Ugly but effective victory

Viacom 1 PFFC 2

Rob, 25 September 2006


Michael Ballack admitted recently that he would be happy to win the European Cup playing “ugly football”. A cursory glance at Chelsea’s results from last season suggests that the whole team is content to grind out 1-0 victories as long as they win in the end.

Philosophy’s triumph over Viacom could at best be described as functional. Although there were hints of the smooth and confident football of last week ugliness was in full flow at the final whistle. There were panics, lapses of concentration, losses of temper but, above all (at the end of the day, when all’s said and done), three points.

With a team warm-up led by Kieran and one of the strongest benches in recent memory Philosophy looked impressive against the multi-million pound corporate giants who once again failed to find 11 matching shirts for kick-off. Once things got underway on a rain-soaked (and strangely squeaky) pitch the pace was high with Philosophy creating space and chances up front. Ally was making the most of the 3-5-2 formation by using every opportunity to push down the left-wing and back up a Clarkey/Mikey strike force. With a solid midfield trio playing quick, simple balls to feet led to several chances before Clarkey turned his man on the edge of the box. A touch from behind and he went to ground. Penalty.

Damo slotted home, placing the ball to the keeper’s left.

A second followed five minutes later. Clarkey chased onto a through ball and had time to take several touches before nonchalantly slipping the ball home. At this point it looked as though Philosophy could run away with it but the crucial third goal didn’t come. Viacom battled back into the game forcing several corners and threatened to expose Philosophy’s lack of decisiveness and organisation at set-plays. When Kieran was felled by a direct shot in the balls Viacom broke on the break, drawing an excellent save from Marco. Kieran recovered but, with five minutes to go until half time, Ally pulled up with a thigh strain. His replacement Rob was immediately chopped down inside the box the ref somehow said no and the half ended with Philosophy leading 2-0.

As the second half got underway things soon got scrappy with Viacom pressing forward and Philosophy losing their shape and not communicating. Passes started going astray with players overcomplicating things and losing possession too easily. The opposition soon took advantage. When Philosophy lost the ball yet again in midfield Viacom broke quickly and shot early beating Marco from 20 yards to his right-hand side. From this point the game grew really tense with late challenges, desperate clearances and a lack of shape from both teams.

This is where the ugliness begins.

Chasing onto a long pass the Viacom winger put in a challenge on Marco who easily reached the ball first. It was late and it was very ugly. With Marco down and obviously hurt Rino waded in to voice his complaints. An extended scuffle between several players ended with the Ref giving the two main culprits an extended talk, asking if the players would rather be sent off or keep playing. As treatment was given the Viacom team kept up their complaints of time wasting, especially when they found out Marco was Italian (!), but they only had themselves and their player to blame.

When the game restarted the standard wasn’t much better but Philosophy reacted well to the incident and had their chances to seal the game. With Viacom pushing for the equaliser space opened up on the break. Rob broke free on several occasions, once curling a left-foot cross into the path of an onrushing Kieran who could only bundle the ball in with his hand (a yellow card was his reward), and once failing to find Brian who had made a 50 yard run and would have easily slotted home.

The Philosophy back three stood their ground well in the final quarter and Viacom could only muster a couple of half chances, including a blocked volley from the edge of the box and a couple of scrambles from corners. After another break from Philosophy’s midfield Clarkey dragged a shot across the goal from the right of the box, missing by a foot. As Rob and Clarkey charged forward once again against a lone centre back the ref blew for full time. The final whistle was met with a sense of relief but also a feeling that the victory was deserved.

This was a performance to savour. Not for the skill, the organisation or the beautiful flowing football, but for the heart and the fight. Sometimes ugliness is good. Wasn’t it Gertrude Stein who said “3 points is 3 points is 3 points”? Or maybe that was Michael Ballack.