World cup darlings the All Whites may be proving they can foot it on the world stage and the Phoenix may hold the A-league record for unbeaten games at home, but for evidence of the healthy state of football in this country, you need to look no further than the Victoria University Rec. Centre last Sunday morning.
With pre-match banter reaching alarmingly high levels, the indoor final between seasoned veterans 309BYCFC and relative underdogs Icy Boots was destined to be the showdown of the season. In a suspiciously partisan build-up Raiko Shareef dubbed the match a “dream final” and the oxymoronic “pinnacle of the gloriously bleary-eyed shambles that is Sunday morning football.” In the week previous, friendships were strained, allegiances declared and observers were drawn into vicious facebook debates, eager to be a part of the action. Banter was derisive and the stakes high, with Jacob McSweeny making a dangerous personal investment in the match, declaring that he would “get Todd Carney sleeves” if 150 spectators were in attendance.
While pool play had often seen both teams in various states of disrepair after the previous night’s activities, there were to be no repeats of previous exploits such as 309BYCFC import Vikram Jayawant bolting from the court yelling “I’m going to be sick!” The numerologically significant 10/10/10 seemed a fitting date for these rival football teams to don their boots (Icy or otherwise) and shake off their hangovers for a clash which, by all accounts, lived up to the hype. Alex Rothman was there to capture the pre-match tension and solidify this moment in video memory.
Interviewed before the game 309BYCFC demonstrated the eloquence typical of kiwi sportspersons, with captain Adam Clark saying he thought their chances were “good” and an ever positive Jayawant predicting “we’ll do mean.” Uncharacteristically cold remarks were made by some members of the Icy Boots camp, with Beyonce enthusiast Blaine Abraham talking up the game’s physical component, declaring “we’ve got the hustle.” Hockey convert and Icy Boots defender Sam Franklin was far from coy about his team’s chances, dismissing his opponents as “a bunch of clowns” and predicting “an absolute massacre.” Jesse Strafford and Ollie Carr adopted a more serious approach to the match, while others were less diplomatic in their discussion of tactics, with Abraham openly revealing his intention to ““Taking out Clarky at the ankles, anything that involves hurting him.” Michael Candy showed remarkable insight into his role as 309 custodian, intending to “concede...less,” while Raiko Shareef emphasised Icy Boots’ commitment to political correctness and third-world humanitarianism by saying things in Maldivian that none of us understood.
Icy Boots defied their critics by moving into an early lead, with one-shoed warrior Zak “Red Mist” Myers drilling a shot past 309 keeper Michael Candy. This goal proved vindication for Meyers whose preference for playing with only one shoe has allegedly brought Icy Boots into financial strife, due to ACC demanding high injury levies. Despite some magical touches from the highly acclaimed Robbie Hunter and Shane Mahy Icy Boots tenuously maintained their advantage to lead 1-0 into the break.
With the half-time whistle Alie Novak stressed the need for his team to “keep their heads up,” before hoeing into mid-game oranges in the 309 camp. The oranges obviously worked wonders however, as the second half saw 309BYCFC come out firing, clearly keen to vanquish the demons that have left the title elusive in their previous two seasons. The Icy Boots custodian and walking West Ham memorabilia store that is James Bascand, proved that he is not entirely super-human, falling victim to just one of a series of thundering strikes from Robbie Hunter at the twenty minute mark. Two minutes later the vision of Clark and a well-timed run from Mahy combined to see a second, perfectly executed shot slip past the aspiring Rob Green. Despite valiant efforts and last minute pressure Icy boots failed to fire in the face of 309’s momentum, with the final score remaining locked in at 2-1.
Forward Dave Williams surmised Icy Boots’ feelings about the result as “gutting as,” but the competition’s newcomers must be congratulated for superb run to the final which has “sent shockwaves” through the footballing community. For 309BYCFC the win, Jayawant insists, is tribute to their unfailing positivity, particularly epitomised by manager Alex Handley’s enthusiasm with the vuvuzela on the sideline.
Rather than resort to the time-old clichés about fair play and participation (because let’s be honest, we’re all about winning here), I tentatively suggest that the real victor on the day was Jacob McSweeny, whose arms and future career were spared the trauma of Todd Carney sleeves due to attendance figures falling short of the optimistic 150 mark.
-All quotes courtesy of Alex Rothman, and here is his brilliant film of the action and ensuing banter-