Friday, October 28, 2011

Marin World Cup: Round 1 - To be a "Winner" or a "Loser"

As avid followers of this rather protracted blog are aware, The Marinthians have been a unit for over a year now. Over this year, players have come and gone, and every week we play an agency for fun and good times. Sometimes we win, sometimes we lose, but we always know that there will be a drink in the pub if we want it.

So a year down the line, a tournament was arranged pitting us into battle with seven other agencies to duke it out to hold the coveted title of Marin World Cup champions. Held in deepest darkest Wandsworth, each team had to first traverse the daunting prospect of a journey through South West London and locate the Wandle Recreation center, the location of the tournament.

Some teams clearly found it easier than others, with a worried looking Le Plop eagerly awaiting the arrival of the teams. Owing to a combination of late taxis and London traffic, many teams arrived seconds before kick off, but they did all arrive. We were ready to play.

Taking part were team members from:

OMG 1 (Access and MG OMD)
OMG 2 (International and PHD)
Big Mouth Media
Agenda 21
Starcom Mediavest

Ensuring each team would play three games of two 20 minute halves, the first round would determine who would enter the "Winners" and "Losers side of the draw. With Marinthians seemingly drawn (entirely at random) into the easier side of the draw, the team were confident for a positive outcome.

Game 1 -> Marinthians vs Tradedoubler

Having been drawn against Tradedoubler in the first round, we definitely felt a win was achievable, having beaten them 2 out of 3 times that we had played them previously. Adopting the red kit, they looked ready to draw blood.


The actual game was very close for a long while. Even though Big Bad Bill (I have been finger wagged by the "Manager". Apparently it's Viduka) nailed a fierce finish into the left corner to secure the first goal of the tournament, the Tradedoubler boys just kept on coming. Scoring right on half time, the Marinthians went into HT a comfortable 4-2 up.

As all 4 first round games kicked off at the same time, it was pretty keep up to date with the goings on around the grounds. The Starcom vs OMG 2 game was turning out to be a cracker. With Starcom going in 3-2 at half time, it was an unexpected lead as the OMG 2 team were well fancied. OMG 1 were well fancied from the start of the tournament and were playing well against a strong Big Mouth Media side, leading 3-1 at half time. I genuinely have never seen such a tall five a side team in my life! Finally, Agenda 21, or Agenda 4 as they were later known (sadly they were struck by last minute withdrawals and had to battle on with borrowed players) struggled against a composed Zenith/Performics side and were already 6-0 down at half time.

As the second halfs kicked off, Marinthians pushed on. They knew that last goal before half time had disheartened the TD team and were going for the jugular. As soon as Scouse entered the fray, he rampaged around the TD team like a prancing stallion and lashed home goals for fun. Before they could do anything about him, he had notched a couple of goals and TD were shell shocked. As the final whistle was blown, The Marinthians had come through as 7-3 winners and qualified for the "Winners" half of the tournament. Job done.

On reflection, the team had looked calm and had played as well as I had ever seen them play. Wikka in goal looked composed, although he did look prone to lapses of concentration. Passing it straight to the opposition for them to score is not a particularly good tactic. With Pilks marshalling the defence and Scouse smashing them in, we looked like a solid unit and rightfully fuelled haughty expectation in the Marin camp.

As the results from the other games started to filter in, there were some genuinely surprising scores. OMG had been pushed hard in their game and had overcome the BMM threat 6-4. BMM would fall into the losers tournament, but looked good to secure that trophy. Agenda 4 had struggled at half time, but were absolutely ripped apart after the break succumbing 17-0 in the end. The players were remarkably still in good spirits. The last game to finish was an epic encounter. As close as the Starcom game was at half time, OMG 2 surged into a 6-5 lead. With only seconds left on the clock, Starcom snatched an equaliser and saw a final shot skied into the trees, to be lost to nature. We had our first penalty shoot out.

The rules in 5-a-side are first to 3 and then sudden death. However, nobody expected what was to come. With OMG stepping up first, they confidently slotted it in. Goal followed goal followed goal, with both sides unrelenting. OMG 2 were the first to buckle, only to see Starcom follow suit. 9-8 down, Starcom stepped up and missed. OMG 2 went through to the Winners tournament. Absolutely epic.

So the next round ended up like this:

Winners: Marinthians vs Zenith/Performics
OMG 1 vs OMG 2

Losers: Agenda 21 vs Tradedoubler
Big Mouth Media vs Starcom

Frisking the fixtures, The Marinthians were facing up to a tough match. Having seen Zenith put 17 past Agenda 21 without conceeding, they looked like the surprise package of the tournament. The juiciest match up was clearly the all OMG tie, with OMG guaranteed a presence in the final. One to look out for.

In the losers final, it was really all about who was going to get that Wooden Spoon trophy. Agenda 21 depleted and no doubt tiring due to their lack of subs and previous drubbing did not look great, but were going to be playing a TD team lacking in confidence. BMM looked strong, but so did Starcom so another great match in the offing.

Stay tuned for all the action from the next round....

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