It takes two to tango

PFFC 4 – Husaria 3 – New Cross Irregulars 2

Ömer, 7 December 2014


We called it 'Japanese Goal' back in high school. No one was sure where the idiom came from but it referred to any type of football game that contained more than two goals and teams. We played it at our 'forum', a mini-amphitheatre used for gatherings and events, appropriated to fit and aptly named after the school's neo-classic architectural landscape. As this was a mini-amphitheatre, our playing field was a semi-circle with the three goals at right angles to each other around a crescent. The team that took the 'middle' goal had the advantage because they could attack (or counter-defend) diagonally towards the other two goals – we often tended to give that goal to what we perceived as the weakest of the teams. We played two players per team, so this small marble-floored area would see six young teenagers develop political alliances and go full-force against one another at different times. The size of the field meant such alliances were quickly dissolved to turn against one another, adding to the unpredictability of the game. The rest of the students, who would go about their classes and pass around the area, pretty much hated this activity.

My return to Philosophy Football FC after a two-year hiatus brought back these memories of later childhood years. I felt I knew a lot about this game, but the innocent childhood interpretations quickly gave way to a more complicated form of this beautiful game(s). As I set about observing PFFC take on Husaria and New Cross Irregulars and learn the intricacies of putting the ball into the middle, talking to your potential allies, and intimidating the opponents, we went ahead with a goal from Michael.

It was not long before the wisdom of Ally, on the sidelines with me, became prophecy in that the two opponents saw a true benefit in combining to attack us, having established us as the Goliath. Whether the Poles would be happy to see us go down at the expense of a potential victory was, at that point, not clear to me, but their newly formed alliance with New Cross held for the most of the remainder of the match. After conceding twice and falling down 2-1-1 by the end of the first interval, PFFC tried to regroup, talk strategy and convince the Poles to join in for a hit back at New Cross, who seemed to be the tougher of the two.

Unfortunately scoring more goals than the others doesn't win you the game, and by the time PFFC tried to change course, it seemed rather too late. Despite Kadeem's saves, Michele's consistently well-timed tackles, Ally's stewardship, Michael's shouts, Will's insight, Ömer's enthusiasm and Alex's energy, PFFC found it to hard to convince either of the teams to forge a strong alliance. A late goal against Husaria in the last period to bring the score to 4-3-2 meant little to New Cross, who saw their victory sealed and only urged the Poles to defend for a point.

Here I want to note the difference in the atmosphere of these games in comparison to the North London League we used to play in. Yes, the fact that the Polish captain stank of vodka (which I personally experienced when hugged by him during an attacking corner, after which he simply shrugged his shoulders and smiled at my reaction) yet managed to score a late goal could be viewed in a different light, but the friendly atmosphere between the teams that conspired against one another only on the battlefield spoke of qualities that failed to exist in our previous world of Sunday football.

When we have developed the ability to form better alliances and have played this form of football regularly, we'll hopefully start to get some victories in our bags.


PFFC: Kadeem; Michele, Michael, Will; Alex.
Subs: Ally, Ömer.
Scorers: Michael 2, Will 1.