Today marks an important step for East End Phoenix Football Club.
This is the first match for the new second side named after our beloved founder Leviathan Hendricks. I wanted this day to be exactly everything he stood for, fun, inclusivity, competitive, friendly and social but the priority today is absolute FUN!
Our team had not played together under the Leviathans name, and some had not even played real football before…more on that later Andre! Honestly on the footballing level I had no idea what was going to happen out there, goals could fly in on both sides, or it could be just a muddy stalemate. Nobody knows and that’s the excitement created before kick off. All I want is for everyone to enjoy themselves, Leftfooters included, this is why the inaugural game is with them, pioneers of fun football and total inclusivity.
Just before kick off we have a minutes silence to remember Leviathan and why we’re here today. At his memorial I was given a football belonging to him, that will be today’s match ball and I tell all the players not to boot it into the River Lea. Formation for the 1st half is similar to the original Phoenix set up as I hope some players will eventually be able to step up into that team. A few additions were drafted in late on to boost numbers on the sideline and to start this journey off with a squad of 15 is very encouraging indeed.
Now this report won’t be a minute by minute account of all the good bits because I wanted to enjoy myself too. I didn’t want to be frantically scribbling unreadable notes throughout which is annoying and even more so when you’re out and about with only one good arm. So I’ll cover the good bits, the fun bits, the bits that made me smile.
So off we go and both teams start figuring each other out, whilst I just watch proudly, not really caring at all to what’s happening! The relief of getting to this final hurdle is quite lovely. Our attacking yet conservative 3-5-2 formation proves a good place to set out as Marcel the left wing back finds himself just inside the Leftfooters penalty area where a poor clearance is lofted in his direction. A split second decision was made and he lashed it with that ageless left boot past the sprawling keeper. It was epic. It was Marcel. And it was a fantastic start! 1-0 Leviathans. I’m pretty sure this picture on the left is just before Marcel lets rip…look at his eyes, the concentration is real! So happy to be 1-0 up and even happier that Marcel scores a wonder volley, possibly the best of his career, not including own goals?
But soon after the one Leftfooter that could cause issues, started causes exactly that. Utilising his pace and strength whilst simultaneously exploiting the serious lack of running ability by all of our centre backs. Two, three times he carves his way through the field, right down the centre, almost rudely travelling as the bird flies straight to Super Steve’s goal. First attempt, wide. Second attempt goal, 1-1. Third attempt, another lucky escape. Oh dear this could be long day!
The first half isn’t particularly eventful, but it did allow me to assess the team and the players to see where our strengths and weaknesses are. I’ll only remark on the positives which so far include Nick’s ability to hold the ball up, stretch the defence where possible and link play very well. A Firmino-a-like if you will. Vikram is ever dependable in whatever position you play him, switching from either flank without much concern. The new James Milner. Captain Dan emits the cool and calm of someone at the top or the end of their game. I love his seemingly lack of enthusiasm but know him well enough to know he’s doing it properly!
Phoenix veteran Henning the Penguin aka the Vegan Warrior is here with his proper camera and has submitted so many pictures I don’t know what to do with them! So here’s a selection from the first half…
Closing out the half we find ourselves 2-1 down but not outplayed. A final goalmouth skirmish that was so ridiculous I thought referee Josh was about to stop for a drop ball!
Anyway the ball escaped to somewhere and we finish the half 1 behind but all to play for, it’s fun remember!
Half Time Picture Gallery!
Kicking off with substitutes Ali Q and Andre “Timo” Weisser coming on for Super Steve and Javi. So that means someone else is in goal doesn’t it? Well about a week before the game Super Steve offered his services in goal which I greatly received and only much later did a certain Bradley proclaim his favoured position was between the sticks. So a half each it was with Bradley taking over as goalkeeper for the remainder of the game.
Made some tactical changes to try and stop the onrushing Leftfooter Mark who we’re also not allowed to hurt because he’s signed up for Phoenix’s crucial clash with Romans tomorrow! Niall drops into his original “hated but capable” position of centre back, he just adapts like an urban fox, cunning, confident and slightly ginger? This means Shaz is required holding the midfield, running, tackling and intercepting like a Tasmanian devil, never stops and constantly biting at your heels.
But it doesn’t prevent the onslaught, 10 minutes in and Leftfooters are 3-1 up with yet another breakaway. Bradley though inexperience could do nothing. Going for broke whilst also making sure all players get adequate playing time Nick comes off to be replaced by Jalison who might well be the new Joelinton just a significantly smaller version of. I back him to score though! But before he can make an impact Leftfooters get another one making it 4-1. Bradley hurls himself at it but can’t quite reach, a good effort regardless, and it looked good anyway!
It still seems as though we could get back into the game because whilst Leftfooters are in uncharted territory leading by several goals, this is the time to capitalise. Double L Neill who has played well throughout ventures forward dribbling like a marauding Harry Maguire before he moved to Manchester.
I’ll loft one in from here I reckon.
Hmm, that’s going…going…yep,
All the way!
4-2 back in the game!
Now his immediate celebration or more importantly slight hesitation to do so highlights the intended cross and not the outrageous lob that it ended up being! Regardless the game is on and we press Leftfooters further. Tackles are flying in left right and centre, Ali Q putting it all on the line the most! Shaz is trying to contain danger Mark and Juliet is starting to make a difference playing the false 9 role. Things are still a bit shaky at the back with Bradley’s debut in goal becoming more of a Leftfooters charge against the rookie. A panic switch to 4-4-2 when Captain Dan’s hamstring gives up brings Javi back on. New line up I think also means Marcel makes way, bringing Nick back on…and Baby T too? Er, yeah I think that happened. Anyway back in Bradley’s goal he’s starting to make an impression. First saving with both knees to ping the ball out for a corner then in the next attack batting the ball away, taking no chances. That dive in the first half has given him the confidence to make this happen! Whilst Super Steve is on hand behind the goal with instructions and encouragement putting Bradley at ease. Good job!
Leviathans continue to pressure the Leftfooters goalmouth, Juliet’s corners are consistent and expertly dispatched, another delivery leads to more 6 yard box mayhem. Lurking at the back post is where every Timo Werner should be…Andre scores to make it 4-3 and still time for an equaliser! For someone never to have played a proper game “Timo” Weisser has really made his mark!
It’s all Leviathans now as Leftfooters try to hold on for the win. The ball is running our way and fun is happening for real, Jalison flicks a beauty over a Leftfooter, that must’ve been satisfying! Baby T is sort of enjoying his run out at centre back, but does look a little lost at times, or his he still drunk?
More action shots…
As 90 minutes approaches more mixer mix-ups create a couple of chances for our equaliser but a combination of Leftfooter persistance and goalkeeper heroics keep it at 4-3.
Josh blows the final whistle after that attack and it’s all over.
Here’s a couple of before and after shots before the game summary…
Even though we lost, today’s effort was well worth it from all those that made this day possible. Each and every player came off the pitch happy and fulfilled as teammates fighting to win a football match. We nearly got that goal at the end but regardless fun was had, balls were kicked, Bradley saved at least 3 goals, and Double L Neill has toned down his grunting. All in all a successful Sunday…I mean Saturday! Thanks to Leftfooters for being our first opponents and congratulations on the win, rematch already being discussed as I type.
Speedie’s Controversial Man of the Match Award
In the interests of what this is all about it could be easy just to say that everyone wins this week, Leviathan would appreciate this but would also not want those basic things to change just because of the circumstances. He was competitive and inclusive in equal amounts so I will be choosing a winner after all. Excellent performances all round and notable mentions to the following, Shaz, Nick, Ali Q, Bradley, Niall and Mark from Leftfooters. But my choice today is Double L Neill, partly because he used his size to confuse our opponents into thinking he couldn’t dribble then took it past them. He also put in some tackles, low grunt throw ins, ran all day and scored a looping lob. When highlighting his dribbling skills post game I had to confirm that the dribbling was football related and not just excess saliva or something much more unpleasant…try and give a guy a compliment and that’s where it goes!
Thank you to Niall, Javi, Baby T, Henning the Penguin, Super Steve for efforts leading up to and during the game in a non playing capacity. Thanks also to Ali Q and Jalison for giving us the ability to be flexible on substitutes and boost the match squad. See you both against Soho Freedom soon!
Leviathan would’ve been really proud of what took place today, a good exciting game between two very important teams in the fight to eradicate all forms of discrimination in football. Leftfooters have been doing this for many years and I hope that the Phoenix Leviathans can do the same going forward.
This amount of inclusivity is rare in sports and more LUL teams are expanding into second teams this year, let’s continue this growth together as like minded people and football fans.
We can make a difference, we can all be happy! Yay!
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