Reds hit the pain barrier
Alba 7 PFFC 1
On a purely personal level tonight held a lot of promise for me.* After 10 months of football-less exile in Edinburgh I was ready to don the shirt and reacquaint myself with some old and new faces at Philosophy Football Football Club, my spiritual home. During my loan spell at Easter Road my participation was fitful and I cited linguistic and cultural differences on my departure, although I would miss the deep-fried haggis.
As we gathered at the changing rooms the omens looked bleak. Filippo looked worried as he announced that we didn't have a keeper and bravely volunteered to play Camus for the night. With Dennis and Marco also absent it looked as if it was going to be a tough night. It was. Although we started off resolutely enough with some notable challenges from Kieran and Gibbo we conceded when their number 7 (a Peter Crouch look-a-like) picked up the ball from a throw-in and, weaving the wrong side of the returning left-back, shot accurately into the corner of the net past a helpless Filippo: 1-0. A lapse with a through ball in the heart of the PFFC defence exposed Filippo in a one-on-one at the edge of the penalty area and the Alba striker made no mistake: 2-0. Their third was scored in a frighteningly similar manner and the unfortunate Kieran through a valiant attempt to clear, may I add accidentally diverted an Alba header with a strong back-heel past a surprised Fil. Very unlucky and if Kieran had tried it a hundred times he wouldn't have scored in such a manner again: 3-0.
At this point PFFC rallied with Ronan working the left flank and the Hansen-esque Damien driving the ball out of defence past a couple of oncoming strikers for good measure. We lost another before Kieran finally grabbed a goal back but for the life of me I can't remember how it was scored so let’s say a 35-yard screamer, top corner, the hordes went wild and it is a goal of the season contender. It was our only bright spot of the evening: 4-1.
Half time saw the introduction of the dependable Ally and we had a plan of keeping it tight for the first ten or fifteen minutes, soaking up any pressure and hopefully nicking a goal or two. Excellent: we had a master plan to unhinge Alba. So we promptly took to the field although Alba didn't, waiting to listen instead to Hany's tactics for at least another five minutes or so. It was frustrating and a number of our players made their feelings known although the referee, a close pal of Hany, laughed it off! A canny slice of gamesmanship I thought. Anyhow, our plan was wrecked as we immediately conceded from a high cross which their lanky number 7 powered home with Niall Quinn's precision: 5-1 and we were treading water. We were increasingly becoming frustrated which resulted in some … erm ... strong challenges, shall we say. Damien was booked and Filippo ran about 40 yards to take out Alba's number five who was frankly a pain in the arse with his fancy touches and cocky demeanour. Any sane person would have done the same!
We allowed another breach before a truly miserable night was complete with an Alba in-swinging corner that Fil could only palm into the roof of the net for 7-1. Unlucky. The final whistle couldn't come soon enough and when it did some of our feelings were directed at the Alba boss, Hany, for time-wasting, an early finish, crowd barracking, and the fact we got stuffed 7-1. PFFC were not at their best but it has to be said that we were also incredibly unlucky as every mistake, minor or not, seemed to be punished.
Not the return I had planned but the trip to the Warrington pub after the game provided much-needed hilarity as Filippo, Damien, Danny, Ally, Arliss and myself chewed the fat and put the defeat behind us. We were also treated to a Eurosport spectacular featuring the latest Serie A/B games. The commentator was thankfully not Archie MacPherson but none other than our own Italian supreme, Filippo Ricci! He made sure no one was allowed to talk whilst he was on the TV, although this didn't include the local elderly drunk at the bar who hung on every word and even slurred various comments back at the TV which nobody could understand.
Thankfully I write this report in the knowledge that our next game against Invisible brought about a much more solid performance, like the PFFC of old. We were stung into action and we played with a determined resilience and passion. So it just goes to show that every cloud has a silver lining! For me it was just great to be amongst friends and back with my footballing family.
PFFC (4-4-2): Filippo; Gibbo (Danny 60'), Damien, Owen; Cornish Al, Kieran, Mauro, Ronan (Ally 46'); Adam (Arliss 70'), Clarkey.
* Ed’s note: another reason for promise is that because of the evening kick-off, this was probably the first game Owen had ever played for PFFC without a raging hangover.