As is always the case, the bare facts do not portray the true story, so for honesty and candidity (the latter sounds like one of the bars Glen visited at 3 o’clock in the morning) here is the true legend.
To give the opposition a chance, Saturday afternoon found us hopping off the bus 10 stops too soon and performing a route march through the pouring rain with the mounting apprehension that we would only be stopped by the Black Sea. To be fair, we were being led by one of the Ajax team who had that same air of confidence which had the Germans guarding Calais on D-Day. His grounds for leadership were that he had once played football in Czechoslovakia 20 years earlier and he had drawn a map from memory.
By divine intervention we came across the competition site and first viewings were not auspicious. The pitch was the wrong shape, covered with the wrong surface, the ball wasn’t furry and cuddly, the goals were the wrong size, there were no walls to bounce people off, so we needn’t have brought Duke the Centegenarian, and there was no roof, so it was nasty and wet. Closer inspection revealed that the opposition were fast, they all knew each other, they had a team strip and they had ball control (an alien concept to HWGE who usually rely on the walls and a bit of good luck to get the ball from one place to another) Then there were the Rules. Things like throw-ins, goalkicks, kicking the ball in the air, stopping when you have broken someone’s leg and other inconsequentials appeared to be designed to take all the fun out of the game. On top of all that was The Referee. The mere idea left Duke inconsolable. It seemed as if all was conspired to confound us. The Spanish, the Germans and the Czechs all seemed happy. As only HWGE were handicapped by the situation we introduced our own rule of the Positive Discrimination System, ( The PDS Factor) allowing us to award ourselves goals start according to the situation of each match.
Match 1 – The pre match kick-about was draining and our younger contingent, the Magnificent Three, were fading fast. We started by cramming into the goalmouth for a team photo. Had we stayed there they would never have scored. As it was, they only managed to score after the final whistle should have been blown, which was therefore ruled No Goal. Volkers 1 + 2 realised the error of having the same name as they manfully responded in tandem to ‘Up front, Volker’ ‘Back in defence, Volker’ Applying a very fair PDS Factor of 1, we won 1 – 0
Match 2 – We started off with a cripple in goal and a cripple up front. (After booking 6 flight tickets, virtually travelling thousands of miles and spending thousands of pounds, Ron went off after 5 minutes, never to walk again) In line with our fair play policy, we made so many substitutions that several players were dizzy and two of them were kicking the wrong way for 5 minutes. They scored once but only because our goalie had his left leg in a sling, and rather than go and catch the ball, he maintained he was ‘guarding his near post, ’ From what, we have no idea. With a reasonable PDS Factor of 2, we won 2 – 1 and things were getting exciting!
Match 3 – The Czechs were the ones who had dreamed up this mutant version of The Beautiful Game As We Know It. It was obvious they had given themselves a huge advantage, their first 2 results being 2-0 and 4-0. They managed to slot in 3 flukey ricochets before we heard the starting whistle, but we are only discounting 1 of them. Neither are we claiming for the clear penalty kick when David dug a furrow along the halfway line with his nose (attempting one of his famous floorheaders) Most of the displaced sand landed in their penalty area but the ref, who must be related to Arsene Wenger, claims he ‘didn’t see it’. A paltry PDS Factor of 3 gave us a deserved 3-2 victory
Match 4 – The Final. Could we maintain our 100% record? Our mastery of the conditions had grown enormously and we often kicked the ball in the right direction. Some say they saw a pass, but I believe it was a mistimed shot. Against all justice they scored a goal but then came the defining moment of the tournament. Desperate tackles from the weary and psychologically deflated Ajax men led to a free kick. Andrew will tell his children (if he knows who they are) and his children’s children about his contribution, the wonderful, fierce pass he laid onto the instep of John The Geriatric. With only a 5 man wall and the goalie to beat, with his back to the goal and while evading 2 scything tackles, foot met ball and ball hit net. The rest is history. A miniscule PDS Factor of 1 left us with a victorious 2 – 1.
Would we have won so emphatically without Adrian’s advice and support (of the opposition)? I don’t think so.
Would we have won even more emphatically if there hadn’t been a ref? I think so.
Back in the log cabin the Spanish, Germans and Czechs sang our praises long into the night, although, with 5 glorious anthems we were top scorers. With due humility, we allowed the hosts to keep the trophy, having rigged the scoring to make it look as though they had won.
A good time was had by all and the HWGE band of pilgrims agreed to evangelise Berlin in a year’s time when our EU partners can learn more of the arts and crafts of The Beautiful Game.