The stage was set.
FC Britanico vs Espacio Monsul.
Likened to an ABBA speciality; “the winner would take it all, the loser would have to fall”.
The pitch was in preen condition. (Something you kind of expect from a 4G).
Team photos taken. Warm ups done. Rami’s gentle hands massaging (only) certain players’ legs.
Tributes held for both HRH and The Big Dog DMX (both silently and more importantly musically).
Excitement levels raised to 100%.
This was it.
90 minutes of pure unadulterated football to decide the Apertura League Champions.
Let’s play ball…
The game started in frenetic fashion, both teams creating early attacks to try and unnerve the backlines and goalkeepers. Lots of early touches on the ball for the Brits wing backs, Eddy and Pricey, showed that the boys were looking at exploiting the width of the La Elipa pitch to create chances for the frightening front 3 of H, Cap’n Cal and Lew (quite frankly a frightening front 3 both on and off the pitch) unfortunately to no avail. Much was to be said about Monsul’s attacking threat too, with a team boasting ex-Real Madrid and ex-Rayo Vallecano players it was easy to understand that this was going to be an open and intense game. After some end to end play, the Monsul left broke past Ed and crossed for their striker. The cross was a good one and canoned off Gonzalo’s chest/shoulder and somehow looped over Jorge into the FCB net for a disappointing own goal. 0-1.
The game, if it wasn’t open before the opener, certainly was now. Attacks left, right and centre from both teams made for a great watch for the supporters, substitutes and staff. Jorge made a string of great saves to keep the score down to 1, pushing shots round the post and over the bar. It needed someone to take the ball by the scruff of the neck, pick it up, slap it around a little bit and tell it to start behaving in an FCB way. Cometh the hour, cometh the diminutive Yankexican. A quick passage of play saw EQ end up with the ball just inside their half, using that epic low centre of gravity of his (definitely nothing to do with his height) drove forward into the space and switched the play over to a sober H. With one touch around the defender and a second to caress it with all of the delicacy that he caresses most of the women he comes across in his life, into the bottom corner. The score was level. 1-1. Were the Brit boys being subjected to Harry ‘New-Man’ Newman? Doubtful, but we’ll all take it for one game at least!
The Monsul boys were clearly riled by this and wasted no time in setting off on another attack. And another. And another. It was backs against the wall for the Brits and but for some solid defending from no nonsense Gonzalo and the absolute terminator Omar, it could have been worse than it was. It was over to the coaching staff to make some adjustments. The Rami favoured 3-5-2 was gone, in came the Flecky favoured 4-2-3-1. The results were almost instantaneous, unfortunately it just wasn’t a result that we all wanted to see. The ball broke down our left hand side, the ex-Madrid player whipped the ball in and Jimmy#99 could do nothing to stop the ex-Vallecano player nipping in front of him and passing into the bottom corner. 1-2 down, but all to play for.
As always, this team doesn’t give up. Settling into the new formation, Brits started moving the ball around well. Chances were coming and going, Omar coming closest to an equaliser with a header just wide of the post from a corner (some say he’s only allowed to score one header a calendar year; proof of which is yet to be seen!) It wasn’t long before the creative Cap’n Cal picked up the ball 25 yards out. Jinking and jiving effortlessly through the challenges as though he was back on the Space Monkey dance floor moving away to some Arctic Monkeys. Their centre half, clearly not a fan of the Captain Chorley’s dance moves, gave him a little shove in the back and using all of his adopted Spanish nouce, he falls onto the floor with a wail into the air like a salmon falling back into the water after a failed jumped up stream. Somehow, the ref saw it as a foul and gave the pen. Up stepped top goal scorer Lewis. There was a breath of expectation from all watching. Lewis, contributing well to the game so far but only picking up an Ellis yellow (being fouled but getting booked) stepped up and chipped the keeper to make it 2-2, showing that it wasn’t just an inflated hand Lew had picked up from said foul and in fact his cojones had swelled in size too.
Rami’s blood pressure still in check, the whistle went for half time soon after.
Covid Crew (no, not a poorly named tribute to early 00s R&B sensation So Solid Crew but a direct link to the Covid 6) member Ed making way for Ish with a change of formation into a Lee ‘Mike Bassett’ Fleck 4-2-2-2. The second half began with the same intensity. Fans murmuring the typical football cliche of ‘a great game to watch as a neutral’.
FCB went looking to improve on their resurgence towards the end of the first half and created chances for both Lewis and Calum but their keeper was equal to them. The same was said for Monsul who clearly hadn’t been given the memo that this is our house and we don’t lose here; especially when leagues are at stake. A gilt edged chance missed by their striker should have made it 2-3 but he placed his shot wide of the post with only Jorge to beat. If ever there was a proverbial kick up the arse that was needed, that was it. FCB decided enough was enough. Possession stats picked up. Chances were created. Before long, the inevitable happened. Good play across the back line saw Pricey feed H down the line, who glided past their right back before whipping a ‘goal-ball’ into the box for Lew to knock in his second and Brits 3rd of the game. 3-2.
If you’re thinking this team would take their foot off the gas, relax into the game more so, keep the ball and play boring keep ball stuff; then you’re sorely mistaken. There’s only one word that works in our vocab – attack. The ball was won back by Chema in the midfield, given early to Cal who with one touch opened his body and saw H driving forward past the right back (who in Paco’s understanding “don’t want this shit”) and again feeding the ball across to teammate and housemate Lewis to complete his hattrick. The crowd went wild. Hugs. Kisses. Cheers. Joy. Brits. 4-2.
Was that enough (e)spac(io)e between the two teams? Or did they have enough in the tank to get back into the game. The latter would come to fruition. An attack down their left saw Lewis break up the ball; but a second member of the Covid Crew (clearly still delirious in his recovery) made a choice to put in a tackle too. Just a shame it was on Lewis and not their winger, hey Jim! They broke forward, one pass – two pass – three pass – goal. A lovely strike into the bottom corner. 4-3. Game on.
Changes were made to see the game out. Weeksy replacing a run ragged EQ and Simmo coming on for Jimmy#99. Involved straight away, Simmo turned to chase down a ball over the top and, clearly enamoured by his Slice Padel partner Cal’s flop to win a penalty in the first half, took a tumble onto the deck. The only difference being Simmo was defending and not attacking. Credit where credit’s due though, he didn’t make a meal of it and got straight back up. Shame the same can’t be said for the rest of the boys!
The game seemed to be fizzling out. Brits battling strong and keeping the ball well. Pricey in his best shithousery form untying his shoelace to waste some time for a throw in. H not getting the message though and taking the throw in anyway! Winning the ball back and switching the ball, much to Fleck’s delight after hours of training on just this, the ball got played down to Simmo. ‘CORNERRRRR’ came the shout from the stands. ‘CORNERRRRR’ came the shout from the pitch. ‘CORNERRRRR’ came the shout from the high rise blocks of flats. ‘CORNERRRRR’ came the shout from families all across the World watching on Facebook Live. All of whom forgetting that Simmo, at the ripe old age of 36, is a bit hard of hearing, he takes one touch and stands a beautiful cross to the back post for the incoming H; who much dissimilar to Cal’s failed upstream jump, rose like a salmon to nod the ball into the bottom corner to make it 5-3. Well, I suppose all of the fans were right by shouting corner…
Minutes later, that was it. The ref blew his whistle signalling that the Apertura Title was coming home for a second consecutive season. The cheers rang out. The hugging began. The cries of ‘chammmmmpiolllleeeeeee, chammmpiolllleeeeeee’ being heard from La Elipa to Ventas. The boys had done it, with space to spare, the win taking Brits to the top of the league with a hefty 3 point cushion.
Bring on the Clausura…
Final score: 5-3
Goalscorers: Lewis (3), H (2)
Assists: EQ, Cal, H (2), Simmo
MOM: Lewis (13 votes)
DOD: Simmo (14 votes for his face plant)
Man of the Match: Lewis Jones
Goal of the Match: Harry Newman
Dick of the Day: Simmo
Quote of the Day: I'm not one for long speeches, but .... (5 minutes later) - Rami Majid