Vernon Tournament 2011
21st. May - 23rd. May

Classics overcome the odds ..........
The Classics made their annual pilgrimage to Vernon for the tournament which, historically, has always proved to be unlucky for them. They have been ripped off with bad decisions in the past and through the stupidity of some of the players who thought they were there to enjoy themselves. The manager had requested a late kick-off and they got their request with a 1:00 pm start and just a single game on the opening day. So it was an early to bed Friday night to give the lads at least a chance of some success for a change.

The opening game couldn't have been much tougher as the Classics played Edmonton Trojans who had beaten the Classics 2-0 in the previous tournament. The game started and it was end to end stuff in a game which became more and more physical as it progressed. The first turning point came near the end of the first half when an Edmonton attack ended when Marco Noni unceremoniously upended an attacker in the box at which the referee had no hesitation in pointing to the spot. The kick was converted to give the Trojans a 1-0 half time lead. The half was inexplicably cut short by five minutes. When the matter was brought to the referee's notice he agreed to add on another five minutes to the second half.

The second half was full of incidents and was a spectacle to watch for the supporters. A foul in the Trojans box resulted in another penalty kick, one which was routinely finished by a calm Danny Jensen to bring the Classics back into the game. From then on it was horn to horn for both teams with some bodily contact which was verging on corporal punishment. The game was nearing the end with the scores still even and another turning point was reached. With five minutes to go a right wing corner from the Trojans was headed home by an attacker, a goal which sent Edmonton into raptures ............ but the excitement was just beginning as another Classics attack resulted in a hand ball in the Trojan's box and the referee awarded the third penalty kick of the game. The Trojans objected profusely but it was all to no avail. Jensen declined a second penalty on superstitious grounds and Gino Noni was appointed with the responsibility, one which he handled confidently enough to pull the Classics back level once again.

With the seconds ticking away, an innocuous shot from Lorenzo Arcari looked to have been easily saved by the Edmonton keeper, but to everyone's surprise (especially the keeper), he let the ball slip through his hands and into the back of the net like a sausage going through a ginnel - never again will the Trojan's keeper wear Trojans on his hands! Edmonton were devastated, the Classics ecstatic and it's about time that Lady Luck was on the Classics side. The reporter could not remember many matches that had so many turning points as this one. Could this be their year?

It was a 9:00 am kick off for the Classics at MacDonald East where they took on Prince George in a game, which on paper, was a winnable match. Unfortunately the game isn't played on paper so the players had to put their boots on again. It was a relatively early to bed night the previous night and not many players had mouths that were as rough as sandpaper so there was no excuse to put in a bad performance. The game was evenly matched but the Classics took a lead which they carried through to half time. The important goal came from a right wing corner from Alfie Deglan and Alan Massender was on hand to head downwards into the net past the helpless Prince George keeper. The goal was enough to make him the leading goalscorer for the season with a total of 16.

The second half was still evenly balanced with chances at both end but a breakthrough came towards the end of the match, unfortunately it went the way of Prince George. A harmless looking shot looked to be covered by Garry Hackel but he, and he will be the first to admit it, fumbled the ball. It was if he was juggling with jelly beans which is quite difficult while wearing goalkeepers gloves. Had he been taking secret lessons from the Trojan's keeper? However, it evened up the score from the previous day but would it be enough to cost the Classics a place in the final? Most players thought so and the post match feeling was one of depression and the result felt like they had lost the game.

It was a must win game and the Classics needed to take maximum points to have any hope of reaching the 'A' final. This meant a 3-0 success was required. The match was played at 3:00 pm against the Calgary Eagles, an unknown quantity, so the lads just had to go out and do their best and hope for a shut out. The game was slow and the Classics came out of the starting blocks at snails pace probably due to the accumulation of tiredness as this was the third game in two days. Shots were going nowhere and although the Classics had the majority of the play they couldn't convert to make their superiority count. Billy McAuley was called on to head the front line with instructions to 'go out and score' and, by golly, he did just that. He was put through on a one on one and he converted comprehensively, just the tonic that was needed. The score remained at 1-0 at the half.

The second half was much better as the Classics took advantage of their superiority and they used their authority to hammer home the desired goals to give them maximum points. Pat Rohla made it 2-0, followed by Marco Noni who converted to make it 3-0. The Classics just needed to maintain a shut out now! With time running out they even found the luxury of scoring a fourth goal courtesy of Dean Herbert and the insurance goal was sufficient to achieve the desired 10 points. Pat Rohla and Chris Arcari both picked up yellow cards in the match. Now they just had to wait and see how the other results panned out.

Much to the amazement of most of the players, they had done enough to be able play in the tournament final. They were faced against the powerhouse Vancouver Nomads which was comprised from a Cliff Avenue team with several select 'guest' players. The Nomads had reached the final with ease and had a playing record of [P3 W3 L0 D0 Goals For 17 Goals Against 1] so it was formidable opposition to say the least. To add fuel to the fire, the Classics had played two warm up games against BC Transit which was comprised mainly of the Nomads team, and both games had been comprehensively lost. Anyway, this was a one off final and the Classics were just 70 minutes away from a final win and a long awaited piece of silverware. The Classics match the Nomads for aggression, skill and vigour but the match was decided by a fluke goal as Garry Hackel was beaten on a near post scramble in the first half of the game. Without that calamitous piece of bad luck the Classics would have held out for a draw and the game would have gone down to the proverbial penalty shoot out lottery. Chris Arcari and Marco Noni both picked up yellow cards in the match. In the summing up, the Classics had played a good tournament, had had no-one arrested, had deserved to reach the final, finished the tournament without any serious injuries, were unlucky to lose to a sloppy goal and had lots of fun. The case rests there.