. Back to back wooden spooners over the 2014/15 seasons, surely relegation was on the cards for this battling side. Another good stitch up from Bayside however saw us remain a premier league outfit and would get the chance to fight another day to prove we belong here. All of a sudden Mornington were seeing their first fixture as a ‘guaranteed win’. Wow, I would not have said that.
Even though our pre-season only consisted of one practice game, confidence was high as we had seen off our former bogey side Seaford, in a deserved 0-0 draw. The cobwebs had been dusted off most players’ boots and Brando had already got his first red card out of the way. The starting line up for today’s game however looked vastly different to that of last year. Chief flamingo Lyndo had shown true leadership by jumping out of position into centre back covering the missing Speedies. Meanwhile we had fresh faces in the forms of Cam and Smarty… Ben (sorry Smarty just isn’t going to work) on the wings with Pav, Kartik and Eric all providing a new and needed injection into the squad.
So with a sense of optimism we went into the encounter with high spirits. Lyndo won the toss and decided to play with us running into the sun. A very risky call, one that could perhaps turn out as bad as Jmass’ right swipe judgements on tinder. From the off however it was very tentative from both sides. Miss passes here and there suggested both teams were still getting to grips with their new line-ups. Our new wingers were showing promise however with Ben and Cam pushing on and creating good lay-offs after dangerous dribbles on many occasions. Meanwhile the makeshift back 4 were doing a good job at keeping Parson’s official goalkeeping debut a quiet one. Mornington’s only real threats were coming in the way of set pieces but were unable to take advantage of them.
Being punished for missed opportunities had been one of our fortes in previous years but it appeared today was not to be one of those days. On a quick counter, Ben broke away from his opposite number on the left hand side. After definitely keeping the ball in play (great call Prenda) he laid it through to Louis who rounded the keeper nicely to slot home his and TOPSA’s first of the season.
At this point, the newbies had also been introduced to the game, as silky Kartik looked positive on the ball, Eric showed his versatility as a possible RB/RW and while Pav looked incredibly nervous according to Stan, he was remaining a solid rock in the centre of midfield. Maybe Stan was justified in calling the lad Yaya… Actually no you still can’t say that Stan.
Half-time came and went and while we were on the ascendancy, the thought amongst the group was that we needed at least a second to give us a chance of leaving with the 3 points. Mornington came out with the opposite ambition however and we found ourselves in a slugfest. Strong challenges were coming in from both sides. I’m pretty sure I died at one point after a crunching yet clean tackle. 3 minutes later and Louis had also been collected with a poor challenge and all of a sudden there was a bit of fire to this game.
You know what quietens all that down though? Goals. Step in once again B. Smart with another last ditch touch to keep the ball in play (definitely in another good call linesman) and a peach of a left footed cross found Louis 2 yards out at the back post to which he met it with a thumping header. The deadly duo combined not long after with a similar play only for Louis to head his hat trick goal wide, drop the lad now.
As much possession as Mornington had during the second half they were never able to create real threatening chances. Parsons was collecting the ball with authority when called upon while Todd was winning plenty of headers and challenges. At the same time Mikey D was proving Morno had squandered the opportunity to sign the man during the off-season. $200 a week, what a bargain that would’ve been how much are we paying him? $0, shrewd business there Sink.
As time ran out, Simmo and Cam were still able to break free and run on for days with the ball which gave the defence enough respite to get us over the line for what in the end, was a well deserved victory. The boys ran their hearts out today, and we all got to sing the song due to these efforts, well half of us did. The new boys need to do their homework now and learn the lyrics; we might need to sing it a few more times at this rate. Next up, a tough trip to Dandenong City, where we’ll be confident and urged to show it was no fluke and that we really do belong in this league. Up the flamingos!
Round 8: Boronia 2 - 1 TOPSA (L)
Goal: Toby Heard
This being Bayside league, the Magoos climbed aboard the OBF (Old Boys’ Firm for the uninitiated) Love Wagon for another trek to the not-so Bayside suburbs. Our destination this time? Ferntree Gully. The opponent? Boronia. Boronia + Ferntree Gully = Bayside; WTF.
In addition to this disbelief and confusion, the OBF Love Wagon relied on directions given in our weekly spam email from fearless leader Sinclair. These directions took us 15 kilometres into dense forest, but unwilling to in any way second-guess the supreme overload, we ended up 35mins late and two shin-pads short. When the OBF enquired with the Pres about this less than ideal situation, he blamed the anti-social media BookFace. As a result, the OBF will be backing the Andrew Kevan alternative ticket at this year’s AGM.
To the match. Straight from the kick-off, we looked sharp. Helped by one of the flattest surfaces in “Bayside” league, the ball whizzed from heel and toe. Conor “44” Whinchester started well at right-back and fed his offsider Toby “Heard of a diet” with some quality ball. Heardy was a bit quick for Casper the ghost (Ferntree Gully’s translucent white left-back) and cracked in on goal. “Lovely-legs” Prendergast found himself handy to the goal and Cam “it’s just a natural tan” Lancefield was a nuisance for the opposition defence.
Through this weight of possession, and some guts and guile in the box, Heard-of-a-diet drew first blood with a five-yard put away. At last we had some meat for our salad and potatoes.
Looking to hold the initiative, we decided to sub our best player on; Dave “I’m the best player” Crow. Some thought he might be a bit stiff and cold after coming from the bench, but your correspondent later found that his alpaca knit that did the job of keeping this supreme athlete in a state of not-too-hot, not-too-cold equilibrium.
With Tis collecting the long balls over the top, and Emlyn “taller than you, Harnett” Williams playing some quality rebound defence, we got to half-time with the advantage.
Change of ends, and a change of fortune. Early in the 2nd half, Lovey-legs stood under a high ball and was clattered from behind from some dude from Ferntree Gully. The ref’s whistle wasn’t forthcoming and as his header found the net, Gully drew level.
We still had some quality forays forward but they were becoming less frequent, and Boronia Gully had their go too. Tis was involved, Alex too, and for the most part, we kept the threat at bay. Then, late in the match with only five minutes to play, Ferntree’s 8-foot tall centre-midfielder cracked one from near enough to the centre circle. It was perfectly weighed and floated flawlessly into the very top-right corner of our net. Defeat.
After controlling roughly 65% of possession, defeat was a bitter pill to swallow. On the upside, we played a quality passing game for most of the match. We just lacked some composure in the final third – something to work on in coming weeks. The fundamentals are in place now and very shortly we’ll nab a quality scalp. Can’t wait.
FA Cup Round 1: TOPSA 0 - 2 Boronia (L)
Alright boys, settle in. To quote Matt Day, “IT’S TIME TO MAKE A CUPPA AND HAVE A GOOD OLD READ”. Well for you anyway. For me it’s time to try (and let’s be honest, probably succeed) at being funny for 500 words, then to check facebook periodically to make sure I’m earning a respectable about of likes.
So let’s get right to it. We played Boronia in the cup. We cracked in and controlled possession. We didn’t score. They did. We lost. Alright, ‘match report’ over.
On the weekend, their effort to be a bunch of flogs was led by the bloke who Prenda wanted to fight. Damn, that really doesn’t narrow it down much does it. The bloke whose banter was terrible? Ah shit, that doesn’t help either. To be honest, it doesn’t really matter if you know who he is or not. The distinguishing feature of this particular one was his arrogance. At 2-0 up, you’re entitled to feel reasonable satisfied. You’ve worked hard and got the points over an opponent who made you fight for every ball. But you’ve always got to stay realistic.
Sunday league arrogance wins you no friends. As some witty, intelligent and good-looking individual (myself) on the bench pointed out: “if you were really any good you wouldn’t be playing against us”. Okay, so Boronia field quite a few sides. You’re playing in their thirds. Assuming the first two teams have at least 3 on the bench, and that you’re the best player in the thirds (handy hint…you’re not), that means, at best, you’re the 28th best player at your club. That’s almost as bad as when Dave said “we shouldn’t be taking our best players off” after he got subbed. Almost.
There were a bunch of other blokes who also had a crack at gaining 712 status (don’t worry boys, you all passed with flying colours). A standout moment was when I sent an effort wide of the post, and he came out with the witty line of “well done mate, great shot”. This almost rivals that rotund individual from last year who asked Louis “does your Mum know you’re out?” midgame in terms of crap banter. Who did that guy play for I hear you ask….Boronia. What a surprise. His line was especially cringeworthy when you consider that only truly mediocre teams concede shots at goal to untalented numpties such as myself. Special mention also to the guy who got sent off due to his completely reasonable reaction after he was viciously crunched by myself…. I can’t even write this with a straight face. Watch the video mate.
If you didn’t play for Boronia I’d probably have a beer with you. But you do.
P.S. Sinkers... (Comment removed by author)
Round 5: Doveton 1 - 0 TOPSA (L)
Round 4: TOPSA 2 - 1 Langwarrin (W)
Goals: Simon Jay, Jackson Prendergast
First off, I’d like to apologise for the lack of report from last week, but I had a good reason- I just really couldn’t be stuffed. And when Matt Day asks five times a day that you do something, let’s be honest….you wouldn’t do it either. To sum up: it was a draw, and he nearly killed the opposition keeper with the worst tackle seen since, well…ever.
After a warm-up so lethargic that even the club’s original goalkeeper probably could have completed it (actually nah probably not), our game against Langwarrin got underway. I can’t tell you much about the first few minutes though, because I was too busy regretting my decision to run the line as my hands slowly froze. The first thing I do remember however, has been a familiar sight to TOPSA ressies observers over the years. A well-taken corner lead directly to a Langy goal, as a powerful header left Scholesy no chance between the posts. For the third week in a row we were 1-0 down early on. And for the third week in a row, this merely spurred us on further.
The likes of Dos were strong in the centre, our speedy wingers were causing havoc for Langwarrin’s “experienced” (i.e. old) defence, and Shane was dominating the back four like when he and Brando dominate the dancefloor listening to mid-2000’s alternative rock at 4am at a flamingo event when everyone else has gone to bed. But perhaps the most influential first-half figure was Jackson “Big Bird” Prendergast. Moved into centre-forward by the tactical genius of Bails (match report tally-3; suck up to coach in match report tally-3), he was controlling the ball and laying it off nicely to the rest of our less lanky and more co-ordinated forwards. And after an opposition defender set him up with a good pass straight off the cross-bar, he tucked it away and we were on equal terms again.
1-1 at the half, and the boys were full of confidence. Not pretend confidence like McCall whenever he talks about his so-called ‘third leg’ or his ability with girls, but genuine, hard-earned confidence. We were going to win this game. And for virtually all of the final 45, we were in complete control of the match….yet for virtually all of the final 45, the scores remained equal. We dominated possession to an extent rarely seen in reserves games, but for all our effort could not break the deadlock. I genuinely can’t believe I’m writing this, but with about twenty minutes left it was nearly yours truly that put us ahead, as I somehow struck the ball onto the crossbar. Whilst it seems unlikely that a player as talentless and generally shit as myself would notice that the keeper was out of position, realise I was in a spot to exploit this, purposefully strike the bobbling ball on the half-volley and float it over the keeper, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it. It certainly wasn’t a complete fluke, that’s for sure. Still, it didn’t go in, and it seemed we were heading for another draw.
Enter Si. After some exquisite combination passing through the midfield, he turned onto his left and expertly tucked the winner away into the bottom corner. The man just can’t stop scoring, both on the field and in…other places (congratulations on the soon to be baby boy by the way). When the whistle blew, I couldn’t quite believe it. Not only had we won, we had done so convincingly against an opponent that kept cracking in. The passionate rendition of the song was one of our best (not that there’s that many to choose from), as we celebrated our third consecutive week unbeaten and rose into the top half of the table.
I can’t think of many better ways to spend your Sunday than having a win with a ripping bunch of flamingos.
Round 3: TOPSA 2 - 2 Boronia (D)
Goals: Simon Jay, Dan Purkis
Round 2: Bayswater 2 - 2 TOPSA (D)
Goals: David Crow, Andrew Richardson
There are two standard ways to respond to a disappointing sporting performance. If you’re Richmond FC circa 1983-present, you kick the first goal or two the next week then proceed to put in a performance worse than Andy Kevan on pre-season trip. If you’re a club that isn’t full of numpties, you redeem yourselves with a quality performance next time out. But if you’re a flamingo, you throw a season launch party after the season has quite obviously already started, and get completely Matt Day’d (especially if you’re Matt Day).
Yet despite the fact our goal difference of negative 8 after one game suggests we are completely terrible (“Aw, you can come up with statistics to prove anything, Kent. Forty percent of all people know that”), the boys were full of confidence heading into this away clash against Bayswater. Partly because Bayswater are genuinely the only team we have beaten in the league in the past two seasons. I’m unsure if that’s more depressing for us or them, but because I’m a positive bloke, and also can’t resist a cheap joke at the opposition’s expense, I’ll say Bayswater (despite them being one of the rare clubs I don’t actually hate. On an unrelated topic, I’m greatly saddened to see Boronia haven’t won a game this year). And partly because our team welcomed back a number of important players this week (not you McCall). In fact, after missing training with illness this week, I probably should have been dropped according to our new “don’t train, don’t play” policy. Yet, in shades of the infamous annual rigging of trivia night, “executive committee are immune from selection issues” according to Sinkers. This club is corrupt.
So with the experience of Dos and Si controlling the middle of the park, Andy looking threatening out wide and myself listening to Matt Day offend the girls team on the bench, we started well. Yet in classic TOPSA ressies fashion, the opponent’s first meaningful attack lead to the opening goal. Whereas in previous years this would often lead to us dropping our heads and being out of the game by half time, there is something different about the club this year…1) We have the strongest squad in years, as Shane was controversially forced out of his match-reporting gig (and also into the twos). And 2) we have taken the piss out of ourselves so much that we no longer fear what the opposition can do to us on-field.
So after a quality build-up down the wing, with crisp first touch passes from a number of players (sorry I can’t remember who you were), Andy cut in from the left and beat the keeper at his near-post. 1-1. Our momentum continued as Dave, having missed a shot earlier that even Travis Cloke would have got on target…alright, probably not. But you get the idea. Actually, Pommy Dave probably doesn’t. Travis Cloke regularly misses easy goals, Dave. Sort it out. Unlike Travis however, Dave quickly redeemed himself, and put us in the lead with a nice turn and accurate finish. The rest of the first half was a good contest, as both teams had good spells. Shane was relishing his added freedom in midfield, as he pushed forward and, in scenes that had to be seen to be believed, actually nearly won a penalty. Emlyn was beating blokes twice his size (they were nearly 6 foot tall) in physical contests, and Bails was as composed as ever (2016 “suck up to coach in match report” tally: two). The home team’s greater knowledge of the wind paid dividends though, as they used its pull to curve a ball into the top corner nearing the break.
Even at the half, both teams went goalless in the second, but not for lack of trying. You know the flamingos are right in the contest when even idiots like Matt Day and myself are having (poor) shots at goal, and when an opposition striker, fired up by Shane’s innocent question “have you even got a touch playing on me mate?”, proceeds to finish the rest of the half by not getting a touch. Yet, if it weren’t for Sticks blocking a free-kick with his face in the closing stages, we could have undeservedly lost all three points. As it was however, we returned home with a hard-earned point, and part of Sticks’ tooth in his wallet. And shit, we aren’t even last. Get around us.
Round 1: Endeavour 10 - 2 TOPSA (L)
Goals: Cameron Lancefield x2
The last time we played Endeavour, we were shit enough, and the opposition keeper was enough of an arrogant flog for their shot-stopper to run most of the way down the pitch, ball in tow. Fortunately, two full seasons later, consisting of a grand total of two wins, the TOPSA ressies have been relegated to….the same division. Following the failure of Frankston City to last more than a solitary season, it also seems that starting a soccer club from scratch isn’t as easy as a flock of flamingos make it look. Apparently, the key to a successful soccer club is to not be particularly good at it….and to define “success” very loosely.
With this in mind, confidence wasn’t exactly at an all-time high approaching our round 1 clash, especially with our best player, captain, and coach all missing (yes, they are all the same person, and yes, sucking up to Bails in match reports is how I intend to keep my spot in the 11). Nevertheless, we started the match with the enthusiasm of Sinkers having a crack on a Geelong nightclub dancefloor.
The rest of the half followed a predictable trajectory. We fought hard and won our share of 50/50 contests, but lacked the extra class and experience of our opponents and too often got caught out on the counter. With McCall still recovering from losing his ID (and some mysterious liquid from his eyes), our lack of defensive depth was exposed as I, a right-back/bench sort of operator best described as “sometimes not completely terrible”, was forced into playing centre-half. Despite this obvious handicap, we kept trying to play proper soccer, with Andy making an impressive club debut in midfield, and Tiz putting in a resolute effort in goal. Safe to say if he wasn’t there, we would have been in a whole lot more trouble (shout out Matt Day if you’re reading).
The second half was notable for two things. One, we conceded another truckload of goals. Actually, there’s nothing notable about that, it happens about as often as Mash checks in at a burger joint on facebook. What was actually notable was the quality of our first goal. Having manoeuvred around his wing opponent with a touch that I’m pretty sure was an accident, Sam sprinted towards the box and delivered a cross that he definitely intended. Sticks guided it home with a classy flick… or backheel…. or something. I couldn’t really see it properly, but I’m sure he’ll talk about it enough to give you all a better description. There was nothing particularly classy about our second goal, but, with two already on the board, going on last year Sticks is 40% of his way to the ressies Golden Boot. Of course, because Sinkers hates the twos, this award doesn’t actually exist.
So in true flamingo tradition, we tried our best, and failed miserably. But at least we’re not a bunch of 712s. And if we keep that effort up and continue to gel as a team, next year we might not even deserve to be relegated.