Whilst most people are still waiting for the start of next week’s World Cup, a lucky few we have already had a taster of the level of bedazzlement and wonder the next few weeks are set to offer. Goals from all over the park, athletic mid-aid saves, controversial decisions and of course plenty of crunching tackles.
Of course I am talking about Thursday’s epic clash between North vs South, Manchester vs Birmingham, the Reds vs the Blues. This was a rivalry not seen since the days of Oasis vs Blur (well, Ocean Colour Scene in this part of the world). I could even stretch to an Alan Partridge reference: imagine John the Manc builder against Dante Infernos’ Piet (‘What part of Birmingham are you from?’). Yes, this was the long awaited five a side match between Five Ways office and our ‘colleagues’ in Salford.
The venue for such an almighty clash of the titans? None other than ‘Star City’, which sounds an appropriate enough arena, although unfortunately is the slightly less glamorous rooftop of multistory car park next to a casino. We even had three excitable spectators who kindly came along to cheer us on. So actually not that different from most Championship matches…
The contenders? Six brave warriors from each office, some with slightly more football experience than others, ranging from an ex-pro goalie to school lunch-break layabouts . As for fitness levels? After the best part of half a year of solid triathlon training and with a half iron distance race just a few weeks away, I assumed that an hour of football would be quite literally a jog in the park. As Arnie says in Commando – Wrong! About 5 minutes after kick off, the majority of us we all over the place, and with only one rolling sub per team even our teammate on the Sean T ‘insanity’ workout was competing against me to just have a five minute breather on the sidelines.
Did I mention the violence? You might have thought with the questionable fitness levels and office based nature of our jobs, the tackling might have been fairly laid back. Oh no. Some of the scenes witnessed on that pitch haven’t been seen since the mid-90’s when Vinnie Jones, Speedball 2 & Wolf from Gladiators were making headlines. One of the team reckons part of them is still left behind in the wall. I won’t name names here, but I think one of the opposition may have actually been the Wolverine…
There was actually a result, although I think by then most of us were too tired to notice. Unfortunately, after turning a 0-2 deficit into a 4-2 lead by half time, we then squandered our chances to slip to 4-6 at the final whistle, meaning they managed to hold onto the trophy for another 6 months. I scored one, although it was even more of a tap-in than Rooney’s against Ecuador the night before. But let’s be honest, the actual result is inconsequential. We had a great time, with beers & curry after, which is what it is all about.
The main thing for the purposes of this report of course was how it has affected the Chile Challenge. I did spend some time considering how I could account for the mileage, given that the match lasted about an hour, but two days later my leg muscles are still unable to train properly! At one point I may have even done a wider set of splits than the great JCVD above, or at least that is how it feels today. Not to mention the carpet burn on my knees from the astroturf… In the end I have gone for a 10 km run, as although it was fairly stop start (closer to interval training) I probably covered a similar distance all in. So here’s to the rematch after the summer, and we can see if the trophy can be come home to the Midlands.