With a respite in the seemingly endless torrential downpour, albeit temporary, that has seen Taiwan become sodden and drenched over the last few weeks, BML action returned to the Bai Ling B pitch, despite a mail the previous evening saying the game was on the A pitch. The random words of “piss up”, “couldn’t”, “a” (twice), “organise”, “brewery” and “in” sprung readily to mind as the Red Lions assembled, looking like they meant business. The opposition, however, looked like they were Rogue FC, in that with just a few minutes to go before kick off, there were fewer than 9 players getting changed, including the old fat guy who makes your humble narrator like he’s been on a Slimfast diet for the last 6 months.
The starting line up for the Lions was Christian “Scrachi” Peluso and Paul “Ginger Elvis” Hemingay at full back, with Charles as one of the two centre backs. In midfield, Mirko the Carp, Salah, Ian “Jimmy Glass” Billett and Fred were chosen, with Panda and Joliet “Suck my balls” James up front. The other centre back was Ant “only if you stick them on my head” the Mamil (Middle Aged Man In Lycra). Your humble chronicler was once more chosen for his epic goalkeeping skills.
Despite the rain, the B pitch – at the beginning of the game at least – was surprisingly playable, yet as Mr Liu blew his whistle to start the game, so too did God see this as a signal to start the rain once more. Of these two unbeaten teams, it was the Lions who looked hungrier, dominating possession in the opening stages, the midfield looking calm and collected, given more time than perhaps a better team would have offered. Despite the possession though, there was very little pressure on the opposition’s goal for the first few minutes. Even less action, of course, was afforded the Lions keeper, who was well protected by the back four. Ant “only if you stick them on my head” the Mamil made some of his trademark crunching tackles to ensure the two decent (if they stopped cheating and blatantly diving) Mitsukoshi players on the pitch could not get through.
Mitsukoshi was essentially reduced to cheating by diving and the shouts of “Ai” which Mr Liu refuses to penalize, despite the fact that if he actually showed a yellow card for it, might actually stop these bullshit attempts at getting a free kick or penalty. Thankfully today Mr Liu was having none of it, and was heard shouting “Play” on several occasions. Several Red Lions were also heard to make comments to the Mitsukoshi players lying in “agony” on the floor along the lines of “get up you cheating tosser”.
The Lions were threatening more and using their width (that is the width of the pitch, not the collective waistlines) which has been the key element of many Lions victories over recent seasons. Ian “Jimmy Glass” on the left was asserting himself, looking for one-twos up the line, with Mirko the Carp and Salah snuffing out the Mitsukoshi midfield. Fred on the right made some sauntering runs, not allowing anything past him. Up front, Panda was looking to hold up the ball, and Joliet “suck my balls” James also made sure that the Mitsukoshi defensive line understood this was not just a game, but a true battle.
With perhaps 20 minutes gone, the Lions took a deserved lead, as a combination of Fred and Joliet “suck my balls “ James won the ball, the latter the delivering a cross so delicious, it could have come straight out of Gordon Ramsay’s Christmas Cook Book. “Jimmy Glass” it was who applied the finishing touch to the move, sticking the ball in to the net for a fully deserved 1-0 lead.
If this goal was expected to unsettle the opposition, then it had completely the opposite effect. Despite the fat number 7 on the Mitsukoshi left getting a yellow card for blatantly holding on to Joliet “suck my balls” James as he tonked past, it was now Mitsukoshi who had the wind in their collective sails. And with Paul “Ginger Elvis” Hemingay injuring himself, supposedly with a pulled hamstring although it could be suggested that he wanted to limp off at 1-0, he was replaced by Genghis “Edwin” Khan. As he left the pitch, Ginger Elvis could be heard singing “I’ll be home for Christmas”.
Mitsukoshi were now pushing hard, the Lions defence under some pressure for the first time in the game, and our opposition was winning a series of corners, which were dealt with by a combination of the non-calling Lions keeper and Ant “only if you stick them on my head” the Mamil.
From one such corner, the call was given “AWAY”, so Jimmy Glass, mere centimetres away from the ball with an easy clearance opportunity, decided instead to leave the ball to go in to the danger zone. From the ensuing scuffle in the box, the ball made its way to the byline where Salah and a Mitsukoshi player both fell to the floor, and as the attacker tried to get up, he tripped over Salah’s foot, Mr Liu awarding the penalty.
In the corresponding fixture last season, it was Mao who got sent off for a blatant foul, and Joliet “suck my balls” James who went in goal. Mao told the replacement keeper where the penalty was going, but this suggestion was, of course, ignored, and Mitsukoshi scored. This time Mao told himself where the ball was going, ignored himself, and Mitsukoshi scored. 1-1.
With game back on, it was end to end stuff, but neither team threatened the two goalkeepers, and each defence/midfield cancelled out the opposing midfield/attack. But there was a final twist in the tail for the half.
As the first half drew to a close, the Lions got a goal kick. With just 15 seconds left, Ant “only if you stick them on my head” the Mamil wanted to take the kick, but Mao assured him he knew what he was doing.
12 seconds to go, Mao was heard to shout “Mirko”. Mitsukoshi knew that this was the one player the ball was definitely not going to, and so left him alone in space.
With 10 seconds left of the half, Mao played the ball upfield with an inch-perfect goal kick to Mirko.
8 seconds remaining, and Mirko flicked the ball with a deft touch, offering a centimeter-perfect pass to Jimmy Glass on the left wing.
He ran for three seconds, before delivering the most millimetre precise cross in to the path of Joliet “suck my balls” James.
Mr Liu checked his watch, cleared his throat, and put his whistle in his mouth as Joliet “suck my balls” James powered the ball home to restore the Red Lions slender lead. As the Mitsukoshi players looked around for someone to blame, the net still rippling from the force of the ball, Mr Liu blew for half time.
The Lions made a couple of changes at half time, Charles being replaced by Kim Sun Il, Ichi the North Korean border guard (who was rather late arriving at the pitch) replacing Fred, and Mirko the Carp being rewarded for his vital contribution to the Lions regaining the lead by being brought off, Godfather his replacement. Mora also came on, Panda making way for El Frijolero.
As the rain got stronger, so too did the opposition, and with the Lions attacking, looking for a third goal to seal the game, Mitsukoshi was also dangerous, especially on the break. The cheating number 6 player took a dive outside the Lions penalty area, once again Mr Liu not interested in any of this bullshit.
At the hour mark, Joliet “suck my balls” James was taken off, replaced by Tim “Brutus” Brown. Standing on the sidelines, Joliet “suck my balls” James was heard whingeing about the lack of fire power up front, and questioning the substitutions strategy of Godfather, wondering too in typical brash, American loud fashion as to who from the Lions team was worthy and able enough to put the ball away.
As the Lions kept up the pressure, Mitsukoshi broke down their left wing, Genghis “Edwin” Khan initially playing the opposition onside, and in the confusion that ensued, both he and Ant “only if you put them on my head” the Mamil decided to go cover the left winger, that cheating tosser of a number 6. The only issue with this was that the same player that Mao hacked down (thus resulting in the aforementioned red card last season) was left all on his own in the middle. All the cheating twat of a number 6 needed to do was centre the ball. Which he did. Your humble scribe this time decided not to take him out in the one on one, probably because he was still sliding in the mud, and as the Lions keeper tried in vain to stop, and find his footing, the Mitsukoshi attacker had enough time to also position himself for a shot in to the open net, to level the scores once more.
2-2 then and for a moment it was looking like the momentum had shifted.
Mitsukoshi was now pushing forwards, and as the Lions keeper collected the ball, it was the cheating Mitsukoshi attacker who tried to kick it out of his hands. Mr Liu correctly blew for a free kick, Mao being protected also by his defenders who made it abundantly clear, as a scuffle broke out between perhaps 8 or ten players in total, to the uber-aggressive cheating Mitsukoshi tossers that they did not appreciate in any way shape or form any hassle of their keeper. Indeed, if anyone was going to hassle the keeper, it would be them.
Fifteen seconds after calm had returned, one of the Mitsukoshi defenders finally made it to the Lions penalty area, and restarted the hassle. Mr Liu motioned to the defender to shut the fuck up and get back to his defensive duties.
Shortly after this, Mitsukoshi played the ball down their right wing, and somehow the attacker ended up in a one on one against the Red Lions keeper, your humble chronicler this time making a reflex save from the powerful shot to turn the ball away for a corner.
Mitsukoshi still threatened though, and once more the Lions keeper needed to be alert as the ball was played in from the left. With Kim Sun Il and the cheating twat of a number 6 also following in, Mao slid in and cleared for a corner. As he was about to jump over his keeper, Kim Sun Il was pushed in the back, thus making contact initially with Mao, and ending up going arse over tit, landing head first in the mud. As he stood up, spewing obscenities and copious amounts of mud, he was most definitely black enough.
Readers of this report may well think that it was one-way traffic, but this is not the case. El Frijolero was constantly looking for the ball, making himself available, yet when he had the opportunity to shoot, decided instead to lay off the ball. Ichi the North Korean border guard too was looking dangerous, bringing width to the game as the centre of the field became more and more bogged as lake size puddles formed.
Indeed it was the Lions who adapted to these conditions better, and when the ball got stuck in the water, they showed the skill to get the ball out of there much better than they previously had against Hong Min.
The game though was entering the final five minutes and it was beginning to look as though both teams would have to settle for a point each when another Jimmy Glass cross was met, this time by Godfather who rose like Jesus Christ at Easter to direct a power header in past the hapless keeper for the Lions to go in to the lead for the third time this match.
And the action was not over there. In fact, there was still time for a red card for what was probably the most innocuous challenge, Mr Liu’s patience finally tested as the Mitsukoshi player attempted to hold back Jimmy Glass. And with Mitsukoshi now down to ten, gone was their resolve.
But the Lions were not finished, and as Mr Liu once more counted down the seconds before blowing the final whistle, Ichi it was who scored a scorcher from distance, the ball screaming in to the back of the net like a North Korean ballistic missile.
4-2 the final score, the Lions getting ready for the evening’s entertainment at the Fu Bar for the Christmas party. And with the Dentway game cancelled for the Sunday, needless to say, it was an alcoholic affair. Ant the Mamil got his wish granted. It’s not yet been ascertained, however, if Joliet James got his.