With the scheduled game against Ben United cancelled due to the opposition being in China, a friendly game was rescheduled on the same park against old foes, Richmond Pioneers. This was the first visit to Blundell Park,
Grimsby Richmond, for the Classics. These two teams have somehow avoided each other for the last few seasons due to cancellations and the like so it was a good chance to renew old acquaintences.
The Classics kicked off with the wind behind them and they set off at a blistering pace. Within seven minutes the visitors were a goal in front thanks to Pat Rohla. A fine pass from Alfie Deglan put Rohla away on the right. He cut inside and delicately chipped the ball over the advancing home keeper Gary Byrne for a fine opener.
On a rare attack from the home side Evgeni Kushnir had a glorious chance to level the scores but his acute shot was deflected to safety when Dave Moore, who was deputising in goal in the absence of Garry Hackel, stuck out a telescopic leg to divert the ball for a corner.
On the half hour mark the Classics increased the lead when a Jimmy Butler shot hit Chris Arcari who deflected the ball beyond the keeper, although he swears that he purposefully clipped the ball to deviate from its original path to cunningly deceive the keeper.
The Pioneers were having little success with a resolute defence coping capably with everything the home side could throw at them although they did look dangerous on set plays. They were unlucky with a couple of headers which hit the crossbar but as Hackel always points out, "it's part of the equipment". The Pioneers did pull one back from a right wing corner which was perfectly placed to leave the Classics defence static and the ball powered into the net to give the Pioneers a life line.
In the second half the Classics took control and left Moore a virtual spectator. Chuck McGill was having a rare old tussle with Kushnir who didn't like some of the tackles and objected in a very voiciferous manner but as McGill doesn't have a brain it fell on deaf ears. All is fair in love and football and I fully expect that Christmas cards will be exchanged as usual for the festive season.
The Classics increased the lead in the 50th. minute after a game of heading tennis in the Pioneers goalmouth. Butler had two of the headers, his final one being the killer punch. It was a deserved goal just for the persistence aspect. A few minutes after the goal (11:00am), both teams participated in a minutes silence as a mark of respect for Remembrance Day.
Another set play allowed the home team to snatch another life line in the 65th. minute. This time it was a left wing corner which came across at chest height. With two defenders blocking the keepers view a Pioneer attacker hooked the ball beyond the defenders and it powered into the net to make the score 2-3.
It was still virtual one way traffic with the Classics camping out in the Pioneers half. In the 70th. minute they pitched tents, lit a camp fire and all sang "Ging-gang-gooly-gooly" much to the amusement of the home side. McGill had a glorious chance to increase the lead but his shot took off like a Russian "SPUTNIK". Funny that eh?
Special mention should go to Al Burton who stepped into the right-back role for the second half. He hardly put a foot wrong and more or less played a midfield role from the full back position with some clever distribution. He worked well with Rohla who was a constant thorn in the Pioneer's side with some jinking runs down the right reminiscent of Sir Stanley Matthews.
On another foray forward the Pioneers worked their way into the box and it needed a last ditch challenge from Larry Thorlakson which resulted in another corner for the Pioneers - could it be another goal? Of course. Fitzgerald got this goal with a header that was not powerful but well placed. 3-3. There was still time for the Classics to make their dominance count but try as they may, they couldn't get the go ahead goal again and the Pioneers seemed happy enough to let time run down and settle for a point.
The referee had the final say of the match and with a few of the players becoming frustrated, words were exchanged between both teams and the referee. This resulted in the referee blowing the whistle SIX minutes early. It's a shame that the standards on the field are hardly ever reflected in the refereeing of these game. All in all, a useful run out for both teams. The Classics threw it away in the end and should have made certain by banging in a few more goals at the other end as they must have dominated the possession by a 70-30 ratio. However, games are won by a team scoring more goals than the opposition and in this instance it just didn't happen.
Final Score 3-3 (1-2)
You were crap award: C. McGill