It may have only been round 1, but there was a strong air of confidence in the Beachside line up as it took the field. However an air of an air of confidence does not mean anything if you don’t back it up with effective action- just ask Scott Morrison- and a bit of indecisive team defence allowed Eagles to take an early lead.
Beachside shook off the early setback and began to work into the game in response. It wasn’t long before Lyndo’s cross from the left floated in towards the penalty spot and the opposition keeper (perhaps quite rightly) looked hesitant to get too close to a charging ginger, allowing Johnno to get to the ball first and glance his header in to level the scores.
I didn’t know what to expect from Metro, as I haven’t played against them in any competition for over a decade, but they certainly came to play in this game. From their early attack on the ball, it was clear they were more up for a fight than a Men’s Rights Activist on International Women’s Day (for the record I think men's health is a very important issue which is why it annoys me when it is trivialised and weaponised for cheap rhetorical point scoring). Beachside were also playing with intent and commitment, which made for a pretty scrappy start to the game.
Metro had a couple of dangerous moments on the counter, but the longer the half wore on, the clearer it became that Beachside had an edge, with the backline of Holmesy, Timmy and Mo effectively quelling any attacking threats and finding it easy to work the ball out of defence to the midfield.
Midweek evening games always seem like a great idea when they are first suggested. Then on the day the reality of a busy day at work sets in and by the time I get to the ground, I have what you might describe as limited enthusiasm for a game. One person who could never be accused of having limited enthusiasm is Bernie, who was already up and about by the time I arrived.
Buoyed by American headlines proclaiming Bernie’s surge in the Democratic Primaries, our man had a decent strut going pregame. He pulled the team in for a quick chat and with his infectious enthusiasm, it was inevitable that the whole team began to ‘Feel the Bern’ (just in case anyone can’t get their mind out of the gutter, that is a commonly used unofficial catchphrase for the Bernie Sanders campaign) so there was a good feeling in the group as we took our places on the field.
Climate Change-driven weather events (yes Climate Change is real) have forced sporting bodies to implement extreme weather policies to protect player welfare, but it turns out it’s not just the governing bodies making these types of policies. Whilst most of these policies are related to hot weather, Knighty and Hendo’s personal tepid-weather policies kicked in when the temperature dropped below 12 degrees, making them unavailable (I’m gonna feel real bad if either of them had a family emergency) and bringing us down to 12 players, which made it fortunate we would be playing three 25-minute periods. Ordinarily, a 25-minute period sounds shorter than Shae’s legs, but knowing half of the players on the field would be literally half my age, I suspected 25 minutes would seem plenty long enough.
I’d hoped to write more match reports this year, but I’ve been busier than a fact-checker at a Scott Morrison press conference. But when a man in a self-appointed captain’s armband tells me they want another report written, who am I to argue?
After the cold early morning showers, the ground was muddy enough to make Pepper Pig happy (obviously the topic of my jokes has changed a bit since I became a dad) but by the time I got to Gormley Park, the sun was out and it was a perfect morning for soccer.
Kingborough took the kick off, but the Beach had by far the better of the opening exchanges. With Dover and The Dark Knight aggressively patrolling the midfield, Kingborough initially found it difficult to maintain much possession with their only real threats coming on the wings. By contrast, Beachside were consistently able to move the ball out of defence, with Harry, Gibbo and Simon all getting early looks at the goal.
With a re-scheduled game and an opponent that couldn’t field a full team in the first two weeks, our season had started with more stutters than ScumMo’s election campaign. So round three felt kind of like the start of the season.
Like most of the Beachside team, I hadn’t played for a while so was unsure how the body would hold up and how much touch I might have lost.
Phoenix looked by far the better prepared and more organised, and had a big squad changed and out on the ground warming up well before Beachside emerged from the change rooms still discussing positions in the final minutes before kick-off.
I actually haven’t seen a game of soccer live since Tony Abbott was promising to sit on the backbench without sniping and undermining his successor (must have been another non-core promise), but I finally got the chance last weekend and really enjoyed it. Games between Taroona and Beachside have a history of being closely fought, so I was optimistic as I arrived at Sandown Park under low clouds that were as grey as the AFL’s new third man up rule.
Beachside pressed from the start and did all the attacking in the first few minutes. As early as the first minute, Whitehall won a corner and Fisher’s header went narrowly wide. Beachside kept up the pressure and it was another corner- taken quickly to Whitehall at the edge of the box- that opened the scoring when Pearce won the header and knocked it past the keeper to give his side the lead.
After a tough first game, the omens were better for week 2. It was a beautiful warm day and the sky was as clear as Bieber’s complexion (and presumably much clearer than his conscience). Coach Walker had assembled an impressive squad of skilled and athletic young players who were warming up on the bottom field. There were also two much older players who seemed as out of place in the youthful team as Germaine Greer’s tasteless attempt to link the Bali 9 executions to the incredibly tacky Free the Nipple campaign (which, let’s be honest, is just a new way of trying to justify exhibitionism and attention-seeking).
I was pretty happy with my timing, rocking up in time for the end of the warm up, but not so late as to start on the bench. I had had some major dental work during the week and was battling some gastric issues on the day, but the positive energy of the playing group was infectious and by the time the whistle blew for the start of the game I was pumped.
For a winter sport, the Tasmanian soccer season throws up perfect days like much more often than you might expect. The sun was out and the only cloud on the horizon was the fact that there will be another episode of Married at First Sight.
As usual, I arrived too late for any kind of warm-up (perfect timing) so just went with a quick stretch and half a tube of deep heat (also known as the fat man’s warm-up).
The Cookie Monster was a bit of a doubtful starter, but luckily he handles the mantle of leadership better than Kim Booth. He wasn't going to sit on the sidelines eating organic quinoa salad (they don't call him the salad monster- also I don’t mean to imply that Kim Booth eats quinoa either) that had been prepared by someone who hadn’t seen meat for two days and paying little attention to the performance of his team. He was here to lead and that was what he did- continuing to yell instructions (which were often ignored respectfully) and encouragement to his team members, before coming on and playing out the majority of the game.
Yet another cracking winter Sunday dawned. I assume it must have anyway, as I was still asleep, but it was still beautiful when I got woke up, which was only about an hour before the game. After a dry week, the ground looked in pretty good condition too. Even though Dark Mofo was also in full swing, it wasn’t all good news, as the team had more absentees than a meeting of FIFA’s executive branch.
The Sandown Ranger obviously realised I was running out of original Chuck Norris jokes and took pity on me by feigning an injury (although no one really believed it was possible for him to be injured). The Tominator was away wining and dining the Governor of Tasmania, while Crumbs, The Boss, Mr Lineker and TV Week were all out too.
There was also some good news on the personnel front. The Beachside Originals were bolstered by the return of the H-bomb and the youthful Billy the Kid. We also were glad to see one of the better refs in our division walking out the centre circle to start proceedings. Some of our recent referees have seemed to understand the rules of soccer about as well as Joe Hockey understands low income Australia, so it was a relief to see Chris turn up to officiate.
The Friday Night lights summoned the masses to the Tropicana Cauldron for The Boss’ birthday and a match between The Beachside Originals and South East United, which gave the birthday boy a chance to relive his Glory days. I looked up before the game and I was Blinded by the Light, but away from the ground there was Darkness at the edge of town. Check out all these Springsteen references in honour of the Boss’ birthday- I’m on fire! Despite the recent winter solstice, it was a calm and mild night, although rain from earlier in the week left the ground a bit soft underfoot.
Supporters were out in force, with representatives of the new-look Beachside committee, including the Hoff and the Bomb squad, keeping an eye on proceedings. The senior squad was also represented, with The Bad Seid planting himself near halfway alongside Lutters, where they could be heard throughout the match.
The Chad had also brought his own cheer squad, consisting of The Perfect 10, Cap'n Sam, The Delightful Baker, Mr and Mrs Smith. The whole cheer squad could only be described as #distractingly sexy (and loud). This would prove to be an extra challenge for the players, as Tim Hunt has already made it clear that if you can’t concentrate around women, it isn’t your fault. Despite the flack he has copped for his comments on the problems of working around women, the Nobel laureate was at least partially vindicated, with several players falling in love by the end of the game.