After looking forward to this second leg of Anglo-Greek KO2 action, it suddenly looked like it was not going to happen.
Just thirty minutes before the tourney was due to begin, we were seemingly reduced to just three players!
I was in the doldrums alright.
Jon had earlier contacted me to say he couldn't make it and then Carl, the new guy, texted to say he was now unlikely to attend due to be being overloaded with work. This was of course a shame but at least we still had the fab four from last night. Didn't we? Then Si rang sounding like sh*t and feeling just as bad so had to pull out too!!! (Hope you're feeling better by the time you read this mate)
I rang Steve to discuss plans and agreed the three of us could play some KO2 friendlies instead. Texted Carl one last time explaining that if he could make it, it wouldn't be just any old debut, his would be a tournament-saving-heroic debut! By the time Steve arrived, we hadn't heard anything and we were resigned to the fact that the tourney definately wasn't happening.
Just as we were heading out to the neighbours bbq, my phone rang - it was Carl. He would be with us later that evening. HELLAND IV was back on!!!
It's great to welcome a newcomer at the best of times, but this felt extra special. He even brought a vuvuzela to the tourney (a new KOA trend?) via his nifty iphone app!
Carl is a really nice, thoughtful guy too and I could feel his sense of amazement seeing the great game so alive and kicking as it is in KOA circles. It reminded me of when I first discovered this place and, recalling this, I felt energised too! By way of an ice-breaker and as a illustration of some the more common KO2 goals, we all played a KO2 Challenge to see how many goals we could score within a 3 minute practice period. With the on-off-on nature of the evening, time was now limited, so we were restricted to a x2 league, but we were just pleased to be having a tourney at all! Round#1
Kostas O 3 - 5 Garry C
Garry C 2 - 0 Carl Ne
Steve E 5 - 3 Garry C
After last night's 6-1 battering against Costas in the final match, I knew this opener was going to be a battle. I had to fight every inch of the way, and it was one of the those open games where the outcome wasn't clear until the later stages, with me just edging it 5-3. Phew! Carl hadn't played for some years other than some KO1 recently so he was rightly using this tourney to get the feel of it again, with trapping and aftertouch. I could tell he was enjoying this process, and the results (for now) were secondary. Steve meant business tonight and was clinical in punishing my defensive mistakes I made and deservedly claimed a 5-3 victory from our opener. Round#2
Garry C 5 - 4 Kostas O
Carl Ne 0 - 4 Garry C
Against Costas, there was absolutely nothing between us once again, apart from a last minute winner that gave me the 3 points I honestly didn't deserve. Unlucky mate. You'd already beaten and drawn with Steve tonight and we later agreed that had we had time for a third day of action, you'd surely be taking a title home with you. Myself and Ste both commented on how difficult it is to defend against your flowing and attacking 'balanced tactic'. Carl was certainly improving too, and came unbelievable close to claiming that sweet first KOA goal. A low shot hit with after-touch and parried by the keeper was temptingly waiting for his attacker to smack it in but he could quite position his striker quickly enough. It will come, I'm sure, and sooner than you think mate!
I really like your spirit and hope you become a regular with Team KOBRA!
We've got Blues and Villa supporters so we're in need of a Baggies fan too! Meanwhile, in the undisputed LOUDEST match of the night
Ste, I believe, had come back from 0-4 to end the match 4-4! Similar to the night before, the table now showed me two points clear of Steve, with our final match title decider remaining. Garry C 5 - 6 Steve E
I remember I always felt like I had my nose in front in this one, 1-0, 2-1, 3-2 and 4-2 but UK Champion eats titles for breakfast. I certainly felt shreaded and beat when late in the second half Steve lead for the first time, 5-4. I wasn't toast just yet though and clawed it back to 5-5 with not much left on the clock. At this point, a draw was enough for me to clinch my second title in two days! I know, bit greedy really. Anyway, as evil as they come, I needlessly conceeded a throw-in adjacent to my box but Cox didn't return to his central position leaving a gaping hole. Steve immediately saw the danger and directed his throw-in to the danger zone and slotted home. Arrrrggghhhh!!!!
I still remember the clock time 4:54, which meant it was too late even for the restart. Gutted!!! Nevertheless it was still a memorable end to an unlikely tournament. Well done to Ste for keeping ice cool on a hot evening to take the HELLAND IV title.