FC Irlande Vets 2
“The One That Got Away”
It was nearing closing time, the bar was emptying and I had more or less secured breakfast on bed tomorrow morning. She was giggling of my jokes, the decision to buy her a rosé wine instead of flaming sambuca shots seemed to have paid off. It was just a matter of rounding up the deal. And then he slides in from left, the guy who had looked so out of depth and done for the night. First with a cheap funny story that was really borderline, but somehow was deemed inside. Then an audacious dance move, before a silly mistake from my part handed him the victory. Not for the first time, it has to be said, I had to take the long walk home on my own.
This could have been the feeling Vets2 players left Fortress Nossegem this afternoon, wondering what on earth really happened. Letting in the decisive goal in the dying minutes is bad enough, but even worse after a combination of debatable decision making and the opponent just being lucky enough to be hit by the ball and not really having to make an effort himself. Just like the terribly timed joke, and to be honest a rather sexist one too, and the round of flying sambucas just before she took off with the other fella.
And the unfolding had just started short before, with that audacious shot from far too away. But it was a wonder strike that flew into the cuckoo’s goal net. Top corner.
This was the follow up to the first crumble of the night, a rather peculiar goal that derived from a free kick, a rather well taken one. I was decided a goal after it had danced on the line, up and down, side to side, hitting many parts of bodies.
The game itself had been a strong contest, with the boys in green being very much up to the challenge. In fact, had the accuracy in decisive moments been better, this could have been a very very comfortable home run. One could even say that the show was run by the greens.
This comfortable situation was a result from a Thunderbastard© from Jacob, a shot that hit the bar so hard it is still heard rattling. In fact airport personnel are trying to figure out why the radars are not working properly.
Before this, there had been many good spells of up to 2 good passes to teammates in a row. Also some good collective pressure causing errors from otherwise decent opponents.
The first advance was a result of high pressure, not giving her a chance to build up an escape, and the rosé wine chip from Damo was very sweet. A proper icebreaker. It was duly noted that it was Damos second chipped goal this season. Quite a chipper, he is.
Unfortunately, earlier in the game Pascal had to call it a day due to injury, and Matt was woken up and sent out on duty. Apparently instructions were ‘figure it out, somewhere in the middle. And mark that bloody number 9’
Walking up to the 3rd fanciest lady/man in the bar can be daunting, but on this day Vets2 were determined to give their best. Give or take. The first game had ended with a 1-0 defeat after conceding in the second minute. None of that today, it was said.
Referee of the day was Virgil (huge thanks), and he kicked off the game where Vets to lined up strongly as follows:
Pietro, Luuk, Terry, Alan
Jörg, Pascal, Damo
Matt on the line, and delegue of the day was Ken.
The pitch was in decent shape, considering there was still frost on the grass in the shadows. The sun was bright, and low. Believe it or not, sunglasses were actually needed. On the line we also saw Mick Koz, Kevin and Ian. Great to see club legends around.
Author, no rights claimed: Ken H
Vets 2 were away to Faubourg Brainoise out in Braine- L’Alleud (or Eigenbrakel) on a wet and dreary Saturday afternoon – a typical ABSSA affair! The pitch at Stade Gaston Reiff was grass and heavy in parts; we thought that may well suit our cultured approach to football – we were wrong! Both teams played out a goalless draw in the early part of the season, so Vets 2 were dreaming of picking up 3 points and gaining a 4th win of the season.
The line-up was almost as good as it gets: Ken in goals, a back 4 of Alan, Terry, Luuk and Damo; Bart, Jacob, Jorg and Antonio made up the midfield while Niall and Oscar were upfront. On the bench were Pietro, Matt and Pascal.
After the first few minutes it was apparent that their forwards were going to be a threat and soon they went 1-0 up after a move down our left flank and a cross that found their striker in the box. He slid his shot low into the corner with Ken’s bent over reaction just too late to reach it.
This woke Vets 2 up though and we started to pass well and create some problems for the opposition. Some good work down our left side by Antonio found Oscar who made a great run into their box and brought off a great save from their keeper’s outstretched left leg. The follow-up soon produced a goal though and Antonio found himself unmarked on the edge of the box and just poked the ball in to the goal with the keeper static on the spot. 1-1 it was -game on!
Soon Vets 2 were once again behind though with another low shot that again was just beyond Ken’s reach. Just before the half Branoise gained a free kick from nothing and swung the ball over from Irlande’s right touch line. Ken called “Keepers” as the ball dropped into the top corner! 3-1 down and half time beckoned!
Keeping with our policy of every player gets at least ½ a game, Vets 2 made 3 changes at the half. Bart, Jacob and Jorg went out. Soon we were back in the game again though. After a lot of Irish pressure, the ball found Pascal alone in the box who calmly slotted the ball home. Vets 2 came very close to drawing level when a cross found Oscar on the left side near the 6 yard box but he just could not get enough power or direction on it to steer the ball home. This proved to be a deciding factor since 3-3 would have changed everything and set a tense closure to the game. Unfortunately, a near 3-3 soon turned to 4-2 for Braioise with another well worked move on their part. The last 10 minutes saw the opposition playing with confidence and ease and attack after attack resulted in close calls for the Irish. After hitting the bar, Brainose gained another corner and this time once the ball was cleared to the edge of the box, their troublesome midfielder fired the ball home into the top corner. 5-2 it finished without any real complaints. We were deservedly beaten in the end by a more organised and accomplished team.
It was good to get out of the rain and sink a few cold ones in the nice club house. Some Vets (showing their real age and desires) ordered some hot soups for comfort! The votes were spread around the team with Terry just scraping the man of the match votes from Antonio.
It was a beautiful Saturday afternoon. The sky was blue and a fresh, pleasant spring breaze was in the air. Our team was solid and ready to dive in. To avoid competition stealing info from our servers team and tactic are not disclosed this time.
And then it all happened….. we got a well deserved free kick about 40, 50 meters outside the box. Our central defender was rushing in to prepare for the free kick.
After gauging wind speed, density and velocity the ball was put on a small, well maintained piece of grass. A last check on all parameters was completed and the studs on the shoes fastened. A determined distance from the ball was taken. The defender run towards the ball. His leg bent backwards and the shot taken as precises as a Swiss watch. The ball started to fly…. 10 meters, 20 meters, 30 meters. The crowd was watching with open mouth. The opposition was screaming… keeper…. keeper.
The keeper was trying to touch the ball. It was however exactly reaching the crossing. Impossible the reach.
And this ladies and gentleman is how we almost won but at the end lost with 2-5.
Ah…the Old Infirm derby. Always the highlight of the season. With all the recent violence in Brussels it was reassuring to know that this match would never be in danger of producing any such nonsense.
Well, except for the last one. And maybe the one before that.
We were able to field one of our strongest XI of the season (and with a pretty damned strong bench too if I do say so myself!).
Defence: Damo, Paul, Luuk, Alan
Midfied: Bart, Joris, Jorg, Jacob
Forward: Oscar, Niall
Subs: Matt, Terry
Oscar “Mike Bassett” Sanchez De Leon chose a bold 4-4(“f*cking”)-2 formation to accommodate the second coming of Christ (i.e. Niall) who had recovered from last week’s ankle injury and was looking forward to picking up another one.
The pre-match speech consisted of “All I ask of you today is to not concede two goals“. Prophetic words indeed. Perhaps in the first game of 2019 we should be instructed to “not score 12 goals please”?
We have, traditionally, started games slowly and, optionally, grown into them. Quite often conceding after 10 minutes or so. However, despite the bitter cold we started at a blistering pace (well…blistering for a bunch of 40-something Father Xmas look-alikes anyway). The Brits were mostly being pinned back in their own half for the first 15-20 minutes as we moved the ball around confidently creating chance after chance. We probably should have been 2-0 up but poor finishing and some downright bad luck cost us. After missing a complete sitter and having another one cleared off the line the Brits started to realise that that could maybe get something out of the game and grew in confidence.
It was at this point that Terry poked his head out from under the bundle of coats where he was hibernating and stated that “We’re dominating. This is probably where they’ll score a lucky goal”.
A mere few moments later the Brits were able to craft a half-chance on the edge our box which took a minor deflection off Alan’s arm and nestled into the bottom corner of the net. Prophetic words indeed Terry! Perhaps he should give the pre-match speech next time?
Half-time came and the subs came on. Surely this would turn the tide? The team, to their credit, were not disheartened and came back out determined to equalize. The second half continued much like the end of the first with both teams battling each other in midfield and creating a few chances. Ultimately, however, the Brits grew into the game more. Their #14 was running the show for them and his constant little dribbles and accurate passes were beginning to stretch the Irish defense. It was one such move that brought the crushing blow as they worked the ball to the edge of 18-yard box and curled a lovely shot beyond Laurent’s grasp.
We had no choice now but to throw men forward in a final attempt to get back into the game. Joris let fly with another of his trademark long shots (can you trademark something after doing it twice?) but was denied by the post and Oscar just couldn’t quite get to the rebound.
And so, the game ended exactly as Oscar had not requested. A 0-2 loss to our fierce rivals. Bragging rights remain in Rosieres for now but this surely a temporary situation.
MOTM was Niall for fantastic first-half where he consistently held up the ball wonderfully and distributed it even more so.
After the final whistle, it was touching to see Luuk and Johan embrace on the touchline. Obviously realizing Santa was watching and wouldn’t bring them any presents if they were naughty boys (again).
A final shout-out to the Brits referee who did a fantastic job (even deservedly yellow carding one of their players!) but also maturely handling any potential flare-ups with a firm word.
For the 13th match of the season for Vets2, I can’t help starting this report talking about our recruitment policy. Since the beginning of the season, we have almost played with the same group of 12-13 regular people. The good point is that we got to know each other more and more… the bad point is that as time passed we became a real veterans’ team. So, what happens when some of us are missing? Where can we find some fresh blood? Oscar, who remembered this famous sentence “this is with old pots than we cook the best soup”, found the answer. He called the “arriere garde” of FCI Irlande with Paul (last week) and Niall this week-end.
So, let’s talk about the match. But which match? Our Irish squad thought playing against AEMA, a team which beat us shortly 3-2 on the latest match. But instead of them, some “gilets jaunes” (11 according to the police; 13 according to the protesters) were positioned in front of us with only one claim: taking the three points. Then, Oscar, the captain, decided to place his policemen like this:
Patrick – Luuk – Paul – Alan
Joris – Matt
Jacob – Terry – Antonio
Strategic position on the bench: Damo and Niall
At this moment of the report, two precisions must be given:
- Our troops noted the defection of two members who used bad excuses (but certainly afraid by the risk of this opposition): Pascal and Ken. Jörg also went out of the ranks in last minute for a suicide mission with vets 1.
- These clashes occurred with the supervision of two U.N. observers: Pietro and Paddy.
During the first half-time, the demonstration of the “gilets jaunes” was quite peaceful. Our positions were well protected by our defence. Some protesters tried to used adjacent streets but Alan and Patrick were attentive. But, sadly, after 20 minutes, Patrick was forced to leave the lines after a bad sensation in a part of his body which will not be mentioned in the official report… Then, Damo took his position and started a beautiful game. After that, it will be really difficult for me to explain to my son what is the difference between a “Damo” and a “Demo”.
Little by little, the Irish squad started to take control of the situation with some nice moves from Luuk who used our left side like a springboard for our offensives. And then, after a nice move (which started from our keeper -> Luuk -> Jacob -> beautiful pass to Antonio -> GOAL!!!), FC Irlande gave a big warning to the “gilets jaunes”: Nossegem won’t be a new Feluy or Arc de Triomphe!!!
But this brilliance didn’t make the protesters quiet. They started to besiege our goal. And after several attempts, on a corner kick, one breaker pushed Sergeant Paul who pushed too Second Class Laurent who was not able to catch their Molotov cocktail… So, the first half of the clashes finished with an equality: 1 – 1.
Then, Oscar decided to use the reinforcement of our shock troop with the entrance of Niall in front. Then, Oscar went to our right wing. Most of the second half of the fight was at the midfield. Irish squad tented many times to break the lines of the protesters without much success. Captain Oscar had a big chance to hit their moral but one more time, some breakers, without any consideration for law enforcement, pushed him on the floor. The judge, dispatched on the spot, decided that the « gilets jaunes » used well their right of demonstration.
While each side kept his position, Caporal Joris decided to use artillery to destroy one of the protesters‘ barricades. His only attempt was the good one!!! This shot and his consequences killed the motivations of main of the breakers… Some of them tried to save one point at last but these attempts never surprised the vigilance of our defence and our last rampart that had to block on the floor the only dangerous trial of the protesters. Then, the “gilets jaunes” were resigned and decided to accept the final sentence: 2-1.
After these events, Jacob complained about the changing room atmosphere after the match, probably because we had forgotten how to react after a victory: such a long time ago! But this didn’t prevent the squad to celebrate a mission accomplished. This was also the occasion to promote THREE good soldiers, heroes of the day: Joris, Jacob and Antonio. We just expect that this victory is just a good prelude of next week big battle: Brussels British!!!
1 December 2018
Amicale Jettoise – VETS2: 3 – 2
One of those matches…
On a not too cold, but dark and rainy afternoon VETS2 ventured out to the backstreets of Jette.
Spirits were lifted by having Paul Skehan added to the team sheet making his comeback to the pitch after a year of injury.
On the pitch we realized that the other team played with ten men. So it was clear, it could be a comfortable win for VETS2 or one of those matches where things just never work out.
VETS2 started optimistically enough, playing some decent passes. Paul Skehan showed he had not forgotten how to play. Excellent performance from him. Early pressure from the guys let to a corner kick. Pascal made a great delivery, Jacob got his head on ball and it was going in just needing to pass one guy on the line: Oscar. Oscar thinking someone was behind him tried to redirect the ball and send it over the bar. A little later though he made amends. Running onto a great ball over the top from Joris he rounded the keeper and put VETS2 in front. Maybe it would be a comfortable win after all.
The other team stood deep in defense with six guys and had three skillful players up front, one of them being clearly a great player in his days… His days were not completely over, because middle of first half he managed to combine with the other two and even against six defenders they somehow managed to dribble and pass their way to an equalizer. A little later they repeated the trick and it started to look more like one of those matches…
Some decent Irish effort towards the end of the half did not lead to clear cut chances, but the VETS2 spirit improved.
Second half was fully controlled by VETS2, without creating too many open chances in the beginning. Jörg made many runs down the right side, without finding the open player. Cracking shots from tight angles hit the post and went just over. Eventually justice was served. On another of his runs, Jörg hit a pass/shot which took a big deflection and went over the goalkeeper into the goal. Still plenty of time to win the match.
However, it was one of those matches. The opponents gave up the ball and send it long over the top. Somehow one of the three front men managed to get to it before Allan, Paul or Ken and then it was 3 – 2 to them.
The last 15 minutes VETS2 pushed the opponents back. The opponent star attacker tired of his running duels with Allan and took instead to showing off his skills like shifting the ball to his fellow attacker on the other side with a kick behind his standing leg. Meanwhile VETS2 pressed on. Jörg made a hard pass to the center, where Jacob decided to try to control it. He missed a step and the goalie managed to block the following effort. Terry saw the goalie of the line, but he didn’t quite lift the ball high enough to get it over him. Several other half chances and free kicks outside the box lead to nothing. And so it ended up being just a wet and dark afternoon in the backstreets of Jette.
Paul Skehan was man of the match, but apparently his long absence had made him forget that you then have to stay and buy a beer. Instead the beer was bought by second man of the match Jörg.
The grey wintry conditions were a bit of a novelty, there was even a bit of cold rain before the match, leaving the pitch a little sticky. Perfect conditions for FC Irlande.
Numbers were a bit depleted, but captain Oscar once again did a great job in getting a team together. Paddy McEneaney came out of retirement once again, and it was great to see Denis O’Sullivan back
Oscar laid out the team as follows (front to back)
Paddy Joris Jacob Terry Jorg
Luuk Alan Laurent Patrick
Oscar stuck with the same back 5 as last time which was either a remarkable show of faith given the defensive horror of the previous match, or more likely a reflection of the fact that he didn’t have a lot of choice.
As the match progressed though, Ireland actually looked reasonably solid at the back. The opposition had a couple of fast skillful strikers, but their attempts to play through balls were dealt with fairly comfortably – most of the time. At one point their number 11 skipped past Alan who saw an opportunity to finally get a yellow card by pulling him back. The ref gave him a stern talking to, but no card. The free was a few yards outside the box but sailed over the bar. They were creating more chances than we were though, and Ireland were looking jittery defending the set pieces … and after about 20 minutes that was our undoing. St George score from a free header from a corner.
0 – 1
Disappointing. Oscar rallied the troops and Ireland constructed a few attacks.. The central midfield trio of Terry, Jacob and Joris are well able to play football and they started combining nicely with the Paddy and Jorg on the wings and with Oscar up front. Jorg’s pace allowed him to beat his man at will, it’s just a pity we couldn’t get the ball to him more often. Ken managed to reach Oscar with a few long kickouts. Oscar as usual, held the ball up well, and again as usual nut-megged the opposition defenders a few times for a laugh. On one occasion, Oscar slalomed through a couple of defenders and squeezed off a decent shot from a tight angle , not quite managing to beat the keeper.
On another occasion Oscar was clean through (after another long kick from Ken) but was blatantly pulled back by the shirt. The ref inexplicably waved play on.
As the second half got under way Denis cam on for Paddy, the teams seemed evenly matched. Then after 10 minutes a breakthrough. Some great hustle by Terry near the goal line on the right resulted in him accidentally squaring the ball across an open goal where Jacob arrived at the right moment to tap it home. Terry of course claims that his accidental cross/clearance was actually a nice shot from a very tight angle and was going in.
Ireland were back in the game and their tails were up but it wasn’t to last. Patrick who had been having an outstanding game had a moment of bad luck when the ball came off his boot badly and fell at the feet of an opposition striker who shot from close range, Ken did well to parry the shot, but it fell to another striker who couldn’t miss.
Ireland continued to plug away trying to get the equaliser, but with 10 minutes to go, Laurent slid in for a tackle in the penalty box, and from afar it looked like he got the players leg rather than the ball. What actually happened was that the attacker jumped to evade Laurent’s tackle and landed on Laurent’s leg. It was perhaps understandable though that the penalty was given. The St George striker sent it into the bottom corner, leaving Ken with no chance.
In the last minutes Ireland frantically tried to get a goal back. Oscar got through again but was brought down by the keeper inside the box. A clear penalty. You would have thought, but the ref didn’t see it that way and waved play on with the keeper down. Ireland sent the ball back into the box and Terry had a shot which was blocked. The ball fell to Joris at the edge of the box and an emtpy goal to aim at. The ref chose that moment to whistle because the keeper was still down and Joris’ chance of glory was gone.
The game ended with Ireland disappointed and frustrated, but with the consolation that the performance had been much better than the previous match.
Joint MOTM were Joris and Luuk. Two excellent performances. Luuk started many attacks from left back, playing with great confidence. Joris worked his socks off, winning the ball repeatedly, taking the ball around players to create space and picking out nice passes.
Vets 2 were slow to get to grips with the earlier KO. And that was demonstrated to some extent on the pitch. At least for the first half. Ken, our weather shaman, prayed to the weather Gods and stopped the rain at around 2.30. I think I speak on behalf of everybody, we were thankful for that.
The referee was an absolute gem. All he needed has a baguette and a string of garlic round his neck to go with his beret like cap. According to Oscar, the chap was almost 80. So that’s dedication for you. Turning up in such weather.. He was pretty good I have to say, perhaps a touch severe, and you could tell he was a cantankerous old bastard at times, but no real complaints overall.
The line up.
Patrick Luuk Laurent Alan
Jorg Jacob Pascal
Terry and me were on the bench to provide strength and depth. Terry had a nice blanket (kindly provided by Ken the witch doctor) to keep his wee legs warm. Matt, our délégué for the day, was also present and correct. Paddy MC was ever present and spurring on the lads with his encouraging sideline shouts. Not sure they were listened to mind you. Especially in the first half.
The game started fairly spritely by the Irish. Nice build up play followed by a neat cross into the box. Jorg managed to latch on to it. However the keeper managed to get a hand on it and turn it round the post. Then Entente suddenly woke up and started to string lots of decent passes together. We stepped off the gas and were against the ropes.
Some errors were made and after 20 minutes we were 4 nil down. It was surreal. Never seen anything of the like. Fortunately, a lucky own goal made it 4-1 and then we woke up a bit and Oscar finished well to make it 4-2. Then as the half came to a close we let in one more which was a little unfortunate but well taken by their guy who had scored 4 of the goals. It was a crazy half and one we will find hard to forget.
The second half was a different story. We made a couple of subs and decided to mark their striker, which was ably and delicately handled by Luuk. We begun the second half very well taking the game to them. Pascal moved the right side of midfield and started to cause problems, with Jorg moving to the other side. Terry, Bart and Joris got stuck in and we literally dominated the half. Going close at least 5 times. Finally we got another back with a peach of a goal from Tel. Kens blanket must have had magical properties. Anyway, we didn’t let up until the end. We gave everything, but couldn’t claw back the goals. Shame really, but it wasn’t our day. Good attitude all the same.
Thank god for buvettes. Beers ensued and spirits were lifted by a hearty stew kindly prepared by Laurent. Very nice stuff. Loved the onions stuffed with cloves. Nice touch that. To celebrate his birthday, David also brought some tasty dishes from his part of the world. Very nice fare all in and thank you gents for preparing it.
MOM. Our very own urbane Terry Waite esquire. Bien mérité.
Don’t forget that next week we have a bye.. Which to the unitiated means no games. Enjoy ikea and domestic bliss.
On a sunny early November morning, FCI Vets 2’s ruthless warriors made the long trip to the other side of town to face Pharma. Pharma’s season-to-date results were a mixed bag of good and bad, including a recent draw vs mighty Watermael, so we were curious to see how it would play out. We had support from a couple of Vets1 guys, plus even overseas’ reinforcements to make up for the usual school holiday lot of absences and we felt ready to get back to winning ways. A wise man in Vets2 said once that if you score more goals than the opposition, you usually win. Armed with such trivial banalities, as well as some other irrelevant comments from the captain, the team started warming up.
Some players were late, but the officially appointed referee was even later. So much so that he didn’t even show up and it was one of Pharma guys who had to whistle. As starting line-up we had Laurent in goals, Patrick, Rob, Terry and Luuk as back 4, Jörg, Bart, Joris and Alex as mid 4 and Pascal and then Oscar further up, with a strong bench of Dave, Carlos and Jeff.
We started dominating and, against what has become almost a tradition we didn’t concede in the first 5 or 10 minutes. In fact we didn’t concede at all in the first half, and Laurent only had one soft header to deal with. We were easily passing the ball from defense on to mid-field, where Joris had plenty of space to create havoc for the opposition. And havoc we created. After a couple of missed chances, Oscar put a pass down the wing to Luuk, who was bored at left back and had decided to explore the rest of the pitch. Luuk cut inside past 2 defenders and curled a shot out of reach for the keeper. 1-0. Shortly thereafter Oscar was chasing a long ball and managed to hold off their tall center back long enough to pass to Jörg, who had run in support and coolly scored from inside the box. 2-0.
At half-time we were all optimistic to win. Jörg, Alex and Rob came off and Dave, Carlos and Jeff came on. Luuk even tried to swap sides with Patrick because he was still bored. Little did he know what was coming.
Pharma made 2 changes and the 2 new guys were really good. One was a centre midfielder who could dribble himself and would have been brilliant if he had passed the ball (which, luckily for us, he mostly didn’t do). The other was a right winger that replaced Luuk’s boredom by a moment of panic, followed by a serious performance as a “reducer” (see match report 3 weeks ago). These 2 new players turned the tables in the game and Ireland found itself defending for most of the 2nd half. A serious defensive exercise by the back 4, supported by Bart and Joris, plus some of Laurent’s magic in goals (great saves jumping to that top right corner or with his feet…) helped keep Pharma at bay. Offensively we were less active than in the 1st half, but still managed to have some dangerous moves. In one of them Oscar went running down the right and took a shot (or was it a pass to Dave?) which the keeper managed to save… for the ball to rebound on one or two of his defenders and end up in goals. 3-0 for Ireland. For the rest of the game, we continued to defend and Pharma eventually scored from a penalty, after there was a handball in the box. Still, we finished at 3-1, happy with an overall solid team performance.
The after-match drinks this time included listening to a bizarre selection of French music on the bar stereo and cheering FCI 2nds on to a well-deserved victory while the autumn sun was setting. All in all, a great day for Ireland in Forest. As for Vets2, looking at previous seasons, it usually takes us 2 or 3 months to get into the swing of things. Was today the long-awaited turning point of the season? We’ll see, but for now it was a nice victory.
PS: Regarding the wise man’s theory, it was proven wrong today, as it is indeed possible to win scoring only as many goals as the opposition…
11-2, 9-4, 2-9 … Chinese betting odds? For Vets2 not to concede a goal before 5 minutes? No, unfortunately these were some of the results that our opponent Watermael had racked up so far in the season. So, as if it was not already difficult to find enough eligible players for this first Toussaint holiday game, it had to be against a juggernaut that is steamrolling through the season.
Throwing in the towel and going for a forfeit would probably have been the sensible option. But we are FC Irlande Vets, so we prefer the hard and proud way.
Every stone was turned, most of them several times, and in the end our captains had managed the small miracle in assembling 2 teams for the day. Big round of applause for both the brave captains and everybody who stepped in from retirement and other life related situations normally keeping them busy in the weekends. We even had 2 vets debuts in Axel and Diogo, and a vets comeback by Enda.
And finally the weird repeating occurrences of sun and warm temperatures on match days had been replaced by the more familiar bipolar Belgian weather. Rain, sun, wind, hail, repeat. All set for the match.
The venue for the day was the old and prestigious stadium Trois Tilleuls/Drie Linden, once built for the football club Racing Club de Bruxelles, about 10 times the capacity that was needed. It was full only on the opening game versus AC Torino on 11th November 1948. Yes, the very same Torino team that perished in a plane crash just 4 months later, in March 1949.
Back to Vets2, who found themselves in a changing room as big as the bar in Nossegem, with a massage table and a big tactics blackboard. Both remained unused on that day.
Oscar presented the challenge of the day – finish the game with no injuries. He remained realistic about the task ahead, but he wanted to at least give Watermael a run for the money. A big roar rose up as the Vets2 warriors drove to the pitch as being led by William Wallace. (this may only have happened in the writer’s imagination)
Lineup was something like a 4-4-1-1:
Paddy-Joris-Axel-Alex (cue some confusion)
No subs. No injuries, please.
Game started with a composed approach by the greens, keeping the team shape and working hard on and off the ball. It quickly emerged that they had a skilled player in number 18 (oh no, not again… after THAT number 11), and Alan had a busy time as he was mostly active on our left side. There was something George Best like over him, as he would dribble someone (could have been Alan, but we name no names), stop and dribble the same player again. And again. Later it was told he was a futsal player, apparently that’s what those indoor playing fancy pants do.
Anyway, it did unfortunately not take as long as we had hoped before they scored the opener. A through ball on our left, a precise cross that was cleverly headed in by “the balded one”, another skilled player in the home team. But as much as all the opposition teams have found amazing ex-professionals to terrorize us, we have also found a resilience which has seen us come back from difficult spots before. No heads dropped yet.
Up front Oscar was leading the line and chasing balls, darting around their defenders and
keeping them busy. And he was receiving a fair share of knocks, which the referee either did not see or did not care about. He was mostly standing still in the center circle anyway, so probably not interested.
Up to this point the game was not too unbalanced, our midfield was working hard and tried to play quick balls forward as this seemed to be a way to breach their defence. Axel had a physical ruggedness combined with a decent eye for a pass. VanMalcot genes, so it seems.
But there were more goals in this game. And the second was a clever lobbed shot from far out, after keeper Ken was spotted out of position. (he later complained that all the lines in the box were confusing, but keepers are good in finding excuses)
Several decent combination from the greenies did not lead to great chances, the goal did instead come from a moment of brilliance from Oscar. He chased a ball that was strictly already lost, forced his way between the rugged defenders and as soon as he was goal side of them he unleashed an unstoppable shot that stroked the cross bar before stretching the net. Just like for William Wallace, giving up is not an option for Oscar.
2-1 and they were visibly concerned.
But it has to be said, their 3rd goal was excellent. A short pass forward from their midfield, and then a very tricky through ball between our central defenders that was more like an average Vets2 shot. Controlled mid air with the thigh and then a controlled lob over Ken who tried to run out to close the angle. One has to acknowledge quality, and this was quality.
At this moment the idea of getting something from the game started to dematerialize, a bit like when the memories were disappearing in the movie Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Or the image fading away in Marty McFly’s picture when he kissed his mother.
The rest of the game was probably entertaining to watch, less so for the greens who now were in damage control mode. A couple of the goals were in fact presents (Bart, we remain silent), so we could maybe have kept the score a bit prettier. But in the end there are no minus points in football, a loss is zero points and that’s it.
On a lighter note we had support from Matt Williams who had been to a scan and learned that his knees are in excellent condition. Currently the odds are 7-1 for him to appear vs the Brits. Fingers crossed, Matt.
Vets2 did not hesitate to seek to the bar, and glasses were raised several times for all good reasons. This group will not give up, and next time they will have to work a lot harder for the win that is for sure!
MOTM was Oscar
By: Ken Haetta
This time, our coach change the speech before the game. No need to warm up and we can concede goals during the first 5 minutes. I would say it was a good speech, because everybody was doing the opposite.
Good pressure, great pass (from the back to the middle, yes it was an amazing start …) between lines and some interesting option upfront. After 25 min, we decide that it was enough to contradict the coach. Honestly, it was not the case, ITT score a very nice and surgical goal.
From that moment, we totally lost our football for the next 10 minutes. It was the perfect timing for the halftime.
A good speech and positive comment from everybody. We decide to start the second half as we did during the first one, but the second half was the longest one we “play” since the beginning of the season ( at least 45 min).
There were a lot of discussion, pause and discussion on every 5 min. The defense stay strong like a rock with our Goalkeeper on fire and a present and concentrated defense. The midfield decide to push higher and Oscar stays Oscar.
Receiving a fault ( even he still confirm that there was fault). We choose the perfect timing to score a goal with an amazing, not incredible free kick from the left side….. with offside, no sorry no offside. After 5 min of discussion, the opponent convince the referee that there was offside.
But we convince again the referee that there was no offside, so the goal was validated. (I would agree that there was no offside and that Oscar’s goal was valid). The opponent was so edgy, that they score a second goal within 5 min.
We never give up and decide to play man against man at the back and let Spiderluuk free on the pitch. We had some good chance but we were not able to equalize. Itt Gecko stay strong at the back and score the 3-1 in the last 10 minutes.
It was may be on of the best team we play this season, and our first “official” (special dedication to our Captain) home lost.
We get 4 Man of the Match, but the most important was to support our 1st ladies team against the best team in Belgium “STANDARD DE LIEGE” for ever.
Seldom will the post-game beers have tasted as sweet as last weekend and seldom will a draw have been hailed – quite as justifiably so – as a win as this one.
It was that time of the year again when hundreds of excited sports fans travel to Nossegem from far and away to celebrate the high mass of competitive and high level sports that is a Vets2 home game. Hundreds of parked cars lined the streets near the ground as well as the parking area created specifically for this occasion and across the street from this area was an actual camp site where hundreds more could be seen sitting by campers and caravans, cooling boxes and lunch packs at the ready, killing time before the main event at 3.30. To stem the tide of anticipation, bored crowds can spell trouble, Nossegem city council had even organized a minor event in the form of a cyclocross race known locally as the “Patattencross” or internationally as the, ahum, “potato cross”.
As a result, parking near the ground was about as scarce as a flowing attacking move around Old Trafford, which meant that FC Irlande stars and opponents alike had to endure a longisch walk through the massed ranks of fans in order to reach the pitch. Most players had paid heed to Patrick’s and Oscar’s admonition to get to the ground in time. Pietro, however, could not park anywhere near the ground and in an effort to make up for lost time decided to sprint across the patch of cultivated land behind the Nossegem stand only to … pull a muscle. Having only just recovered from an injury and missed the previous game, it was a harsh blow to Pietro to have to pull out of another one. Legal counsel for FC Irlande are currently examining the merits of a potential tort case against Nossegem city to seek damages.
Vets2 had no fond memories of the encounters with Chenois in the previous season, having lost both, and were hell-bent on getting a result against a team that had proven to be pretty good but by no accounts unbeatable. While the team had certainly defended well in previous games this season, the number of chances created left quite a bit to be desired so Oscar decided on a more attacking line-up, preferring a 4-3-3 to the usual 4-2-3-1 formation, the idea being to push more players forward when in possession. The line-up was very much familiar to the home crowd, though Paul Janknegt (on loan from Vets1) was handed a Vets2 debut on this beautiful late summer or early autumn day. Roberto was back from London and started as sub.
Patrick – Laurent – Terry – Alan
Joris – Damien
Jörg – Oscar © – Pascal
It would soon become clear that Chenois, if anything, had become an even stronger team than last year and for much of the first half this contest bore a worrying resemblance to the first rounds of the famous boxing match between Messrs. Stallone and Lundgren in the hit movie Rocky IV. The Irish would not, unexpectedly and inexplicably, come back to win the bout and cry out for Adrian, but, as will become clear, the outcome of this particular contest would be every bit as thrilling. Indeed, after having conceded early on, a brilliant finish in the top corner after a daring run through the Irish defense by one of Chenois’ top players (no. 6), the men in green spent most of the first half in the ropes, trying frantically to ward off the barrage of blows dealt by the opposition. Truth be told, the Irish had started the game quite lethargically and the opposition were given too much space around the pitch, especially in midfield where Joris, Damien and Bart were struggling to contain the Chenois midfielders, which meant pressure on the Irish defence was massive and constant, Paul J having to come up with several great saves to ensure the men in green were still in with a chance. Having said that, the defence led by an excellent Terry and Laurent from the centre and manned on the wings by a very solid Alan and Patrick worked tirelessly all afternoon to deal with the threat posed by Chenois’ attacking force, especially the no 13, a former P2 player it would become clear after the game.
The early goal served to shock the team into reaction mode and for a spell the Irish were building neat moves down either wing involving Jörg, Pascal and Oscar. One such move saw Oscar through on goal after a brilliant through-ball by Pascal, but the shot went just wide of the post. Pascal had another long-range effort stopped and a few corners were earned that yielded no real chances, but in the end the half ended with Chenois leading by a goal.
A brief but decisive consultation between Oscar and Ken (Age Haareide) Haetta, delegate for the day, led to the decision to revert to the familiar 4-2-3-1 formation with Roberto coming on for Pascal on 36 minutes, Rob moving into the number 10 position and Damien moving wide, a move that would prove providential later on in the game.
The second half proved – literally – to be an uphill battle, the men in green trying to claw a way back into the game and Chenois looking to finish off a dazed opponent. What had seemed inevitable for long stretches of the games happened 10 minutes into the second half, when a Chenois striker finished a neat move for the 2nd goal. Now, many teams may have caved in at this point but not the Irish. Having nowt to lose and all to gain, the men in green stepped it up another gear and tried to turn the tables. When Terry went on a great run down the Chenois right flank and combined neatly with Oscar, the latter found space in the box and rifled a very nice low shot past the goal keeper. 1-2, and game on! Chenois were only mildly rattled and continued to look for the goal that would effectively kill the game but time and time again the Irish defence and Paul came to the rescue, in fact the entire team put up an incredibly gutsy performance to stay in contention. The unexpected reward came towards the end of the game when Vets2 earned a free-kick in the centre circle, where many heroic battles had been fought by the Irish midfield, one of which nearly left Joris a few joints short of a full set. Bart’s long ball over the top was missed by a Chenois defender and sailed towards the left side of the six-yard box, where all of sudden Damien – bruised and battered after another brutal encounter, with a “tool box” at home – materialized; milliseconds after the ball was in the back of the net, leaving not just the opposition stunned to be honest. A great goal by all accounts by Damo – “no typo” as swiftly assured by Director of Football Paul Staunton after the game – though at the time of going to press it was not quite clear whether Damo actually lobbed or Ibra-kicked the ball into the net. Then again, who cares ! Two-all !!!!
And so the game finished on a high for the men in green. Full credit to Chenois for showing true sportsmanship after a game that should have been won and would have been won deservedly. Chenois are a great side, with, arguably, only 2 great players, but when the other 9 range from either good to (mostly) very good, you are still in for a tough game indeed as a team. The men in green stumbled to the sidelines to have a picture taken after a truly brave performance and after having won a point that was deserved for the sheer effort and determination shown by each and every Irlande player on the pitch.
Paul J deservedly won MoTM by a large margin, with Laurent (outstanding since the start of the season) a well-deserved runner-up. This draw felt like a win indeed and it may just be the point to kick-start the season for Vets2.
Last Saturday saw Vets2 travelling to Cornac Utd in high spirits. The sun was shining, we had beaten them twice last year, (once a hard fought win; once an easy rout with some assistance from Vets 1 players), we had a strong squad (though missing Terry who had been claimed by Vets 1 and got MOTM) and most, importantly, there is a frietkot next to the pitch.
Soon after arrival, however, things started going south. Alex was lost in public transport at the other side of the city and Pietro had to pull out due to an injury he got at training (rumour has it it was linked to a poor pass by Bart). That meant we had no subs and the following line up
And the first minutes didn’t show any improvement. A well taken corner kick by the opposition resulted in Vets 2 being 1-0 down after 2/3 minutes. Perhaps our marking could have been better but the corner was well taken and their tallest guy headed it in really well.
After this set back, Vets 2 started playing football. Luuk managed to convince Bart and Joris that instead of our usual approach of hoofing it to Oscar and hope he makes something out of it, we should try to play football with short combinations through the middle. And this approach worked really well. Luuk did an excellent job playing the ball to midfield from where we could feed our wingers Jorg and Pascal. At times, this possession game even allowed Alan – who was playing at left back – to move up close to the opposition’s goal. With the exception of a through ball on Oscar (called off for offside) and a shot/cross by Alan that was put wide by Jorg, we did not create that many chances though the opposition was clearly on the back foot.
Their attackers, particularly their right forward, remained a threat throughout the first half; also because our “footballing” contained an element of risk, especially when Luuk tried to dribble from his center back position, lost the ball and then let go a sigh of relief when their attacker put it wide.
Towards the second part of the first half, the pressure started paying off. A nice combination involving Alan, Joris, Jakob, Pascal and Patrick resulted in a shot by Jorg that went just wide. A bit later, Bart put Pascal through on goal but their goalie stopped the ball outside the penalty area and with his hands. To our surprise, the goalie was only given a yellow.
1-0 at half time it was but Vets 2 continued the second half as they finished the first one. Thanks to the good defending by Luuk, Laurent and Bart, Joris could move higher up the field and Alan and Patrick also moved up higher on their wings, at times playing as left/right wingers rather than backs. While Vets 2 put a lot of pressure on the opposition, we did not create many chances as the nice midfield football meant we could not put our striker Oscar in a goal scoring position (in fairness, their central defenders did a good job covering Oscar).
With the exception of one counter by the opposition that resulted in a header saved by Ken with an arm reflex, all the action was on the opponent’s half. Our best chances were probably when Jorg was through on goal alone but put it wide and when a cross to Oscar was just too high but it turned out not to be our day and the game ended at 1-0.
All in all a very good performance by the team (arguably the best football we have played in the past years) which was also reflected in the voting with basically everybody getting votes. Bart was MOTM with Jakob being a good second. Yet, we didn’t score (and we didn’t win) it might be better to return to Plan A for the next games and simply hoof it forward hoping that Oscar does something with it.
At the Start of Autumn it usually rains in Belgium. So the Captains had to come up with additional goodies to lure the best players to sign up for the game. The captain succeed in his mission with the promise to bring good weather and organise a BBQ. It worked. We had a very strong starting team indeed.
Goals : Ken
Defence : Pietro, Laurant, Luuk Demo
Midfield: Bart, Joris, Pascal, Jorg, Jacob (Terry)
Forward : Oscar (Alex)
Missed for the game and BBQ : Alan N
Before the game started the captain had done his homework and informed us on the insightful outcome of a deep dive analysis based on the game results of the Vets2 teams from the last couple of years. The outcome of this analyses will probably put football in a complete new perspective and will change the game for-good. Cruyff, Pele and Eusebio would be jealous to only know a little bit of these insights. Therefore I will summarise the outcome here for everybody to keep it in mind and bring it along for each game :
1) If you score 2 or more goals you have a good change of winning the game.
2) If you do not score, your probability of loosing increases.
3) If you concede 2 or more goals there is a high change of you loosing the game.
Equipped with this new knowledge the team was extra motivated to deliver upon the new insights. In contrast to our last game we where well up for it in the first 15 minutes. Some strong passes from Pietro on the right leaded to the first chances. Jorg on the right wing had an amazing day a slalomed trough some defenders to give an excellent cross. However the first half ended 0-0
The motivational speeches during half times prepped us for an other good half. The second half though did run a bit less smooth then the first half. The opposition was getting stronger. Defence however did an excellent job. Laurant put in some sharp slidings and Bart put in a strong tackle which was by accident seen as a fault by the referee. Jorg who had a very strong performance had probably the best chance of opening the score for the Vets2. He just missed. In the last 5 minutes Joris had a good shot on goals as well. The ball perfectly aimed at the lower crossing was put out by the goalkeeper with his fingertips.
So, we ended the game with a 0-0 draw. This was a fair score confirmed by club legent Antonio N who was supporting vets2 this day.
We however celebrated the draw as a win and the beer was flowing richly. The best part of the day came at the end. The team had voted 4 man of the matches by coincidence. So more beer and more celebrations.
Vets 2 had an early kick off (12.30) out in Anderlecht for their first away game of the season. Expectations were high after starting the season with a 3-1 win last week. Only 12 names on the team sheet with a couple of players carrying colds (Bart and Joris) but still a good, solid squad: Ken in goals; Pietro, Luke, Terry and Laurent at the back; Joris, Jacob, Antonio and Pascal in midfield and Oscar and Jorg upfront.
Vets2 starting off incredibly sloppy! in fact, the first 10 minutes of the game saw almost every player making mistakes – poor control and bad passing! This culminated in a defensive error gifting Aema vets their first goal. A poor pass by Joris in midfield gave the opposition the option of a ball over the top to test Irlande’s defence. The long high ball was totally misjudged by Terry which allowed their forward in to finish and go 1 up. Oscar made an immediate change by switching (I’m a wanderer) Luke with Laurent. Wake up time for Vets 2. Antonio suffered a hamstring injury and was replaced by Bart who ended up playing left back. Luke was switched again to left midfield now – he certainly gets around!
This proved to be a turning point in the game though and Vets 2 woke up and finally started playing some football. Soon we were back on level terms when Oscar finished off a fine move and kept his composure in the penalty area to draw us level. Half time 1-1 – spirits were up.
Irlande dominated the second half but lacked creativity in the attacking third. Against the run of play, Aema went in front again from a cross come shot outside the box. We all watched in slow motion as the ball dropped into the net as a ‘pedestrian’ Ken back peddled. Back the Irish came again though with Oscar once again proving his man of the match award with another goal after a persistent run in the opponent’s box. 2-2 with 18 minutes to go – the win was there for the taking. Vets 2 put the press on the opposition but could not penetrate effectively to create a clear scoring opportunity. Aema’s defence were all over the place when Oscar was fouled on the edge of the box, no whistle from the referee but the ball fell to Pascal who should have run straight at goal but ‘fair play’ Pascal kicked the ball out of play since Oscar was down -we are such a fair team……at times too fair!
Aema’s attackers (6 and 11) were still causing problems though with counter attacks. To our surprise one such attack stretched our defence and after a cross the ball ended up on the edge of our box, their captain spun and hit a high shot into Vets 2’s net – 3-2 to the home team! After all our domination, how could we concede 2 goals! Once again we went chasing the equaliser but time ran out and we were left dejected – we certainly deserved a point from this match! We all felt that we could and should have won this game.
Since there was no bar on site, Vets 2 retired to a bar across the road called the Mew Faufadet. Spurs v Liverpool live on tv and leffe blond on draft set the scene for a nice few post match drinks. On top of that we had the best service ever with free salami, nuts and a bar maid with piercings, tattoos and a pair of pecs to match them! We thought she deserved a place on Vets 2 whattsapp but Bart had great difficulty in pressing the right button to get a photo – there was even some spillage at this point! Never a dull moment with Vets 2!
After a long break and an international competition which show that not every team members has the same analyse of what is efficient football and nice football, Vets 2 meet at Nossegem for a new season.
« New »can also be applied to the captaincy with Oscar who succeeded to Bart.
New policy too in the pre-match speech when Oscar insisted about positive and constructive encouragements and talks during the match. A new way of communication in which Alan didn’t understand than it could also be applied to the opposition (mention in the second half of the match)
New strategy too : our new captain took his inspiration in the world cup with a certainty : success will come with a strong defence and fast players upfront who will surprise the opposition, whatever the aestheticism of this strategy. So to achieve this plan, Oscar decided to copy the actual reference in his player selection.
Pietro BIENVENUmtiti Adil RamiCHOT Terry WAIThauvin Raphael VarALAN
Hugo LJORIS Kilian MBARTpé
Damo HEGARTuidi Pascal HERMANdanda Antonio PavarGIU
Of course, this starting team is completed with a strong bench:
* Paul JORGba
* Thomas LeMATTHEW
* Jacob HANSEmbélé
The opposition of the day (Jettoise amicale) was composed by a strong attack but a brittle defence; a bit like Uruguay.
So, let’s talk about the quarter-finale… Heu… about the match.
During the first ten minutes, the game was mostly in our side. FCI players were a bit shy, refusing to go in contact of their opponent. So Jettoise used this liberty to keep his chance. But every time, a foot, a head or our keeper’s good positioning prevented theirs tries.
Full of trust, Jettoise played higher on the policy until the two-time punishment. The wingers, Damo and Antonio, and Oscar used their sense of passes to surprise the apathetic defence of Jettoise to keep Pascal in great condition to score twice. Two occasions = two goals: it never happened before in the Vets2 history (Information confirmed by our fans of the day and historians of the club: Paul, Jan and Terry). After this lesson of realism, Jettoise didn’t play so high and the first half finished just after a missed chance from FC Irlande to kill the game.
For the second half, our three subs joined the game and our midfield.
The rhythm was a bit higher than the first half (slower wasn’t possible…) with an opposition who tried to get back in the match. But our defence, one more time, didn’t let them trust that they can be back in the game. Every time, Terry’s placement, Pietro’s covering, Laurent’s tackles and Alan’s fighting spirit stopped their ambitions. And if this wasn’t enough, Ken was here, especially with an amazing dive on this left that T. Courtois wouldn’t have denied.
A third goal was the answer to finish this game in serenity. As a responsible captain, Oscar used the weakness of the opposition’s defence to open his goal counter.
After that, nothing special except three little events:
* In a desperate long shot, Jettoise scores a goal just under the bar to deprive FCI of a clean-sheet.
* Alan proved that Saturday’s sport isn’t every time the best moment to make some new friends.
* Matthew and Pascal started a Olivier Giroud challenge for the best miss of the day (The jury is still in discussion to choose the winner)
So, 3 – 1 at the end of the match. A decent two stars display to start this new season.
After that, it was time to return to Vets 2 traditions: shower, beers and, of course, MOTM: A good re-starting game for every team members; but Pascal was, so, in charge of the round of beer.
P.S.: As requested by Oscar, you can see that the word « France » has never been used during this match report!
All fixtures and results
FC Irlande Vets 2
- Team Captain : Oscar Sanchez de Leon
Top goals scorers
- Oscar 10
- Pascal 3
- Jacob 3
- Terry 2
- Jörg 2
- Luuk 2
- Antonio 2
- Damo 2
- Joris 1
Top goals assists
- Oscar 5
- Jörg 3
- Terry 3
- Pascal 1
- Bart 1
- Patrick 1
- Joris 1
- Jacob 1
- Alan 1