It took the Strollers a little while to get used to the playing conditions (small, caged pitches, small goals) – or maybe just to get warmed up. Either way, they looked to have blown their chances with defeats against Margate and Lancing Wanderers in the first 2 games of this prestigious competition. However, they had the measure of local rivals Folkestone running out 3-0 winners, before holding more local-ish rivals (Strood, masquerading as Medway Marauders) to a hard fought draw.
A most unfortunate incident involving a Chelmsford player suffering a heart attack caused a long delay while he was treated and taken to hospital. When play resumed, Strollers were delighted to find they were in third place after the initial matches, and even more delighted when they then beat (local rivals!) Margate to reach the final. Despite dominating Medway Marauders in the final, Strollers succumbed to a late goal, nevertheless qualifying as runners-up for the semi-finals of the FA People’s Cup to be held at The Powerleague London City (Docklands) on Sunday 28th February at 2pm!
BUT, now for the full, unexpurgated report ………!!
The Return to the “The Great Escape”
“How to succeed despite losing your first two games and then drawing your next one and getting through because they had to choose four teams out of five for the playoffs”
“The only victories which leave no regret are those which are gained over ignorance.” Napoleon Bonaparte.
“When the going gets tough the tough walk even faster” Lawrence Hall-Daniels
Date: Sunday 24th January 2016
Venue: somewhere in a galaxy far away from civilisation called Dartford…..
- Steve McQueen as Captain Peter Cadogan, the “Cooler King”
- James Garner as Flight Lieutenant James Dobson, the “Scrounger”
- Richard Attenborough as Squadron Leader. Chris Le Corney, “Big X”
- James Donald as Group. Capt. Kevin Joyce, the Senior British Officer (SBO)
- Charles Bronson as Flight. Lieutenant Robert Lynn, “Tunnel King”
- Donald Pleasence as Flight Lieutenant. Martin Millbank, the “Forger”
- Hannes Messemer as John McKellar, the Kommandant
- Robert Graf as Lawrence Hall-Daniels, the “Ferret”
Sequels are mostly a bit shit. Consider:
- Speed 2
- Ocean’s Twelve
- Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
- Police Academy 2, 3 4 etc. etc.
But occasionally there is a remade jewel: Consider:
- Airplane 2
- Back to the Future 3
- Or, my personal favourite, Sexy Susan Sins Again
Well maybe this latest BayCity performance falls more into the first category than the second but …. oh, but …. the prize was so much bigger!! A prize that was worthy of a cunning plan….. Sure victory in Margate produced a cup. But victory in Dartford comes with a place in the semi-finals of the FA Cup! Yes THE dream is still very much alive. Tickets to see Arsenal win their third straight FA Cup Final. Something I know all the team would absolutely love. Many a night we spend in the bar after a game discussing great FA cup Arsenal wins.
But …back to Dartford. It was cold. It was miserable. The pitch was not that good and the centre again excelled in their annual completion of “how not to organise a walking football tournament”. After a quick team talk we all decided that the best tactic was to go down to their level. The plan was simple but hard to execute well. It would take nerves of steel.
The plan was: lose the first two games, lull the opposition into a false sense of security and then … and only then ….release the magic!
We would pounce like a team of walking football demons. Think Sylvester Stallone in Rocky 4, 5 or 6 (can’t remember which one) who has to fight a Russian built like a shit house door and decides he is going to rest his good hand till the final rounds. Psssss …. Don’t tell anyone but the master plan EVEN included getting through to the final and losing! Yes Strood think they have the evil eye on us but just you wait ….revenge is a dish best served whilst walking.
So as per plan, BayCity again started with two losses. It wasn’t easy. Good players find it hard to play badly. Great players really struggle. We made numerous chances but aimed for the posts. In goal, our keeper put in a superb display of diving for the ball and not quite getting there.
Soon the comeback started: A hard fought draw over Strood was followed by hammer blows to Folkestone and Margate. The midfielders were now midfielding as well as ever, the forwards forwarding brilliantly and the keeper keeping well.
The final itself was difficult. Momentum was on our side. The magic was truly out of its box. Blood was pumping and the scent of total victory was in the nostrils. But … but … oh shitting but ….we knew we had to stick to the plan. Defeat was snatched from the jaws of victory but only just.
Now all eyes look to London and the next battle. We WILL BE BACK…Follow your spirit, and upon this charge ‘Cry God for Harry, England, and Saint George!’ I know our sacrifice was hard but future generations will stand in the BayPoint bar and listen in awe to stories of the exploits of their heroes. I now know for certain that there will be an old, no doubt slightly drunk, slightly smelly man in the corner, who will strip his sleeve and show his scars. And say “These wounds I had on Dartford’s day”.
Old men forget: yet all shall be forgot, but he remember with advantages. What feats he did that day.