Walking wounded compete to complete......................................
The Classics travelled for their first ever visit to Queens Park to take on another new team in Serbia United. The day began disastrously as much of the Surrey traffic was at a standstill due to a road race and several players had encountered delays leaving little time to warm up (even worse was that the ball-boy hadn't even arrived). Serbia had a very strong squad out and looked in formidable force with their sideline looking like they were auditioning for a role in "A Chorus Line." Just ten Classics players were kitted up and available when the whistle blew to start the match and, to make it even worse, a few of those were carrying niggling injuries. However, the tenuous ten began in earnest, trying to retain the ball and hoping that the opposition would not inflict too much damage until the cavalry arrived.
Amazingly, and with less than ten minutes gone, the visitors took a surprising lead after the ball was laid back to the left wing to Jim Eden. An inspired decision left Eden on the score-sheet after he blasted a rocket 35 yard left footer high over the Serbia defence and beyond the home keeper to register his first goal of the season. Five minutes later Chris Arcari arrived to make the numbers up to eleven a side but it was only a matter of minutes before United equalised with a long range effort which left keeper Dean Herbert clutching at thin air - could the incidents be related? The home side sprung into action and they started to press more and more forward. Jimmy Butler took a serious knock and had to retreat to a left wing spot which put even more pressure on an already exhausting midfield. The Classics were effectively back to ten men with Butler, much to his credit, continuing under arduous circumstances so as not to let the side down.
With the midfield being overrun more as the half progressed the Classics defence was doing their utmost and were endeavouring to keep what was like a tsunami of huge proportions at bay with little more than a couple of water wings. The unusual mid-back pairing of Chuck McGill (the single tower) and Randy Hosler was working effectively enough with Hosler sweeping up the crumbs that McGill was leaving but time was taking a toll on the visitors, especially as the cavalry wasn't coming to relieve Mafeking. Robbie Keam and Fisher Crockett both made the effort to get there although only in a supporting role which was appreciated by the rest of the team but all they could do was witness another two similar goals by the home side to make the half time score 3-1.
An incident from the over officious referee caused some light hearted entertainment when he asked Hosler to produce his ID as he stated that, "This is over 50's you know?" Hosler fired back with, "You're buying the beer if I'm of legal age!" The referee never bought the beer though.
The second half was much the same with the home side calling all the shots with their incisive moves slipping more and more through the Classics back line like a hot knife through butter. The midfield and forwards were competing well with Daryl Lawrie having a particular good game with his harassing and energetic meandering. Chances fell to the Crowley twins and the Arcari twins and Eden was still causing problems from some accurate pin-point centres and shots which were not far off the mark. It went to 4-1 when another long range effort was unreachable for Herbert as he had left his step ladders at home. Hosler then had a flash-back to his rugby days when he inexplicably put his hand up to take a forward pass which resulted in a penalty kick for the Serbians. The kick was powerfully hit but the ball bounced back down onto the line from the underside of the bar and almost went in off the back of the keeper but Herbert successfully retrieved it to save more blushes.
Hosler was in the action again when a right wing bicker with United's equivalent of Chuck McGill who threw a punch at him (it was a low punch) for which both players received their marching orders for a sin-bin cooling off period. The result went worse as a right wing break resulted in Herbert getting beaten at his near post to make it 5-1. Time was running out and with 10 minutes to go Butler had to leave with the remainder of the squad in a patched up state. Eden and McGill were both suffering with swollen knees, Dave Moore was suffering hip pain and Herbert had a bad back through constantly picking the ball out of the net. McGill had twisted and turned that many times that he looked like a giant pretzel at the end of the game. Eden did enough to get himself awarded a yellow card as he couldn't stand anyone else (Hosler) getting one up on him.
The final nail went into the coffin just as the whistle blew to end the match giving the Classics their biggest defeat since a 6-2 mauling at Aldergrove #2 on 8th. December 2002, a day which saw Eden and Billy Ranger net for the Classics. In reality it could have been more than 6-1 as Herbert made some important saves and Moore stooped to head one goal bound effort off the line. It was a case of a good team taking on a team who should have had more players out on the day. All credit to the players who did perform as they did heroics under burdensome conditions. Many thanks to Warren Crowley who provided hot chicken wings to compliment the free beer at the culmination. A special mention must go to Alan Massender who never put a foot wrong!
Final Score: Serbia 6 Classics 1 (3-1)
GK: Dean Herbert
Yellow cards: Randy Hosler, Jim Eden
Penalty Conceded: Randy Hosler
Serbia missed a penalty
Crap award: Absent