The Kabir iinha mfckrs!

So it was the Kabir iinha last night, or the Big Finish to you fluent in Arabic – (See what I did there) 🙂 And what a night it was!

Firstly before I get into the rhetoric, banter and abuse, Rich and I would like to thank you all again for what’s possibly been the best season so far. Every year we try to make small improvements, little tweaks here and there, and we hope that you all enjoyed playing as much as we did organising it. The tournament felt much more competitive this year. We’re putting it down to the smaller amount of teams, meaning more talent was squeezed into the 6 teams compared to spread across 8. The competition was slightly shorter, and as a result we’ve not been hit by pre-season so much this year and therefore the teams haven’t struggled as much as in the previous seasons when their regular footballers go off to play mid-weeks.

During the tournament there has been so much passion showed by players/managers (Yes you Jam Jar, and yes you Tyrion). We’ve had huge tackles, massive goals, and lots of banter during matches, afterwards and on social media which has only served to get everyone wound up for this tournament, and we could not be more pleased with how it’s gone.

Thanks also to Topper who has taken his fair amount of abuse this year while reffing, and for most part managed to keep his cool. I think it was week 8 where he got a bit card happy, but he must have needed to get laid because he was ok again the following week 😉  Hats off to him for being a good sport and letting us smash about 70 penalties against him after the final match last night too, and well done to Steffan Roberts who lived up to his tag of being in the team of the year as the striker as he finished every penalty with some class. I won’t forget Icky’s effort though, and mostly Milva for his cheeky Panenka which made us feel like we were on an episode of skill skool.

So..onto last night’s antics. Winterfell needed to keep their unbeaten record to win the title, and hope that the Arabs slipped up against Jam Jars ever changing line-up. However before that, there was a 4th place up for grabs and a match between the inconsistent Pique Blinders and equally inconsistent FC Snorkel.

With not a huge amount riding on the game, both teams turned up well equipped, although a last minute change to the Blinders side after a late drop-out by Lloyd Ham shifted the balance slightly in favour of the Snorks. Imagine their surprise then, when within a minute of kickoff, the king of the BOOM smashed the ball from about 20 yds out to beat sub keeper Icky easily and put the Blinders 1 to the good. The Blinders piled on the hurt then with a follow up goal putting them 2-0 up with only a few minutes gone. Imagine how mad Turkish was going at this point!! The Blinders created chance after chance, only to then put it wide or not quite connect with the ball to get the goal. With the momentum gone, Snorkel seized their chance, and tournament top scorer Lewis Kingdon swept the ball easily past Cory Seldon to make it 2-1. As the Blinders went in search of more, they lost their shape a little and at the break found themselves 3-2 down after the Snorkel again cut apart the Blinders defence, who’s only wish was that someone would cut off Tom Lewis’ shorts, which were tighter than a virgin’s axe wound.

Into the second half, and the Blinders looked a bit more organised again, but Snorkel despite swapping their GK, looked the better team, and with the Blinders starting to run out of steam they took full advantage. The Blinders got it back to 3-3 thanks to another sublime strike from Fishy, but step forward Icky to make it 4-3 and put the blinders on the back foot once again. The Blinders continued to push, but with butterbean Whelan pushing most of the efforts away it was a tough night in a lot of heat! With the Blinders continuing to push, the Snorks added another two goals, another from Kingdon and one from Morgan Rees who’d moved from CB to push further up field. The Snorks just sneak into 4th above the Blinders on the back of that result, and probably deserved to be a bit further up the table based on recent performances.

Second up, and this was going to determine whether it would go down to the last game or not, and on paper, and on form you’d have backed the Winterfell boys to beat the Badgers easily. With the pre-season friendly that was due to render some of the Winterfell boys unavailable cancelled, it was game on again after they turned up with a relatively full squad, albeit minus Tom Atyeo who doesn’t seem to be available for bigger games, although on this occasion, being on holiday was a valid reason for not being there! Tyrion was still side-lined with this baddie foot bless him, but his gob was working as usual from the side-lines. The little guy seemed really pleased with himself too when within a few minutes last year’s champions found themselves 2-0 up and the Badgers looked set for another battering.

Ashton White however had other ideas as he got the Badgers back to 2-1. This immediately started Casey off, and the Winterfell boys looked scared. They retreated as the Badgers continued to push forward, and then outta nowhere like Randy Orton, step up new signing Ellis Horrigan who sent an absolute rocket of a shot past the Lizard in the Winterfell goals. The Badgers were pinned back again by another Casey goal, only for Horrigan to again step up and make it 3-3 with another rifling shot from a free kick. The Arabs were going nuts on the sideline while Tyrion was bouncing around like a kid in Jump Jam. The arguments between the Winterfell boys increased as they became more and more frustrated with each other, and it wasn’t long before the Badgers sent everyone watching wild and pulled 4-3 in front with just a few minutes remaining through another Ashton White goal. He wasn’t done there though and added another before the final whistle, and the Badgers got revenge for narrowly losing out to Winterfell last year, and in doing so handed the title to the Arabs, who by this point were going bonkers knowing they had nothing to do in the final game other than prove that they were deserved champions.

Last but certainly not least, the newly crowned champions faced Woottons Warriors..I mean Wanderers…for what was a pride match. Lots had been said before this match by both teams, from the Arabs point of view it was just another game, and an opportunity to prove why they should be top of the league, and from the Wanderers point of view it was about pi**ing on their parade. Jam Jar ruffled a few feathers by bringing semi-pro Jon Hood to represent his team, and while some Arabs were worried, most people knew that despite the clear gulf in capability, this wasn’t your typical 11 a side game, and it would certainly take Hoody some time to settle into the pace and physicality of the tournament.

The Arabs started well, and played with confidence, while the Wanderers also brought their game and were determined to prove why they should have been further up the table come last night. Both teams put some good football together, and as usual Milva was pulling the strings for the Wanderers. It was clear that Milva sometimes struggled with the physicality of striker Steff Roberts, however with Brandon as a back-up when needed, Steff relied on his pace and passing to get through the defence. The Arabs continued to press and soon found themselves 1-0 up thanks to team of the year member Keane Watts. The Arabs added another before the Wanderers were able to respond via Jon Hood who has soon settled into the pace of the game, and with Jam Jar running around like a silverback gorilla the Wanderers started getting some more ball.

The Arabs took it to 3-1 when again the Wanderers pipped one back through Lewis Miles. The Wanderers will feel disappointed to have missed out on another stone wall penalty after a penalty box infringement, and made their feelings clear on the night only for Topper to hang his head in shame and walk away claiming no penalty. With not much time left the Arabs grabbed a 4th  to seal the game through another Steff Roberts effort. A late consolation goal from Connor Price, saw the score end 4-3 to the Arabs on the night, who not only have bragging rights over the Wanderers for now, but also have a tournament champions shield for their efforts this season.

To round things up. I’d like to again express our thanks to the players and managers for keeping this tournament going. We started off simply because we couldn’t’ be arsed to travel to the Power League in Cardiff any longer, and 5 years later were still going strong! Thank you for your on-going support and we look forward to seeing you again next year.

PS – the Celtic have recently advised us that following a committee meeting we will return to the old payment structure next season, meaning that we can pass this directly to the teams. Subs will therefore revert back to the original amount of £25 per game 🙂

Congratulations to this year’s champions the YOUNG ARABS. Well deserved!