FC Irlande Men 2
We started quite well with a strong will. MTM scored the 1st goal a bit out of nowhere. But nothing could deflect us from the win today. 1-1 Yonut (lucky assist from LaGine). 2nd half 100% own with. 2-1 Julian aka the playmaker (lucky assist from LaGine) and 3-1 Alvaro (assist from Julian). Very enjoyable team ! COYBIG !!!!
Seconds led 0-1 at half time with a textbook away performance, goal from Benji (assist from Gabi). Didn’t turn up in the second half, conceding a sloppy goal, a dodgy penalty and a final third goal with the last kick, when chasing the equaliser. Final score 3-1.
Men’s 2nds end the first half of the season with a hard fought victory away against Goalois. Beautiful goal by Ionut on Lolo’s cross in the first half. Defence kept the clean sheet. 1+1= 3 points!
Take a moment and come with me, on a journey of titillating tales, dirty duels, and utterances most obscene.
Imagine, if you will:
Saturday, 4 December. The weather: rainy with a chance of rain. The setting: the vast, sprawling potato fields of Walhain. The opponent: FC Tourinnois 2. The conditions: gross.
After a fiery and spirited Friday afternoon email detailing the strategy and lucky few who would partake in what we will subsequently call “the event”, FC Irlande’s 2nd team made the trek to far-off Walhain.
Upon arrival, the FCI 1st team was already in a battle against our oppositions 1st team. It is now important to clarify the above-mentioned conditions.
Take a lovely field in the Belgian countryside. Any field. Now take a shovel to it and dig up the dirt in random spots, then replace said dirt, making a relatively flat – if uneven – surface. After this, paint some lines on the field to make it a proper football pitch. Then, allow Mother Nature to supply copious amounts of rain for anywhere between 24-72 hours prior to kick-off. Finally, allow 22 other large men to vehemently tear up any remaining patches of grass, leaving a thick, slick, pond of mud from 1 keeper’s box to the other.
Such was the state of the pitch at the beginning of our match.
Once the starting whistle sounded, all planning and strategy went out the window. Despite most players wearing soft ground cleats, no purchase could be had in the deep mud, quickly leading to everyone involved (including the referee) getting covered in mud to some degree.
It took the Boys in Green a while to settle into the “style” of “play”, and Tourinnois was able to capitalize on this by scoring the first goal of the match, 0-1. Not long after though, some fortuitous events landed the ball at Julian’s feet, who lifted the ball over the opposing defense into the path of Lorenz, who was able to slot it past the keeper in masterful fashion. After further slipping, falling, and general rough-housing by all, the half came to a close at 1-1.
After some serious strategizing (“kick the ball, don’t slip, score more goals”), the muddy combatants retook the pitch and began the 2nd half. Play continued much how it was in the 1st half, although FCI was more grounded in their play. Following some good pressing to win the ball back, Lorenz took the ball forward and sent the ball across the pitch, just above the opposing team’s box. And Lo! Their defender unceremoniously whiffed when trying to kick the ball forward, leading to Benji with the ball cleanly (lol) at his feet and no defenders nearby. Surging forward, he was able to put the ball in the back of the net, 2-1 good guys.
Soon after, Brendan and Lughaidh were subbed in for Ionut and Benji to get some fresh legs into the match. Play continued, with both sides taking advantage of the less-than-perfect playing surface. For the final changes, Mathias Gineste came on for Neil, and Dastan for Julian. It’s important to note that since this wasn’t a football match and more of collective test of balance on slippery surfaces, it took a few minutes for the newcomers to adjust. After not more than 6 minutes of being brought on, Gineste thought the match was advancing too slowly, and decided to foul a Tourinnois player in our own box, conceding a penalty (whether there was contact with the ball or not prior to the complete destruction of the player’s legs is still being debated). Tourinnois neatly tucked the ball directly down the center past our stand-in keeper Tancrede (thanks again for stepping in to help us out!); scoreline 2-2.
Being undeterred by this gracious move on the part of Gineste, FCI quickly thundered back down the pitch and Brendan, after having figured out the playing surface, crossed a wonderful ball to Gabi’s head. Gabi, being a bit dramatic, decided instead to elevate and execute a beautiful scissor kick, leading to the ball slowly passing the keeper and bouncing into the net; 3-2 FCI! Surely this result would stand and FCI would come out 3 points the richer!
Well, you would be wrong. With very limited time remaining, FCI squandered a chance to clear the ball out of their defensive end. Tourinnois was able to eventually take advantage and win a corner kick. Set pieces, corner kicks, and long throw-ins being their bread & butter, it was a dangerous position to be in for the defensive FCI side. And so it was that on the resulting corner kick, Tourinnois was able to sneak a header past Tancrede, leading to the final scoreline of 3-3.
(If Nate made sure to put his captain out of trouble, the editor will do it without any hesitation. So : after a long ball thrown in Tourinnois’s box at the last second of the game, our captain Ryan decided to choke like the English national team in the Euro Cup final, shooting on the keeper whereas he had all the time and space in the world. Just joking captain, it happens, but JESUS CHRIST it would have been three points. Just joking, again).
If you’re going to Ennnngggghhhhhiiiiiiiiieeeeeeeeen, make sure to bring your Covid Safety Ticket, a Danish Dutch speaking referee and football boots that can cope with a swamp.
An odd arrival awaited us as we were told very quickly that our non vaccinated players would not be allowed to play which seemed strange as we had not heard of this rule. But by being very good guests we accepted this and informed our concerned players that they could not play.
This turned out to be inaccurate and a few minutes later we found out that this rule only applied to the bar which lead to a confusing start to things in quaint Enghien.Hadrien, Lolo, Brioche and John-Simon felt very much at home in the province of Hainaut. Our goalkeeper not so much but this was made up by the fact that the referee seemed to be from his part of the country (THE NORTH).
Royale Amicale Enghien is pretty much the biggest thing there is in Enghien apart from a church in the middle of the Main Square and the train station which has 5 platforms, yes FIVE.
The setup they have is lovely and the pitch looked amazing. After getting changed and setting up the team we headed out for the warm-up. We knew we were going to battle as Enghien are promotion contenders. Very quickly though we realised that the pitch looked good from a far but was far from good. One side of it was basically a disguised by grass swamp.
But for an Irishish team this would not deter us and we were keen to put on a show today for the many local fans in the stand, well side-line.
We had to make a few changes due to injuries and International duty. The line-up was therefore as follows: Neelen in goal with Hadri, Ryan ©, Thomas and Neil as are back four. Brioche was in the 6 with Julian and Ionut in from of him. On the wings we had Gabby and John-Simon. The local boy Lorenz was up top. The game started evenly and we were all a bit clumsy at the beginning trying to find our feet on this pitch. A few half chances either side but nothing really to write home about until around the 15th minute when we started to press the opposition higher. This really worked for us and we came close from long range through Ionut a couple of times before Lolo was released and tucked the ball home nicely. Unfortunately though Lars Von Mudineyes saw an offside position while standing in our half. This was not only unlucky but also undeserved as we were the better of the two sides. Just before half time the excellent Thomas pulled his hammy and had to be replaced. In came Ludghaigh and a bit of reshuffling. Neil slotted in to the centre back position while Gabby went into left back and Ionut went on the left wing.
Half time came and passed, it was also the shortest half time in history at around 39.03 seconds.
We started the second half in pretty much the same way as we had finished the first by pushing. We were getting more and more space too and we could sense that we could pull something out of the hat until the swamp got the better of us. A nothing back pass created a one on one with Neelen as our captain who still thought Copa Mundial’s is the best equipment for hiking lost his grip and this gifted the opposition with a goal. Nonetheless we were confident we could get back into this match as that was by far the closest they had come all day to our goal. In came Gineste for Julian and Brendan for Ionut.
The next 20 minutes were basically just us trying to open them up. They were lying deep and we were having to make the most of our overlapping runs to break them down. Unfortunately though their keeper latched on to all that we thrown at them. Brendan and Lolo came very close but as stated Jean-Antoine Prude-home saved all of our shots. In the last minutes we went with 3 at the back as Gabby limped off the pitch after suffering a minor hit. It was basically a lovely tackle on the ball. No evidence of a possible injury could be found on his leg after the match either!
So on came Alvaro and although we created another couple of chances we were not going to come back into this match. On one of their counters in the last minutes they concluded nicely to make it 2-0 and seal the deal. We deserved more in this one as has been the case in a lot of our matches but our performance was really up to scratch.
After we vacated the Baltic showers (the boiler was on the blink) we elected Brioche as man of the match again but we all know this was to impress his girlfriend Melissa who had come to cheer us on as had most of Lolo’s family, Matteo and Luis who seemed impressed with some of the setups the local schools had. After leaving Enghien we headed to the Funky Monkey after passing by a local very nice little bar called Le Carillon where we drank some Enghien Triples and some Silly beer. We’ll remember the performance and not the result. Much later flowers were being added in our hair on the day we’d been to Enghien!
2nds played against Union Schaerbeek in what was expected to be a tough fight. The game started with the proper spirit and high pressure, until a long ball on the wet pitch crossed the entire defence to offer a one against one with Josh who was obliged to commit a foul. Yellow card and penalty. Very quickly we reacted with a beautiful pass from Yonut to Lolo who passed the keeper and scored in the empty goal. Few minutes later their main striker played with our defence, passing 3 guys until a soft shot that ended in the back of the net. We again reacted quickly with a solo from Benji, faster than all their players, who entered the box and opened his foot to send the goal on the side of the goal. After a contact with the striker was injured and had to be replaced by VDN. 2-2 at half time. The second half was even more messy with very few passes reaching the right feet. 10min before the end Ale committed a foul and got a second yellow card, offering a dangerous free kick to Union that ended on our right post. 5min before the end, Brioche sent a beautiful cross in the box in a free kick which was converted by the new joker, Alvaro for his first game. Tough last minutes with control led us to the second victory of the season.
‘You’re only as good as your last game’
Off the back of a 7-1 win last week FC Ireland were full of confidence! Matteo a late pull out due to injury meant M Neelen filled in.
Kick off, the Visitors in mustard yellow started us off. After around 10 minutes the opposition broke through the defence and was one on one with Josh in goal, who tried to advance, however no traction on the ground enforced a slip and the attacker finished it post and in. 0-1.
It wasn’t FC Irlande’s finest half. Sloppy passes, out of position players. The visitors worked a corner out of the greens. Whipped in on the wind, the keeper manages to get some fingers on it, then cleared on as far as their centre back who was waiting on the edge of the box. He fired it over, luckily for Irlande. The late addition to the starting line up Mathias Neelen, came close for Irlande with a sweetly struck volley that hit the post.
Half time came and with it, the hard dryer treatment from John-Simon.
Well after the break, the coach’s words of wisdom seemed to work. Irlande came out and played with purpose. And controlled the whole of the second half. The pressure built up and the opposition keeper just couldn’t handle it. Passing the ball straight to Lolo, who didn’t waste any time and hit it first touch into the back of the net. 1-1.
The rest of the half dominated by Irlande pushing for the winner. The visitors pushed a couple of times, then receiving a yellow card for diving in the box. Another yellow came soon after, Brioche attracted a horrible tackle and it surprisingly only Brough a yellow for the offender.
The visitor tried to break late on in the game but a good push by T-Lion earned him a yellow card. Then came a kick out by the yellow clad scroat, then a headbut, luckily for him the ref couldn’t be bothered with the paperwork of issuing a red, already on a yellow he well and truly got away with it.
A point for Irlande, but the second half was dominated and something to take forward.
“Wining never dies” ! It took the last James Bond 18 months to reach the theaters…it took the same time for the Seconds to reconnect with sweet victory…On a very Belgian day (soft crappy rain), the 2nds went to Anderlecht to face Copains Réunis…it was a must (must must must) win as it was a 6-points game…the Boys in Greens started very well, although positioned a bit too low…but very quickly the game went into our favour …Lolo scored two in a row, quickly followed by Dastan (2 as well) ending the first half (an all time first!!) with 4-0…. Then the second half started as great (spoiler alert: we did not concede in the first 10min) but rather scored once more (Lolo, the fox of the box!) …then we got a tiny bit complacent and conceded one…then the return of Neuken in the Keuken smashed a nice shot top bins to make it 6-1…it felt it was not enough so Lolo pushed one more in…endgame 7-1….Brioche
.Brioche sang his victory song, the boys “interacted” in the showers…it i back to the sweet taste of victory ….hopefully the start of a winning row…come one Ireland !!
On that beautiful autumnal day, the 2nds played in Rosières against la Lorraine 2, with the evergoing ambition to get their first victory of the season. The game started quite well for the boys in green, with good pressure in the midfield giving the impression there was only one team on the pitch. Quick and long passes easily found the space behind their last line. After some first dangerous but unfruitful situations in the box, a long ball by Brioche saw Gabe make a run and deliver a cross to Benji who skilfully shot the ball in the back of the net with a neat volley. 1-0 for Ireland.
This then led to the unfortunate repetition of the previous games, with lower intensity and lack of concentration. Not more than 5 minutes later, a poor pass from our box ended up directly in the feet of their striker who just had to run few meters and had all the time in the world to shoot. 1-1 at half time.
The second part of the game was very different with a much more balanced and open game. Both teams had some good chances to take the lead but keepers and strikers’ clumsiness kept the score as it was. Misfortunate also came in, as an injured Clément had to get out. Due to an injury Luis was also limited in his movements only few minutes after he appeared on the pitch but had to keep his position as no more substitution was possible. The reshuffled team suffered in the end of the game, with multiple chances for the opposition to score. Heroic defending and a bit of luck led to a deserved point but still no desperately needed victory. Final result 1-1.
The old demons of the seconds resurfaced today after an initial very good first 55 minutes of play. Comfortably in the lead 2-0 they unfortunately let the missed opportunities to kill the game haunt them in the last minutes of the game. The final score was eventually 2-2 in what is clearly 2 more lost points for the 2nd Division Irlande team!
🇬🇧 1-1 🇮🇪
FC Ireland earned a hard earned point against British United out in Mechelen this weekend. With half the squad out holidaying in Southern Europe, the lads had to dig particularly deep to get the result on a warm Saturday afternoon. This was to be another match where the Irish were left wondering how they could play so well and not come away with the three points. The story of their season so far, with the 2 points from 6 games a rather cruel reflection on the overall team performance.
Ireland dominated the first half, playing risk free at the back and plenty of incisive passing through the middle. The compactness of the team while defending left the British with few options; most of which were intercepted or over cooked through balls. It was the MOTM Brioche who broke the deadlock (he also may have also broken an opponent’s eye socket), with a deftly executed chip over the advancing keeper after a silky one-two with Julien. Top drawer stuff. British responded well and hit the inside of the Irish upright from inside the box, but Josh was able to collect the fortuitously angled deflection.
After talking about how important the first 5 minutes after the restart are during the half time talk, Ireland conceded 30 seconds into the second half. A pantomime of a goal, with some softly half tackles in the lead up, unfortunate ricochets, topped off by a worldy finish that sailed into the top corner from 25 yards out that left Josh with no chance. The reaction from Ireland was much better from that point, who kept organised and started looking dangerous. Massive shout out to Gerardo from the 4ths, who came on and ran his socks off in a high adrenaline 20 or so minutes to the close.
Both teams created some chances as the game opened up while looking for the knock-out blow in a more even sided half. Mister Ale got a block in on a stinging goal bound shot. Ionut carved up the defence on the left flank, cutting it back from the byline to Lolo who’s first time right footed hit didn’t find the target. In the dying minutes Julian latched on to a perfectly weighted through ball to go one-on-one with the British keeper only to be denied by some very handy keeping.
A fair enough result against the second placed side in the league, when all said and done. But given how well the lads in green played today, this one has been a bitter pill to swallow. While the 3 points continues to allude them, performances like this will no doubt end the drought.
Its always tough to talk about a painful experience..a man describing his prostate exam springs to mind..and the match against Cobra is no different but I’ll give it a try
The only problem about describing said experience is that the mind tends to try and forget it as quickly as possible so this might not be a detailed account..the focus surely would have to be on the referee though who after turning up late wondered why all the setup work hadn’t been done for him..promising signs..after duly warning that he would take no talk back(not even if it was to help him get a grip on the situation) 19 for 5..12 for 8..or is it 63 for 1 or 112 for 652..remind me please..oh really..well his a yellow for your troubles..classic stuff
But I digress..the football in the first half was immensely pleasant on the eyes with the boys in green running rings around there opponents at times..many half chances and glorious chances were had by Ireland but only one was made to count when a quick free quick was taken culminating in Julian floated a lovely pass in to Lolo who took a deft touch with his right to set himself up for a sweet finish on the half-volley on his left.
Defensively Ireland were rarely troubled in that first half but we’re going to be made to work much harder in the second.
Few would have quite put their money on the next goalscorer and the bookie would definitely have given wonderful odds as everyone was shocked that Hadri got the goal..now now before you get all excited he put the ball in the wrong net..I wont pile on, but….what a header!
At 1-1 the game became hectic as both teams adopted a bit of a gung-ho tactic to get the three points and many chances were had by both sides and the boys were fortunate to have MOTM Sheikh Joshinho in goal in order to keep the game all square.
Enter, calamity referee..who, not satisfied with his mid-game chat with his buddy on the side of the pitch decided that Gineste was playing for the opposition and so when Ryan clattered him on the edge of the box promptly gave a free kick..for the opposition…a worse tragedy has not been seen since the infamous sea incident of Malta..
To make matters worse a pestering little man-child git decided to slam the ensuing free into the roof of the net leaving the keeps grasping at air
The boys tried hard in vain to rescue a point and even Lolo buoyed by his heroics of the previous week was incapable of turning a multitude of half-chances in to something concrete
So, like that unholy and unpleasant prostate exam(and that Malta incident), I invite you all to just forget everything I just said and move on with your life..you’ll excuse me then the fact that I can’t remember the lineup and more details about the day.
Ps sorry for the delay but the only thing lazier than me on the pitch is me writing an essay.
This was a very beautiful Saturday to make the war for the Rebels in Green, color of the wise Master Yoda. The Rebels were playing away, in Anderlecht aka “The Tatooine of Brussels” And who else than Union JP (JP standing for “Jean Palpatine”) to make it an intense war. The Rebels had to get revenge from the last games they played against the Empire.
In the starting line-up, François “Mace Windu” Branchu was guarding the Temple, the Captain of the Falcon Millenium spaceship Ryan “Han Solo” Self (this one was pretty easy) and Hadrien “Qui-Gon Jinn” Valembois were holding the central defense, with Julian “R2D2” Rueda (nothing to do with the height but more for the fact that R2D2 is always very helpful in any situation as Julian is at any position on the pitch) and Nate “Jar Jar Binks” Banas (as he is from another continent/planet and always fixes problems at the last second like his tackles on the striker) on the right and left sides.
In front of the defense, Neil “Lando Calrissian” Servais was in number 6, helped by the reckless Benjamin “Luke Skywalker” Le Coz and our PPOP Luis “Leia Organa” Ramos in front of him.
Our fast pilots Benjamin “C3PO” Benjelloun (i know this robot is not the best pilot but he speaks one thousand languages like Benji) and the strong Ionut “Anakin Skywalker” Nedelcu, had the hard job on the X-Wings (reference for the true Star Wars fans). And to replace our dear MVP Amadou “The Mandalorian” Boubacar up front, Lorenz “Obi-Wan Kenobi” Blanco was in number 9 position.
As commandant of the spaceship, John-Simon “Master Yoda” Sparks was leading his army. Outside of the spaceship, Pierre “Boba Fett” Eichstädt and Stefanie “Padmé Amidala” Brugghemans (i know Padmé had two kids with Anakin but hey, it’s just a story) were present to support the Rebellion.
The Rebels began their game on the good way as they struck within 5 minutes with Obi-Wan reaching Dark Maul (the opponent keeper) with his lightsaber after C3PO threw the weapon to him. The Rebels started with a lot of confidence as they were feeling that it could finally be the first battle won of the season.
The battle in the middle of the Galaxy from the Rebels in Green was marvelous, worthy of the whole Star Wars saga (except “The attack of the Clones” and the 3 latest movies). The Rebels were creating many chances but didn’t manage to make a second powerful strike. To defend the spaceship, our four warriors + Mace Windu were keeping the clean sheet. 0-1 at half time. (as if there was a pause during a war but whatever).
In the part of the war, The Empire started to put more and more pressure on the Rebels and was getting closer and closer to the centre of the spaceship. The Rebels soon had to admit a first defeat as the Siths managed to make some damage. 1-1. The Rebels were groggy, and didn’t have the time to regain consciousness that The Empire launched a second powerful strike in no time. The Siths had taken the lead. 1-2.
The Rebels needed some help. This was the moment for the courageous Dastan “Chewbacca” Salehi, Gabriel “Rey Skywalker” Jacqmin and Mathias “Finn” Gineste to enter the spaceship. The war created a lot of collateral damage but none side was giving up.
As the Siths thought they were about to win the war as they were on defensive mode with their beam shield, Obi-Wan Kenobi struck with his special lightsaber attack and destroyed a big part of the Empire spaceship. As both spaceships took a lot of damage, both sides retreated and left the huge galactic battlefield.
The Rebels didn’t win this war, but this battle was maybe the beginning of a wonderful adventure for the Rebellion.
May the force be with us ! 💚💪
On a very warm afternoon the seconds jump on the pitch willing to get the first points of the season against MTM FC.
The first half kicked of with Valentin in goal, Ryan and Matteo defense, Hadri and Julian as left and righ back. The midfield was composed by Neil, Dastan and Brioche and the attack counted with Lolo, Benji and Amadou. In the bench ready to come in was Luis, Mathias and Ionut. The boys in green started the game with confidence, on a pitch uncommonly small, where the space for good football was scarse.
Nevertheless, the seconds adapted and played their football, using the overload and physical pressure on the wings and the box. The adversary was well constructed and did not give a lot of opportunities in the defense. The game was mostly played in the midfield where both sides struggled to find space to advance and create chances. After some divided balls, the opponents where able to score in a quick and sudden shot from outside the box.
The team felt that strike, and lowered the level of the football, the intensity was there, the hunger for goal as well, but the game did not reflect that. The seconds were able to create some chances and shoot, but none took real danger and the opponent keeper was not really tested. As the seconds were closer to the adversary, and in a game moment where we were pressuring, a quick counter attack resulted in a goal and fixed the result in 2-0.
The boys continued to pressure and where coming once again closer to goal, but once again bad luck paid a visit and in a disputed ball, Amadou gave his best to get the ball but a bad fall caused him to break his wrist. With only 10 on the pitch, we remained focused and pressured even more the opponent, stealing the ball and advancing with speed and purpose. But the history of the game didn’t change.
Overall, we suffered from the same old story and the small mistakes were translated into conceded goals and not in scored goals. The intensity is there, the quality as well, it needs to be translated into goals and victories.
We need and will do better.
Last note is for our MVP Amadou that broke his wrist in a disputed ball where he gave it all, he went into surgery with no complications and is now recovering, we hope to see him back on the football fields in the near future.
Final Score 2-0, MOTM Neil.
In Voltaire’s celebrated satirical novella Candide, or Optimism, the eponymous protagonist sees his life begin to unravel when he is kicked out of his grandiose Westphalian castle-home. Candide proceeds to meander all over the world, in search of his lover, and winds up being flogged by an entire Prussian cavalry company, nearly executed, almost killed in action, escapes to the Netherlands, sails to Lisbon, almost dies in a shipwreck, survives the Lisbon earthquake, is almost killed by the inquisition, kills a priest and a jeweler, escapes to South America, is almost eaten by an amazonian tribe, stabs his long-lost best friend, finds El Dorado, becomes the richest man in the world, immediately loses all his money, sails back to Europe, finds his lover and settles down as a farmer in Constantinople.
Candide’s moral guide throughout the novella is a third-rate, washed up, syphilis infested philosopher known as Pangloss. Pangloss teaches Candide that “this is the best of all worlds” and that therefore “all is well”.
And so it was with FC Irlande 2 last Saturday, when after an eleven month hiatus, we finally reclaimed our Abssa weekends. We men are a simple folk. We are creatures of habit who need the comfort of a routine to guide us through life. Much like Candide’s journey, the past eleven months of no football therefore felt like a purposeless, meandering odyssey, like a ship (full of Sea Men) sailing aimlessly without a destination.
But now, all is truly well for the routine has returned: wake up, discharge faeces from the body, drink coffee, eat oatmeal, drive to Nossegem, get dressed, discharge faeces from the body, warm up, play football, team shower, drink beer, go to the Funky, drink beer, play games, drink more beer, also drink beer, go home too late, sleep, wake up and despair as you look at your bank account, repeat.
But before we begin to unfurl the events of Saturday’s game against Chenois, it is necessary to cast a glance further back and to recount some of the highlights of the preseason, for they provide essential context to the game (not really).
The summer began in earnest when an inspired Denmark team won the hearts of a continent by playing some scintillating football, united by tragedy in the camp. In the end, a group of handsome Italians gesticulated their way into victory by defeating FC Priti Patel in the final. Denmark was, however, unquestionably and empirically the best team in the tournament and should have won. Everyone definitely agrees with this, and not just the author of this match report. These words were also echoed by FC Irlande 2’s English captain as he did the rounds on Belgian television.
It was not a summer without change, as the Men’s section said goodbye, or au revoir, to Auderghem and said hello, or begroeting, to our new grounds at KV Woluwe in Zaventem. Coach John-Simon was busy all summer teaching his team crash course Dutch as we were told that no French was allowed to be spoken on Flemish soil. Bedankt, Jan-Simon van der Sparks.
As July turned into August, FC Irlande 2 embarked on their fourth and final instalment of the (in)famous preseason tour to Kalterherberg, Germany. The weekend started off well with The Gars sampling the finest delicacies that our Teutonic hosts had to offer: Beer and Jägermeister. As the evening unfolded, darts and fussball served as an opening course to the main event, which was described by Ryan, in all sincerity, as “genuinely the most riveting sporting event of all time”. The game is known as “pick up pieces of a cardboard box with your mouth without your hands or knees touching the floor” and was introduced in this part of the world by the Romans who learned it from the ancient Greeks. The early rounds saw Gineste, Dastan, Hadri and John-Simon quickly discarded due to the absence of any elasticity in their bodies. Julian, Lorenz, Nate, Ryan and Clement faired much better and made it pretty far into the game. In the end, however, it became a three horse race between Neil, Amadou and Gabi who all seemed to defy the laws of human flexibility. In the end, Gabi stole the honors in a truly breathtaking display of anatomical pliability.
Hadri, however, was not to be outdone. Despite the fact that at this point in the evening 80% of his blood content consisted of alcohol and he was nearly incapable of bipedal forward motion, he wanted to demonstrate that he was capable of carrying a tray of 40 shots of jägermeister. It did not end well.
The weekend also saw Clem, John-Simon and Ryan gate crash a random birthday party and the lads sitting peacefully by the beautiful lake Bütgenbach before being accosted by 12 police officers and three police attack dogs for committing the crime of playing Petanque without drinking Richard. Belgian surrealism, hey?
The preseason preparations also consisted of an exclusive invitation to the prestigious ITT Gecko Open Tournament. This tournament was a marvel of magnificent logistical preparation and a case study in superb organization and management. The tournament also allowed the team to engage in many deep and profound philosophical inquiries on the epidermal layer of the male reproductive organ.
But enough. Now onto the game against Chenois on Saturday.
The morning began precipitously with two last minute drop out and Dastan, Ryan and John-Simon having to pick up the kit on the way to the game. After a good warm up and prematch speech, the lads, however, were ready to get on the pitch.
Josh started in goal with Ryan and Ale marshalling the back four centrally and Clem and Hadri making up the flanks. Thomas Earl masterfully took up that unfamiliar number 6 role with Ionut and Neil just ahead of him. Amadou led the line up front, flanked by Benji and Lolo on the wings. On the bench, after he had removed his pornstar jeans, sat Dastan.
Chenois made their intent known straight away. An aggressive high press with direct balls from the back four into their three strikers. FC Irlande 2 struggled to break free of their strangling press in the early minutes, but fortunately, when we did, they left a lot of space in behind. Amadou broke clean through and they could not match his pace, just as he was about to strike at goal he was unceremoniously brought down. Penalty FC Irlande 2. With no Kevin “Booba” Beziau on the pitch, the penalty burden fell to Lolo who masterfully slipped it into the net. 1-0 FC Irlande. Not long after, we unfortunately held on to the ball a bit too long in the back, allowing the opposition striker to intercept a pass and run clean through to our goal. 1-1. However, as the half progressed, we grew in confidence and Benji was rip-roaring through the left hand side of the pitch. In one of his balletic runs, he left the opposition right back for dead and lifted a deft pass on to Amadou who calmly headed it into the net. 2-1 FC Irlande 2.
After half time, Chenois piled on the pressure in search of the equalizer. Eventually, they broke through our right hand side and managed to even the scores at 2-2. We held on and continued to create chances ourselves. Good opportunities came to Lolo, Amadou and Benji. Unfortunately, it was Chenois who succeeded in taking the lead when a shot from outside the box stung the paws of Josh and looped over into the back of our net. 2-3 to Chenois. Not long after, the Chenois full back scored a beautiful, unstoppable free kick from 25 yards out. Nothing to do. 4-2 Chenois. But the lads never gave up and continued in the belief that we could salvage something from this game. We continued to press and eventually Lolo played a beautiful pass to Amadou who ran through, rounded the keeper masterfully and slotted it into an empty net. 3-4 to Chenois. In a frantic end to the match, we pressed and harried and in the dying moments Lolo went through on goal but was stopped by a phenomenal tackle by Chenois’ left back. It wasn’t to be today and despite the fantastic attitude and never-say-die spirit the points go to our visitors.
Two difficult opening games for FC Irlande 2 this season but the performances have been promising and have merited more. We are convinced that we will soon get our just rewards and know that the points will soon come.
In the end, to be back among this amazing group of players is what matters most. To achieve, to win, to suffer together. To have our routine back. “All is well” because to play football for FC Irlande 2, as Candide’s syphilis ravaged philosopher would say, truly is “the best of all worlds”.
47 weeks. 329 days. 7896 hours, 473,760 minutes. 14 Seconds. FC Irlande Running Club… ahem… FC Irlande II were finally back in the famous Green for a Super Saturday at Nossegem and boy did it feel gooooood! First up in the new campaign was a tough test against Wong As. 1, who rocked up with plenty of due respect having got the better of the IIs in the previous league meetings.
First up a bit of housekeeping – the main headline of the off season undoubtedly being our legendary Captain Das tan hanging up the armband and opting to mix it with his seamen again after two glorious years of leadership (2019-2012). Team Magma founder Ryan “faces” the difficult task of filling Dastan’s boots, alongside our head coach John-Simon. No prizes for guessing that pre-season involved a lot of running with these two at the helm. On the transfer front it’s been a quiet window for the IIs so far, although the board have always been clear that retaining the existing talent in the squad and tying the players down to long-term deals has been the main objective. Nonetheless, our scouting network here are always on the lookout for top quality additions and talks with several targets are at an advanced stage, so don’t go to bed just yet…
With several injuries and a number of the squad given extra time off after returning late from international duty, it was a depleted second team squad for the opening game. When the team news came in it was confirmed the IIs were rolling out their new-look 4-1-4-1 formation. Thomas Earl passed a late bowel check to be passed fit enough for the clash in the pivotal anchor man role, while veteran CB and former IIs skipper ‘Mister’ Alessandro rolled back the years to line up alongside his new skipper Ryan at centre back. With star striker and reigning POTY Amadou unavailable for this one, our top goal scorer from pre-season Ionut filled in up front. Third-team new boy Matt (not Nate) answered the late distress call for reinforcements and joined our player-coach for the day on the bench. Johnny Sparks was looking to make his first competitive appearance since that fateful day in Nossegem almost three years ago. Josh retained the number-1 shirt to start in goal, but with that awful monkey still on his back – the second team are yet to win a game with him in goal. The stats don’t lie, Joshy…
FC Irlande kicked the game off and went about their business in a meaningful way, setting the pace of the game, playing on the front foot and applying plenty of pressure. Benji was causing all sorts of problems and having his own personal nutmeg competition on the left wing, notching up three by half time by my count. Lolo was getting similar joy down the right side with that silky left peg, and Ionut was his usual bullish self, giving the Wong defenders a handful and a half to contend with. The three attackers, supported by advanced midfield duo Julian and Luis, all combined well to create some excellent opportunities that we were regrettably unable to convert. Luis also battered one clean over the safety netting into the car park for six. The other big flashpoint in the first half came after a tangle between Ale and the Wong striker threatened to boil over, but a booking apiece was enough to defuse any further beef between the two. Overall it was a feisty but good-spirited first half, with both sides getting stuck in and giving as good as they got. Nonetheless, it was the IIs who were frustrated to be going into the second half with the deadlock still unbroken.
We were playing the second half in our bogey end so knew it would take a big performance to come away with the coveted three points. Tommo was typically man-mountainous in holding midfield, while Hadri and Nate both defended vigilantly and broke forward from the wing-back positions to join the attack and pin the Wong side in. Before long, John-Simon gave the fans what they wanted and entered “centre-stage”, taking to the field like a duck/fish to/out of water (delete as necessary). After plenty of hustle and bustle and half chances here and there, the decisive moment of the game arrived. Having just made an excellent last-ditch, ball + man tackle moments before, the referee decided that two was one too many for poor Ale. As the Wong striker bore down on goal from wide on the goal line, Ale cleaned out both ball (first) and man and the referee called for a pen. We carefully managed to avoid any pesky encroachment and Josh did really well to get a hand on the spot kick, but it was too well-struck to keep out. One-nil Wong, with a good twenty minutes to play. It became a pretty frantic game from there on, with Wong happy to soak up Irlande pressure. To freshen up the attack, Matt and a semi-fit Clemente came in on the wings and despite sustaining enough pressure to find an equaliser, we were unable to rescue the more-than-deserved point. Disappointing as the result was, it was also a very encouraging first performance overall against a canny outfit and we will build from here. Josh, your first taste of the changing victory celebrations is coming next week – promise!
Man of the Match went to the imperious Thomas Earl, who even at 75% health was the best player on the park. Also a big “hand” to Ale who had an excellent game and was unfortunate to be on the wrong end of the 50-50ish penalty decision. It was a quiet night in the library after the game, with everyone’s dignity, bodies and personal belongings well and truly intact. We save the real partying for the first victory!
All fixtures and results
FC Irlande Men 2
- Coach : John-Simon Sparks
- Captain : Ryan Self
Top goals scorers
- Lorenz Blanco 11
- Benjamin Benjelloun 4
- Ionut Nedelcu 3
- Amadou Boubacar 2
- Benjamin Le Coz 2
- Alvaro Lopez 2
- Dastan Salehi 2
- Gabriel Jacqmin 1
- Mathias Neelen 1
- Julian Rueda 1
Top goals assists
- Lorenz Blanco 4
- Julian Rueda 4
- Gabriel Jacqmin 3
- Benjamin Le Coz 3
- Ionut Nedelcu 3
- Benjamin Benjelloun 2
- Mathias Gineste 2
- Nate Banas 1
- Javier Juma 1
- Brendan Kingston 1
- John-Simon Sparks 1