All morning it rained. It did not look good for our footballing plans. Mind you, if the slab is to go then a jolly good drenching on it for my last game this season would be somehow poetic.
On the bright side, my latest batch of sauerkraut was excellent.
Just after lunch (and another episode of the seemingly never-ending South Korean show 블랙) the clouds blew away and the sun made a perfect appearance. Emma knew straight away it was park time.
What she didn’t know was that she’d be on a lead with a close eye out for male predators. She is definitely in season so her walk is strictly monitored.
Not so Freya who is quite happy to go off and do her own thing anyway.
Then a big black cloud threatened us with its heaving mass of moisture.
We went home and five minutes later the deluge began. It only lasted a short while and the sun returned. This was the pattern for the next few hours until it was time for Nicktor to arrive.
Tonight was the first game of the playoff knock out competition between the top teams in the Vanarama league (where Aldershot presently lives) and we were playing Ebbsfleet. Because the game was going to be critical to the continuation of the season and because it was being broadcast live on the telly, they were expecting a big crowd. There was also going to be an early kickoff (7pm) so Nicktor arrived early.
Steve from number 11 bought everyone tickets, which was very generous of him, and we all met in the pub as usual.
There followed beer, dinner and conversation. At least there was dinner for most of us. Aidy figured it would take too long and another chap lost his vegan fish and chips to the manky pub carpet when it tried to commit suicide. I guess that proves that even protein is alive.
The death of the vegan fish and chips prompted one of our party to relate a story of his youth when he worked in a holiday camp. He accidentally served a few hundred people gravy instead of soup. And they noticed. The story made the barmaid slightly happier in regards to her clumsiness.
Eventually we headed down to the ground and took our usual places on the Slab near Bill. And the crowd gradually grew.
Very soon it was kickoff and the tension began. For the first 45 minutes it was a good tussle with very little finishing. I’d go so far as to say that the goalkeepers were not troubled. In fact I think ours knitted a bobble hat while he waited for some action.
The second half was pretty much the same and, with the score at 0-0 we went into extra time. And, finally, after 108 minutes, we scored. Beautifully and right in front of us. We were all very pleased.
Everything looked set for a second game at Tranmere on Saturday. Nicktor and Steve from number 11 were busy making early morning plans to drive to Liverpool. It was all going to be so jolly. Unfortunately no one thought to tell the Ebbsfleet team about it.
They scored after one of our players forgot how to clear a ball. And so extra time ended with the score 1-1. Mind you there was one stage when the scoreboard had a bit of a fit and decided we were leading 2-0 but unfortunately this was merely wishful thinking.
And so it came to pass that we would have a penalty shoot out; incidentally the first one I’ve ever seen. The tension was everything I’d heard it could be.
It was particularly palpable when Ebbsfleet had missed two and we only needed one to win. And who knew that our scoreboard was not only equipped to handle a penalty shoot out but could also manage green ticks and red crosses?
Then, for reasons none could guess, our goalie decided to take a penalty kick. And missed…or rather he hit the post and the ball went wide. It was the end by the next ball as the sixth Ebbsfleet player struck the ball perfectly and it flew into the goal. The cries of anguish rang out around the ground…except in the away corner where the cries of joy were barely heard.
And so, there ended the season. A good game, played well by both teams. And, hopefully, a stay of execution for the Slab.