The Rematch of the Century

Rocky 2 poster

In what may well turn out to be the most misguided attempt at pre-race tapering so far devised, this week brought the ‘eagerly’ awaited five-aside football rematch between our Birmingham & Manchester offices. After months of anticipation, trash talking, injury feigning and general diva behaviour, the opportunity to avenge a collapse not witnessed since our last Ashes tour down under – turning a five one half-time lead into a six five loss – was not to be missed.

Perhaps it would not have been so bad for me if the timing were not so familiar – back in June our match was in the week leading up to my half-iron distance race, leading to what could have been near permanent injuries as I hobbled up hills on the run course. And now this, less than 10 days before the Birmingham half marathon and a similar feeling of regret in my hamstrings, even more so as after my home run last week I managed to pick up a dose of man-flu, which meant despite a year of training I was hardly in peak condition…

With a pool of up to 20 potential players, surely we could manage a bigger turn our this time than just six per side, which last time gave only minimal chance of rest using rolling subs. As recently as last week there was a rumour we were looking at closer to eight on each team, which would have presented ample feet up time.

Power league

In the end with all to familiar style the numbers started dropping like flies, with excuses varying from family illness (acceptable) to lost toenails (I will leave you to draw your own conclusions) and it will shock no-one to find out we were back to six-aside on the day, guaranteeing at least 45 minutes playing time for each victim.

As for the match itself, it was a case of the less said the better: or different venue, same result. Despite the fact we mixed the teams up a bit, things were not quite even, and after a fairly tight first half (around 3-2 behind) we fell away in the final quarter to something horrendous like 8-3. Were it not for the fact that our best player – a former professional goalkeeper – was able to put in a man-of-the-match performance, we could well have been looking at a score worse than the aforementioned Ashes tournament. My own contribution involved mainly running around and chasing the ball, with little real success. The fitness definitely helped, but if I am honest it was more a case of making up the numbers.

But most importantly we had fun, and unlike last time the Wolverine captain of the opposition failed to cause any permanent damage to either team (despite attempts to play like box lacrosse) and the lessons learned from the last game resulted in a few less slide tackles and astro-burns than before. Like all good matches the post-race nutrition involved curry, beers & whiskey, and plenty of talk of what happen next time around. Knowing my luck it will probably turn out to be in the week before Ironman 70.3…

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