GOOD TO BE GLADBACH
A spring returned to the step of the mighty men of Hot Press Munchengladbach 1891, when they defeated old rivals St. Brendan's, last week, in their AUL joust in Artane.
The Munchies had 60% of the possession in the first half, but there was scant reward for their dominance. A brilliant save by the Brendans’ net-minder prevented a goal from midfield general Niall Stokes, but otherwise, clearcut chances were few and far between. That changed dramatically in the opening minutes of the second half when birthday boy Houcine Belati pressurised the Brendan’s defence into a Mustafi-like error, before racing clear and slipping the ball under the despairing dive of the opposition keeper. 1-0.
The Grand Old Club subsequently turned the screw, forcing a series of corners. Superbly taken by wideman Rowan Stokes, they caused havoc in the Brendan’s box, with the Munchies left-back Ismael Nouhi finally forcing home the second goal.
At the other end, Axel Balvanera and Aldo Oliveri were in fine form. But it was two superb challenges by Hot Press No.5 Duan Stokes, and a goal-line clearance by Rowan Stokes, which ultimately ensured that the Mighty Men kept a clean sheet. Meanwhile, Houcine Belati, substitute Soly Akambi (twice) and Ismael Nouhi all went close. But 2-0 was enough. The Munchies are back in the thick of the championship race.
“That was a great victory,” Hot Press player manager Niall Stokes told his customary postmatch media conference. “I'm proud of the way the team played today. It was cold out there, which we all hate. And the underfoot conditions were a bit like a bad bowl of porridge – slippy and lumpy, watery and bumpy – factors which ill-suit our favoured tiki taka passing game. But we worked hard individually and collectively to ensure that when push came to shove we were going to stand up and be counted.”
“What the fuck is that supposed to mean?” a veteran reporter from the Racing Post asked, puffing insolently on a cheroot. “I mean, there’s always eleven men on the pitch unless someone has been sent off. So what the fuck would you be doing counting players? Or is there a mystery to this game of which I am blissfully unaware?”
He threw the stub of his cheroot on the floor and ground it mercilessly under his heel, before emitting a loud belch.
“Of course there are mysteries to this game of which you are, as you put it, 'blissfully' unaware,” the Munchies majordomo said. “As a man who earns his living watching four-legged beasts try, and generally fail, to throw their twolegged tormentors onto the flats of their backs, you might not have noticed, but numbers are of the most crucial importance in football. That, after all, is precisely what decides which team wins and which loses. 1-0. 2-1. 3-1. Or, as it was today, 2-0 And so on. I know it is devlishly complicated, but then so is life.”
And with that he left the room, with a flourish, making gestures which looked suspiciously like a man carving a humongous rib-eye steak with a very large serrated knife.
The season is young yet.