Back to business for the Classics........
After a summer off and only one warm up game it was a return to the regular winter league for the Classics. It couldn't have come much tougher either as they were drawn at home to their old arch rivals the Richmond Pioneers in their opening game. With the referee failing to turn up, the teams had to share the refereeing with the Pioneers taking the first half officiating.
The game started fairly even with the Pioneers having slightly better of the initial exchanges. The first shot of the game fell to Dave Moore but his long range effort was about a yard wide. The Classics could not get their rhythm, and their usual fluent passing style deserted them with too many passes going astray or directly to the opposition. Slowly the Pioneers took control of the first half. They wanted the game more and they established a dominating presence in the middle of the park leaving the Classics looking a shadow of their usual selves.
It was a shock to the home side but the Pioneers took a deserved lead after 20 minutes when Larry Thorlakson failed to get to grips with a loose ball and Stan Bogdanovich looped the ball high over the defence and into the back of the net past the bemused Garry Hackel. It was the first goal conceded in 575 minutes of league play, quite an outstanding achievement. The Classics had also recently set a record 725 minutes of shut outs in all play, a run also halted by a Richmond Pioneers team in the 2005 Vernon Tournament. Richmond continued to control the play and took the the lead in as the half time whistle blew.
The home side approached the second half with more spirit and appeared in a more hungry mood. Tony Short was relishing his role as assistant coach and his constant rotation of players kept the team fresh with new legs appearing every few minutes ready to replace tired and worn ones. Still, chances were few an far between but the breakthrough came in the 20th. minute of the second half when a precision left wing corner by Mike Snow was powered into the net by a grateful Chris Arcari. In Arcari's after match thoughts he confided that he, "had me eyes open, and it went into the old onion bag." The suspition was that the onions had made his eyes water, hence the ball hitting the net for a change!
The goal was a fillip for the Classics but Richmond were still giving as good as they got and it was end to end stuff. With time running out, the killer punch came, albeit from an unexpected source - the Kangaroo Man was back! Doug Smith was in and out of the game that much that the sidelines were doing the hokey-kokey singing, "We put Dougie Smith in, Dougie Smith out, in out, in out....." well you can guess the rest. With just five minutes left the flying doctor was in the perfect spot when the ball was cleared from the Richmond defence, to loop the ball high over the defence and into the back of the net past the bemused Dave Valatis in a copybook goal of the Richmond opener.
The goal really killed the game and try as they may, Richmond just didn't have enough left to come back to gain a point which they really deserved on the day. It was a cruel pill for them to swallow and in reality it could have gone either way but the game's about taking chances. The Classics finished the game happy in the fact that they had got lucky and come away with an ugly win which sometimes you have to do. Well done to both teams for playing the game in the spirit that it should be played, especially as they were let down by the league by not having a referee.
To be continued.........
Final Score 2-1 (0-1)
D. Moore refereed the second half
You were crap award: G. Hackel