“Adam Musson at the far post… Musson leaps like Shearer…Goal... Musson wins it for Didsbury” Sadly that was the story of Mussinho’s Saturday night dream. Unfortunately, Sunday was not to be as successful. Before I begin on the actual events, this (still hungover) writer wishes to apologise for any inaccuracies. Any complaints can be made to the pub landlords of Didsbury.
AFC Didsbury turned up at the prestigious ‘Simon Field’, for the respected John Old cup final, to an absolute delight of a pitch. The start of the cricket season had been cut to a level only associated with the Camp Nou. Didsbury emerged from the changing rooms to a world record Didsbury sports crowd (30ish). Members of the crowd had come from as far as Leicester to witness this spectacle.
Didsbury started well with Matthew Harrison’s words of the previous week prominent in the minds of the Didsbury players “this pitch is your tapestry, it is time to paint”. An early Didsbury, over the top, caused panic in the Hulme ranks setting Didsbury trequarista, Harrison, free of the last Hulme defender. With the ball hanging in the Manchester wind, the Hulme keeper stormed off his goal line to intercept play. Like Steven Gerrard, the Hulme keeper fell flat on his arse. Fortunately for Hulme, the weather was with them and the ball continued to hang in the air giving the Hulme centre back time to recover the situation. This was to be a day of maybes for the Didsbury men.
Maybe if this writer had gone home earlier on Sunday, he maybe would not have felt so bad at work on Monday.
Didsbury started to gain momentum, playing the total football the crowd had come to see; spraying balls out wide and Gaz Lee sending crosses into the Hulme box. Hulme were not a team afraid to shoot, pinging a number of 30 yarders high and wide of James Leighton’s goal.
Then came the first (very) questionable refereeing decision of the day. The linesman gave offside from a throw in! He must have been reading the same rule book as Jonny Mackie!!
Even with the pleasant Hulme attacker courteously stating to any Didsbury defender in range that “he would bite their nose off”, Didbury’s defensive partnership of Colin ‘Marriott Gold Member’ McDonald and John ‘Wedding? What Wedding?’ Battersby stood firm. A Hulme free kick was blocked by the substantial wall of Gaz Lee and Adam Musson. Chances were still at a premium.
As half time was approaching, disaster struck… Neil Creasey’s right boot split. Fortunately, Ben ‘Knight in shining armour’ Jaffray had a spare pair of luminous yellow and purple boots waiting on the sideline. Was this to be when the magic started to happen? Unfortunately, the first act of the boots was to receive a yellow card for kicking the ball away (spooning a pass). Questionable decision number two. The goalless first half finished with the sight of Didsbury winger Rick ’50 minutes’ Peat carrying a dog off the pristine pitch. 0-0. Half time.
The Didsbury team talk was filled with Captain Battersby’s words of ‘How much do you want this?’, the second half would tell. The second half began as the first half had ended. Hulme continued to shoot from range. James ‘Brain the Beast Jensen’ Leighton produced a great save down to his right as a Hulme shot was arrowing for the bottom corner.
As the game began to reach its final stages, Rick Peat showed that he is more than just a lovely pair of feet. He started to play Mourninho-esque mind games with the Hulme full back. Upon the occurrence of a foul throw by said full back, Peat shouted “it’s because of his limp wrists”. Moments later the ball was played to the Hulme full back, who was still thinking of his limp wrists. Peat hassled and harried the defender and in a flash his lovely feet had taken up possession of the football and he was bearing down on the Hulme goal. One-on-one with the Hulme keeper. Could this be the moment the Didsbury faithful had been waiting for? Peat sidesteps to the right, to see an open goal waiting. But no! Peat is sent tumbling by the keeper’s outstretched leg! Penalty! Surely a red card… but no! The referee produces a yellow. What would the referee’s dog have done?
Up stepped Didsbury’s answer to Jan Age Fjortoft, Michael Corbett, in his stolen from school boots to place the ball on the spot. A born finisher this lad. Corbett shoots… but saved! #$@&%*! He will be burning those boots tonight… or did the image of an excited Musson celebrating in the showers enter his cerebral at the inopportune moment...?
Then the true turning point of the game. Disaster… Hulme score… the Hulme right winger found himself free on the right of the box. With a quality, well angled shot, the ball planted itself in the bottom left corner of the goal. Hulme 1-0. Didsbury, not known for giving up a fight, continued to press the Hulme defence. Harrison managed to catch one of the Hulme defenders on the ball. The ricochet fell to the feet of Luke Berte, who could only poke the half chance into the keeper’s arms. There was still time for Leighton to stake his claim for man of the match with a couple of good saves from a Hulme free kick and yet another Hulme 30 yard effort.
Time was nearing the end. Could Didbury’s Man United fans conjure up the spirits of 1999. Could Thomas Whiteley and John Corcoran conjure up the spirits of Istanbul. Could Wayne Rogers conjure up the spirits of… the Auto Windscreens Shield. Could Jaffray conjure up the… erm…
Suddenly Didsbury break… but no… the referee has other ideas, taking out Whiteley as the Hulme defence was looking bare. There was still time. Battersby hooked an effort towards goal. It was in… it was still in… Didsbury’s water boys Bermo and Dingo were on the pitch… No! The ball had narrowly sneaked past the post and nestled itself amongst the bushes. Didsbury continued to press but to no avail. Hulme had seen out a very close final. The Didsbury boys can hold their heads high after all they are “not losers but beaten finalists”. Who am I to argue with an ex-marine sniper!?
The day wasn’t over there. After attempting to park the bus against Hulme, McDonald then attempted to park his car…. The only thing bigger than the club made an appearance… Leighton’s credit card! The Didsbury boys saw out the day celebrating John Corcoran staying onside and consoling themselves that they will not be present at the event of the summer…!
Next up for AFC Didsbury… Moss Side.
To quote Mr Pacino… “That’s a team, gentlemen. And either we heal, now as a team, or we will die, as individuals. That’s football guys. That’s all it is. Now what are you going to do?”