Are you being Serbed? ......................................
The Classics opted to switch the game venue to the north east pitch as the markings were superior to their regular ground, an unprecidented move. The game kicked off about 10 minutes late due to the late arrival of Pete Thomas, the referee. Pete is renown for his impeccable timekeeping so it was totally out of character but the reason could have been that he probably put his clock back instead of forward. No such excuse for Pat Rohla though and he was an uncanny 30 minutes earlier than usual. The only reasoning for his promptness was calculated to be that he DID put his clocks forward by one hour ..... mind you, his wife probably did the same! There was an extensive line up with no fewer than 21 Classics players taking to the field, sitting in the dugout or standing on the touchline. This match was the third meeting between the two teams, each had been a bruiser, with the Classics still waiting to pick up their first win. The first meeting was the early season game at Queens Park when the Classics struggled to a 6-1 defeat after taking an early lead through Jim Eden in a game where the Classics began with just 10 men. The second meeting was also an away trip but this time the visitors picked up a 1-1 draw through a Doug Rosenlund penalty. This game was the first time that Serbia had had to travel to Noel Booth. The Classics were fired up and looking forward to the forthcoming challenge. The first real chance came after three minutes when Alfie Deglan was put through for a rasping shot which was deflected away for a corner kick. In the eighth minute a left wing corner came out to Randy Hosler who hit a fine strike goalwards. Even though the ball hit a Serbia defender, it still ended up nestled in the back of the net to give the Classics the start they desperately wanted. Hostler was in the action again after 20 minutes when he gave away a free kick outside the penalty area. Serbia were a little too clever with the execution and their practised move came to nothing.
A right sided free kick from Rohla was headed over the bar by Gene Crowley who was in a good goal scoring position. This incident was followed by a great through ball from Chuck McGill who put Jimmy Butler away but his shot hit the keeper and bounced to safety. It was good pressure from the Classics who were using their substitutes to maximum effect with plenty of quick changes, sometimes a full midfield swap. After the first 30 minutes it was certainly one way traffic, with the visitors making the occasional burst forward which was handsomely being deal with by the Classics defence which was superbly marshalled by Danny Jensen at the heart of the defence. The second goal came courtesy of a penalty kick after a Classics forward was uncereminiously upended in the box. Jensen stepped up to convert - not his best ever penalty as but it went in and gave the Classics a great psycholigial advantage. With five minutes of the half left Lorenzo Arcari finished off another flowing move by cleverly heading the ball beyond the visiting keeper and into the top left hand corner of the net to make the half time score a well deserved 3-0.
It took the Classics just two minutes of the second half to increase the lead and it came in unusual fashion. A clear out from the Serbia defence landed at the feet of Gene Crowley who let fly with a speculative shot. The ball looked harmless enough, but it bounced directly in front of the keeper who was deceived sufficiently to dive at the ball which bounced just in front of him and over his head to put the home side in an unassailable lead. Seventeen minutes in, the referee gave a 'very soft' penalty to the opposition for a hand ball by G. Crowley. It was a case of the ball to the hand, but in the eyes of the ref it was hand to ball. A very cruel blow which denied Dean Herbert, who was having another steady game, his fourth straight shut-out. The ball was despatched to the keeper's right. Hosler was probably have his best game for the Classics and was a constant supplier of great goalscoring chances from some precise free-kicks and corner-kicks. One such corner, an inswinger from the left, in the 65th minute landed straight on the head of Warren Crowley who was one yard off the line. It should have been a bread and butter conversion but Crowley somehow managed to head the ball over the cross bar. With six minutes of the game remaining, McGill placed a fine header down the left which set Gordie Macklin away on a great run. He centred for Butler but his effort was saved. Four minutes from the end Serbia got a break through. With the Classics defence on the half way line the ball was laid through to a forward who looked suspiciously offside. However, he ran the full half field unchallenged to place a well struck shot to the right of the advancing Herbert. That was the final excitement and it gave Serbia a flattering scoreline as in reality it should have been a 6-0 game to the home side. It was a great all-round team effort by the Classics with special mention going to L. Arcari who settled into the second half really well and helped to control the midfield.
The referee took centre stage at times with some controversial decisions. The dubious penalty awarded to the visitors; a dropped ball in which L. Arcari kick the ball very hard in a 'ball to ball' situation which ended up with a dropped ball for one of the visitors - from this the referee took the advantage from the Classics and played the ball back to Serbia; the visiting number 12 who was constantly allowed to get away with some exceptionally niggling fouls for far too long, although he was eventually dismissed after an altercation with Macklin; an arguable play-on decision for the visitor's second goal; and the Cardinal sin of not listening to Larry Thorlakson. The aforementioned shouldn't really be mentioned as we don't want to be perceived as a whinging team, but in reality such decisions can have dire consequences on team morale - but not with the Classics as they are made of sterner stuff.
The after match festivities deserve a special mention as Jimmy Butler really lived up to his name! He and his faithfull assistant butler, Larry Thorlakson, provided a spread fit for a King and one which should increase future sales of the Overwaitea Food Group's 'Angus Beef Brand' several-fold as they went down a treat and all players commented on the exceptional quality, with many vowing to start buying the brand. Personal lubricant was distributed to Al Massender and Pat Rohla to assist in any future animal capers. It was so well received that they both immediately tried it and didn't want to share as it went straight into their pockets. One was coconut flavoured while the other was penus colada (or some other similar Latin sounding name).
Final Score: Classics 4 Serbia United 2 (3-0)
MWG: L. Arcari
Crap award: P. Rohla
Pen scored: D. Jensen
Pen conceded: G. Crowley
Team Photographer: T. Short