Earlier this (now last, lazy me !) week, i got an invite out of the blue to play at Upton Park, for a friend of a friend’s stag day. Who was I to say no ! We arrived late in the afternoon, and had exclusive use of the pitch and stadium for 5 hours, from 5 till 10, before retiring to the bar for refreshments.
The rest of the guys turned up in a coach in suits, like it was the FA Cup final, which was amusing, apart from the heat, which affected the suits greatly.
First off i was in the home dressing rooms, which were OK, but about what you would expect. Numbered lockers, and quite big, and relatively modern (no pictures as lads were changing, etc). After a few minutes we were ushered out to the pitch, for introductions with the refs, and explanation of the rules. We were split into 6 5-a-side teams, and then we were to play 5 games each in a standard league format.
My team were moved to the away dressing room. Now as a premier league club i would expect better. Size was OK, but it was an empty room with a bench around the outside, a small “Home of the Hammers” sign, some posters taped to the walls, and only 10 showers. How many people in a football team ?
Anyway, onto the football. We played 4 games straight, winning 3 and losing one. I had about 5 goals by then. We were joint top going into our last game, but it wasn’t to be. We lost 3-1 (another for me) to get second place. One thing that surprised me was how close my seat looked from the pitch, when from the seat the half way line looks miles away.
Post presentations and photos, we were led back down the tunnel, as we lined up for the big one, the full pitch. We were lined up in the traditional 14 a side formation, and to the strains of bubbles we walked onto the pitch.
This was the first time I had played a non 5-a-side game for 6 years, and the scale of the pitch threw me. We were two nil down at half time, due to some shocking defending. The size of the pitch means i will never slag the midfield again, for at least a couple of weeks.
In the second half i felt a lot better, especially after raking through a 30 yrd pass for our first reply. We then pulled it back to 2-2 after i earned us a corner (bad shot) and one of our team headed in the cross.
Then it all happened very slowly. The cross from the left midfielder cleared the first centre back, and i left the other centre back. I flicked it on the angle with the chest, and lined up for the volley. I could already hear the whole Bobby Moore end rising as one, screaming themselves hoarse, and I hit the ball clean as a whistle, and it went goal bound, from about 15 yrds out.
Straight to the goalkeeper !
Then we took the lead but left another in to go to 3-3 as the end drew in. One of the midfielders put a beauty through, i a beat both centres to the ball, and then scuff an easy chance wide. What a pratt !. Suffice to say i was reminded of this several times in the bar afterwards. So we ended up 3-3, a fair result all round.
So after 4 hours of football, my legs are on fire today, and feel heavier than oak trees themselves !
Great day , would buy again A+++++