An excellent turn out for the first game of the new season (six-a-side) and a warm welcome to new team Strategic Optimism FC.
“Comprised of various perennial students, the Strategic Optimists derive their name from the now largely dissolved University for Strategic Optimism. Operative primarily around 2010-11, the UfSO was a nomadic university with a transitory campus, based on the principles of free and open education, collective learning and psychogeographical forays into enemy territories. This name was considered an appropriate moniker in terms of the team’s triolectical footballing talents – mainly reliant, as they are, upon an often dissimulative optimism.
Containing a number of dedicated psychogeografikal researchers, SOFC deemed such ludic explorations an appropriate extension of their ongoing investigations.
SOFC, who contain two Romanian players, also played on Sunday in solidarity with a day of global protests in 75 cities worldwide. Bedecking their goal with improvised banners, SOFC showed their unity with those opposing a project allowing multinational firm Gabriel Resources to decimate the Romanian village of Rosia Montana, creating Europe’s largest open-cast gold mine, complete with highly toxic cyanide lake.”
Sunday’s game pitted the two ever present die-hards, D3FC and Polsky Budowlancy against the newcomers and, as might be expected, play began at a leisured pace; the two regular teams trying to get a feel for the skills and tactical guile of the Optimists and they in turn trying to figure out what the hell three sided football was all about.
Five minutes in and the Optimists were a goal down, the entire outfield having accidentally abandoned the goalie to a two team, concerted attack. Quickly establishing the need for a dedicated defence, the newcomers now settled back while Polsky and Deptford took the play to each other. Against the run of play, Polsky shipped two quick goals toward the end of the rotation and the closing whistle saw Deptford with a handy 2.1.0 lead.
The second rotation began with a planned alliance between the Poles and SOFC get off to a shaky start as Mihaela, one of two ladies playing for the Optimists, quickly bluffed an excellent shot on the Polish goal which veered just wide of target. The alliance remained unfazed by this momentary onset of cunning and Deptford soon found themselves surrounded by a ten player assault. Shots rained down on the area but as has been noted here before, six-a-side games can oft result in maddening goal mouth frustration as the sheer numbers of players in the box can thwart any chance of the ball making it through. Body blocks and missed chances mounted, but finally, a delightful diving header found a gap and the Deptford lead was no more.
This also did for the Polsky Optimist alliance as the Poles and D3FC now teamed up again. Numerous missed opportunities kept providing the newcomers with a lifeline but with the rotation closing a crafty Polish switchback put another past the Deptford goalie to see the Optimists take an unexpected lead. D3FC now went seeking revenge and it was Polsky facing the ten man attack. A sublime shot from the centre point, deflected neatly by an Optimistic shoulder, lifted the back of the Polish net and SOFC entered the third in winning ways. 3.2.1
The last two seasons have never seen a team in the lead at the start of the third carry this to the end – but the recent game in Istanbul a fortnight ago (1) dispelled this nascent orthodoxy. Could the Optimists repeat the maneuver? Their two opponents were going to do everything to ensure they wouldn’t. As the Deptford goal had been besieged in the second, so now the Optimists were hemmed in in the third. Balls ricocheted away as a series of fearless blocks kept the goalmouth dry. Two of the Optimists were forced to retire after being practically flattened by the onslaught (fortunately a number of subs were on hand) but inevitability showed its hand and with the rotation passing the half way stage the gap was found – 3.2.2.
Polsky have little time now to try and do anything about their losing situation. Goals are proving hard to come by in this six-a-side and SOFC are looking to slow it down. If Deptford can be taken out of the shared lead they can perhaps be lured into an assault on the Optimists again. If 3.3.3 can be reached with a minute or two to go then a chance still exists. So feigning an attack on the leaders, a planned Polsky play sees a long ball whipped over to the Deptford goal as two Polish forwards rush towards it. The goalie has only a single defender and there’s space to shoot. The opportunity isn’t wasted and now the Optimists must prepare themselves for the inevitable. 3 minutes to go. 3.3.2. Can they hold on?
Rather than try to fill the goalmouth the leaders bring out the ball to their front line and hold it there. An excellent series of strategic ball killing plays time out the clock and do justice to the Optimists moniker. The orthodoxy is broken for the second game in succession and the newcomers take the honours.
(1) Philosophy Football FC invited Mark from D3FC to play with them in the first three sided football game in Turkey. Played on Saturday 14th Sept on the shores of the Golden Horn, the match pitted the Philosophers against Dynamo Windrad from Germany and Ayazma FC, the Turkish writers and artists football team. The event, held as part of the Istanbul Biennale, was organised to support the launching of an International Three Sided Football Federation. More about this important development in the evolution of the game in a later post.