Arup 8 PFFC 4
The journey starts in the Eternal City, where the author made his international debut for PFFC in 2005. We played well then in a four-team tournament, reached the final but lost 3-2 on a penalty shoot-out. "Always the English, brave like lions but always the losers …"
Fast forward to 20 March 2011; all roads lead to Roma and I'm running the maratona with Kieran and our friend Simon.
One week later I'm back with my friends in Regent's Park. The ten Red Men go 1-0 down but equalise after the keeper fouls Matt from Andy’s pass into the right hand side of the area. Lucky to get away with a carbon copy just before, and despite his protests – "I didn't touch the ball" – indeed you didn't, you took out the man. An expertly taken penalty by Will makes it 1-1. PFFC continue to make chances but then lose Will, who twists his ankle and can't continue. Now the nine remaining Red Men concede goals due to sheer lack of numbers and are 6-1 down at half time. Ally has to depart for the Scotland v Brazil game, but not before recruiting a fellow philosopher from King's College.
Half time and Andrea leads the way. "We need to press and make chances. Keep playing."
Flash back to the day before, and I'm on the march with 500,000 people in the centre of London. My friends are there, fellow philosophers, Red Men, socialistas, workers, mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, young and old. Feel humble and proud at the same time.
"This is a beautiful day, it is a new day … We are together, we are unified and all for the cause … Because together we’ve got power …"
The maratona is hurting now, with Simon and I both in pain some 35k in.
"Come together as one …"
We kick off the second half with only eight men, but get back up to nine just after kick off with our new Thinker, John, and we press and press again. We score after Matt's tireless work down the left produces a cross from which Ömer scores. Arup score and we score again: an excellent ball in from Matt leads to a headed own goal from Arup. John takes a quick free kick and we almost score again … they score again … clearance off the line from Andy … one from Dave … brilliant tackle from Henry … likewise from Owen … fantastic saves by Rob … Andrea is everywhere … Matt is shouting "We can win this second half … come on!" … I ask how long to go … "Almost finished … maybe a minute" replies the ref … I talk to Henry … "If this goal kick clears the first defender then I will go … look for me" … he nods … Dave hits the ball over the first defender … Henry controls the ball ...
I'm losing sight of the kilometres now … love Roma … hating the race … I tell myself I will run the last 3k with Simon … he tells me to push on … "you sure fella? … ok then … will wait for you at the finish … promise … "
Henry beats one man and I go … he pushes down the left and plays the perfect ball … chipped across the last defender … just make it and it's the rare shot … as soon as you hit it you know it's in … screams of joy heard all over Regent's Park … the ref blows his whistle … never been so happy after a defeat … because it feels like a win … nine lions on the pitch …
Hyde Park … 5pm … the march is over … we leave with smiles on our faces and joy in our hearts … we go for a drink and we see what isn't the truth on the rolling news …
"They take one little word out of what you say … magnify it out of all proportion to the rest … to make it seem what you are is what you're actually not …"
3k to go and I'm running … slowly, but running … I get to 41k and I can almost see il colosseo … I wait for Simon … finiamo!
I speak to my son about the events of the last 8 days and how I want to connect them in my report. "It's easy" he says …
Ciaran Saunders Finnerty – "Never give up …"
(4-4-1): Rob the Cat; Owen, Andrea, Dave, Andy, Ömer, Ally (John
45'); Will (Captain 25'); Henry, Matt