We are without doubt living in times of change. Upheavals in Europe, chaos in the Middle East, and quite what the USA is doing is anyone’s guess; but I think it’s fair to say that Saturday 13th May brought more than its fair share of surprises on the coast too.

Firstly, in the absence of Nick, Pierre found himself back between the sticks with the heavy weight of expectation upon his shoulders; fortunately he brought his guide dog with him, so that helped to calm the nerves.

Secondly, in stark contrast to the ‘team’ we played last season, this year’s Avoca Cs were actually a bunch of decent human beings! But thirdly, and most importantly, Our Glorious Leader™ seemed to have undergone a significant transformation. Gone was the mild mannered educator of the young; in his place was a ruthless and fired-up military commander, whose stirring pre-match oration exhorted us to abandon our sometime timid approach, to ‘be aggressive’ and even, shock horror, to ‘GET INTO ‘EM and F**K ‘EM UP !’ Well, after we had individually retrieved our jaws from the floor, we kicked off and by Jiminy if we didn’t actually give it a bloody good go! It was end to end stuff, with no timidity in sight, and as for aggression, well, halfway through the first half young Simon – a player not known for his propensity for violence – was involved in a robust cranio-nasal altercation with one of the enemy who was so incensed by his treatment he swore roundly and promptly left the field, with Simon’s sincere apology ringing in his ears. There’s no pleasing some people. Our hopes of keeping the game alive were briefly fragile after Pierre’s clearance went straight to one of their forwards but fortunately he pulled off an improbable save to keep us in the match – something that looks like becoming his Signature Move (see below).

Well, at some point Avoca scored – I honestly can’t remember which half it was in – but the game remained close and in the last ten it was all one way, with Kent coming close in the last minute or to after running onto a lovely through ball. Considering their lofty table position we gave them a good run for their money and although it finished 1-0 to them we felt with some justification that we had acquitted ourselves well. We certainly ‘GOT INTO ‘EM’ but whether or not we ‘F**KED ‘EM UP’ is a matter for others to decide. Man of the match went to Simon, followed by Jon and Pierre, and our thanks again to Scott for helping us out.

Then came yesterday’s game against Killarney, which was both the first time we’ve played them and the last team in the division we hadn’t yet played. There was much talk of ‘looking for a result’ but frankly we’ve had six results already this season and they don’t make a cheerful collection. Still, optimism eh?

Well, things didn’t get off to a great start when it became clear we had no referee. Thankfully one of the Killarney types offered to officiate so we could get underway. After a solid performance last week Pierre was once more in goal, with Nick coming out for a run at the backs. We started brightly, perhaps with memories of last week’s performance and OGL’s motivational speech still glowing in our little heads, but after a couple of attacks that petered out we came under pressure at the other end.

Defending corners is never great fun (it usually comes right after proctoscopy in the list) but we weathered a couple only for another in-swinger to take an unfortunate deflection off Payney and into the net. This about sums up our luck so far this season. Nevertheless our heads did not go down and we kept at ‘em, though there were more chances at our end than theirs.

Incredibly, we did equalise before half time; a corner from the right landed in a scrappy goalmouth moshpit that resembled an octopus falling out of a tree, but somewhere in all that Alvaro managed to bundle the ball into the net. Hope (or what passes for it in Barnstoneworth 35Cs) was restored. Sadly, equality was short-lived and Killarney got a second before half-time. Much general chuntering at half time and back we went, bolstered by the arrival of Jon who charged straight into the action after a warm-up that lasted about eight seconds. A decent spell at the start of the second half culminated in a pass from Ade of such sublime geometry as to make Euclid weep; Kent ran onto it and coolly put it past the keeper. Back to 2-2 and maybe…just maybe…but probably not. After we survived another of Pierre’s Signature Moves (see above), Killarney capitalised on a loose ball in midfield, put it through to their striker and he didn’t miss. By now the sun and our heads were going down, the level of on-pitch violence was increasing, and the general fun of the whole afternoon was finally topped off with their fourth goal which came from another godforsaken bout of fisting about in our penalty area.

The final whistle went. 4-2. Magic. Seven games, seven losses. Maybe that’d make a great musical. It certainly doesn’t make for an uplifting season.

Never mind, we’ll always have Duffy’s. Man of the match was Ade for strong work in midfield throughout the game, followed by Pierre and Alvaro.

Best of all, we now get to play all of these teams again! GO US!!

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