After what seems like an eternity of no football for the Red Lions, a new-look squad (i.e. a full one) assembled at the Da Jia Peacock pitches in time for the final Taiwan Cup of the year. And for our home tournament, which was excellently organized by a combination of your most humble chronicler and the sorcerer’s apprentice, Jaime.
As the Lions assembled, huddling in for the pre-match talk, who should turn up but Chairman Mao, having arrived punctually from South Africa. Relieved that neither Panda nor Clovis now had to go between the sticks, the Lions took to the pitch knowing that they had – on paper at least – the easiest game first, against tournament newbies, Taipei United.
With a squad that comprised of Charles, Christian, Clovis, Hemingay, Jaime, Ian, Panda, Thomas “Godfather” Costa, Tim “Brutus” von Brownhausen, Baco, or Taco, or Paco or whatever his name is, Mirko the Carp, Fred and Mao, although perhaps your humble narrator has also inadvertently missed one or two, which – given the fact that I had just returned from a 15 hour journey across continents in order to join the cup – is fully understandable, and – might I remind you, especially those newbies who may think that a precise Match Report is the key factor to joining a football team – totally fineable should anyone think about having a whinge, a sook or just a fucking cry about it, the Lions took on the task of dismantling United with a nice array of attacking football.
Mirko the Carp scored the first to put the Lions in to a good position, Panda securing the win as the Lions made the game look just as easy as it really was. Fred on the right wing was actually heard to shout for the ball, and delivered some very nice crosses as the Lions dominated from start to finish. Tim “Brutus” von Brownhausen was his usual pitbull self, chasing after every ball, and putting in some strong challenges.
Newbie Ian, who has been welcomed to the Lions despite the fact that he is a Carlisle United fan, made a most successful start to his Lions career by showing the type of deft touch that will delight the crowd in the BML and both goal scorers will be happy with their display.
At the back, the interesting combination of Charles and Christian made light work of keeping the opponents at bay, and Clovis…. Well what you expect from Clovis is what you got from Clovis.
Mao actually held a cross. The earth stopped turning for a millisecond, as God tried to fathom how that had happened.
To Compass then, and the Lions were in full confidence after the first game. And yet despite being the better team, we lost 1-0. But this was not too serious – we knew that Carnegies was up next, and they would not even put up a fight. After all, we knew they would be up for this game like Clovis would be for a bit of pussy.
And – true to form – so it turned out to be. Francois, in the middle for Carnegies, was the only player who looked anywhere near fired up for the game, the rest of the players knowing that the Lions were the superior team, and giving up like the little pussies that they are.
Both Captain Thomas “Godfather” Costa and Vice Captain Jaime scored as the Lions mauled their opponents, the back 4 hardly being troubled as Carnegies FC seemed unable to get the ball out of their own half. Indeed Carnegies seemed to accept their own inferiority in much the same way that Clovis accepted he is a raving poofter.
Mao touched the ball twice during this game. The first to waste lots of time at 1-0. The second to waste even more at 2-0.
And with that, the game was over. Carnegies headed off the pitch with their proverbial tails between their proverbial legs, the Lions with smiles on their faces having proven what essentially the rest of the world knew already.
Compass drew with Scunners, and had a man sent off, thus opening the group wide up. Although Carnegies wouldn’t stand a chance of qualifying. In fact there were some who thought perhaps they would try to lose all group games in order to win the inaugural Saucer competition. Carnegies…. The source of class.
To the final group game of the day, and the Lions were up against the Scunners, both teams knowing that a draw would be enough to get through.
Despite dominating the game in much the same way as Clovis likes to believe he dominates his boyfriends, the Lions were thwarted by a combination of excellent goalkeeping, desperate defending and poor finishing. 0-0, Lions roaring through to the Cup phase, Carnegies and Compass dumped in to the Plate, United exactly where they deserved to be – in the Saucer.
With the help of the new sponsors, Frankies Pie Bar and the Fu Bar, the beers flowed as Mao bought the round. Yes people, all those Singha’s did not just magically appear out of the air. You’re worthy.
To Sunday, and the Lions were up against the good friends from Jhubei, as well as the Scum and the Black Stars. Group of Death? It certainly seemed that way. Just 12 players turned up for the Sunday, so there was plenty of playing time on offer. The only hope was that there were no injuries.
First up was Jhubei, and within seconds it was 1-0 as our opponents took advantage of some sloppy defending and some rather slow goalkeeping as Christian decided to get the final touch as he knew he needed to get on the score sheet this weekend. This woke up the Lions, and it was then all one way traffic. The combination of Ian and Fred on the wings was a constant source of trouble for the Jhubei defence, and Panda and Thomas “Godfather” Costa both had several efforts scrambled away by a Jhubei team that seemed to have parked the bus in order to protect this valuable lead.
Perhaps aware of the Lions penchant for coming from behind, they knew that the pressure was mounting. In the group phase in 2011’s Taipei Autumn Cup, they had raced in to a 2-0 lead, only to see the Lions roar back to win 3-2 with a last minute winner. And although the Lions were not able to secure the win, it was Thomas “Godfather” Costa who eased the Lions’ red faces, scoring the equalizer with a fine effort.
The Lions pressed for the winner, but time ran out for them as the ref blew for full time. Not a disastrous result, but the Lions knew they would need to do better against the Scum and the Black Stars.
Up next, the Scum. And once more, they raced in to an early lead, as Clovis, marking Oumar as closely as he dared after his “Monkey Lips” quip – in other words, about 25 metres away – was nowhere as the Scum carved through the Lions’ defence. As Mao closed him down, Oumar passed to a relatively free and unmarked player (I believe it was the man who was once voted biggest expat twat on the island 9 times in a row) who scored to make it 1-0.
To say that the Lions were being run over is a mild understatement. But for once, the on-pitch bickering was not taking place, as the Lions supported each other without sinking to the insults. Those we leave for Carnegies.
But the Scum was not finished, and despite the valiant efforts of Jaime’s running, the Lions still found it difficult to get the ball. Mao was forced in to a decent save, diving low to his left as the Scum pushed to put the result beyond doubt. They then got a corner, whipping in a cross that held up in the wind, Mao needing to stay alert as he tipped it over the bar.
As the game entered the final moments, the Lions mounted an attack, and with the Scum getting back a little slowly, a corner was won. Instead of waiting for more attackers to arrive, Jaime whipped in a cross so pleasurable, it could have been offering free sex, and newbie Ian sent the ball over the defender with a looping header, the goalkeeper a mere spectator as the Lions stunned the Scum.
Time ran out for the Scum as the wind now left their sails, and the Lions gladly took the 1-1 result. However they knew that they needed to beat the Black Stars, and hope Jhubei got a result against the Scum.
The Black Stars – it must be said – were expected to put up more of a fight than they actually did. The Lions were up for the game, the Black Stars resembling Carnegies in their lack of fight. Panda had a golden opportunity to put the Lions in to the lead, but fluffed it up badly, missing the target when it was easier to score.
Once more, it fell to Thomas “Godfather” Costa to score the winner, with a low and fierce shot that curled away from the goalkeeper, although having said that your humble scribe is of the firm opinion that he would have saved it, to make it 1-0.
The Black Stars had no reply, but alas the Lions also were not able to extend that lead, and so we needed Jhubei to get a result OR to limit the Scum to 1-0.
And in that final group game, the Scum made it 2-0 before Mao resorted to the most outrageous of tactics. He headed over to Jhubei’s goalkeeper asking if they could get one of the Scum players sent off. It almost worked, as the crowd jeered the man who was once voted biggest expat twat on the island 9 times in a row every time he got the ball. Despite the Scum being awarded 2 yellow cards, they could not get that man sent off which would have got the Lions through to the final, the Lions being knocked out on goal difference.
However what was apparent was that despite not having played as a team for many months, the camaraderie is still as good as it has ever been. And with the BML season just weeks away, the teamwork and resolve can only work in our favour.
A special mention must go to our vice captain Jaime – he stepped in as Mao was called away last minute on a business trip to sort out the final things for the Autumn Cup. Thanks also to all Red Lions who turned up over the weekend for what turned out to be yet another awesome Taiwan Cup. Now we can focus on the BML and the Winter Cup in Kaohsiung!