When the going gets tough

A big week of football in the Smith household, played out in perfect sunny conditions. Oh how good it is to be back on the field. Saturday’s early kick off at Meadowbank was a mental test for West Ryde Rovers Under 15s. Their weaker opponents should have been cannon fodder, but as is often the case, the stronger team couldn’t get into their stride and the intensity was missing. A series of missed chances and some scares at the other end made it an uncomfortable morning, but Rovers came through 2-0 against bottom team West Penno.

Mid-morning saw Zach start his three game AR shift, plenty of action and sendings off, before the big game on field 2, the mighty Over 35 Div 2 up against fellow strugglers Thornleigh. West Ryde’s number one Hammers fan Rami was more than happy to cook the BBQ while he watched the drama unfold.

And what drama it was. After taking the lead early through a tap in from George following an onslaught on the visitors goal, Rovers were undone by a freak goal when the ball took an almight bobble over the outcoming stand-in goalkeeper Andy. Not to be deterred, Rovers scored through star striker Faysal from an acute angle, but a simple free kick around the wall caught Rovers napping just before half time.

The second half was full of incident – Marty given a face full of studs before tapping home from a devilish cross. Just as Rovers thought they had weathered the storm and snatched the three points, a mis-kicked shot landed straight at the feet of the Thornleigh striker who turned, and under heavy presence poked in a shot that took a deflection and spun into the net for a third equaliser with the last kick of the game.

Post game we learned that Naz had broken his hand and it was swollen up to the max. Marty was all patched up. Vince, who had played ten minutes of the second half with his arm cradled in his shirt after busting his shoulder, was sure he’d done something major, and I’d also taken a massive blow in my back – friendly fire as George leapt into my back with his knees.

Sunday was a little quiet with Aurelia’s GSAP team blessed with a bye, while Zach ran the line in the afternoon and I refereed a high tempo AA2W game, North Epping finally coming good 4-1 after the game was locked at 1-1, the last two goals scored by the undoubted star of the orange clad team.

With no rain in sight, the week’s training all went ahead, Aurelia down at Bedlam Bay Tuesday (while Sydney FC toiled and failed) and Thursday, the Over 35s at Meadowbank on Wednesday and Zach too on Thursday. Friday was Coever coaching at ELS for Aurelia, always a great way to prepare for the weekend’s game. This week it’s St George away, but the weather could play a big part – stay tuned.

Three other items of news from the week. The over 35s picked up their 18th player, an Irishman named Sean who came down for a run at training and wasn’t put off by what he saw. I’m sure he’ll fit right in and will be thrown into the deep end on Saturday when we count our casualties from the week as we put the team sheet together. His signing was eerily well timed – the next morning we learned of striking legend Faysal dislocating his ankle and requiring surgery. Out for the season, damn it.

Plenty of drama overnight from the English Championship too – Brentford blowing a golden opportunity to snatch a Premier League spot, Swansea pulling off the most unlikely play off spot as Forest capitulated, and Luton and Barnsley somehow escaping relegation after being miles behind. Caught the last ten minutes on Talksport when I woke up. Thrilling!

The mighty Sons of Pitches, the red machine, stumbled against second placed Chevres going down 2-1 in a tough encounter on Thursday night. Always good to share a brew after the game with these blokes, good mental health time after a bit of physical exercise. And finally, The Weekly Times, our local free newspaper, ran a story on the Unashamed Football Novels from Fair Play books. How good was that?

Remember, you can purchase the three books from all online book stores or direct from the publisher at https://www.fairplaypublishing.com.au/shop. But this week you could win a copy at https://www.weeklytimes.com.au/win-with-twt/ – go on, give it a go.

That’s all for this week. It all kicks off again tomorrow Saturday 25th July.

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