A big week comes to an end. The end of the season approaches, we’re only two games away from its conclusion, but still the games keep on throwing up memorable moments. Could we have witnessed the greatest goal of all time from Texi?
We’ll find out later. First we start at Waterloo Park in Marsfield, where the West Ryde Rovers Under 15 Division 1 team came up against a stubborn Macquarie Dragons side in a very good game. Rovers were off and running early, Jake romping through, the goalkeeper only able to parry the shot and Zach rolled the ball home. Billy smashed in a goal from a tight angle for two, and by half time it was three, Rovers looking good on the scoresheet without dominating the game. A half time rev up from super coach Steve got the boys firing in the second half, and a stooping header from Zach made it four. Ari was called into a few saves to keep the clean sheet. The win kept Rovers in the hunt for a top three finish, but the top two have since pulled away and the shortened 1v2 finals series is now out of the boys grasp. This was a good clean game, the presence of a very experienced young referee meant the players all behaved respectfully. A good day’s work then for the Rovers.
Zach again had a quick turnaround before the first of three assistant referee appointments, while I headed off to do some clearing up in our old house – we just moved the day before and there is still a lot of stuff at our old house – and I unearthed this beauty.
This is a set of two plates that was screwed into my spine in early 1999. Ok, the figurine wasn’t part of it, but the ten long screws certainly were. The result of a snowboarding incident, these babies kept my L3 (I think that’s the one) intact while the shattered bone fused back together. You will notice that one of the screws is broken, the other piece remains in my spine, the surgeon opting to leave it in when the plates were removed in the year 2000. A good reminder of some particularly hedonistic days in the French Alps, and a tip of the hat to the relative good fortune that led to the move to Australia.
Next stop though was Meadowbank No 7 for a 2018 Grand Final rematch, Epping FC the home team against the resurgent West Ryde Rovers 35/2s. A familiar face in the middle of the park, Claire Lawrence, one of the best female refs around, and also a player for North Epping who I’ve refereed on numerous occasions. This was the battle of the bottom, last placed Epping against seventh placed Rovers, and the game was only 20 seconds old when Rovers conjured up a brilliant opener. Only four players had touched the ball by this stage and a sweeping move up the left led to Marty bursting through on his right foot to bury the opening goal. What a great feeling! A magnificent cross from the left from Sheeks then saw George leap and power in a thumping header for two and Rovers were in total command. Then came that goal…
Picking up the ball in the middle of the park from a clearance, Texi played a one-two with George. With a flash of inspiration, the midfielder touched the ball with his left foot around his man and ran the other side (think Bergkamp v Dabizas) to open up the field. A glance at Marty in the middle was enough to put off the defender and Texi raced up the right, executing the perfect Beardsley shuffle to glide past his man. With Chris steaming up at the far post and Marty looking quizzically over as to why he hadn’t received the cross, Texi produced a Glenn Hoddle-esque finish over the keeper for 3-0, wheeling away before the watching fans had any idea that the ball had gone in. I’ve scored a few goals in my time, but this one had a bit of everything and capped off an amazing twenty minutes of flowing football.
Naz poached a goal soon after, Marty chipping in a carbon copy finish to the third goal, Naz on hand to make sure on the line to rack up a four-nil lead. Matt was no chance of reaching the perfect free kick that sailed into the corner of the net for 4-1, but what a half time lead! Rovers belying their lowly status. As always, the second half didn’t live up to the billing of the first, but it was packed with incident. Marty copped a boot to the head, not the first time this season, George succumbed to the same hamstring injury from the week before, Mark started to rev up the opposition who were reduced to ten and Matt crocked himself again and was replaced by Andy in goal. Epping grabbed a second from a breakaway but that was it, Rovers running out 4-2 winners to draw clear of the bottom and leap into 6th place, their highest position all season.
The mood was buoyant at the end, the nets removed and everyone enjoyed a beer while getting changed. Andy had his monkey socks on, much to the amusement of his team mates. It was then time to move on to game two, a 5pm kick off for the 35/4 team under lights at Pennant Hills Park on the synthetic. This one is always a pleasure to play on, and I was called into action early in the second half when Johnny succumbed to an ankle injury and went in goal. The game was poised at 1-1, and with time running out, Dunny latched on to a through ball after a long clearance from the injured keeper, and calmly picked his spot just inside the post to give Rovers a vital 2-1 lead. Despite some good chances spurned by the home side, Rovers took the points, giving them at least a chance of making the final.
Lo and behold, the same beers in the 35/4 esky, bonus! Great banter with the lads, and that drew to a close a great day of football. The day was soiled somewhat by Newcastle’s comical performance at home to Brighton in the EPL that night. Utterly shambolic, going down 3-0 in a game when Matty Ryan had very little to do in the visitors goal. On the plus side though, I’ve been brainwashed into doing Fantasy Premier League this year, and Son was my captain, scoring four goals and racking up a healthy amount of points. It even looks as though I know what I’m doing.
Sunday morning is always a great occasion. There is something wholesome about women’s youth football, perhaps it’s the honesty of the players and the genuine desire, and this one didn’t disappoint. Aurelia had two seasons with the Koalas in Under 10s, so she was fired up for this one. The predicted light rain was in fact a downpour, making this a day for the purists. With the Christie Park ‘eagle’ looking on soaked from the goalposts, the mighty Gladesville Ravens held out to the break at 0-0, Koalas dominating the game. The second half turned with a glorious finish after Ravens had coughed up the ball cheaply in a dangerous area, Koalas pressing home their dominance. The Ravens entourage did their best to rally the players and roared the girls on in the rain. It was like a cup final atmosphere. A second goal near the end killed off the Ravens, but this was a fine performance from the girls, the Koalas from NPL1 knew they had been in a game against their NPL2 opponents.
There wasn’t much time to turn around and get back to Meadowbank for an O30W appointment with 35/4 team mate Jeff running the line. This was an enjoyable run out, Ryde Panthers, including my former neighbour in their ranks, no match for a much more experienced Macquarie Dragons team. A game where leniency on foul throws was the key to a flowing game, the floodgates opened in the second half once the Dragons had the wind advantage, turning a 1-0 lead into a 5-0 win with some very good play.
The rest of the week I seemed to spend rushing around. There wasn’t even time to get a photo of training for anyone. Aurelia was at Bedlam on Tuesday, it was Texi’s turn on Wednesday at the Four-tress and then Thursdsay the run around for both Zach and Aurelia at their respective training sessions. I did snap a photo in my bathroom mirror in my new house that could be Siem De Jong in an album cover (!) and on Thursday I received a package I’d been waiting for since the end of July. The Newcastle Blue Star home shirt, all the way from the Toon. I reckon I’m going to get a few wears out of this one, absolutely mint!
That’s all from a week in the suburbs. A week that saw wins and losses. This Saturday is the penultimate weekend of the NWSF season, a cracker in store for the Under 15s, and then a threadbare squad travels to the league leaders in the 35s. Zach has another couple of ref appointments, Aurelia has a tough assignment at powerhouse Manly and I’ll need to race back to referee an AA2W game straight after. Loving these weekends while they last. The season is already almost over, can you believe it?