Monday, September 22, 2008


The managerial career of Daniel McKeown, part 3

As it was to be my last Awaji tournament, Tricky handed the reins of power over to me, then continued to pester me over the phone every 20 minutes for the entire month leading up to the tournament, for such little things as completing application forms and why, oh why, had our name suddenly been changed from Real Osaka to Osaka Penguins (heh heh.)

He may have had a point though: I ballsed up the allocation of car space so badly, Bailey and I had to ride the bus out to the island.

First day:

Osaka Jets drew 0-0
Tokushima won 7-0 (?)
Inter Hyogo won 2-1
Murphys won 2-1

All good there. Highlights included me rolling back the years to 1950s Brazil with an outside-of-the-foot, banana-shot free kick against Tokushima, a richly undeserved 2-1 victory against Hyogo followed immediately by an almost equally undeserved 2-1 victory against Murphys. This latter was made possible by Eamonn (playing centre half for Murphys) going down with cramp under a speculative high ball, allowing Issei to steal in and bounce a shot off one of the other defenders into the goal.

Them's the breaks, Eamonn- you should have come jogging with me last week instead of taking your missus out to that swanky restaurant.

Having survived the first day, we were in a good position to thrive on the second day: Yuki, Takuro, Gamble were coming, as was Saito, the goalie.

Our first game was against the Hyogo side whom we'd somehow scraped past the previous day, but with our altered starting line-up, we were 6-1 up at half time. I brought myself on for the second half, and we only added another goal.

As the semi final kicked off, the weather conditions began to worsen. We went one, then two goals up against Shimane before conceding. We added another before half time and I brought myself on to add a bit more defensive steel to the team, whereupon we shipped two goals. Fortunately, Issei (whom I'd subbed off in my managerial wisdom) came back on and rocketed one home from outside the area to take us to the final.

At this point, the weather went haywire: lightning, accompanied by simultaneous thunder, forking down to the earth worryingly close to the football pitches. We scurried for shelter as the rain came down like bullets. The pyrotechnic mayhem continued for a good twenty minutes, before clearing up and leaving us contemplating a final played in ankle-deep water.

Happily, the pitch drained off very quickly (quality facility, Awaji) although some parts were still a bit mucky. Our opponents in the final were the Osaka Jets.

The first half brought a few chances, but a goal didn't come. I brought myself on for the second half and we promptly conceded. From my side of the field.

The pinkly-clad whoopsies of the Jets were ecstatic, but there was still football to play. Tricky delved down the left flank and pulled back for Gareth (aka Wee Bob) to smash home with his left. We had corners, Takuro hit the crossbar, but the time ran out and we were left with penalties.

Tricky scored (his third PK of the weekend), they equalised. Gamble pulled his fractionally wide, having probably been a bit affected by some banter from the opposition; they scored to gain the advantage. Yuki scored; Saito saved: all square. I buried mine; Saito saved. Bailey stepped up to shoot for the championship.

I thought it was going to be another "this is how to take a penalty" moment; sadly, it transpired to be a "this is how to hit the crossbar" moment. The Jets equalised with their fifth kick.

It was now sudden death. Gareth had his PK saved. Half of the Jets team rushed to celebrate their victory; the half who can count remained static on the halfway line. The premature victory celebration probably put more pressure on their kicker, whose shot Saito parried.

I sent up Takuro, who scored. They equalised. Gnashing my teeth, I sent up Graeme, who scored. They equalised again. Issei scored. They equalised. Yusuke scored. They equalised. Saito, our goalie, scored. Their goalie equalised. We had to start again from the top of the order.

For fuck's sake, I thought.

Tricky, the iceman, took and scored his fourth PK of the weekend. They equalised. Gamble, the glass slipper, hit his hard and to the right, their keeper got a hand to it, it still went in. I ran to embrace Gamble who was as limp as a strand of Ehime udon after the nervous tension of his kick. I promised him he wouldn't have to take a third spot kick, although I had my doubts as they equalised for the nth time.

Up stepped Yuki, to hit a carbon copy of his first PK, the only difference being that their keeper saved it this time.

Oh felch, I thought. Here we go...

Their lad, who'd seen his first shot saved, probably hadn't imagined that he'd be getting a chance to shoot for the championship. Fair play to him, he took it well: game, set and match to Osaka Jets.

I collected the runner's up trophy and threw it into a bush whilst the Jets were receiving the grand prize. Bailey retrieved it, and it was later passed on to Gareth who won our player of the tournament award, beating me into second place.

Other prizes given out included the "Roy Castle haircut award" for Leon, who shaved his head in the carpark after the first day's action, and the "Leon's head for a cock award" for Cameron, whose preference for a shorn member came to light in the bath-house on Saturday evening.


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