I had the privilege of coaching one of the best games of soccer ever this morning between old rivals Cornerstone and Margaret River Tigers. With three minutes to go till kick-off it looked like we'd be playing with 9 players but Georgia and Jack arrived in the nick of time. One of our best players, Daniel, was out, having not fully recovered from last week's mid-game asthma attack so the defence needed reinforcing and there were no subs to call on. Graeme can take credit for the suggestion to move Jacob to midfield, leaving Sport Boy and Jack as the only strikers.
Things didn't start well with MR scoring two quick goals and a little later a third before our kids started to settle and create some chances. Sport Boy was in sparkling form, "the best game I've seen him play" was Paul Brown, his country week coache's feedback. Ben C scored our first goal, nicely taken from a breakaway and Sport Boy added a second before MR scored again to make it 4-2 at half time. A few of the kids weren't happy with the refereeing and were letting that distract them from the game. The ref was my mate Glass Dave so I have to be careful, especially as he reads my blog, but I'd have to say I think he missed a few free kicks! And a reasonable penalty appeal! At half time I emphasised the importance of accepting the ref's decisions and getting on with the game because whether the ref is right or wrong they're not going to change their decision no matter how much you protest. I told them it was a great game, both teams were playing really well and to go out and do their best in the second half.
I was not prepared for what followed. We scored, then we scored again, really well taken goals to draw level on 4-4. Every kid in the team was playing out of their skin, what they lacked in skill they made up in determination and hard work, chasing, tackling, fighting for the ball, putting pressure on the opposition and combining together to set up chance after chance. Their finishing was exceptional and before long we had hit the front, 5-4. I can't remember the order the goals were scored in but Ben C got 2, Jacob got 1 and Sport Boy ended up with a hat-trick as we went 6-4 ahead! I was pretty excited by then, and I wasn't alone, the parents and supporters were clapping and cheering and urging the kids on. MR weren't to be beaten easily though and they scored with three minutes left to make it 6-5 to us. The last couple of minutes were a bit nerve-racking but the kids defended heroically and the final whistle went to signify a famous victory. It was a GREAT game and the parents clapped the kids all the way off the pitch. My after-match speech was over-flowing with praise and superlatives for every member of the team. I was very proud of Sport Boy who had a great game but all the kids did a great job.
It was probably the best game and the best win in the 4-5 years I've been coaching them.