Glory was so near yet so far!
In its third incarnation, the date set as Sunday 27 May 2012 and 16 teams battled it out on what seemed to be the hottest day of the year so far… Met Office reports stating that it could reach temperatures of 26 degrees Celsius and very little wind to be had.
Each of the four groups contained four teams from various different companies across the spans of Greater Manchester and Melbourne were pitted into Group A alongside BBC North, Fat Media & Silverchip.
Starting the competition off with a loss was hard to bear for the 8 man strong team and after an inspiring team talk from the nominated Manager ‘Al Macleod’, we steadied what could have been a sinking ship and battled through the next couple of games strongly and undefeated only to lose our concentration and shape in the final group games and finish bottom.
However, we were given a lifeline in the form of a knockout Creative Shield competition and pride would not allow us to give up on this second opportunity.
First up came the Quarter-Finals and our elected opponents were CTI Digital who finished admirably in third from Group B behind Supremo & Red C. This is where we came alive and tactics and fitness really started to play there part as we had been playing now for a few hours with very little shade.
We adopted a very traditional 2-2 formation for this crucial game using the very solid back line of Gareth Stachini ‘Office Bean Counter’ and Gavin’ DC Engineer A’ Upsall to defend in my opinion the competitions Golden Glove Winner Al ‘Sure Hands’ Macleod. The attacking threat was carried by Richard ‘The Cannon’ Legard and in that supporting role was Rani. Luck played its part for the first goal as there seemed to be some confusion between the defender and goalkeeper of CTI Digital and the pass back rule…1-0. Each wave of attack that CTI carried was resolutely battered away if not by the keepers glove then the feet and bodies of the defenders. An opportunity arose and a counter attack had begun finished neatly by Richard Legard (carrying on from the group stages with another to his impressive tally of goals). The game finished 2-0 and Melbourne were through to the Semi-Finals of a competition for the first time in its three year history, this was new territory for the boys as we expected to be home by 3pm at the very latest.
Every modern football team has a utility man, who can cover many positions when asked or required. We however were blessed with three in the form of Andrew ‘Carpet’ Turner, Chris ‘DC Engineer B’ Ashcroft & Phil.
It must have been nearing 4pm now and the Semi-Finals of the Creative Shield & Creative Cup kicked off at the same.
We were drawn against our group A opponents from earlier ‘Fat Media’ for this one, we entered this game with the same tactics and mentality as the last and it paid off as we ran out 2-0 winners despite being down a man for nearly half of the game due to a loss of head by one of our own. The only negative element of this game being that our leading goal scorer seemed to be celebrating the second goal clutching his very fragile hamstring. It was a very odd celebration indeed!
The tele-prompter had told us that the final games were close to starting and drawn as follows:
The Creative Shield
‘Mando’ vs. ‘Melbourne Server Hosting’.
The Creative Cup
‘Great Fridays’ vs. Group A runners up ‘Silverchip’
The five men of Melbourne stared down the pitch to the looks of a highly motivated Mando, the game was fiercely competitive and hanging on a knife-edge. The crucial first goal being scored by our opponents, 1-0 down is not what we wanted as we knew we would struggle to beat any team if we conceded first as we were geared up as a counter attacking unit.
The next talking point came from my sending off for what seemed a controversial decision by the nominated referee, 2 minutes on the side-lines as I watched our team battle away to keep ourselves in this cliff hanger. The game finished 2-1 and not in our favour.
Our day was finally over and time for a well-earned rest.
Next up was the main event and the Creative Cup Final, this one finishing 4-0 in favour of Great Fridays.
Congratulations to both winners and all those that braved the elements to take part.
Not to be forgotten and most importantly the reason for the tournament was that £2k was raised and heading its way to The Cystic Fibrosis Trust.
I’ll see you next year all being well.
Gareth Stachini, beancounter and striker @ Melbourne