Match Report - 12 Nov 2016, Leeds Modernians Football Club 1sts beat Whitkirk
The day began with a surreal twist as the gathering brotherhood was regaled at the club by a lecture from Jacob on the threat to liberty and justice from the seismic shift in global politics portrayed by Trump’s victory and Brexit.
Jacob was so emotional about his topic that he wouldn’t end his keynote speech without insisting that the returning Zac Brown was a ‘Bloomin’ Ummer’. A fair point, beautifully made and difficult to counter.
We arrived at Whitkirk knowing that this venue had proved a difficult hunting ground for Mods in recent years. The fact that today’s opposition had also beaten us 4-1 at a canter earlier in the season added to the sense of foreboding. As if this wasn’t enough, Mods were gripped by a gnawing worry that last week’s poor showing against the relative minnows of Farnley may have indicated that our recent renaissance from also-rans to contenders may have been as short lived as a piece of stuffed pizza crust found in Ackie’s beard.
Emphasis in the team talk was put on putting last week’s poor result behind us and focusing on what had worked for us until the wheels had come off.
Our heroes lined up;
Wacky waving inflatable arm flailing tube man
As the team lined up, Zac sat in the dug out and it took more than a few casual glances to determine that he wasn’t actually wearing the dug out. Wacky waving inflatable arm flailing tube man demurred from carrying the flag which was handed to Smythey to extend his ‘linesman of the match’ 125 game winning streak.
Mods had the best of the early exchanges and it was pleasing to see such a positive reaction from our boys to what was said in the changing room and how much getting back on the right track actually meant to our lads. Good work again particularly from Franceypants and Swiss-Family helped us to build a platform to launch attacks that saw Donny and Ryan in possession in promising areas. The all important first goal eluded us though and it was particularly heartbreaking to fall foul of a strange decision by Sieve Baines to indulge in a spot of Basketball dribbling as a speculative ball into the box fell at his feet. It was hard to argue with the referee’s penalty decision as the ball was spinning on Sieve’s upturned middle finger before being removed and placed on the spot by the Whitkirk penalty taker. Despite looking (and sounding) like the Scottish prison warden in Porridge, the ref was left with no choice but to give the award.
Midway through the first half, the Mods contingent on the sideline was increased by 33.3% (or, in relative terms; 6%) as, emerging from the undergrowth riding a domestic tomcat appeared Mods favourite Little Bryan. It was good to see him taking a short break from his winter season at the Leeds City Varieties (Little Bryan! The toast of Kings, The Delight of Queens!) and particularly encouraging to witness the return of a long standing Mods tradition of injured players coming to cheer their brothers on despite mortal wounds. As well as fagging the ball, Little Bryan offered help of a tactical nature for which Smythey thanked him but reminded him that ‘If I need any tactical help from you, I’ll give you a sign – and that sign will be me being sectioned under the Mental Health Act.’
The measure of our team’s confidence in Mutty’s likelihood of saving the penalty was reflected in the bizarre scenario as the poorly placed penalty bounced off Mutty’s chest only to be met by a queue of Whitkirk players holding tickets showing their place in the queue like you get in some of them there supermarket meat counters. Thankfully, the player holding ticket number 17 snatched at his chance and the ball wafted harmlessly wide.
Galvanized by this let off, Mods upped the ante and increased the pressure on their opponents’ goal. A goal chalked off for offside indicated that we were finding our range and we duly took the lead from a throw in powered into the net by Donny after a deft back header by heroes unknown.
The half time talk took place in the changing room and it was good to focus on the positives and commend the players for such a positive reaction rather than harp on and on about last week’s shame fest. The one technical point that was pointed out was our tendency to give away possession far too easily – particularly after gruelling bouts of running around trying to win it back.
The game resumed with perhaps the most sustained bout of giving possession away demonstrated by any team at any sport at any time, ever.
Despite our largesse, Whitkirk were failing to take advantage of the embarrassing amount of the ball we insisted they had. Better teams than Whitkirk will punish us for this flaw in our game so we have to take steps to sort this out pronto. Moaning at the big shouting and screaming man on the sidelines as possession was surrendered yet again is perhaps not the most progressive tactic in this respect.
Apart from his penalty heroics, Mutty had not been troubled unduly and we were able to double our advantage as an in-swinging corner was half cleared to Ryan who thumped it into the top corner first time on the half volley. His celebratory arm raise and huge smile suggested that he actually meant it.
Feeling the pace as he measures his return, Poundland was replaced by Wacky waving inflatable arm flailing tube man who was instructed to switch sides with Francey. Alex trouped off, a job well done apart from at no point holding a wide position despite nominally playing wide right. The rigours of his efforts clear to see as his face resembled a haunted orange tennis ball.
With 15 minutes to go, Ryan succumbed to his goal celebration exhaustion and was replaced by Zac Brown to support Donny Clickston up top. The Whitkirk back four exchanged nervous glances as if Mods had just brought on the 3.35 East Coast mainline train to Glasgow Central. There was just time for Zac and Donny to invent yet more ways to give the ball away before Whitkirk scored a goal against the run of play to give them a sniff of what would have been an absolute scandal of a point.
Fair play, Mutty saved low at his near post to snuff out the most menacing of the Whitkirk advances.
As the ball was pumped up for Donny and Zac to fight for possession, the clear relief on the Whitkirk defence as the full time whistle sounded was evident, as they didn’t fancy any kind of last-ditch tackle scenarios on The Boulder Brothers.
Righteous elation and a feeling of getting the show back on the road was the feeling in the changing rooms as our happy band set their sights to next week’s challenge at the Hanging Gardens of Featherstone.
Overall, a very encouraging win in response to the disappointments of the previous weekend. There is still mucho work to do to retain and protect possession but these boys can fight their corners and stand up to all comers now.
MOM – Swiss-Family Robinson. – a physical presence and calm head when we needed it most.
Whitkirk 1 - 2 Leeds Modernians Football Club 1sts ()