The Classics travelled to McMath Park with intrepidation. Expecting the usual quagmire of a sandy bog, they were pleasantly surprised to find the pitch for once in "fine fettle". Richmond Parks Department must be commended on transforming the once sandy beach to a virtual oasis (unless of course, it was just a mirage to the Classics team).
The game began with the Classics welcoming back several players and kicking off with some confidence against a team who were expected to give as good as they got. The early play was one of establishing authority, but it was not evident which team were doing it. In the 11th. minute a left wing corner for the Classics resulted in the ball being headed out to the right hand side of the goal where Larry Thorlakson was waiting to cause some damage. Thorlakson sent over a perfect centre which gave Chris Arcari the perfect opportunity to open the scoring but he unfortunately headed well over from a great goal scoring position.
In the 16th. minute a well worked short corner resulted in Arcari centreing but this time it was the turn of Al Burton to direct his header too high and away from the danger area. As a result, the forwards and midfielders were called in for a special heading clinic on the following Wednesday night. Richmond United Olympics were holding their own although the better chances were falling to the visitors. After the first 45 minutes the scores were still level at 0-0 with neither side able to take full advantage.
The second half was still neck and neck and Mike Snow came in for a lot of hammering. One ball hit him head on in the face and it knocked the stuffing out of him, although he continued to try to play with some gusto. The outcome of his bashings only became apparent when he had to withdraw from next weeks game after suffering minor concussion, a bruised kidney and cellulitus as well has having to be in and out of hospital for IV. Get well soon Mike!
Bruce Cook was booked early on in the half after mouthing off to the referee after a 'handbags at six paces' incident with one of the home side. The best chance of the game fell to Cook (although the majority of the team classed Arcari's header as the miss of the season) when he was put through one on one with the Olympics keeper in the 70th. minute. Instead of trying the chip on the advancing keeper who was way out of his area, Cook somehow allowed him to smother the attempt and the glory went begging.
The Olympics had their best chance two minutes later from a dangerous corner which Garry Hackel punched away to safety. Hackel was having a great game as he dominated his area, shouted well and made sure that he caught everything that the Olympics could throw at him. In the 77th. minute another chance fell to the visitors. Alfie Deglan, running himself silly as usual, had a shot on goal but the effort went to the left of the upright. Four minutes later a challenge from Chas Jones was penalised by a yellow card. From the resulting free kick, which was like a corner, the ball fell dangerously in the area but Thorlakson was on hand to blast the ball away to safety.
Near the end of the game Thorlakson was coming back onto the field as a substitute but he had one of those 'senior's moments' and forgot what he had been told several minutes earlier. Not knowing where he was playing, he dropped the keepers gloves and moved into the left side of midfield as previously requested.
To sum up, the game was an evenly balanced clash. Either side could have won it by 1-0 but in the end neither side could hit the target. It was fair to comment that the Classics had the better of the chances but if you don't buy a ticket you can't win the draw. Special mention has to go to the Classics defence who were outstanding. Well marshalled by the 'Single Tower', Rick Geary, and ably complimented by the evergreen Ray Marrington, the defence was immaculate in all areas and fully deserve praise for keeping the marauding Olympics at bay in fine fashion. The visitors defence never looked like being penetrated and the only save that Hackel had to make was in the first half, a shot that was going wide in any case.
Final Score 0-0 (0-0)
Yellow Cards: B. Cook - mouthing; C. Jones - foul
You were crap award: C. Arcari............................although a cruel twist of fate was to evolve. The award was given and gracefully accepted but (in a first) the award was cunningly handed over to an unsuspecting goalkeeper who gratefully accepted the award as if he was expecting it. He would have obviously told Judy that it was an esteemed award that was proudly sitting on his mantle-piece. Just how many times can an Italian beat a Kraut? The mind boggles!
Team photographer: AWOL