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Man of the match

Neil Sneade

Defensive duties (short corners not included)

Lemon of the match

35
Ollie Kenzie

Ollie's a frood who really knows where his towel is. It's at home with his clothes, stick, and money

Come On, Everybody! Let's Go and Meet the Pansies!

Matt Kern

Saturday the 18th November. 6.50am. Chris Rea blares out of my alarm clock. Finally, after three months of waiting, it is time.

I spring out of the hay, cast off my King Julian PJs and jump in the passion wagon. LET'S DO IT!

If we were to prove victorious, I was going to need to use every trick in the book. I'd already employed Jan and his army of fake-news bots to control the media, and took the additional step of planting a covert Rossellini (an unfortunately casualty, later in proceedings) in the crowd.

I arrive at Long Road at approximately 7.15am. With the game scheduled to start at 1.30pm, this gives me plenty of time to hang up the yellow shirts on pegs in the 'Away' (Men's) dressing room. Or at least I would have done that if my nemesis, M2s' creepy overseer, Captain Coops, hadn't confiscated the yellow shirts and not brought them up to the venue until much, much later. They are aliens! Savage aliens from the savage future!

I settle down to scribble down some whiteboard tactics and laminate my teamsheet.

As lunchtime approaches, there is still little sign of my teammates. Were they still too busy assiduously following links that Toby had shared via Whatsapp? I must warn them again about this.

Finally, they start to appear on the horizon. Simon Ta, Dom Nelson, Nev. I had a front line, but what of my rear gunners? With Ash A away and Mariano having leapfrogged the M2s and landed straight in the M1s (nice having you, Mariano!), Matson and Sneade then ghost in, solving that problem. As my most experienced defender, I decide to give the Sneademeister General the most important job of all. If my own experiences with the M2s had taught me one thing - and they probably had only taught me one thing - it was that James Menzies is an absolute grand master of the right post short corner routine. If we could stop that, we would stand a good chance of success.

I fix Neil with my gaze. I explain it to him at length. We have a couple of demonstrations. He signs a form to say he'd understood fully and didn't need any seven day cooling off period. I can't do any more.

The game begins and it goes well. Steve and Kev blow their whistles with authority and skill. Coops is looking worried. 'Are they new grey hairs?' I wonder, in absent-minded fashion.

I need to get my head in the game.

We concede a short corner and it is time to focus.

Jogging back to take my place in the defensive ranks, I overhear the M2s' short corner battery.

MENZIES: What are we going to do?

COOPS: What do you think we are going to do?

It was going to the right post.

I have no fear. Sneadey has this covered. You should see that guy send an e-mail, create a spreadsheet or brand a gilet. And that is all in office hours. He is a capable pair of hands. I have no fear.

Menzies scores.

The first half plays itself out in a disjointed battle for midfield supremacy which both teams lose.

I need to get the boys fired up. The underlayer gets tucked in. I quote Chris de Burgh, as Belgian Al's eyes glaze over in lyrical ecstasy. A hairdryer is thrown at Ed Boggis, which looking back seems a bit harsh.

GAME ON!

'Topple the captain and the rest will follow,' I whisper in Nelson's ear as we get underway. Little did I know that he'd take it so literally. There is an audible wince from the sizable crowd as he barrels into the M2s' skipper.

Nelson is clearly pumped up by this physical encounter, like Gerard Butler in '300', and shortly afterwards takes off on a mazy run that combines the best and worst of Sumo and Kamizake. He picks out a rampaging Mathews, freed momentarily from his pirate-marking duties, who shovels the ball across to Ash Dookun. IT IS IN! IT IS IN!

Lines blur. Colours shift. Time loses all meaning. Being is feeling.

Any experience can only be observed from your present point of reference.

I may need a sit down.

Have I been paintballing?

I've got a bigger crown! It's got a gecko on it. Look at him shake! Go, Stevie, go.

Neil, my arm is tired. Wave it for me. Faster, you naughty little monkey!


See you on the 3rd March.


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