Tourinnois FC 2
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).