Welcome back to the football people, today’s report comes from the third Leviathans friendly organised at short notice against a select Stonewall eleven. Our opposition has been formed from the deep and diverse ranks of Stonewall and includes mixed genders and non binary personnel. Alex, the Stonewall Unity manager, wants to make this a clear statement on the day and asks us all to introduce ourselves along with our preferred pronouns. This is an important message to world of football about inclusivity and being entirely non discriminative, what our league stands for and campaigns for every single day. The fact that we are able to organise and play this match is a testament to how far this has all come over the last few decades. It’s a beautiful day to stand in the sun and as our photography team is playing it’s down to me to provide the pictures. My recent skills as a photo editor enables the panoramic shot in the centre, yes the centre circle is a bit wonky but as least we can see it, unlike yesterday…
Once again I have no idea what we are up against which at least keeps it interesting. One thing is clear, the charismatic, enthusiastic and necessarily loud Teddy is coaching Stonewall today, his lovely dog Apollo is on our bench though. Looking flash in his Stonewall emblazed coaching outfit and still excitable from his first Phoenix goal against Charlton the day before we prepare for kick off whilst constantly throwing stupid comments back and forth. Today is a day of fun, as it always should be!
Lack of pictures will mean we are going to be word heavy so it’s back to the minute by minute action of which there is a lot. And I’ve got all the good bits, the bad bits and the ridiculous bits recorded on my little dictaphone who gets it’s first outing and contends for player/accessory of the match.
Kicking off with a 3-5-2 ish or a 4-1-4-1 style formation here’s our line up.
Oh crap it’s a Christmas tree isn’t it?
Chairman Mabbutt is on the right wing today and I’m hoping he can remind me of the days when he was unplayable down that side, true to form his little legs carry him well and produces a cross into the danger area. It’s met by an on rushing Ali who volleys into the ground, a decent effort and good start for us.
Thick and fast information from the dictaphone results in a lovely bit of skill by Baby T. Calm in possession deep within his own half he drags back through two players and struts away proud. Nice. Stonewall are exhibiting the same sort of composure across their back line, dealing with any danger with a cool head and calculated decisions.
A Stonewall break down the left wing, Bradley rushes out to narrow down the angle and does so well, the attempt on goal is placed wide. This sort of quick break is sprung on us again but this time the Shazattack is on call to sort it out. A pattern of attack is starting to form from Stonewall but can we contain it? The mini lakes inhabiting the pitch are also making life uneasy for everyone but the Shazattack is agile enough to deal with the ball and the puddle all at once. Skills. Good awareness of what will likely become a new ecosystem for Hackney Marshes, pitch puddles.
The first bit of really good football from either side starts with Chairman Mabbutt on the right again, ball is played inside to Baby T, who cut backs like a true Bailey and plays it to Hybrid Chris. Marcel has overlapped down the left and is slotted through on goal but his left foot of wonder skies it over the bar. Oh dear.
Our first puddle casualty has been claimed, Hybrid Chris has been bogged down like a bad charging station. He’s covered, it’s not pretty but it is indeed hilarious! The game momentarily slows whilst we all watch in horror at the unfortunate spectacle of a wet Hybrid Chris and his walk of shame…
A unexpectedly good high press from our attacking midfielders results in a turnover. I say unexpected because I haven’t installed any tactics today, Baby T and Hybrid Chris are doing it for themselves! And it pays off for the latter because a swerving shot from outside the box gives the game it’s first goal of the day! 1-0 Leviathans, payback for a ridiculed and dirty puddle victim.
Yet another Stonewall attempted counter attack but Bradley has been commanding the line behind his centre backs and is there to scoop up the danger. The pre match practice on his kicks also pays dividends, a good kick back into play and we’re off again…
Slight issue with my loveable but outdated recording technology on this one, there was a cheeky little back flick to avert a hanging ball near the edge of the Leviathans 16 yard box. It was good, it did the job but whoever was responsible is lost to the muffled noise on my tape…whoops.
Bradley is still sweeping up well as the long balls have our defense running back towards goal. His position is fantastic and clears the danger easily with his feet, clinical and decisive. We don’t have another goalkeeper but if he keeps this up it might be difficult to keep him from an outfield position!
A Leviathans corner from dead ball expert Jules is right on the mark. A desperate combination of flaps from the Stonewall keeper and an overhead kick from the player on the line prevents a second goal. Great last ditch defending and exciting action!
Hailing back to the Marcel and Paul show from our previous outing, they are back together down the left wing as Paul is on for Ali at wing back. His baby sitter was secured and baby Dermot allowed Paul to leave with just enough time to make the game, thank you! Marcel plays him through and he cuts across but the Stonewall defense deals with it well. Well played all round there.
It’s Denny’s turn to deal with the Stonewall breakaway this time, Bradley is there again ready to help if needed. Meanwhile a few seconds later Paul almost knocks me over as I’m taking notes and a Stonewall player gives up on a throw in due to what looks like fatigue, surely the legs go first though yeah? The next throw is taking by football legend Aislie Pitter, no idea how old this guy is but pretty sure we can just say timeless. His throw is the best I’ve seen all season, a beautiful piece of experienced restarting and a joy to watch this man do his thing.
Felix clears from Stonewall pressure in our penalty box, excellent positional play waiting for the danger to come to him. Moments later Rash makes his right foot debut on for Mabbutt, so I’m left holding our emergency substitute and Stonewall traitor Apollo the dog. The first use of Rash’s right foot has him travel from the left wing across the centre circle evading Stonewall midfielders, then it comes to kicking that ball. Let’s just say it happened and it’s a big right foot step for our left foot wonder, the ball ended up…somewhere.
Into what must be injury time…
Not content with showing us how to take throw ins properly Aislie is now doing overhead kicks, my only question is how can he survive that? I’m considerably younger than this freak of football nature yet when I last tried that, my collarbone went snap! This guy, I’m telling you, he’s not human. And as I record this feat another balling veteran, Felix, twist pops his knee and has to be carried off. Ali is on for him after being replaced by Tom Simpson a little earlier, the Simpson twisty flick is on parade as usual, looking sharp considering he played 90 minutes yesterday! I help the hobbling Felix back over to our bag spot but whilst doing this Stonewall score an equaliser, how rude! I’m told a corner ball ended up hovering near Bradley at the near post and it was acrobatically rifled in past him, not a lot can be done about that. 1-1 at half time.
Pretty much from the start Stonewall are up to the same counter attacking that was considered dangerous in the first half. Not sure why it’s still happening, most likely because I’ve not highlighted, diagnosed and dealt with the danger by instructing the team. Commentator comes before management today, the dictaphone is real.
With set piece specialist Jules off the pitch Chairman Mabbutt is on corner duty, a near post one is right on the head of Baby T whose header is a couple of yards wide of the post. He’s kicking himself but all in all the move did look nice!
Stonewall have upped their breakaway tactics and surge forward with conviction, reaching the halfway line with two willing runners ahead the pass is delayed and they are caught offside. Shame as it was a great move and deserved better.
More pressure from Stonewall as reinforcements from the seriously massive bench bring on a skilful, strong and rather large forward. A handful for sure but not for Shazattack, regardless of size he shows no fear and bullies this new problem down the flank.
Classic corner mayhem when the ball is thrown into the mixer of legs, falling bodies, panicky attempts to clear and ricochets galore. A goal is scored. 2-1 Leviathans. Baby T with the rolling body finish and Teddy is silenced…from the kick off Baby T then tackles a puddle and comes out unscathed, Hybrid Chris looks on wondering why nobody else is dirty yet.
Another counter by Stonewall down the right with Shazattack out caught upfield, Mitch is there to cover but realises soon on arrival to the area that his legs have gone from under him, he falls into the ball but still manages to get it out for a throw. Try that one Aislie! Falling on a ball yet still doing the job. Yeah!
There has been a collision in the Stonewall penalty area and their goalkeeper has stayed down. The game is stopped whilst treatment is given and we all are concerned for their condition. Without wanting to overcrowd the area Will the referee asks for some space while Stonewall assess the situation and administer the correct care required to what looks like a bad injury at this stage. Post game I discover that Zeenat had indeed torn three ligaments in their knee which is extremely unfortunate. I’ve spoken to them at length to wish them a swift recovery and sad to see anyone suffer such difficulties. We will continue to check in periodically and as a team being supporting them where we can to a recovery and hopefully a return to playing.
Games resumes with just over half an hour to play.
The best move of the game results in another equaliser for Stonewall. Good play out of defense darting through two Leviathans to then play the ball wide right. Speed carries the ball down the wing past Marcel and the cross is perfectly lofted over Bradley’s head onto a Stonewall head. 2-2, great goal, best so far!
Bradley is still sweeping up the danger regardless of how far he is inside his own area. I don’t care how he deals with it, some might say it would’ve been easier to pick the ball up. But then you’re not Bradley are you? He does it different and again makes a claim for an outfield slot with his feet. Denny on the other hand well he’s not super quick, something about having legs made of wood? Stonewall’s strong striker is played through on goal and I’m pretty sure I spotted a tug back…shhhsshssssh! Lucky escape.
The pressure is on as Teddy makes the changes to win the game with his stupidly large bench of substitutes. I look over at Apollo’s face as he makes himself comfortable amongst the kit, he’s not coming on for us so we’re stuck with what we’ve got and they are battling hard. Ali the non stop runner clears the latest danger, whilst Apollo looks on all snoozy. A couple of minutes later Bradley parries a shot from outside the box well. Are we going to hold out?
More scares as Bradley springs into action out to meet the rushing striker, he parries the ball away and possibly gets fouled as they both try to retrieve the scraps. The ball is then played over his head but just wide. Still 2-2 and we’re looking shaky.
Another shot from distance which Bradley couldn’t reach, it clips the top of the bar. He was there but not quick enough this time. Maybe he knew it was hitting the bar? I trust his judgement!
Chairman Mabbutt insists he got an assist for one of our goals, yes sir Chairman Mabbutt, whatever you say…meanwhile Bradley plays it wide to Mitch deep in our half, he chases and the line ball is on but in slow motion he cuts back Bailey style leaving the tackler on the floor. Line ball is definitely on now!
Tom Simpson is back on taking shots which is what we need right now. Rash has also started using his left foot…yeah, so? A lovely reverse pass through to Marcel allows him to ping across the six yard box with his right, making up for the use of Rash’s left! Ha! But nobody’s on the end of it so the move is just that.
Mitch heads it well in a tough aerial battle, it looks like we’re done going forward and trying hard to hold on for the draw. Baby T is running the line and arguing he should be on for corner heading ability. Read that one above again maybe? Ali is still running and forcing Stonewall mistakes at the back. Keeping them pinned in gives us hope to hang on…
Shazattack is still wrestling his way down the right side trying desperately trying to stop Stonewall advancing. He can’t prevent the cross which leads to another headed goal and Stonewall take the lead for the first time in the game. 3-2, not much time left.
It’s time for wooden legs Jenny Denny to start playing his own game. Tired of being asked to play 90 minutes but also enjoying every single one of them, he flicks the ball high over a Stonewaller and simultaneously pirouettes around them to receive the ball once more. It’s almost balletic, I said almost…
90 mins but no injury time because we’ve got to get to the pub before I get charged for not honouring my reservation.
A 3-2 loss is a good win for Stonewall but the fun was had by all in a spirit that all football should be played by. Competitive, enjoyable, inclusive and friendly. Only one made it into a puddle and there was at least 4 large ones to choose from. Fouls were apologised for, everyone picked each other up and the atmosphere matched the sunshine throughout. We continue this soon after at the pub which is another important element to these matches and the arrival of East End Phoenix Leviathans. Come play, then let’s all enjoy a drink after! It’s mandatory.
Speedie’s controversial player/accessory of the match.
Well this one is tough, Bradley was stellar in goal today, making saves and showing no fear in patrolling behind the defense, starting position always excellent and dealing with any trouble very well. Mitch also played well all through the game, the best performance I’ve seen since his permanent acquisition from our LUL neighbours.
But a certain miniature cassette recording device was indeed integral to the writing of this detailed report and swift application of information. Some might say a most valuable player contribution! The “some” being me and I’m in charge of both the Leviathans and the regular Phoenix team now. I’m also writing this report so my recorder of the match is the Olympus Pearlcorder S701 and it’s friend the XB60 microcassette. Woo hoo!
Thank you to the Stonewall select side for making this happen, we look forward to doing it again very soon!