Saturday 20th October 2018
A lone figure stood at the monkey enclosure of London Zoo, rain lashing at the side of his face. He slipped his Brazilian phrasebook into his pocket and withdrew his phone, anxiously refreshing WhatsApp. The man in question was none other than AFC Division 5 South‘s Old Tiffinian Threes’ captain, Dan Hogg. But today, he was just another punter on boyfriend duties, acting as tour guide for a group of South American globetrotters. Meanwhile, his beloved Tiffs were battling it out against the local enemies, Old Meds. Lamenting his decision to entertain the Brazilian bunch and hoping that Tiffs could adopt a Brazilian style of play, Dan was met with the gut-wrenching confirmation text of 0-2. Bollocks!
He stood at the monkey enclosure watched a bit of poo flinging (these Brazilians really were an odd bunch) and hatched a plan. Next week would be a different score line.
To be continued…
Saturday 27th October 2018
A determined Dan Hogg arrived two hours early and set about his tactical masterclass. Most managers would look at the team sheet Dan had in-front of him and burst into tears. But seeing the plague of injuries, lack of players, and his 6th keeper of the season, the 3s captain saw…….an opportunity.
Opting for a bold and unheard of 4-4-1-1. The formation was hit by murmurs in the changing room “that’s basically just a 4-4-2!”, “what happened to the 4-2-3-1?”, “why does everyone think I’m a poor man’s Tom Scott?” But Dan knew this ballsy tactical risk might just be the differential needed.
Dan’s decisions to an outside eye would look like insanity. At CF he brought Akdeniz out of retirement; Dwyer a highly decorated and FIT striker being forced into RM with defensive duties and Flynn a CM just off crutches being put between the sticks. Someone get the straight jacket, the gaffer’s gone mad!
After the team got on board with tactical changes, the standard warmup took place – blasting balls at the keeper, looking at the other team to try and figure out their BMI to see if our speedy counter attack style would work, and finishing with a short jog, the side length of the field, the almighty purples were ready to do battle.
The whistle blew and it was immediately evident that the Threes were the more dominant team. Our roster of 19 centre mids had finally meant that we were dominating possession and passing the ball.
Tiffs took the opening chance with fantastic link up play down the right flank saw FIT winger Stevie, thread the ball to Zeki, who zipped the ball across the box to speedy stat man extraordinaire, Ed. Who attempted a cultured right foot finish, unfortunately, left sided player Ed, is more one footed than Oscar Pistorius and the shot rocketed over the woodwork.
Every Player was working hard, central midfielders Charlie, Tom and Grant were putting a huge shift in the middle of the park, and it payed off as the deadlock was finally broken near the end of the first half.
For a man who has struggled with dyslexia his whole life, James Khaj was a world class reader of back passes, pouncing on the wayward bobbler, pirouetting around the keeper and slotting the ball home, 1-0, we were off.
Woking clearly weren’t going to go down easy, rocketing crosses at the back four, but as was the trend with this match, the defence stayed strong. Every ball being nutted away with the same ferocity of Zinedine Zidane’s head after being subjected to a “your mum” joke.
If Chris and Ben’s heading prowess wasn’t enough, counter attacks were stifled by heroic tackles in the 6 yard box by Hogg and Vrabie, and build up play ripped to shreds by Rudran and Eggar.
Injured striker Tom Flynn sat between the sticks watching a defensive masterclass on display. He thought to himself “I’m not having to do anything today… this is great, balls barely even getting near me, you could replace me with a ladder and nothing would get in, and what a great day to be out the house, although cold, it is actually a beautiful day for the beautiful game, wait why is everyone staring at me?” time seemed to stop “wait is that the ball, has someone taken a wayward shot outside the box, what do I do, how do I goalkeep? It’s a bit off centre, I should probably move. Now, do I catch it? Or punch it away? Wait, THAT’S WAY OFF CENTRE, gunna have to dive for this one, no way I’m catching that, way too much swaz, God this must be what Jordan Pickford felt like in those World Cup quarter finals, I’m Jordan Pickford right now, TWAT, gave that a right wallop big save for the Flynntoff!”
As Flynn hit the floor, he couldn’t see the rest of the team almost definitely celebrating his heroics, “what a great save! God this guy is the full package, goals and can save ‘em too! We should start paying HIM to play”, Dan probably thought.
Flynn made sure he preserved that clean sheet, even if the corrupt fantasy football officials refuse to give him the points…looking at you Ed.
Khaj clearly had a point to make in this match, long had he yearned to make the switch from CDM to a CAM/10 role. And for too long had he played second fiddle to Old Tiffs’ resident adonis and goal scoring machine, Tom Scott, well if it’s a golden boot race he wants, it’s a golden boot race he’ll get. After a flicking header from Tom M, Khaj took the ball from inside his own half, and in his best Gareth Bale impression took on the whole defence and blasted it home whilst screaming “EAT MY GOAL, TOM SCOTT!”
A third Khaj goal quickly followed, but quite frankly, it wasn’t as memorable as the other two, making it 3-0. Finally, a win for the threes to get their first W of the season. A cracking game by all. Dan’s Plan had worked.
MOTM: Khaj, obviously.