End of season blues
PFFC 1 Burge & Gunson 1
There was a distinctly end of season feel to Philosophy Football’s last league game in the 2000/01 Grafton Millennium League season. The usual uncertainties and speculations that greet this traditional fixture were much in evidence with transfer gossip, contract talks and new signings in the air.
In the surreal atmosphere of Paddington Rec, the only sound to be heard in the first half, apart from a lawn mower emanating from the direction of Shirland Road, Maida Vale, was a rather angry “Get that f...... ball off the pitch” from the direction of the dugout; apparently not a call for desperate defending but a rebuke aimed at the youth team practising nearby. This low-key atmosphere led to rumours in the Press Box that it was in fact the Philosophers, not the bathroom fitters, who had spent the previous evening on a stag night in Brighton.
Most surprising of all were the silences; what happened to the usual exclamations of ‘arbitro!’, ‘fuorigiocco!’, ‘immense!’ Indeed Filippo’s absence would have been the main talking point of the half had the Gaffer, no doubt coming out in sympathy with his players, not been left speechless by what went on before him.
The pre-match photocall, the only occasion during the afternoon where the home side got its formation right, fuelled speculation that Lazio had at last got the man they were seeking, with Temper Amental nowhere to be seen. His dramatic entrance at the start of the second half quashed the first rumours, however, while his emergence as a substitute in the unfamiliar position of right midfield helped initiate the second major item of speculation, when the departing youngster Bray promptly informed the Gaffer of the interest he was receiving in Europe, with Anderlecht apparently amongst the frontrunners.
Unsurprisingly, events on the field seemed of secondary importance to the off the field shenanigans, though some highlights included a well-taken debut goal from Sola, usual wonder saves from Rob, a spectacular Cornish Al free-kick which produced one of several good saves from the opposing keeper, followed by a less than philosophical second attempt from a similar position (after the referee had signalled ‘indirect’), a disallowed back heel from Keir and an extravagant one from Temper Amental.
Usual solid displays at the back with Joe looking good, Paul and Ian commanding, Owen classy at left back. Up front Stefan and Keir looked sharp but were continually left wondering where the support was coming from. Raj was industrious and creative, Richard enigmatic as usual and Jez kept his growing fan club happy by signing autographs on what looked to be a Eurostar timetable.
The game is never over until the final whistle and Burge & Gunson, perhaps predictably given the circumstances, snapped up a late equaliser. The same of course goes for parties. The post-match inquest at Giardino Filippo revealed that the Gaffer was looking for two new players, a point received with sufficient good humour to untrouble half of the team, who left immediately after Benedetta’s pasta and pivo.
Then the Gaffer played his trump card (or party trick) by unveiling the young Chelsea star Sam Dalla Bona, signed for the princely sum of £1. Dalla Bona, the Gaffer insisted, would ‘have a key role’ to play in Philosophy Football’s future.