Sunday, April 20, 2008


A scuff from a muppet and a blast from the past

Last night me and Tricky, along with a new Real recruit called Cam, turned out for Baggina (sic) FC, a pretty handy Japanese side that's been providing Real with ringers since way back when. Note on pronunciation: it's Bah-jee-nah. If you pronounce it with a hard "G", you get the Japanese word for "vagina" which is unlikely to strike fear into opponents.

Prior to the game, I was arguing the toss with Tricky about tournament PK responsibility. Tricky, apparently, thinks I'm a bit of a liability from 12 yards (this on the basis of one missed in actual match play for Real, and several missed in a warm-up in Nagano when I had a rancid hangover.) I, on the other hand, remain convinced that I'm the ghost of Le Tiss, having missed only two penalties in matches out of several dozen spot kicks during my illustrious career.

It's not the first time we've had this discussion.

The game itself was played over three periods (1 * 30 mins, 2 * 35-ish, I think.) For the first period, the Real contingent (namely, all the gaijin) had to play for Baggina's opposition, who had not had sufficient foresight to bring a full complement of players, and were all about 3'7".

In the second period, we got to play for the grown-ups and, wouldn't you know it, Baggina get a penalty after their striker pulls on a defender's shirt then dives to the floor. The referee (Baggina) gives it; Yuki calls on me to take it, me having buried a PK in my previous appearance for the Baggies. I'm completely disgusted that a penalty has even been awarded and tell Yuki where to put it, whereupon Yuki calls on Tricky: hazusu kara ("because he'll miss anyway.")

Tricky puts the ball on the spot. "Go on Tricky, bury those demons" I shout, referring to his previous PK which put us out of the Awaji tournament.

Tricky runs in and fires towards the bottom right-hand corner. The midget goalie scampers across and kicks it away in a manner not dissimilar to Mario booting one of those turtle-shell thingies in the classic Nintendo game. Everyone sniggers, especially me: not the most dignified way to have one's penalty saved.

Two minutes later Dan gets the ball in the penalty area, evades two would-be challengers, runs head-on into a third and, somehow, emerges with the ball about six yards out with only the keeper to beat. Goal to Dan.

Suitably content with further evidence of my own genius (Tricky got a goal in the third period, just in case anyone's feeling sorry for him) I rounded off the night by getting top score on one of those karaoke machines that gives out random scores when Eamonn and I pulled out a heart-warming, ear wax-loosening rendition of a classic we'd been reminded of in Murphy's bog-standard Irish bar earlier on.

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