28th January 2015: Gladiator

Some of you question the validity of my match reports, question whether I am a tad biased in my comments, so before I start this week’s report I wish to quote from the previous week’s report as a reminder that I am even-handed in my comments and the application of the laws of the game: “Worthy champions the Whites have been in this series, dominate and powerful and brushing aside every challenge”.

And so to last week. I have thought long and hard about this, I have started and stopped, rewritten and reconsidered many times over. Would I quote Churchill, or Shakespeare, or Caesar, would that be too obvious, should I be more subtle, some Buddhist poetry perhaps, something heavy with introspection and meditation. Should it be full of analogy or full of fact….and I hear you shout “why facts, why now…the match reports have never contained facts before”: but wait, it is a new year and as with last week when I so obviously spoke both factually and truthfully about the Whites performance being so dominant, here comes the facts! (OK maybe the bit last week about Scouse Steve turning up in a cream Cup Final suit was slightly inaccurate, but Angry Mick did get a tan specifically for the final game and I do have a source that has reported it to be a fake one, paper pants and everything!)

Some might say it wasn’t pretty, some might say it wasn’t football at times, some might say we parked the bus, some might say we used up every trick in the book and then more; we slid, we blocked, we threw ourselves before the ball and challenges, we irritated, and annoyed, we pestered and provoked, but we took our chances, at times we played on the break, we also took the fight to the Whites, we stood toe to toe with our adversaries and took the blows, the slings, the arrows and we refused to yield, we were as one and did not falter: never…in the field, well you know the rest.

But then I thought, well that’s all somewhat verbose, just what you are expecting of me, clearly from the comments at the end of the game the Whites are anticipating a literary lashing of a certain magnitude. Was it sour grapes at having their immense unbeaten run ended…surely not: you are after all are you not better men than that? You knew that the run would come to an end at some stage and it would take something special to end it: we needed a performance like last night, we owed ourselves something like last night. It was going to be that, or a night when we scored off our shins and backsides all evening, and we haven’t had one of those for months, and so your reaction must have been just the pure unabashed and unveiled disappointment, which I understand entirely, I would have felt that also, I have in the past. The Darks have had unbeaten runs to rival, if not better, than the one you have just enjoyed. The Whites have been outstanding for weeks without a break now. When such a run is broken, it is devastating, and to have it broken against a team with a man short and then a man so obviously wounded so early on in the game as well. We all had to dig deep and then go deeper still.

And yet still I struggle to know what to write in this match report, after all the advanced jibes and critics on the night, and knowing what I will face when it is released to the world and what I will face this coming Thursday, and also with Mark’s poignant comments from when he left… “take your time, get it right” in my head…the pressure was on and it has weighed heavy. It had to be just right, I had to find the right tone, the right pitch, the words to capture the performance, the impact from the result, the devastation, the headlines around the world…stop the press, hold the back page, shout it from the roof tops, the Whites are no longer invincible; I had to portray in these paragraphs the energy and commitment right through even into the time added on at the end (Were we playing until the Whites drew level? It will be forever known as Jono time). How can this mean so much to us, we are not professionals, we are just a gathering, a strange and motley gathering to boot of mixed abilities and ages and backgrounds, drawn by our love of this beautiful game, do you not marvel at that and the strength of feeling…welcome by the way Ara to our foolishness, and a solid debut it was too. Bring a dark shirt next week, come join a winning team.

I had to get it right….rewrite after rewrite followed, it was after all just a game of football, it wasn’t a Nobel prize, it wasn’t a Mars landing, it wasn’t a series win, it was just one game, I had to get the balance between humility and pride in victory and respect for the defeated correct, I had read sufficient ancient philosophy to know that missed place hubris will be my downfall but I also knew that I had to honour my teammates and their performance: I was, as they say, in turmoil. We needed our victory parade after Thursday night but we needed our slave standing behind us on our chariot reminding us over every cobble of this symbolic via triumphalis, past every cheering citizen of Rome that we are just men and all glory is fleeting.

And then I struck me, I didn’t need any words. Tim said everything that had to be said with one picture he sent around the team on Friday morning, one picture that summed up the entire match, the best match report ever.

So if you want facts, the facts are simple:

Darks won. Whites lost.

But if you want the match report, then you just need this one picture (see the Gallery, see if you guess which one).

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20th January 2015: Warning, rant time

Warning, rant to follow so if you want to skip to the end and just tell me if you are playing this week then do so because I don’t know what I am most angry about this week, whether it is you jumping to the end of not being bothered about what is making me angry or my comedy fall on the ice in the gym car park on Sunday, a real legs above the head way-hey moment, or the old woman I then offered to help across the very icy section on which I had just fallen who refused my help on the grounds that I was suddenly so obviously inept in her eyes, or the American politician who referred to France as the mother of democracy and offended my ancient historian sensibilities making me shout ‘what about the ancient greeks you Texan befuddled twit (well actually it was far worse but some of you may have filters on your email’) at my television or the ref at Hillsborough at the weekend (and before anyone shouts, the better team won but the man in black was awful for both teams, a true pantomime horse) or my son feigning man flu as the reason to finish the box of fancy chocolates I was saving from Christmas and please note I’m not even going to joke about the recent events in France because they are too tragic and senseless for cheap laughs from this amateur hack but just to say I wish to offend no one with cartoons but will defend their right to offend so je suis Charlie and je suis ahmed in equal measure and this is the week I was going to write about how last weeks game was an absolute cracker and I’m now going to have to rant at myself for nearly forgetting I was going to do that, because it was: what a game indeed, worthy of being a series decider, although the way the Whites turned up in their pristine white shirts, the shirts of champions, and their freshly purchased tanned skin, and their flash new boots, and even the cream cup final suit, don’t think we didn’t notice you scouse steve, sneaking in just after we started, acting all Robbie Fowler, I think all that Real Madrid Ronaldo-esque waxed and oiled legs pre-match strutting was somewhat un-necessary. Worthy champions the Whites have been in this series, dominate and powerful and brushing aside every challenge and for this I doth my northern, industrial Darks cap, although I do believe the Darks can take pride in the way you had to fight for the final victory. See how good these games are when we have the numbers on the pitch…I can feel a rant coming on, best stop here and ask…

It’s a new series, 4 series each, a new dawn, what will it bring. Will the Whites, with their newly found heavy investment and prima-donnas continue to dominate or will the ancient northern powerhouse of the Darks re-emerge from their injuries and absences: its fascinating this football lark.

Who will be there to kick it off?

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Via triumphalis

Some of you question the validity of my match reports, question whether I am a tad biased in my comments, so before I start this week’s report I wish to quote from the previous week’s report as a reminder that I am even-handed in my comments and the application of the laws of the game: “Worthy champions the Whites have been in this series, dominate and powerful and brushing aside every challenge”.

And so to last week.  I have thought long and hard about this, I have started and stopped, rewritten and reconsidered many times over.  Would I quote Churchill, or Shakespeare, or Caesar, would that be too obvious, should I be more subtle, some Buddhist poetry perhaps, something heavy with introspection and meditation.  Should it be full of analogy or full of fact….and I hear you shout “why facts, why now…the match reports have never contained facts before”: but wait, it is a new year and as with last week when I so obviously spoke both factually and truthfully about the Whites performance being so dominant, here comes the facts!  (OK maybe the bit last week about Scouse Steve turning up in a cream Cup Final suit was slightly inaccurate, but Angry Mick did get a tan specifically for the final game and I do have a source that has reported it to be a fake one, paper pants and everything!)

Some might say it wasn’t pretty, some might say it wasn’t football at times, some might say we parked the bus, some might say we used up every trick in the book and then more; we slid, we blocked, we threw ourselves before the ball and challenges, we irritated, and annoyed, we pestered and provoked, but we took our chances, at times we played on the break, we also took the fight to the Whites, we stood toe to toe with our adversaries and took the blows, the slings, the arrows and we refused to yield, we were as one and did not falter: never…in the field, well you know the rest.

But then I thought, well that’s all somewhat verbose, just what you are expecting of me, clearly from the comments at the end of the game the Whites are anticipating a literary lashing of a certain magnitude.  Was it sour grapes at having their immense unbeaten run ended…surely not: you are after all are you not better men than that?    You knew that the run would come to an end at some stage and it would take something special to end it: we needed a performance like last night, we owed ourselves something like last night.  It was going to be that, or a night when we scored off our shins and backsides all evening, and we haven’t had one of those for months, and so your reaction must have been just the pure unabashed and unveiled disappointment, which I understand entirely, I would have felt that also, I have in the past.  The Darks have had unbeaten runs to rival, if not better, than the one you have just enjoyed.  The Whites have been outstanding for weeks without a break now.  When such a run is broken, it is devastating, and to have it broken against a team with a man short and then a man so obviously wounded so early on in the game as well.    We all had to dig deep and then go deeper still.

And yet still I struggle to know what to write in this match report, after all the advanced jibes and critics on the night, and knowing what I will face when it is released to the world and what I will face this coming Thursday, and also with Mark’s poignant comments from when he left… “take your time, get it right” in my head…the pressure was on and it has weighed heavy.  It had to be just right, I had to find the right tone, the right pitch, the words to capture the performance, the impact from the result, the devastation, the headlines around the world…stop the press, hold the back page, shout it from the roof tops, the Whites are no longer invincible; I had to portray in these paragraphs the energy and commitment right through even into the time added on at the end (Were we playing until the Whites drew level?  It will be forever known as Jono time).    How can this mean so much to us, we are not professionals, we are just a gathering, a strange and motley gathering to boot of mixed abilities and ages and backgrounds, drawn by our love of this beautiful game, do you not marvel at that and the strength of feeling…welcome by the way Ara to our foolishness, and a solid debut it was too.  Bring a dark shirt next week, come join a winning team.

I had to get it right….rewrite after rewrite followed, it was after all just a game of football, it wasn’t a Nobel prize, it wasn’t a Mars landing, it wasn’t a series win, it was just one game, I had to get the balance between humility and pride in victory and respect for the defeated correct, I had read sufficient ancient philosophy to know that missed place hubris will be my downfall but I also knew that I had to honour my teammates and their performance: I was, as they say, in turmoil.   We needed our victory parade after Thursday night but we needed our slave standing behind us on our chariot reminding us over every cobble of this symbolic via triumphalis, past every cheering citizen of Rome that we are just men and all glory is fleeting.

And then I struck me, I didn’t need any words.  Tim said everything that had to be said with one picture he sent around the team on Friday morning, one picture that summed up the entire match, the best match report ever.

So if you want facts, the facts are simple:

Darks won.  Whites lost.

But if you want the match report, then you just need this one picture:

[note to reader…if the picture isn’t here it is because my editing skills are very poor and you need to head to the gallery for the picture from Gladiator ]

The ninth world series is up and running and it doesn’t get any more exciting than this.

Who’s playing this week?

Posted in Current World Series, Ninth World Series, The Best Of | Leave a comment

Ninth World Series: Opening Day

Warning, rant to follow so if you want to skip to the end and just tell me if you are playing this week then do so because I don’t know what I am most angry about this week, whether it is you jumping to the end of not being bothered about what is making me angry or my comedy fall on the ice in the gym car park on Sunday, a real legs above the head way-hey moment, or the old woman I then offered to help across the very icy section on which I had just fallen who refused my help on the grounds that I was suddenly so obviously inept in her eyes, or the American politician who referred to France as the mother of democracy and offended my ancient historian sensibilities making me shout ‘what about the ancient greeks you Texan befuddled twit (well actually it was far worse but some of you may have filters on your email’) at my television or the ref at Hillsborough at the weekend (and before anyone shouts, the better team won but the man in black was awful for both teams, a true pantomime horse) or my son feigning man flu as the reason to finish the box of fancy chocolates I was saving from Christmas and please note I’m not even going to joke about the recent events in France because they are too tragic and senseless for cheap laughs from this amateur hack but just to say I wish to offend no one with cartoons but will defend their right to offend so je suis Charlie and je suis ahmed in equal measure and this is the week I was going to write about how last weeks game was an absolute cracker and I’m now going to have to rant at myself for nearly forgetting I was going to do that, because it was: what a game indeed, worthy of being a series decider, although the way the Whites turned up in their pristine white shirts, the shirts of champions, and their freshly purchased tanned skin, and their flash new boots, and even the cream cup final suit, don’t think we didn’t notice you scouse steve, sneaking in just after we started, acting all Robbie Fowler, I think all that Real Madrid Ronaldo-esque waxed and oiled legs pre-match strutting was somewhat un-necessary.  Worthy champions the Whites have been in this series, dominate and powerful and brushing aside every challenge and for this I doth my northern, industrial Darks cap, although I do believe the Darks can take pride in the way you had to fight for the final victory.  See how good these games are when we have the numbers on the pitch…I can feel a rant coming on, best stop here and ask…

 

It’s a new series, 4 series each, a new dawn, what will it bring.  Will the Whites, with their newly found heavy investment and prima-donnas continue to dominate or will the ancient northern powerhouse of the Darks re-emerge from their injuries and absences: its fascinating this football lark.

Who will be there to kick it off?

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Eighth World Series

And so to the eighth world series.

This can be best described as:

Whites won: infact they didn’t just win, they won with such dominance the governing bodies would normally be investigating for irregular betting patterns and checking blood samples.   It wasn’t just the victories in numbers of games, 11-4, but the manner as well.  Whilst the Darks could point to it being a period of sustained weakened sides, injuries and absences and never having a settled team throughout being the constant theme for them, the Whites took advantage with a fit, settled and ruthless display.  They were the Real Madrid of Puskas, the Liverpool of Dalgleish, the Wednesday of…well there must of been a time, however brief.

It was also a series where little was written, perhaps it was a coincidence, perhaps it was something more, perhaps it was a dark age in itself.   It is said that football never flourishes when true competition doesn’t exist, and true competition needs two strong teams.   Art flourishes in the bosom of creativity and excitement, not in the hollowed out chest of the downbeaten….oh who am i trying to kid, I was just knackered.

These are some snippets of the few occasions when i got chance: apologies to the Whites for not writing more about how good they were but hey, I don’t play for them and their heads are big enough already, and they kick me a lot, and i mean A LOT!.

11th August 2014

First up last week’s game was in the end declared void because of the selfish act of one individual: angry mick, who threw himself irresponsibly to the floor, whilst trying to do some step over standing on the ball Brazilian fancy trick, despite no one being around him, knocking himself out, splitting his head open and causing what was a very exciting 3 v 4 to be declared void: ruined it was, and only the sheer volume of his barnet and the gel in it and volumising shampoo he obviously uses saved the pitch from significant damage.  Mind you when he was coming round he made more sense than he normally does, still shouted at Paddy, poor Paddy wasn’t even there.

 So still 1-0 to Whites in the 8th World Series, who is there this week?

23rd October 2014

Yes a tardy service this week, not unlike the many trains I have spent my week upon and there hangs a tale I will not bore you with but non the less here I am and once again I ask of you all in an urgent and breathless manner, and a little demandingly for a need a swift answer to allow me to do a quick headcount (not easy for a man with limited naturally mathematically ability and your often undoubted resemblance to a herd of infant school children on a school trip overdue for toilet break) who is there tonight?

 I believe it remains 4-4 in games I do believe (or maybe 3-3), but I am sure Jono will correct me and Leeds Rob will try to mislead me by inflating the Whites score.

[ note to readers…and now the Whites run began and the Darks did not win another game]

11th November 2014

I’m trying to do a proper match report for last week, I kind of feel under the spotlight after Jono’s match report the previous week and I can’t…all I can remember is that White’s won an entertaining match that swung back and forth with a few dodgy decisions along the way and some marvellous shooting, I particular remember one shot from Scouse Steve that positive screamed into the top corner, I recall us hitting the woodwork a fair few times and my bottom lip popped out, ok ok ok I’m sorry, hands up, having a hard time of it at the moment, too many bad dreams about Lisa and you guys copped for it, very sorry….but…..Paddy was in the area and all I did was make sure it was a bit obvious that he was, its it so wrong to expect a little honesty from the Whites from time to time ??????, I rest my case your honour and take on board Jono’s final comment of the night that in truth the match was already lost by then but even so, in such cases all that we had left to fight for was our pride, and for justice, and that is something for which I will always fight, always, to the bitter end, for I believe that a man can find no greater glory and honour than to stand before his peers and say ‘yes my bottom lip may have been jutting out, my toys may have been strewn across the court but I was standing up for what I believed in, for justice and the rule of law.    For that is the very thing that binds our great nation together; that which lies at the very heart of our democracy, that essence that is our England, that we gave to all the world, that we have stood for, over centuries, in far flung nations, against mighty odds, and we will stand for again and again and again and I am proud to fight for to the bitter and indefatigable end, justice, pride and the inescapable fact that Paddy was in the area and he refused to admit it!

 Whites are leading the World series by 1 game I believe (although I may be wrong, it might be 2): I think it is 5-4?

[note to readers…ahh there’s a clue to the problem, i lost my partner to cancer and for a while struggled to write…didn’t struggle to shout at Paddy and the others though, thankfully they understood and didn’t beat the shit out of me, needed them to help me through it, thank f##k they did]….[he was still in the box and it was still a penalty to us though]

13th January 2015

What is happening to once mighty all conquering Darks?   Where has this run of incredible form the Whites are on come from?    Are the Darks Dortmund and the Whites Bayern?    Is it Barca and Madrid, where is our Messi and who is your Ronaldo….oh the temptation is huge but I will restrain myself…mind you even that feels quite nice mmmmmm I say…..are we now Liverpool and you Chelsea.  Could this be the week when another series is won?   10-4 it stands in games, the Whites and the single series lead to the Darks could evaporate.  Is the balance of power finally swinging away from the aging, injury stricken, transfer embargoed Darks?

 

and the final wrapping up match report of the series…

Warning, rant to follow so if you want to skip to the end and just tell me if you are playing this week then do so because I don’t know what I am most angry about this week, whether it is you jumping to the end of not being bothered about what is making me angry or my comedy fall on the ice in the gym car park on Sunday, a real legs above the head way-hey moment, or the old woman I then offered to help across the very icy section on which I had just fallen who refused my help on the grounds that I was suddenly so obviously inept in her eyes, or the American politician who referred to France as the mother of democracy and offended my ancient historian sensibilities making me shout ‘what about the ancient greeks you Texan befuddled twit (well actually it was far worse but some of you may have filters on your email’) at my television or the ref at Hillsborough at the weekend (and before anyone shouts, the better team won but the man in black was awful for both teams, a true pantomime horse) or my son feigning man flu as the reason to finish the box of fancy chocolates I was saving from Christmas and please note I’m not even going to joke about the recent events in France because they are too tragic and senseless for cheap laughs from this amateur hack but just to say I wish to offend no one with cartoons but will defend their right to offend so je suis Charlie and je suis ahmed in equal measure and this is the week I was going to write about how last weeks game was an absolute cracker and I’m now going to have to rant at myself for nearly forgetting I was going to do that, because it was: what a game indeed, worthy of being a series decider, although the way the Whites turned up in their pristine white shirts, the shirts of champions, and their freshly purchased tanned skin, and their flash new boots, and even the cream cup final suit, don’t think we didn’t notice you scouse steve, sneaking in just after we started, acting all Robbie Fowler, I think all that Real Madrid Ronaldo-esque waxed and oiled legs pre-match strutting was somewhat un-necessary.  Worthy champions the Whites have been in this series, dominate and powerful and brushing aside every challenge and for this I doth my northern, industrial Darks cap, although I do believe the Darks can take pride in the way you had to fight for the final victory.  See how good these games are when we have the numbers on the pitch…I can feel a rant coming on, best stop here and ask…

 It’s a new series, 4 series each, a new dawn, what will it bring.  Will the Whites, with their newly found heavy investment and prima-donnas continue to dominate or will the ancient northern powerhouse of the Darks re-emerge from their injuries and absences: its fascinating this football lark.

 Who will be there to kick it off?

Posted in The Eighth World Series | Leave a comment

Wemberley

 

It’s 3-0 to the Whites after last week and I’m making no comment about it because I am brimming with civic pride after yesterday.  I may be a Wednesdayite through and through but I’m absolutely chuffed for all those amongst us (and beyond) from the red and white side of the city.   For all the talk of the might have been Steel City Quarter Final, the truth is that Wednesday had got to the verge of the round by beating minnows and then blew it, United got there the hard way and then some.  It wasn’t that one Sheffield team deserved the prize of a trip to Wembley and the other did not, just that United did more and on the back of yesterday’s great result, get yourselves to Wembley, have the greatest of days and ideally – despite the grief that Wednesdayites will get from this happening – win it and make this city proud, all this in the week of the 150th anniversary of the great Sheffield flood, one of the worse man-made disasters in British history.

So who is playing this week?

Posted in The Seventh World Series | Leave a comment

Jive Bunny

By now you will have realised I’m not a scientist type so the news this morning that such white coated meddling people had brought back to life a billion zillion year old virus that had laid dormant in the ice for quite a long time and that they were rather excited about this concerned me somewhat.  We have all seen Jurassic Park, we all know these things never end well but it did get me nostalgiaising (if that isn’t a word it damned well should be) and before long I was on Spotify and enjoying a few blast from the pasts, so against my better judgement (as the last time we tried it, it didn’t end well…your favourite Bond…) I think it is time for another in the series of the Blades 5 A Side footy polls but this time, songs we haven’t heard for a very long time but have a particular place in our heart and you would love to see ‘defrosted for one more play’ – see the link!  …surely you lot can’t mess this one up.    

For example I offer you a range of:

Nick Lowe’s Cruel To Be Kind – especially for Angry Mick

Paper Lace’s Billy Don’t Be A Hero – straight from Mark’s goalkeeping manual

UFO’s Doctor Doctor – something to be played after one of Big John’s special tackles

Peter Gabriel’s Games Without Frontiers –  why does Paddy and Leeds Rob come suddenly to mind

Now I certainly expect Brian and Tim to have something to say about these musical selections and if Scouse Steve doesn’t include something by Cilla Black in his I will be very disappointed but it is over to you now to add to the list.

And whilst you are doing so, also let me know if you are playing this week.  It is 2-0 to the Whites after last week’s somewhat questionable defection by Angry Mick to the Darks.

Posted in The Seventh World Series | Leave a comment

Manuel Mellorgrini

Let’s see who can guess what is vexing me most this week after the opening game victory to the Whites in World Series VII last week?

a)       was it Paddy’s new shoes, of which I could write for hours

or

 b)       was it that the Whites yet again resorted to this underhand tactic of not declaring their playing numbers prior to kick off so to ensure they have an extra man

You should have been at the post match press conference, Swedish referee hah, team sheets dear Whites team sheets, common courtesy, level playing field, are you so dastardly to resort to such tactics, what’s next…hiding players in linen baskets, man traps scattered around the defending third, ball-bearings falling behind you from your shorts as you run, using opposition players to win a World Series (oh wait you’ve already did that one).  But we will fight on, just as the Allies did in Escape to Victory, and we will win, and why…because we have Right on our side, because we are Englishmen, because….oh I can’t be bothered with all this, we all are….just reply to the email…let’s try and get even sides!

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Warm Pants From The Radiator

I’ve said my piece about last week but being the sporting gentleman that I often am I offer my congratulations to those pesky whites one final time but now it is a new Series, a new start, a new dawn, a new beginning, the first taco, a first egg out of the box, the first rainbow, the first openly gay premiership footballer, the first bald prime minister of the modern age, your first slinky, your first kiss, the first ice cream of the summer, the first chocolate mousse of the winter, the first snowball, the first time you wear your pants warm straight off the radiator, I’m sure you get the picture, and we are doing it the good old way…it’s not live on sky or any other digital format, we are going for it the way the good Lord intended, apart from the grass and the 11-a-side and the inclement weather conditions affecting the flight of the ball, and the crowd and the myriad of backroom staff and the inflated wages and ego pampering groupies, because none of us would want any of those things, now would we, especially not those final two things, I mean given the choice between the inflated wages and ego pampering groupies or warm pants straight from the radiator I know which I would always choose….

So I ask of you once again, knowing that Jono’s inclusion is subject to a continued appeal process against his two match ban for hiding beneath Angry Mick’s boisterously flamboyant quiff and Mark is long term injured, will you be snug as a rug or will you be chilly around the….

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Me and Dennis Law

World Series VI is done and sitting proudly upon the throne are the Whites.     On behalf of all the Darks, I doth my cap and prepare to take my place in the guard of honour despite my own part in the downfall of my teammates.

It pains me to say that on the night itself the Whites were simply the better team and rose to the occasion of the final: the missing Whites, of which there were many I hasten to add, would have been proud of their erstwhile team-mates.

As for the Darks, we can still take comfort from having won more games in total over the six series to date and that for the Whites to claim this latest victory they needed one of the Darks to make up their numbers to allow the game to go ahead.

As for me, I was that man, I am Dennis Law.

 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aXpF2v0Kgvk&noredirect=1

Posted in The Sixth World Series | Leave a comment