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Saturday, September 21, 2019

Il sinistro magico

So, my unexpectedly extended run as a starter has finally come to an end. The veterans were in desperate need of reinforcements this season, and we received them in the form of a new keeper, defender, midfielder, and attacker. This has come in handy, as we've given up ZERO goals in three of our first four games.

However, this week's game was against the three-time league champions and we had an almost-full squad with only our starting sweeper being out, so I found myself on the bench at the start for the first time this year. I couldn't complain, as the new attacker is much better than me, so is the new midfielder, and the other midfielder is for all intents and purposes my equal, only he didn't give up a penalty to cost us two points last week.

(The call was 100 percent incorrect and the penalty was not awardable, but regardless, it was still on me.)

So, I didn't disagree with the captain's call at all. In fact, his starting lineup was precisely what I would have set if I was in charge. Not only that, but when I went in halfway through the first half at left midfield, I found myself entirely outmatched by the Red team's extremely aggressive right mid. I only gave up the ball twice, but one turnover was an exceptionally stupid pass in a situation when I found myself surrounded by four opposing players, and I think I only managed to get up across midfield to help the attack once.

I did do a decent job of helping out the defense, but it wasn't exactly a surprise to find myself back on the bench after halftime. Somehow, we were ahead 1-0 thanks to a goal by the captain that was completely against the run of play, but of the 10 field positions, we might have had the advantage of two of them. Fortunately, they kept trying to attack up the middle, where our best player, the defensive midfielder, was more than equal to their number 10 and repeatedly stifled their attacks.

They started to flag a little in the second half, and we actually managed a decent attack or three, but neither team looked particularly like scoring until the referee gave our defensive midfielder a yellow card. In our veteran's league, that's a 10-minute penalty benching, but a substitution is allowed. I was called in for him and sent over to the left, while the left mid I replaced moved into the now-empty defensive slot.

Somewhat to the surprise of both teams, they weren't able to exploit our best player's absence, and once, after picking up a blocked shot, I managed to beat not one, not two, but three of their players on a long 60-meter run up the left side. I actually got the ball past a fourth and last defender, the sweeper, as well, but he took me down hard to give us a free kick and give me three sprained fingers on my right hand which I can still feel as I type this.

We didn't get anything out of that, but a few minutes later, we got another free kick on the right. Our number 10 tried to put it on the heads of our two tallest players at the top center of the box, but he hit it a little too hard. As I saw it coming, I thought the second of the two defenders to my right would manage to deflect the ball, but it just skimmed the top of his head, so I ran onto it, brought it perfectly to the ground with my left foot, took three steps, then hit it with my left foot without even looking at the goal.

When I looked up, I saw the ball had cleared the keeper, but it looked like it might be going a little wide right. Fortunately, the right post got in the way and the ball banked cleanly in. 2-0! The captain was the first to congratulate me, then pointed towards the bench as the 10 penalty minutes were up and our defensive midfielder was eligible to come back in. "Supersub!" he shouted and we exchanged a high ten as he came onto the field. My work was done.

"If we need any more goals, let me know. I'll be right here," I told the rest of the guys on the bench. They laughed and promptly christened my left foot "the magic left". You see, I have an exceptionally feeble shot by their standards, and that's with my RIGHT foot, so the idea that I could possibly score against anyone, let alone the champions, with my left struck them as intrinsically hysterical. Despite the other team's best efforts, our defense stoned them again and again, and we held on for a 2-0 victory. It was a really good win.

The lesson is this: even when you are playing poorly, even when you're overmatched, even when it's clearly not your night, keep trying. Keep fighting. You never know what will happen. Replay that free kick 100 times and I might touch the ball five times, and maybe I score again once or twice at most. More likely, the defender heads the ball away, my first touch is too hard, or I miss the ball entirely. But you never know, so don't give up. Of the 30 players on both teams who played that night, I was the second-oldest and almost certainly the worst player on the field. But you never know....

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26 Comments:

Blogger czerwonyorzeł September 21, 2019 2:35 PM  

Nice one Vox

Blogger carnaby September 21, 2019 2:50 PM  

Will you always get quality minutes or some minutes? Do you still get practice time? When do you hang it up and start playing old guy league, rec league, or?? It sucks to give up a current level of competition due to speed decline associated with age, but will you quit when it's time or keep playing wherever you can just for fun and exercise.

Wayne Gretzky quit hockey completely when he retired and now he's super slow and terrible even given his age. I personally plan to keep ayi g sports no matter my age.

Blogger stevo September 21, 2019 3:18 PM  

Ever thought of writing sports novels for boys? That was great action!

Blogger Unknownsailor September 21, 2019 3:31 PM  

Andre Ingram is another example:

10 years in the NBA D-team minors, gets a chance with the Lakers on a 10 day contract, scores 19:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pvF25RvaKUY

Blogger justaguy September 21, 2019 3:38 PM  

experience and wisdom always catches up with us all.

Blogger Meanoldbasterd September 21, 2019 4:05 PM  

This is partially OT, but your story about not quitting reminded me of an experimental campaign I ran on a little wargame called medieval II total war. I decided to play as the Byzantine Empire and try to be as chivalrous as possible, lower taxes, no instigating wars, no assassinations, ALWAYS end battles as soon as the enemy begins to flee, ALWAYS release prisoners etc.

I was doing marginally well, and had seized Venice after repeatedly trouncing the same Venetian troops (then releasing them) up to 4 or five times for a single army!
My friend was watching and was incredulous that I didn't simply execute all of the prisoners I took each time, or at LEAST ransom them!
I told him ot would pay off, as the Byzantine Emperor was Alexius the magnificent by this time with full command stars AND full chivalry marks.
I had only secured Venice for a few turns when the HRE declared war and invaded from the Alps and Bologna with 3 armies. I had just my emperor with a half dozen minor nobles, and a few units of elite horse archers. As I left Venice to attack, I noted that two princesses who had just come of age had arrived in Venice to marry some of my minor nobles, and on a lark I decided to have them marry the German commanders of the incoming armies instead. Two of the three German nobles switched sides and once I brought out Alexius the magnificent onto the field two of the three armies flipped to rebel immediately and the other was defeated, captured and released. Bologna was surrendered without an arrow fired and the HRE became an ally, all because of one man's reputation....

Blogger Okani September 21, 2019 4:08 PM  

Keep it tight in defence, double mark the oppositions best attackers, exploit the counter attack and take full advantage of corners and free kicks....sounds like the classic Italian catenaccio style, which made them world champions four times but has been abandoned by serie a teams because it's deemed not exciting enough for the international audience. Well played.

Blogger Charlie the Chaste September 21, 2019 4:13 PM  

Thank you for this. It was partly because of one of these play by play soccer posts of yours over a year ago that I began playing 7 a side soccer on turf. Now I have not only been playing but captaining a team for almost an entire year and it has been extraordinarily helpful to my character development. Congratulations on your goal. My team won 14-6 in our last game and the opposing team was so humiliated they petitioned the league administrators to divide our league into more appropriate divisions so they would not have to play us again. Very satisfying.

Blogger Mumbles Mguire September 21, 2019 4:30 PM  

Thanks for the inspiration Vox, and for reminding me of what one might be capable of, not to let the laurels wither, but to be determined to keep them verdant. So much Logos.

Blogger Silent Draco September 21, 2019 4:46 PM  

The right goal post was obviously a VFM. No one except them and the SDL know their true form, correct?

My contact sports days are severely limited or done, depending on the surgeon's opinion. Broke a major bone and joint badly enough to be glad of having reduced instead of almost no use. I'll use the example to keep working up strength and flexibility. I might get full use and range back, but will get nothing unless I keep stretching and lifting, and push it. Good reminder to never stop working hard.

Blogger James Dixon September 21, 2019 5:11 PM  

> ...keep trying. Keep fighting. You never know what will happen.

As the saying goes, 90% of success is simply showing up. I'd argue 90% of the remainder is putting in the effort required. I doubt the figures are accurate, but there's a great degree of truth there.

Blogger Jack of All Trads September 21, 2019 5:32 PM  

Don't know a damn thing about soccer, but I could see that happening by the vivid description

Blogger Daniel September 21, 2019 5:43 PM  

OT: Here we go again. Essentially, many of the banks appear to be insolvent.

>>NY Fed to pump $75 bn into money markets daily through Oct 10

>> New York (AFP) - The New York Federal Reserve Bank said Friday it will inject billions into the US financial plumbing on a daily basis for the next three weeks in an effort to prevent a spike in short-term interest rates.

https://news.yahoo.com/ny-fed-pump-75-bn-money-markets-daily-154943871.html

Blogger Daniel September 21, 2019 5:46 PM  

@14

And of course they made this announcement on a Friday afternoon. Hoping against all evidence and experience that this will make a tiny difference.

Blogger Beau September 21, 2019 6:20 PM  

The lesson is this: even when you are playing poorly, even when you're overmatched, even when it's clearly not your night, keep trying. Keep fighting.

When you stand you become the man you were made to be.

Blogger God Emperor Memes September 21, 2019 6:54 PM  

Totally agree. To paraphrase Jim Rohn: "Find something you can do...and do it."

Blogger Hammerli 280 September 21, 2019 7:34 PM  

"...But you never know, so don't give up."

I can tell a similar story. In 1976, one of my father's friends shot for the USA at the World Muzzle-Loading Championships. And came back with tales of going to France, and trouncing the European shooters. I was a young teenager then, but determined that one day, I would shoot for the United States at that level.

It took twenty years of practice to make my first World Championships in 1996. In 1998, I won my first medal - but a team medal, not an individual. I kept shooting, medaled in the team events on occasion...but just could NOT close the deal on an individual event.

So I went to Eisenstadt, Austria, in 2018. Fighting with a cataract that did my shooting NO good. Shot in the top 10 with the original revolver at 25 meters, undistinguished with the other events. The last day of competition, we shot the 50 meter revolver event. Dark, dreary day. I shot. Scored a couple of 10s (not easy on the Free Pistol target), but thought I had about a 76. Not in medal contention. So I went to the car, cleaned the gun and put it away, and went back to check the scores. One of our shooters had shot an 81, which under those conditions was quite good. As for me...well, at least I could take satisfaction in placing in the top 10 in the world in one event. Maybe better luck next time.

I walked up to the scores...and people were shaking my hand. WTF? Checked the scores. The other American had shot an 81. Second place. (And he'd borrowed the gun from me...now I'd have to sell it to him.) But MY name was at the top. Turned out that I'd done the math wrong, left off a shot. And those two 10s were the tiebreakers.

So it came to pass that two old, half-blind Americans took home medals. Better still, there was the revolver aggregate...and my combined score had won THAT, too.

Never doubt the power of being mule-stubborn. It may take forty-four years, but it works.

Blogger Beau September 21, 2019 8:13 PM  

Never doubt the power of being mule-stubborn. It may take forty-four years, but it works.

Good, a timeless story, and congratulations too!

Blogger Beau September 21, 2019 8:45 PM  

Is there any reader of this blog tempted to give up now? Keep fighting. Anyone under a soul-crushing burden? Any business, marriage, relationship on the brink? Heavenly Father help us to gird on the armor of God and stand. Stand in the face of the howling storm calm in your provision and protection. Standing, surrounded by the gloomy temptation of defeat secure in Your light at our feet. Grant your children victory Lord. Let us shout your praises as a battle cry. Let it be done on Earth as it is in Heaven. Amen

Blogger Doktor Jeep September 21, 2019 8:54 PM  

There is no giving up for us.
There is no going home if we do.

Blogger Mast Abeam September 21, 2019 9:22 PM  

Hi Vox,
First, I’m so glad that I can still be the first to say: GOOOOOOOOOAL. Is there an equivalent in Italy?
Second, my wife is taking a nursing degree where the teacher recently encouraged the student to finish the course strongly with this clip about a high school (American!) football squad. https://youtu.be/-sUKoKQlEC4
From the perspective of someone who has been doing it as a nursing pro for more than 30 years, she asked me how to respond positively when all she could see was rotator cuff injuries and future rage/ personality/and repetitive micro-concussion issues.
I was so glad to share your post with her, although she did wimp out on sharing it with her class.
I resound those that call for a good book from you for both young boys (and girls) and old men.
Good for you!

Blogger Clark September 22, 2019 12:06 AM  

Tonight was my father's funeral. He won his division of Alta at 60. He always told me that weaklings didn't play because they weren't the best. Victory comes to those who try. Greatest father in the world and I just comment because Vic sounds like him. Not sad by the way. He was a strong believer in Jesus Christ, and he was not worried about death. Only about my mother. But he told me to take care of her, and I will.

Blogger Clark September 22, 2019 12:07 AM  

Sorry, he and vox sound alike.

Blogger Beau September 22, 2019 12:29 AM  

He was a strong believer in Jesus Christ, and he was not worried about death. Only about my mother. But he told me to take care of her, and I will.

Now THAT IS A MAN. Good on ya Clark, may God bless you in caring for your mom.

Blogger Scott September 22, 2019 4:16 AM  

Your post reminds me of the week I joined the varsity football team as a starter.

JV played on Thursday, and my opponenr (the nose guard) was a beast. It was a back and forth war for four quarters. I think he got the better overall.

The next night I'm on sidelines watching a very close game and the varsity center goes down. I'm the youngest player on the field. The people around me are telling me to calm down. Which was bizarre, I was calm, it was everyone else losing their heads expecting the new guy to screw up.

We go down the field 90 yards and score. Do the same the next drive, and the next. By the fourth quarter the game is over, so both teams sub in the second stringers.

I look up, and see the JV nose guard from the night before. I tap the guard next to me "Watch out, that guy's a stud. I'm going to need a hand."

My bloods up ready for another war. I go as hard as I can, expecting to hit a brick wall like I had the day before. Instead, I hit a pillow, and the guard and I drive him into one of the linebackers.

The rest of the game went the same way. This kid who I couldn't beat in JV, psyched himself out.

I still think about that kid, and what he could have done if he'd given it his best. At his best, he could have embarrassed us.

Blogger BentheBrave September 22, 2019 8:07 AM  

Vox, I'd love to watch these games. Any video source for them?

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