Wednesday, August 17, 2005


The Big Game Live

When Archibald shapes to head the ball from a Dingleton cross which loops and curls into the 'danger zone', the keeper, Inglethorpe together with a gaggle of disparate defenders attempt to bounce the leather-cased swollen balloon from the area while at the same time standing on the feet of the hopping Red Eagles to put them off. The ball, deflected by a header outside the area and the cross bar, powerballs off the wooden crossbar as the result of a cleverly aimed shot disappearing into the crowd, giving the Pembleton Rangers relief.
This rest was only momentary, as after the goal kick had been struck into the middle of the park a giant centre forward from the Eagles team stamps up to the half way circle showing off his special oversized silver boots, making the shiny ball appear like a tiny marble at his feet. He thumps the ball with his right foot and the ball swerves through the air aided by a strong wind and tipps into the corner of the Subbuteo netting just at the last moment. In despair the opposing team, now being harassed by humiliating chants from the crowd, make a last ditch effort, they kneel to pray upon the ground. They pray for the strength to overcome their Golliath of an opponent; may they overcome this great injustice and with god’s help be able to scale all injustices that appear before them…'May the ball god provide us with all and lead us not into relegation... hollowed be thy name... Amen'. A solemn mood now filled the arena. Quickly assessing the situation the Rangers goal keeper quickly ushers his players into a circular huddle to discuss tactics. On breaking they run to stand in their four - four - two formation, fealessly confronting the giant opposition gorilla/keeper now resting upon the crossbar of the opposing goal, smiling smugly with a two – nil lead, legs joggling in and out of the netting. The Rangers keeper lays the patched leather ball onto the centre spot for the kick off. The moment he laid it upon the white spot it's normally rotund shape immediately altered, changing to a plastic horizontal disk, flopping to the ground in front of him. Curious, the keeper attempted to lift at the edges, his gloved hands fumbling about on the grass. A cardboard cut-out photo of a ball? Puzzled, the keeper signalled the ball boy for a replacement, he mumbles to himself; “this always happens! These away games!” his voice lost amongst the roar of the crowd. Out popped a replacement ball from the side line, coming bouncing into the pitch and stopping near his feet, he went to touch it and again, it flattened itself, the same as the before, into a flat plastic disk. 'OK then' thought the keeper feeling the pressure from the crowd to get on with it, 'you want to play it that way!' He picked up the flat ball thrown in and pressed down heavily with all his weight upon the stiff shiny plastic, the ball flipped up high into the air and landed amongst the throng of players, each vying for a header, unable to grasp it as it disappeared under their swinging feet. Fights broke out amongst the players in frustration and a chaotic pile of players developed on the pitch. The referee blows his whistle and demands that each player be given a separate disk and that each team should have a different colour disk so as to tell them apart. The keeper of each team is to quickly train his side in the flipping technique. After a brief practise period the crowd started to cheer as the ball was flipped from one side of the pitch to the other with the players growing expertise, the giant monkey dancing about from player to player in frustration at not being able to grasp at the elusive ball. The players surrounded the giant ape like ants laughing at him as they bent down to press upon the flat ball, flipping it away from the giants reach. So frustrated was the ape that he began thumping the ground with both his feet and arms, and when he found that this altered the course of the ball, began to employ this as method of play, repeatedly stamping and shouting at the players in order to put them off, shaking the ground around the auditorium. The giants aggressive antics, whilst disorientating the players also sent the ape himself into a dizzy state and drunk with motion, swaying into one of the spot lights, accidentally knocking the stadium into complete darkness, only leaving the stars in the night sky to shine a faint glow over the rectangular playing field. In the ensuing blind confusion the ape sustained a giant calf injury that would deny him play for the next two matches and the Red Eagles side their main striker. Dragging his foot around in the dark he gamely attempted to play on, knocking over and trampling upon players in the process, stumbling around whilst swiping at the white shiny disk flipping through the night air. Disks were flying this way and that and the crowd became angered at the apparent shambolic performance of their favourite teams and stormed the pitch. Pandemonium broke loose and the match officials eventually decided to call the game off, the players in the end fighting to get through the players exit, chased by the limping ape roaring and beating his chest, the loud echo ricocheting through the tunnel and throughout the stadium. In his post match interview the giant said that the experience would be good for his international career and he had been playing well, he thought, up until the ball incident and this had, for him, seriously changed the flow of the game. The manager of the Eagles has apparently called for an independent inquiry while the FA are considering fining the ape for deliberately confusing players and a misappropriation of players facilities in the locker room after the match, under procedure 715 of the FA 'rules of conduct'. The national sports paper 'On the Ball' ran with the head line; 'Giant confused by tiddly winks in Eagles blackout'

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