I was looking forward to a run out with the Amanzimtoti Over-35 soccer team after a near two-year absence, so with the windows firmly up and the doors locked, I drove on to meet the swarm of Klingon car guards that come out of the wood work during sporting season.
There is nothing like a good game of football to alleviate the worries of our sick society, so all togged up I avoided the hoot bridge and headed for the first pre-season friendly of the year hoping to get a sympathetic 10-minute run on match night.
To my surprise, the squad were scraping the barrel with all the big guns off for some rhyme or reason and I had the honour of pulling on the black and gold Toti Over-35 jersey and playing a full game with the legendary Ian Bender, senior citizen, Janus McMolnar, club captain, Deon Dunbar and coach Decian Romani.
After elbowing and pushing their way through the packed terraces and veranda, Toti managed to kit up only 11 players with no reserves and it was always going to be an uphill struggle against the well-greased Swiss Oils machine who finished in the top five in the league last year and were sporting three capable substitutes on the sidelines.
Man of the Match, Conrad Ribenho, was in top form and made only one mistake early into the match with a poor clearance kick straight to the feet of the opposing striker, who chipped the ball over the back-peddling Conrad’s head and into the net.
Swiss Oils were organised and played expansive football with elaborate lateral movements across the park and down the wings, which had Toti chasing leather in attempt to gain ball possession.
When Toti did get the ball the midfielders grafted hard with Mathew “The Tyre Dude” Powell, Avellino, Sipho “Hot Stix” and Shaun Holmes creating some good counter attacks to apply pressure on the Swiss Oils defence but just not enough to find the back of the net.
The half-time score was a respectable 1-0 to the visitors.
After the break, the three capable substitutes sprung into action for Swiss Oils and the game stepped up a gear with Toti conceding three more goals in close succession.
The legs were getting tired and my comeback performance was less than memorable with all sorts of hamstring and groin twinges singing a tune of pain and agony late in the second half.
The fifth goal was by far my fault as I allowed my opposite number a free run at goal and I had to watch helplessly and out of breath as the drama unfolded before my eyes.
The mind and spirit was willing but the body was bones in the light and frozen in time – one too many doggies in the midfield had broken me. Victor on the other hand was not that fortunate and had to endure agonising cramp and looked like a sniper had taken a pot shot at him and dropped him in fine fashion reminiscent of the phantom mole tackler.
All in all, the match in general was very enjoyable and kept the spectators entertained but the final score of 5-0 was definitely not a true reflection of the game – it could have been 10-0.
A big shout out to Gary Hutchison for refereeing the match very professionally and to Garth at Lords and Legends for sponsoring the beers in the change room after the match. Nice one Garth.