I believe it started out at Haringey Borough in July. It was a balmy evening under the floodlights, we had a 22 man squad and I remember sulking a little having had to start on the bench. Needless to say, a vast amount had happened between this point and last Saturday. I have started considering the line ‘girls, girls, girls’ as a reasonable way to approach women, the insult ‘chief’ has entered my vocabulary for the first time since I was 13 and I had completed 6, maybe 7 passes.
As a first team, we had grown into a unit that first won promotion, then been crowned champions and were but 90 minutes away from an unbeaten season. Standing in our way of an invincible season were HSBC, already comfortably confirmed as runners up. With the oppo looking to take that 0, it was going to be one of our hardest fixtures of a long campaign.
We headed down to Beckenham with the usual logistical problems. I would like to suggest that on future newsletters we include meet times in both GMT and CMT (Carlin Meridian Time). I can’t blame the man, over the course of the season I can only conclude that he actually operates in his own timezone which is GMT + 00:15. As Lee would say, ‘it’s just one those one’s’.
It was hammering down and the pitch wasn’t in its usual perfect condition (still decent). A rumour went round that we might have access to sauna and despite the somewhat suspicious excitement, this was revealed as utter arse. The team talk was about attention to detail and trying to catch them a little cold.
We had a great start, the tempo was high, we looked sharp on the break. We had three good chances, Jay Hughes had a couple scrambled away before Carlin hit the bar on the turn. Despite this, we went behind to a sloppy goal, an unchallenged header from an inswinging corner. We got our heads up, got on with it and levelled within 5. Egan and John always insist we don’t score enough from set pieces but I am sure they go in every other game. Kieran whipped one in, Jay turned it goalwards and whilst his effort hit the post, Jonny Nino Beige Monero ensured it was curtains by slotting home.
We could have gone in ahead, Chris Nicholau almost forcing Matt Kelly (@mattshilokelly, plz follow lolz xxxx) to hand in his goal of the season award with an insane 50 yard full volley that went inches wide.
The gaffer ordered more of the same with a little added composure for the second half. To be fair to John’s team talks have been pretty much spot on throughout. From the b*llocking at Bank, to the order to ‘get in their arses’ before Ibis, it has usually been on the mark.
On that note, the early second half exchanges were give and take. HSBC were direct at every opportunity, yet when our tactics matched theirs, the usual ‘they’ve only got one ball’ shout went up. I do find it funny how many teams have dismissed us as crap during the game yet none have actually been able to beat us. To be fair, the usual perpetrators are the overweight, ineffectual players who don’t affect the game in any other way. Oo-err.
Last 20 it all went a bit backs to the wall. HSBC seemed fitter than us and were putting in great quality from wide areas. We dug in, headed, kicked, blocked. A twice deflected free kick looked like it might creep in off the slick turf but Stimpy smothered and the seconds ticked away.
After what seemed like an age, the referee called time to confirm the invincible season. I was expecting a pitch invasion but Micky thought better of it (thanks to those who came down!)
The game was a snapshot of the nineteen which we had played beforehand. Moments of real quality and an underlying grit when the chips were down. We worked out in the bar that we have actually been behind in 5 games this season, testament to the character (and indeed the level of chat) in the team.
This season has been an absolute pleasure and an unbeaten record is a significant, if not historic achievement. For now, we can enjoy being invincible and rightly have a bit of pride in what we have done. I would however hope that this is just the start for this team. Moaty aside, we have a young squad with a desire to progress even further. I don’t want to go into Div 2 to just survive and with increased fitness and a few new faces, I don’t think that should be our aim.
For now, congratulations all. APFC. Senior Div 3 Champions. Unbeaten.