After our world cup, fun cup ice-breaker, it was time for the main event.... Helland III.
Returning to the familiar yellow and blue kits, the team A/B line-ups, the individual APT choice and all 8 tactics, we were warmed up and ready to go! Round #1
Garry C 5 - 3 Simon K
Garry C 3 - 5 Steve E
Kostas O 2 - 3 Garry C
I was determined not to let my Dutch cup final defeat affect me and thankfully got off to a winning start against below par Si. We now realise mate that it was more than just tiredness you were suffering from after being forced to pullout of saturday's tourney altogether.
I wanted revenge against Steve but UK and WC Fun Cup Champ won it again with a first half blitz that I could never pull back. With the most slender of margins, I squeezed through 3-2 for a victory against Costas. And it was that tight!Round #2
Simon K 2 - 3 Garry C
Steve E 4 - 6 Garry C
Garry C 4 - 2 Kostas O
This stressfully close scoreline was repeated in my second round tie with Mr King. If I remember rightly I was on top until Si achieved two goals in quick succession out of nothing. One a "goal" that was clearly wide and the other sponsored by BP, given the damaging spillage it came from!!!
Thankfully for me I managed a thirdly to seal the victory. It took probably my best match of the night to overturn Steve, 6-4
And the round concluded in relative comfort with a whopping two goal victory margin against Costas! Round #3
Garry C 3 - 1 Simon K
Garry C 3 - 3 Steve E
Kostas O 6 - 1 Garry C
Certainly my luckiest win of the evening came against Si who was having no breaks of his own all night.
Looking like it might end a dour 1-1, I was awarded a penalty with around 20 seconds to go. Completely demoralised I immediately after dispossessed Si from the restart to steal an undeserved 3-1 victory.
I must have taken some battling spirit from this game because against Steve I was 2-3 down with barely a minute to go. Aware that I was playing well, and creating some great situations, Steve became a little jittery at the back perhaps. My pressure paid off and I nicked an equalising goal which set up the final match very nicely. I was three points clear of Steve before playing Costas. If Steve could overturn Simon, he had superior goal difference to me should I lose.
Although each one of them was close, I'd won all four competitive games against Costas but this time it was very different. Not only did the result show an emphatic 6-1 in his favour, but he won virtually every midfield 50:50 and completely dominated the game. I remember looking at the shots, seeing it was 22:4 in his favour. Why oh why did you produce your best form of the night, just as I was on the brink of taking the title!!!
Fortunately Si was drinking whatever Costas was drinking, because, in a utter tourney twist, Ste also lost to a rejuvenated Si, who stormed to a stunning 9-4 victory, and he even missed a penalty I believe!!!
Once more those fine lines between defeat and victory make all the difference. My slender 3-2 over Kostas, my late penalty winner over Si and my last minute equiliser against Ste - all of these could have been very different. Although it felt a little strange to win a title on such a losing note, I was neverthess chuffed to take top spot.
A big thanks to Steve and Donna for hosting in style, with beer, nuts, crisps and pizza helping to make us feel very much at home. Cheers matey for this and for getting the disks sorted!
We completed an impressive 15 competitive matches in an evening
, it was the end of the week, and we were naturally tired, so much so, I couldn't summon the energy to move! In the relaxed post-tourney atmosphere we chatted for ages afterwards even though I can't quite remember what we talked about! After a great night's fun it was eventually time to go but we knew we'd be meeting again in less than 24 hours time for more.....