Friday, 30 October 2009
Scores for today's game were:
MickleSlate’s Moray Mince 1 v 6 The Pink Panthers
MickleSlate’s Moray Mince 4 v 3 The Pink Panthers
Ben Hathaway 5; Andy Humphries 3; Adam Micklethwaite 2; Sian Findlay; Robbie Cooke; Niall Slater; Ben Woolhead
This means that the PPs are still rooted to the bottom, but it won't be for long if Humphries and Hathaway maintain this kind of scoring record. The Mince return to the top, albeit for what is only a temporary period.
Tuesday, 27 October 2009
The Ogres were 1 and 1 going into this lunchtime face off, but with their lengthy roster all reporting fit for duty, they were hoping that future hall-of-fame tight end Dan Hartley III could do the business. Hartley has been muted in his appearances thus far, crossing for only four touchdowns but racking up the rushing yards to keep his team optimistic.
Likewise, the Guerinlas had also managed a single win this campaign, earned by an MVP performance from their scrambling Cornerback Bryan Gueringo. The roster looked skinny before the kickoff, but a strong stable of Wide Receivers meant that the Guerinlas would surely favour their slick passing game.
Once the smoke of the flares and fireworks had been ushered through the fire exit, things got off to a promising start for the depleted ‘Las. In favouring their right flank and dogged wide receiver Bezz Lewz, they risked telegraphing their plays, but it bore fruit when Lewz made ground and a switch to the centre found Nik AssKrunk with all the time and space on the field to romp home and milk the applause, pinging the ball off the turf and nodding exaggeratedly. They were finding a lot of room down either side and Ogres backs Victorious Roze and Allstar Meier were having to put in extra shifts to restrict the gains to single figures.
The poor conditions were becoming more obvious by now, with both teams struggling to get a foothold. The Ogres were finding AssKrunk and rookie safety Cashryn Thomas alert in the backfield, snapping onto any attempts to run the ball to halt any progress through the middle. The right flank was still bearing some fruit, but fumbles and blocked runs were causing failed fourth down conversions one after the other. Hartley III had switched to quarterback to try and get some momentum behind his team, but his long bombs were being picked off. Gueringo in particular was underlining his status as the league’s leading cornerback, shutting his receiver down on each and every play. Every time the dangerman looked to be on the verge of a breakthough, the trademark flash of gold chain and cloud of ginger dreadlocks arrived to tip the ball away.
It came as a shock to the packed Park Bowl crowd when Hartley angled a run in from the sideline to burst through for the pullback TD. The ‘Las responded with a flourish, but the tie lasted until the end of the quarter. Raking passes from one end of the field to another were gaining ground by the acre for the Las. One magnificent long bomb from pimped stand-in quarterback Marcus Gillette found strapping, cornfed tight end Andre Rowe for a gain of fourty yards, but they couldn’t convert the territory.
1st Quarter: 7-7
The second quarter was the point that the ‘Las had earmarked in their gamplan for the big push, gathering their offensive line around big center Roe for a big 15 minutes. Hartley III and rangy tackle David Varlois sat out the start in favour of some fresh legs, so there was a chance for Gueringo’s players to make their dominance count.
Sammy Cragge set about disrupting their game with a monster block on DeRyan Kidd as he surged into the backfield and Stylez W. Lazenby followed suit with an astonishing flying tackle on a surging Lewz, but it wasn’t long before the ‘Las found the next gear, locating the endzone three times without reply. Lyndsay Starkerhoffer was looking confident in making ground down the left but it was a sudden switch of tempo down the opposite flank that saw the veteran Gillette isolate his man on a downfield foray with two linemen in attendance and find the zone. As the Ogres tired, Starkerhoffer made the gap for Gillette to stride through and run home for a massive touchdown. The next to put her name on the board was enthusiastic rookie Thomas who picked herself up after a narrow chance seconds earlier to slot through a tiny gap on the right flank. Thomas, monogrammed white towel tucked into her waistband, flatfooted her marked with a series of stutter-steps before vanishing inside to receive the pass and flop over the line. It was great finishing from a player not expected to flourish in a team packed with strong wide players.
The ‘Las were getting more sacks than the elephant man and more turnovers than an apple pastry while the Ogres were fumbling like a furtive teenager. They were looking exhausted with less than half of the clock gone, and could muster nothing in reply. It was telling that the defensive skills of Cragge were to the fore throughout this quarter. In fact, they only managed to threaten the ‘Las endzone when a pass bounced off Gibbonswerth’s helmet, but it was scrambled out of bounds by Gillette before it could be chased down.
Half time: 21-7
The third quarter continued as the second had ended, and Gillette soon increased the ‘Las’ lead as he overcame the taller and stronger Varlois in the corner. Varlois had a grip on his man’s jersey, but Gillette wasn’t to be denied, and thundered across the line. Not content with this, he then followed up with a tidy run through the gap left by Meier’s missed block to register again.
Then came the turning point. The Ogres had thus far held back on introducing their monstrous middle linebacker Dave ‘The Wall’ Owing, but now was the time. Owing wasted no time at all in taking hold of the game and shaking it. Hartley III was the first to benefit from his team’s newfound dynamism, as a lengthy sequence of hard-won first downs saw them positioned 3rd and 5 with Hartley the dangerman. He made no mistake in executing a textbook cutback run that finally gave him the space on Gueringo that he needed to race home and make the score 35-14.
A series of crashing tackles had the crowd baying, just the kind of game that Owing thrives on. He was ubiquitous in dragging rogue ballcarriers to the ground and marshalling his fellow linemen LaGailius Carter and Andrethus Gibbins, denying ground on every play, not to mention a booming field goal attempt that rattled the outside of the goal from 55 yards. Determined to prove that he is a true all-rounder, Owing then contributed his own score, playing at running back for a drive and forcing his way through all manner of flying bodies to find the corner from an almost impossible position. With Hartley III now being shepherded sternly by AssKrunk, it looked as though Owing could be the new option that the Ogres needed.
Hartley himself had other ideas though. His scoring rate had been called into question before the game, and he had spent three quarters frustrated by the ‘Las’ dynamic defensive backs. Now was the time to stand up and be counted as a true pro, just like his old man Dan Hartley the First back in Superbowl XIX. Hartley III took advantage of Owing’s new dangerman status to crash through a weak backfield for what was to be the first of a remarkable scoring burst.
The ‘Las were finding nothing open for them, having switched to a running game in an effort to grind down some territory in the final moments. Kidd was being ground out of the sidelines before he could make a yard, and even when the crowd though they could cheer another TD, Varlois’ injury meant that the drive had to be taken back to first and ten. By the time that Guerin began to channel his plays back towards Lewz, it was too late, the Ogres were ready a waiting.
Lewz frustration was evident as a smashing tackle to heave Owing out of bounds saw the Ogres’ new star on his knees and wheezing. It was the ‘Las dogged determination to push every play through their reliable wide receiver that brought about both their next breakthrough and ironically, their downfall. Lewz showed her NFL pedigree when she converted the first play of a drive into pure touchdown gold with a simple catch and sprint for 42-28.
However, it was this assured finish that made the ‘Las overconfident and, fatally, one dimensional. Hartley III’s impact was massive. First he ran home his own interception and then took advantage of further crossed wires to pick off another wide pass and run home again, dazzling Guerin with a lightning juke to the right before toasting him inside and scorching home. A great piece of quarterback play brought about his final score, converting a long pass downfield with Owing whooping at his side and already choreographing an elaborate celebration routine. 42-49 it finished and the crowd knew that they’d seen a vintage display from the big man at the heart of the Ogres’ title challenge, who was busy being doused with a Gatorade barrel by his teammates.
What actually happened:
Guerinlas – 4 (Ascroft, Gillet 2, Thomas)
Hartleypool – 1 (Hartley)
Guerinlas – 3 (Gillet 2, Lewis)
Hartleypool – 6 (Hartley 5, Owen)
Monday, 19 October 2009
There was an element of “the Fast Show” about Langman’s start to the game, sprinting about in his Paul Whitehouse-style Argyle jersey. But there was nothing funny about the hat-trick he managed to score before the Panthers woke up, each shot dispatched ruthlessly, with some help along the way from Lammey.
Andy “no, the other Andy Humphries” Humphries decided he had had enough at this point, and
pulled one back after robbing Ziebart on the wing. The same man then spearheaded a counter-surge, ably assisted by Lindsey Stark. Matt “the Matt” Cannon joined in the resurgence with a sweetly taken long-range strike, that Barclay barely saw. Cannon and Humphries linked up well for the remainder of the half, challenging the Lammey/Langman axis that ran the early moments of the game. 3-2 was the score at half time, with the Panthers looking more likely to score next.
The introduction of Cooper at halftime put a cat among the pigeons though. He was showboating from the off, hitting the ceiling and then playing some sublime passes with his first few touches. Other halftime substitute Ellie Gilroy also helped the Bankers get back into the game, with some telling interceptions and a few close shots. The Panthers then equalised against the run of play through their captain Moore. A great ball saw him scamper into space down the left, before firing a composed shot past Barclay. He immediately subbed himself off for Matt Cannon, revelling in his 1 shot to 1 goal ratio for several minutes.
The scores did not stay level for long, with Cooper storming forward at every opportunity to put pressure on the Panthers defence. It seemed almost too easy for him to regain the lead for his team, slotting in from a tight angle past Bulpitt. Langman resurfaced to score from the edge of the area soon afterwards, with the ref unsure whether he had crossed the red line or not. Cooper then struck to regain the Bankers’ 3 goal lead, ignoring passing options to shoot powerfully into the bottom corner from distance, with textbook banker greed.
While the Bankers’ continued to push to accumulate goals, the team’s speculation left a lot of gaps at the back, which gave Stark numerous shooting chances. This culminated in Humphries scoring the last goal of the game, striking through Langman’s legs in acres of space. It was too little too late unfortunately, as the pink team lost 4-6.
The Panthers looked a team on the brink of exhaustion at the start of the second game, with their once uniform pink T-shirts now stained various hues of red and purple from perspiration. They did start the game well though and played as a very compact unit, clearly buoyed by “1 shot to 1 goal Moore”’s pre-game pep talk. It was unsurprising that Bulpitt looked sickened when the Bankers’ scored the opener, with Lammey exchanging a couple of 1-2s with Cooper before finishing expertly into the far corner. It was a goal of the highest quality. The Panther response was spirited, with Moore’s cheeky backheel sending Humphries through on goal, but there was no sign of an equaliser. Moments later Lammey and Cooper linked up well to send their team 2 goals up, this time it was Cooper who finished from close range.
Cannon gave his team hope with another tremendous goal from distance. He then linked up well with Humphries and Hathaway to create a chance for the latter, but it was well blocked by Pitts. The Cooper Lammey and Langman triumvirate (they sound more like lawyers then bankers) were soon controlling the midfield, with Lammey crashing a shot off the bar. Their pressure paid off moments later. Cooper played Lammey into space down the wing with a backheel, and then struck the return pass past Barclay first time. Wonderful stuff.
A bit of gamesmanship crept into the game at that point, with the team 2 goals ahead passing the ball across the defence and running down the clock. The next chance fell to Cooper, who hammered a half-volley off the side wall with his trademark exuberance. The game was slow from then until halftime.
The play in the second half continued outside the Bankers’ penalty area, when a free kick was awarded against Andy Pitts’ quite brilliant, but also quite illegal sliding tackle. A speedy Lammey interception nipped the ensuing set piece in the bud. Ben Hathaway was desperately trying to pull his team back into the game with his Rambo-style runs, playing the ball to himself off the wall, and often running into the outstretched boot of Pitts. He finally closed the gap to one goal when a moment of defensive madness by the Bankers allowed him to finish unmarked from the edge of the area.
A spell of end to end chaos, now recorded in hieroglyphics in my notepad, ended with Pitts restoring his team’s 2 goal lead, unmarked. Having enjoyed his bit of attacking, Pitts then went on a blinding run the length of the pitch, beating 3 players, and setting Cooper up for an easy finish. Langman completed the route for the Bankers, shooting past a reclining Bulpitt, who seemed to have slipped. It finished 6-2 in favour of Barclay’s team
With 6 points from 6 today, the Bankers canter to a lead at the top of the table, playing the best passages of football seen yet this season. A well-organised but under-strength Pink Panthers team played some great football themselves, but were outclassed. They remain bottom.
1st game Pink Panthers 4 - 6 The Bankers
2nd game The Bankers 5 - 2 Pink Panthers
Langman 5; Cooper 4; Humphries 2; Cannon 2; Hathaway; Pitts; Lammey; Moore
Sunday, 11 October 2009
These are dark times for T&F Friday Football. With its very existence under threat from a Tiny Toes broadside, those hackneyed words of inspiration have finally been realised in South Oxfordshire: every game really should be treated as our last. And it was with words to this effect that both teams started the league’s latest game following some serious limbering up and a couple of earnest-looking team huddles led by Kitty Jansz and Niall Slater, both going solo for the first time in the absence of their co-captains.
Most games these days seem to start in one of two ways – very slowly, or blisteringly – and it was in the latter manner that our first contest began. Closet Welshman Hugh Evans was unsurprisingly at its forefront. Having scored a hat-trick across MickleSlate’s opening games against The Bankers, Evans was clearly keen to add to his tally and his neat footwork and close-control, combined with a rasping drive that came back off the crossbar, was the highlight of the first few minutes. The yellow-clad Mickleslate’s, with a starting line-up of Evans, Alison Campbell, Kirstin Heilmann, Gregg Warren and Slater in nets, continued to enjoy much of the possession, and only an off-target effort from KittEms’ experienced utility man Tom Church punctuated the Canaries’ pressure.
This punctuation proved to be just that, though, as Warren pinballed a rebound through ringer ‘keeper Andy Roe’s pins after he could only divert an Evans shot to the lurking Ragged Trousered Philanthropist. Roe nearly made amends soon after when he chucked a quick throughball to KittEms dangerman Church, but it had just a little too much on it. With moments to spare until half-time, Jansz threw on veterans Mike McNulty and Vikki Rose, bedecked in a Man City jersey (glory?), for Church and herself, and it nearly backfired when Evans went clear on goal after strolling through a non-existent defence. With Roe down on the mats Evans should have rested a small pillow between the teams but he cracked against the post to leave the score at 1-0.
Ben Piggott, who we all got to know so well in a recent parklife, for Warren was the only change for the Mince while KittEms made another couple of changes, which involved Jansz, Bev Cousins, Evan Stevenson and Tom Jeatt. In what order I’m not entirely sure due to poor shorthand, but what my memory does tell me is that Cousins in particular was, or was about to, have a cracking game. ‘You can tell she plays hockey’, someone said, as we all nodded sagely, recollecting another bit of calmness on the ball, or precision passing. Unfortunately the same can’t be said for her teammate McNulty. If Jamie Redknapp was a T&Fer, he’d have labelled McNulty a ‘top, top player’ long ago, but the Southpaw was showing a few too many touches in his continued comeback from injury and it looked like he needed a Dan Hartley to bark him into shape. He didn’t, and it was left to fellow KittEm Alec Dubber to achieve parity for the Blues with his first T&F Friday Football goal after a free transfer from Palgrave: a cool finish across Slater’s goal.
The balance had shifted, and just seconds later Church almost grabbed a goal after he broke through a high Mickleslate’s backline, but Slater was equal, pushing his drive over his bar. The ‘keeper didn’t have to wait long until he was called into action again, but this time he had no reply. Picking up the ball and facing goal Cousins played a glorious one-two with Church before placing a measured finish past Slater to put the KittEms into the lead for the first time. The sight of Church’s ecstasy was pure joy to behold, and it seemed as if hearts and minds had been won in the crowd: a huge roar met the goal and the KittEms looked set for an historic win after previously looking so vulnerable. How cruel it seemed, then, when Roe was ignominiously nutmegged for the second time just seconds later, this time by old pro Ben Woolhead, to stop the revitalised KittEms in their tracks. Further chances followed, not least another Woolhead effort after a carbon copy Cousins/Church one-two with Campbell and a last gasp McNulty thwack, but the game ended 2-2.
Heartened by a point gained, Jansz elected to ignore precedent by continuing to field a lady, starting with herself straight off. With just two girls on duty for Mickleslate’s, Slater did no such thing, resting Campbell and Heilmann after a straight 20-minute run out for both in the first game. Just moments had passed before the balcony realised that this was going to be telling, Evans and Robbie Cooke each scoring their first of the day and moving one goal closer to nine-goal Dean Lockyear, crucially absent for the KittEms. The underrated rugger boy Cooke then slotted two more past a visibly frustrated Roe to make the hat-trick prior to Woolhead’s third of the season, which made it 5-0 to Mickleslate’s. Dizzying stuff. If it was a fight, they’d have stopped it.
Slater reacted by making changes to slow down the game, but a goal-hungry Evans incorrigibly added a few more to the tally. “Someone throw down their towel”, resident pundit Olly Cooper was heard crying. Not to be outdone, Captain Slater slammed an eighth in after some nice approach play by his thespian twin Piggott, but there was still time for a KittEms consolation: McNulty showing some class and finishing nicely to put an ever so slight dent in the scoreline. That was where the action ended, though, and for the second successive game of the season an empathic crowd trudged away awkwardly, patting the backs of the victims of another 8-goal flagellation. The KittEms were left kicked in, but it's all looking rather gay for the Mince.
Game One: The Kicking KittEms 2 - 2 MickleSlate’s Moray Mince
Game Two: The Kicking KittEms 1 - 8 MickleSlate’s Moray Mince
Cooke 3; Evans 3; Woolhead 2; Warren; Dubber; Cousins; Slater; McNulty.
Kicking KittEms: Kitty Jansz; Alec Dubber; Bev Cousins; Ewan Stevenson; Tom Church; Mike McNulty; Tom Jeatt; Vikki Rose (ringer); Andy Roe (ringer).
MickleSlate’s Moray Mince: Niall Slater; Ben Woolhead; Gregg Warren; Hugh Evans; Alison Campbell; Ben Piggott; Kirstin Heilmann; Robbie Cooke.
Thursday, 1 October 2009
So, the start of the new T&F football season is upon us, and the winds of change have shaken up not only the teams but the captains as well. parklife gives you our very own guide to the movers and shakers of this year’s league.
Kicking us off (ouch), team 1 are Mickleslate’s Moray Mince, a clever amalgamation of Niall Slater and Adam Micklethwaite who both take on captaincy for the first time. With a team sheet to strike fear into the hearts of footballing publishers everywhere, it includes proven scorer Dan Trinder, last year’s golden newbie Hugh Evans and the no-nonsense tacklers Gin Klassen and Kirstin Helmann. Ben Woolhead will no doubt be after some more goals and Ben Piggott adds his own personal brand of footballing randomness. Last but by no means least Gregg Warren, Sarahjayne Sierra and Alison Campbell complete the squad. parklife’s verdict: Definitely 1 to watch.
Team 2 is ruled by the Dan ‘strikes fear into the opposition from his strike rate’ Hartley. While last season saw the Hartley don various costumes, this team’s talent needs no dressing up. Former captain Adam Wheeler heads up the team sheet followed closely by the holy trinity of Daves: Varley, Owen and first timer Cox. A double act of Mike Gibbons and Mike Kelly should keep the opponents guessing, while Will Lazenby is after yet more silverware for his already impressive sports CV. Sam Cragg takes to the pitch for the first time but will no doubt receive full support from footballing veterans Gail Carter, Vikki Rose and Andrea Gibbons who complete the team. parklife’s verdict: Even without the dog costume, it’s a heck of a pedigree.
Team 3 sees summer league captain Nick ‘the Warlock’ Ascroft bring aboard books legend Brian Guerin. Leading a team that includes the solid defence of Mike Jones and Marc Gillet, the surprise shot of Andy Roe and the proven pace of Katie Peace and Beth Lewis up the front, this is a very strong-looking team. Ryan Kidd didn’t see much of the ball last season but parklife tips him and Matt Crook as ones to watch this season. Russell George and new league signings Kathryn Thomas and Katie Eve complete the team. parklife’s verdict: This team? It’s a kind of magic.
Richie Moore picks up his well-worn armband for another crack at the trophy, leading team 4. And what a team it is. Colin Bulpitt gets ready for another season in goal, but he shouldn’t be troubled much with defenders Mark Majurey and Ryan Cooper on their guard. There should be some vital fire-power provided by the trinity of Matt Cannon, Lindsay Stark and Sarah Robbie who unite at the front. Ben Hathaway also returns to the pitch hoping to build upon an impressive first season. Newbie Andy Humphries, Miss T & F Sport Jane Dawson and Sian Findlay complete the line up. parklife says: Moore more more! We love it.
Kitty Jansz and Emma Wilson bring some much-needed girl power to the captains’ list with their inspirationally titled team Kickin KittEms (do you see what they did there? Oh never mind). Ali Meier will be looking to keep his sheets clean once again in goal while Dean Lockyear tears it up on the attack. Verterans of track and field Barry Fry, Mike McNulty and Tom Church will be attempting to keep it tidy in mid field and swipe some goals of their own. While Ewan Stevenson, Bev Cousins and Tom Jeatt are all unknowns, being new for this season, Khanam Virjee should prove to be a particularly good signing if her training performances are anything to go by. parklife’s verdict: A lot of unknowns to the league make the KittEms this year’s wild cards - definitely not to be ruled out.
Finally last but not least Mr Red Boots himself, captain Greig Barclay, returns to the pitch with an experienced team including former teammate and partner in goals Rachael Lammey. Former opposition captain Lloyd Langman also brings his scoring abilities into the team with back-up no doubt being provided by Rod Cookson. Heading up the defence will be the holy trinity of Mo Sidi, Ian Bannerman and Anne Ziebart, while Andy Pitts tries to fill in those midfield gaps. Ellie Gilroy is the only new recruit for this team, but with players like this showing her the ropes parklife anticipates offers from Inter Milan before the end of the season. parklife’s verdict: Greig’s done it before, and this is a team with the skill to go all the way.