It was a foggy day at Steves Elementary School and the Classics again visited one of the Richmond's cow-pats, known colloquillay as a football field. The grass was so long that the Classics took to the field armed with machetes just in case of a break away down the wing. It was an unfamiliar line up as the visitors were suffering through injuries. Manny Soucker was playing at right back with Bruce Cook taking a holding role in the middle of midfield and Larry Thorlakson taking the role of right midfield. Billy Ranger and Doug Smith were leading the attack.
The initial play was one of consolidation and getting to know the field. It really was attrocious and was comparable with Burnett #2 and McMath, both only really fit for grazing cattle or nesting seagulls. The Classics had the better of the opening stages and took the lead midway through the first half with a cleverly worked left wing corner. Bill McAuley took a short corner to Jim Eden who sent over a tantalising cross which somehow hit new scoring sensation Chuck McGill and bounced over the line from one of the hard parts of his body, probably his chest!
Giant Panda were causing few problems to the Classics defence who were holding strong and most of the chances were coming at the opposite end although it was difficult to see through the fog. Thorlakson was causing havoc with his many forays down the right wing and it was from one such attack that the Classics increased the lead. Smith had missed a couple of earlier chances but Thorlaksons cross was so precise that even Smith couldn't miss this one. His header was played across the face of the home goalkeeper and into the net ten minutes from the half-time whistle. The goal evoked another "The Socceroos are going to Germany" celebration for almost the second time this century.
Fisher Crockett arrived to take his place in the back line for the second half and there was more re-shuffelling done to the team with Soucker reverting back to take his turn in the front line. With a 2-0 lead the next goal was going to be crucial. Again the Classics defence were competently handling anything that Panda could throw at them with Garry Hackel a virtual spectator for most of the game. He did make a couple of decisive stops but they were more run-of-the mill than spectacular.
The Classics sealed the game in the 75th. minute through a touch of cool headed class. Chris Arcari found himself 15 yards out and in a goalscoring position. Noticing the keepers position, instead of hammering the ball goalwards he cooly chipped the ball over the keeper for a delightful goal to put the Classics three goals to the good, and more or less killing any hope of a revival for the home team.
Another defensive shuffle saw Eden revert to left back, but ten minutes from time Panda were handed a lifeline after a Thorlakson hand-ball in the goal area presented them with a penalty. After a personal bad week, Hackel had decided that he wanted a shut-out 'for the team'. As the Panda player was about to take the kick, Hackel spoke in a strange high pitched voice saying, "You will not score, you will not score" before his head spun round three times and he turned into a newt. The spot kick was perfection. It was hard, direct, high and was heading towards the inside of Hackel's left post. Hackel literally flew off his feet and dived low. How he got his hand high enough to tip the rasping shot onto the crossbar was beyond belief. It was a truly miraculous save and worthy enough to win any "save of the week" competition in the world. Arcari ran in to blast the ball to safety, thus ensuring another shut out.
That was curtains for the Panda and the Classics rolled another victory out, albeit under somewhat difficult circumstances. Panda are a good side but just didn't have the mettle to break down the resolution of the Classics. A well played encounter considering the conditions.
Final Score 0-3 (0-2)
Larry Thorlakson conceded a penalty
Garry Hackel saved a penalty
You were crap award: F. Crockett