Dark 4 : Light 6 (a.e.t.)
played at Battersea Park
Surely not since Hampden in 1960 has a crowd been privileged to see such an exhilarating game of football. Played on a surface that was always going to hamper the graceful artistry of the teams, in a difficult wind creating tricky moustache adhesion problems, with an enthusiastic and partisan crowd, it was no surprise that the first half ended goalless after a nervous start by both sides.
This couldn’t have been better exemplified than by the rash handball in the area by the Darks and the Light captain hoofing the resultant penalty high over the bar. The nervousness and breakneck pace at which the half was played was so compelling though, that there seemed only to have been 15 minutes gone when the referee blew for half-time and a well earned gasper.
Steadied by the interval, the Darks started the second half the stronger of the two teams, their recent and talented volunteers, plucked from the crowd at the beginning, combining nicely to trouble the Light ‘keeper on several occasions before finally going 1-0 up ten minutes after the restart. Stung by this, Lights came back with a powerfully headed equaliser after some good work down the right. Although the game was hotting up, the players remained true to the ideals of the game and the referee only had to speak to one player to stop him asking if everyone had colour co-ordinated their underwear.
What no-one expected next though, was that the game was shortly to be illuminated by a goal of the rarest quality. Seemingly stuck out on the left wing by the corner flag with nowhere to go and little support arriving, the Dark captain, sensing that the ‘keeper was fractionally out of position, curled a magnificent shot into the top right corner of the goal.
A goal down now and suffering moustache problems, the Lights seemed swamped by a rampant Dark team, who sought to press home their advantage. They did this when the captain scored again in a goalmouth scramble a few minutes later. At this point a lesser team would have folded, and, if it hadn’t been for the 18 minutes injury time played, perhaps the Lights would have too.
It took another handball, with the same offender this time being dismissed, and a much more confidently struck penalty, to set the game up for a nail-biting finish. Lights, reinvigorated, started to play the more fluid game, with a nice exchange down the right leading to a volley that shaved the crossbar. Then at the very death they finally equalised to take the game to extra time.
After such a reprieve, it was a surprise when Darks retook the lead early on with a tremendous strike off his arse by one of the frontmen. But it was only a flash in the pan, and the Lights superiority began to show through and they went on to score three unanswered goals despite the Darks bringing on a very talented dog. The dog was asked to leave after it became apparent that she had more pace, vision, talent and commitment than had previously been on display.
As the final whistle blew, the traditional moustache swapping took place and both teams retired to the Prince Albert for a skinful.
Written by Tim Wilson on Thursday, March 28th, 2002