Let me put this definition into context by playing a laborious and rather boring guessing game with you, which after much deliberation, I’ve nicknamed ‘Predict the link’… First clue: What links the dates 19th May 2013, and 11th May 2014? Second clue: What do the figures £77m and £75m relate to? Thirdly: What do these two names have in common – Andre Villas Boas and Brendan Rodgers? I warned you the game was boring, but please just indulge me.
19th May 2013 - the date Gareth Bale played his final game for Tottenham Hotspur. £77m is the reported fee Real Madrid stumped up for his services, and AVB is the Manager who was charged with rebuilding the squad after the loss of this sporting colossus.
11th May 2014 - the date Luis Suarez played his final game for Liverpool Football Club, £75m is the sum of money Barcelona used to steal him away to that God-forsaken hell hole, and Brendan Rodgers was the man given the impossible task of replacing the slightly ‘bitey’ Uruguayan genius.
Okay, so now for the final part of the conundrum… How do the date 15th May 2014; A pack of pickled onion monster munch and the promise of a pokey bum wank; and Adam Musson all fit into this mind-numbing link game? You should have worked it out by now, but I’ll tell you the answer anyway.
15th May 2014 was the date Neil Creasey played his last competitive game for AFCD, the monster munch and promise are what he was sold for, and Adam Musson is the gentleman currently waiting for Virgin Trains ticket to London for Christmas so that he can collect payment. While waiting, the impossible job of replacing an AFCD legend has fallen squarely on his shoulders.
Now I was going to write a clever link about how we have replaced the irreplaceable Neil Creasy with big talent across the park, and as a result, we are currently mirroring these premier league giants on a much smaller scale. I’m not going to do that now due to time constraints. What I will say is that this is the strongest squad AFCD has ever had in terms of ability, and we now have quality in each position. Garcia Garcia, Kilgour, and Darlington have all brought culture to the midfield, Mangina is my player of the year so far, Hadfield has brought a calm head and a touch of class to the defence, and Kenners is dead good at warming up. So let me finish this section by saying Creasy is missed, the new lads are good, and as a team we are moving forward. Now on to the happenings on Sunday…
And so it was on a crisp Centenary remembrance Sunday morning in Stretford, that AFC Didsbury were looking to jump off the microcosmic boat, and do something that both Liverpool and Spurs have failed to do since losing their star men – play well and win. Trafford Mersey were the opponents, a place in the third round of the Manchester Amateur cup was the prize awaiting the victors, and the fighting spirit of our fallen hero’s would surely be needed if AFCD were to triumph.
Didsbury, for all of their recent problems, started the game brightly. The Full-backs Jaffray and Hadfield were calm and collected on the ball, the midfield were stroking the ball around confidently, and both Darlington and ‘Man of the Match’ Lee were constant threats down the wings. Even AFCD Captain John ‘Quiche’ Battersby, who had brazenly set his stall out for the day by attempting to warm up in his Grandad’s cardigan (I suppose we all have our own ways of showing our respect on poppy day), was proving that even if you do dress like a pensioner, it doesn’t mean you will necessarily play like one.
It was during this period of dominance that AFCD carved out not one, but two golden opportunities to take the lead. The first chance was created when right-back Hadfield knocked an inch perfect ball into the path of the lively Darlington, sending him through on goal with no defenders in sight. It’s difficult to understand how the ball didn’t end up in the back of the net, however the words ‘barn door’ and ‘banjo’ spring to mind when thinking about Darlo’s finishing this season, and this time was no-exception. With only the keeper to beat, and an eternity to think about where he was going to put it, how he was going to celebrate, and whether to choose Goose or Venison for his Sunday dinner, he managed to skew his shot embarrassingly wide, and the score stayed level at 0-0. On a slightly lighter note, I believe he opted for foie gras as a starter.
Minutes later, a second guilt-edged chance fell to our cultured European import Jorge ‘George Shakira-shakira’ Garcia Garcia. After some great footwork from Corbett in the Trafford Mersey box, he found the impressive Spanish Midfielder with an excellent reverse ball, who managed to not-so-impressively blast over from six yards out. Rumours that he was heard muttering something about ‘anything Kilgour can do…’ under his breath as he made his way back into position in midfield, probably aren’t as wide of the mark as his most recent effort was.
Mid-way through the first half, against the run of play, there was a breakthrough. Trafford Mersey on a rare attack won themselves a corner on the right hand side. The ball was whipped into the box, and stand-in goalkeeper James Leighton (sorry Jimmy) initially did well to fight his way through a crowd of players and punch the ball away from his goal line. The AFCD defenders didn’t do enough to win the second ball, and after several deflections, miss-cues, and all-round calamity, the resultant pot-shot from the edge of the area ended up nestled in the bottom corner of the Didsbury goal. Proper Sunday league!
The game became scrappy, with few chances created by either side, and neither team really managing to take control. With both sets of players praying for the half-time whistle and the chance to re-group, the referee duly obliged.
Didsbury needed many things from the half-time team talk, but the Laurel and Hardy-esque sketch acted out by Manager Musson and Captain Quiche wasn’t one of them. Musson’s ideas were delivered with a similar level of clarity to that of Rain Man giving instructions… after suffering a major stroke and then double dropping to escape the pain for a night.
With the second half underway, 20 minutes passed before anything even remotely interesting happened – Gaz New was brought on to stand offside for the rest of the game (as a club, AFCD have a reputation for thinking outside of the box when it comes to tactics); Darlington was hacked down in the box by two clumsy defenders but the referee somehow missed it; and the tricky Jack Wallace was denied a clear goal scoring opportunity by the inept referee, after having been adjudged to have gained an unfair advantage by watching Trafford’s left back fall over his own feet.
Captain Quiche, fueled by weeks of Eggy-protein abuse, finally snapped and let the referee know exactly what he thought of his below average performance (people in glass houses JB). He ended up in the book for his troubles. Let’s hope this is the only time this season the red-mist descends on AFCD’s normally level-headed captain…
With time running out for Didsbury, a moment on magic turned the game on it’s head. Midfield general Whiteley picked the ball up on the edge of the area. Ignoring the opportunity to shoot at goal himself, he cleverly (and rather unselfishly), delivered a superb disguised pass into the feet of Corbett. With the quality of pass straight out of the top draw, and Corbett’s unquestionable ability to score easy chances carved out by his talented team mates, the outcome was inevitable – 1-1. Game on!
Trafford Mersey hung on for dear life, Matty Harrison did what comes naturally to him and missed a one-on-one to win the game, and Gaz New stayed offside (putting in the kind of performance ex-management headache John Corcoran would have been proud of). The referee blew for full-time and the match was decided on penalties – Didsbury lost… again.
While the result is heartbreaking, AFCD can take solace in the fact that the team played well, they battled, and they deserved a win. Maybe Adam Musson is on the verge of achieving something that neither AVB or Rogers have worked out how do yet – taking a great squad onto the next level.