July 1st 2020 saw the return to action for many of us, after a three month break. Training, 7-a-side, refereeing and the opening round of the season all followed in a matter of four days. And just how much football could we jam in…?
The West Ryde Rovers 35s had our first night time training under lights on day one, a great turn out giving us the opportunity to play a 10v10 game on a full field, with small goals on the six yard box. That was enough to get the juices flowing ahead of Thursday. With Aurelia at her SAP training and Zach at his own Rovers training, it was straight up to ELS Hall for a double header refereeing opportunity, Gladesville Ravens U15W and U17W v West Pymble. That saw two wins for the dominant Ravens in two shortened but lively encounters. The evening continued at Sydney Football Centre at Homebush for a heart-breaking 4-3 loss for the Sons of Pitches against the resurgent Legends in the Over 35s midweek league.
Friday saw Aurelia at Coerver training, back at ELS Hall, before Saturday heralded the opening of the late-running 2020 season. Zach’s Under 15s team got off to an incredible start, scoring three goals early on against the Redbacks, a fourth added in the second half for a handsome opening day result. New scoring sensation Bilal is one to watch!
A quick change of kit and father and son were off to run the line together in an under 18s game at Bill Mitchell – I was dropping Zach down there anyway and there was a spare spot for an AR so I put my hand up for the gig. Only to find out that the ref had pulled out, and I had to take care of the centre. A high octane game culminated in a late equaliser that could have benefited from VAR, but the goalkeeper fumbling the ball into the net under pressure left the scores at Ravens 2 Ryde Panthers 2 at full time.
So, we didn’t get to run the line together as I had hoped, but it was the next best thing and Zach sailed through his debut with a key offside decision in the second half.
A little weary after a lot of running, it was then on to Riverglade, a picturesque ground a little too close to the river, for the 35s first game of the season, West Ryde Rovers v All Saints Hunters Hill. It was the All Saints who cruised to a 2-0 lead in the first half thanks to a couple of gifts from the generous visitors, but a goal on half time brought some reality to the scoreline. The second half saw Rovers race into a 4-2 lead only to be undone by a very dodgy ref call (the ball was not even near the line and he called it in) and a last minute scramble to come away with only a point. Fantastic game though, and great to be back with the lads.
Sunday’s early game saw Aurelia play well for a dominant Ravens SAP 13s against Hills District, only to be undone by two sloppy goals. A late call up during the week gave the opportunity to ref the next two games of the day, the 14s and 15s; it was top notch football and a pleasure to have two quality ARs. A hat-trick from the home side wasn’t enough, as the under 14s went down 5-3, whereas a spirited comeback in the last two minutes saw the 15s claw back an unlikely result in a scintillating 5-5 draw.
Zach was meanwhile AR in an Under 18s womens game at Meadowbank, and after realising the time, a mad dash from Christie Park to Meadowbank saw the final refereeing appointment of the weekend, an AA3W game, Normanhurst v Epping FC. That one was a tense battle that looked to be heading for a goalless draw when a late smash and grab from Normo saw them snatch the win with the last kick of the game. It was a beautiful day for refereeing, warm sunshine but with a cool breeze, topped off by a hat-trick of sales for the Unashamed Football Novels.
An 11pm kick off for the Toon v Hammers completed a quite remarkable five days of football. Oh it’s good to be back.