Taking the field for the first time this season in their familiar blue shirts it was a decimated Classics team that began the game against Ben United. The up side was that no players were complaining about not getting enough playing time but the down side was that Mike Snow and Chas Jones were both carrying injuries and had expected to play a minor role in the game. However, due to too many player absences, it wasn't to be so.
The game started off dreadfully with the home side two goals down within the first ten minutes. The question was being asked, "What do the Classics reserve goalie Tony Short, and Michael Jackson have in common?" Even though they were two goals down at this stage, it could have easily been a 3-2 lead but chances were once again being squandered by the recently impotent Classics attacking line. After the initial flurry, the Classics started to pull their game around and deservedly pulled back a goal in the 20th. minute through Bruce Cook. It was a delightful finish too. Cook was put through just inside the United half and he took off on a run which saw him round the United keeper to his left and stroke the ball firmly into the net.
Ten minutes later the Classics were level although it came from a mistake by the Ben United full back. Some good work on the right wing by Cook and Larry Thorlakson resulted in the United defence giving away a corner. Jim Eden, in his own cheeky way, curled (or is that cairled?) his corner to the near post, hoping for a direct goal. Under pressure from Thorlakson, the visiting defender on the near post headed the ball into his own net. It was a goal that Dave Moore would have been proud of!
Five minutes from the half, the remarkable fight back was completed as Chris Arcari, just back from his in-house suspension, finished off a flowing move with a delicate chip over the visiting keeper from at least 20 yards. The Classics had physically muscled their way back into the game, a tactic that was paying off with some good rewards. Was this to be another tale of the 'magnificent eleven' overcoming all the odds and pulling off an unexpected win? We'd have to wait and see what transpired in the second half to answer that question.
The United team switched around their players at half time in an attempt to stem the flow that was developing from the home side. They moved their dangerous, big (by comparison) number 10 player out of the attack and slotted him into the heart of defence. This tactic had a counter-effect for the visitors. The Classics defence, marshalled by Moore and Ray Marrington, got tougher which allowed the Classics to move forward and made them act as if they were hunting in packs. The midfielders were consequently allowed more room which released the attack to go on dangerous foraging runs. It was a real team effort which was to pay immediate dividends. Almost immediately from the kick-off the ball was in the back of the net. It was Cook (pictured) again and this time he was on hand to side foot the ball into the net, a left-footer again.
Jimmy Butler came on to make his debut and relieve Billy McAuley who was doing some sterling work running at the United defence and causing havoc. It didn't take Butler long to make his mark either as minutes later a right wing move involving Cook resulted in the big striker centring the ball and Butler was on hand to finish off the move in fine style to mark his debut with a goal. 5-2 to the Classics. United pulled a goal back to reduce the deficit, and to give the relative observer Short a bit of action, but five minutes later it was 6-3. That man Cook again caused the damage after McAuley had put him though but this time Cook ran at the keeper and some how chipped the ball up in the air and over the keepers head. The ball must have been at least three feet high, before he brought it under control and nonchalantly stroked it into the back of the net for his hat-trick. It was again a left footer - Cook must have changed his religion!
A bizarre incident occurred to give United another goal. Marrington took a short free kick to Moore who had his back to the incident. The kick was a suicide ball which was too short and a nippy United forward siezed the opportunity to embarrass the Classics defence by whipping in a quick, hard shot which defelected off Marrington and totally deceived Short in the Classics goal. Garry Hackel on the sideline was livid as he had specially come to act as goalkeeping coach for Short and could see his good work going to waste. Larry Thorlakson could have put the game beyond any doubt but missed two gloroius chances to score, the first with a misplaced header which looked easier to score than miss.
Still the game wasn't over and it was the Classics who were to have the last laugh. With five minutes remaining, Butler rounded off a fine debut with the final goal of the game. With the ball bouncing in front of the United keeper, Butler comprehensively finished off the move to seal a wonderful victory with a final score of 7-4. It was the Classics first win of the season. It was the highest score since the Classics hammered Richmond Cosmos 4-8 at Burnett in March 2004 when Ranger 4, Arcari 2, Nelson and Snow did the damage. It was the first hat-trick since Arcari put three past BC Transit back in 1994 to help demolish them 0-4 in the first match of the summer season. More importantly, it was a gritty performance and a win that was achieved against all the odds. With so many players absent for one reason or another the result was a credit to the team, especially the walking wounded and each player should take their bow.
Short - Played in goal while obviously injured but did his utmost to keep going until the end. Showed great spirit and determination.
Jones - Came expecting to play a minor role but took one of the leads. Steady, determined and uncompromising.
Marrington - His usual gritty, polished self. Swept up well and helped stem the early onslaught.
Moore - Rose to the occasion. Did what he needed to do after a shaky start. Brought the best out of Marrington.
Crockett - Once again outstanding. Showed determination, skill and flair with some exciting right wing runs.
Eden - Starting to show his best form again, even though he is suffering with peripheral vision. A rock in midfield.
Arcari - Al Werbowski v. 1.03, a bit like the original but with more power, better memory and a crazy frog screen saver. Outstanding contribution.
Thorlakson - A great performance in an unfamiliar role. Larry took on the middle holding position of midfield, did lots of harrassing and showed lots of skill with his forward runs.
Snow - Just back from injury and another player looking for a part-time role but had to see out the game. Strong, powerful, determined. Helped contain the United team.
McAuley - Billy just kept running and harrassing the opposition. He helped to wear them down. Great performance.
Cook - Probably man of the match. Great finishing and wonderful ball control. Exceptional laying off of the ball and he finally found out that his left foot is not just to stop him falling over.
Butler - Showed great pace, control, teamwork and finishing. Not bad for someone just introduced to the team.
Now that's a team performance!
Final Score 7-4 (3-2)
Hat Trick : B. Cook
You were crap award: L. Thorlakson
In case you were wondering - "They both wear gloves for no apparent reason"
Special Award: C. Arcari who was the last to leave the after match festivities