After UWMCCFC’s reasonably comfortable victory in the quarter-final two weeks ago, they knew that they were facing much sterner opposition in Average FC. Rumours surrounding Average’s creation pointed towards them being a group of second-trial rejects from UWMFC in 2012. Despite van Howe’s unsuccessful attempts to recruit the recently revived UWMCCC clubman Povey, it was still a strong line-up on show. Gonszor returned after a lengthy absence (so much so that he had forgotten what colour UWMCCFC wore), Clayden and Liam back after ‘injuries’ and Kraus back from commitment issues meant the resources were present if UWMCCFC were to reach the promised land of the final.
After kicking three kids off Tarkett (Clobber questioning out how did they get there?!), UWMCCFC’s warm-up consisted mostly of testing Kraus’s controversial claim of the not so distant past. Kraus had claimed that he would save 35 out of 50 attempts on target from the edge of the box, volunteering to wack/nominate for the amount of goals under/over 35 conceded. Having scored 4 out of their first 6 on target, Kraus was very relieved to know that one of the finer referees (with the deepest voice in the world) had turned up and was ready to go.
The game started as it would continue – Average FC controlling a lot of possession as UWMCCFC stayed true to their counter-attacking style that had proved so successful in the ‘regular’ season. Alarming signs perhaps were on show with the quick feet of ‘Dave’ on Average’s left-wing (fair play to anyone who can think of a good footballer called Dave). Kraus was forced to make a few smart saves as Average FC managed to create some chances. One impressive save fell to Average’s enormous striker eight yards out, goal gaping, only for him to skirm the chance wide. Credit must go to Gonszor for his aerial battling throughout against their striker who might well be entitled to benefits such was his height.
At 0-0, UWMCCFC with virtually their first significant chance, set Clayden through with a delicate pass on the edge of the box, only for his right-footed effort to hit the post. A small touch from an Average defender perhaps the key touch in preventing ‘goal-machine’ Clayden notching another to his impressive tally as a UWMCCFC rookie. This moment of hope was perhaps Romeo seeing Juliet for the very first time, as afterwards, family relations of Montague and Capulet came into play; average’s right-winger managing to squeeze a cross under Gonszor’s boot, falling to an Average player in the box. Hall, leaving his man to go across, could only get half-a-block in, guiding it quite delicately beyond a diving Kraus. At this point, Juliet was asleep for sure, whether the poison had been drunk only remained to be seen, as the half finished at 1-0.
A reasonably detailed discussion followed – Kraus putting in some lengthy comments after van Howe’s words, chatting lengthily about winning the ball, conviction in passes etc, only to then declare the shocking announcement that he would have to leave five minutes early of the finish to get to his first shift at the Undergraduate (Kraus’s logic here being that he would be paid to watch sporting events on TV and then very occasionally serve some drinks). Perhaps Hall’s complete bewilderment at this (given that Average were ready for the second half before UWMCCFC) explains his defensive error that led to Average’s second goal almost immediately after the restart. The first of many huge kicks from Average’s goalkeeper went over Hall’s head, only for speedy Dave to run in behind and gently lob the ball over a charging Kraus.
Another missed header by Hall from a chipped through ball allowed Dave to bring the ball down in the box, turn away from Wood and finish nicely. 3-0 and the metaphorical Romeo was glugging away on the poison at this point. Hall’s season of getting away with being quite frankly, shit, in the air appeared to be crumbling to the ground against the quality of Average FC and the best footballing Dave since the new Gaelic football legend (genuinely) Mr Bentley. Some dignity was restored after an excellent goal from Platt, tucking it past the opposition goalkeeper with ease after some tidy interplay on the right-hand side.
With still 30 minutes left to play of the 90, was there a glimmer of hope perhaps? No it would seem, as the glimmer was crushed in the most tragic of circumstances. Hall and Gonszor, who had dropped some way into their own half anticipating the opposition goalkeeper’s kick, were powerless again to stop it, Gonszor missing the header as he tumbled backwards. Again, it was Dave who was first to the ball, after Kraus had flapped in a style that Manuel Almunia would have been proud of in his darkest Arsenal days, managing to miss it completely. With an open goal, Dave couldn’t believe his luck, and completed his hattrick. Kraus promptly subbed himself off, not in need to get to his job, but out of complete despondency. Van Howe’s brief clean sheet was marked most notably by his extraordinary attempt to keep an opposition pass from going out for a goal kick – using his head at one point, looking like his legs were getting dragged away in a horror film to something as terrifying as Ed Cooper’s lair.
Once 4-1 down, UWMCCFC began to relax a bit, playing probably their best football of the match with playmaker Gould getting a lot of touches. Not dissimilar to the Montagues and Capulets, UWMCCFC were combining in a time of misery to create something better. It followed as from a corner, Gonszor struck a volley powerfully with his right-foot, only for the keeper to make an impressive ‘reaction save’ (it hit him), and in the ensuing scramble, a penalty was given for handball on the line. Two yellows given out for dissent and the handball, Platt stepped up and expertly guided his penalty into the corner for his second. Hall, who had described Platt’s penalty taking as gash to Gould and Gonszor as he stepped up, was left eating humble pie – it was a penalty that the great Rickie Lambert would have been proud of. Shortly afterwards, there was a strong looking appeal for a penalty after some quick footwork from Platt, the keeper adjudged to have got to the ball just in time as Platt attempted to go round him. That and an excellent overhead kick from Gould which tested the goalkeeper well left UWMCCFC considering how close they could have come to one of the biggest sporting burglaries ever seen had their defensive disintegration not occurred in such a sudden and untimely fashion.
The full whistle was blown, 4-2 the final score in an exciting game. Credit must go to Average for one of the finer performances in recent Tarkett history, as UWMCCFC were comfortably second best throughout. Furthermore, the game was played in the spirit of intramural football, unlike last year’s victors Lads on Toure (including Average’s winger harassing van Howe out of the box to then claim a handball). And so that was that, another season over, another breaking of UWMCCFC hearts. At nets the next morning, Beauclerk remarked that he had cried himself to sleep, Hall that he had woken up crying as well. Extended thanks must go the finalists: van Howe for his organisation this year, Gould for actually being good at football, Cam for his French flair, David for making everyone else’s finishing look good and Jewson for not actually murdering anyone on our beloved astroturf. In the words of Mastercard, a season’s membership for UWMCCFC- £10, the memories of glory and pain – priceless. The UWMCCFC directors will be meeting in the not so distant future to discuss the vision of the club as they finally hope to secure some silverware- whatever happens, let’s hope the fresh provide a centre-back or two.