strange new protocols
It was the end of summer holidays, the opening day for the season, the first game in the long awaited promised land of Div 1. With some of the boys out of town, or injured, or in Korea for modelling work, a smaller than usual squad arrived. The club president had been busy in the summer with a few new summer signings and we welcomed back Jamie Allester, Dylan Maxwell, and Anthony Pezzente straight in to action. One of them, *ahem* Jamie, smelled like he hadn’t washed his jersey since his last competitive game for the Strikers two or three years ago. Laundry aside, it was also a time for family, as we welcomed Big Will and Giordana’s baby July McKnight aka Little Will to her first Strikers game.
The pre-game began with a flurry of strange new protocols. Both teams lined up to do a walk out together, which was a delight for the assorted 6 fans who were watching. Two linesmen, grown men in refs uniforms with flags and everything were on hand to run the sidelines, leaving Club Legend Andrew Whitaker to focus solely on hydration. A few differently coloured cones were placed out in front of the bench for the manager’s technical area. We were to find out that only the manager was to stand in it. The rest of us, starting the game as subs on the bench, were in fact supposed to literally sit on the bench or be threatened with discipline. But how can the manager be in the technical area, when he is starting at centre midfield? Who knew this fancy new division would be so complicated.
The opposition, Richmond Hibernian, were a bunch of UBC redshirts averaged age 18 and a half. I don’t know what a red shirt is and I’m too lazy to look it up for you, but I can tell you that their jerseys were red, there were a few dumb haircuts, and not a beer belly in the bunch. But soon we kicked off and all that silly pregame stuff fades away and soccer is soccer, unless you’re in the rest of the world and it’s called football, or fußball, or for Coop aka Mr Model it’s 축구.The Strikers started strong, moving the ball smartly and getting some early attacking pressure going. A well taken corner and an Arved flick-on that landed at Will McKnight’s feet meant that July’s first soccer memory will be of her big daddy smacking a big volley in to the net to put the team up 1-0. A close chance almost saw the good guys up 2-0 minutes later but it was not to be. A bit of rust from the Strikers and some serious speed from The UBC Boys brought the score back to 1-1. Andrew Whitaker, freed from linesman duty, put pen to paper and did some good work to see if the player who scored on us was eligible to play as he was not on the teamsheet. The Hibernian were young, fast, technical, and were all properly on the teamsheet unfortunately. With things going a bit sideways near the end of the half, the Strikers found themselves down 4-1 suddenly. A score line that somehow did and didn’t reflect the game. The ref blew the whistle for halftime and Jamie Allester snuck out in to the woods to take in a Bon Iver concert. He would not return to the pitch that day and the jury is out how bad this is when compared to birthdays.
The second half was a bit of blur, mostly of hot AstroTurf and Strikers chasing around young fit Hibernian guys (jealous Dobes?) as we tried to find a way back in to the game. Old-new guy Dylan made his re-debut and besides being the most vocal guy on the field and giving great calls to his teammates, had a spicy one two up the wing before zipping a nice ball in along the ground in to the box that Gavin jumped on and finished smartly in to the top corner. It took him joint top goal scorer in the Strikers golden boot race. They scored one too but hey, fuck em, I’m not gonna talk about it. Everyone was getting tired and some guys kicked some people and some guys told the ref he was dumb, and Bry Archibald had a very lovely tackle which smashed the opposing player, so we got some nice yellow cards. In the end, it was not the Strikers day. Always an A+ for us trying our hardest and helping out our teammates but not as technically excellent or clinical as the opposition on this day. And A+, for as the final whistle blew, the Strikers cracked the cooler and began rehydrating with sport beverages and talking about the season ahead and the fitness, training, and 5 minute drills to come that will get us to where we need to be. I know, when we meet Hibernian again later in the season, the Strikers will be ready, and next time out I will get the yellow card I tried to get on Saturday by kicking an 18 year old with a dumb haircut.