Grand Final 2017
“We're shit but we beat Coogee, we're shit but we beat Coogee”
Sung in harmony by Barnstoneworth United, ESFA AA1 Grand Final Winners 3 September 2017.
Before we get lost in the details below, it feels appropriate to highlight and thank some of the key people behind the club that have ultimately laid the foundations for the success achieved this year:
Simba, Nick, Eddie, Finn, Billy Lettuce, Joe Peters, Chris M and of course Big Jim (rumor has it that Big Jim did a Jock Stein following the news of Barney’s great achievement but was subsequently welcomed through the pearly gates with a can of VB and a smile on his face).
We would also like to thank everyone that has contributed to the success of the club this year:
Both teams combined who together made training intense and enjoyable, the key players who dominated all season but were unfortunately unable to make the final (David ‘Harold’ Shannon and Stevie Hibee, who if news reports are to be believed is currently sitting with Big Jim watching down on us) and most importantly the fans (all 6 of them).
Barney has demonstrated across the whole season that we are a ‘1 for all’ club and the Grand Final success was ultimately delivered by those on and off the pitch, including the audacious fans who came along in their numbers to support the red and white and hurl some serious (and well deserved) abuse at Coogee.
Thanks, and MTB!!
A scorching September Sunday had seen temperatures hit 27 degrees during the day, and it was safe to say that both teams were thankful of the late evening kick off. Simba must have had sleepless nights going into this one trying to pick a starting 11 with a number of players back from injury and holidays all looking for a spot in the starting line up. The team was as follows:
Gordon in goal with a back four of Andy Porteous, Joe Peters, Simba and Iain Boot. Chirs Moore and Alec Faulkner on the wings with Merv and Marty in the middle. Walshy and Danny started up front.
Subs: ZlaTom, Sam Binks, Joe Newman, Dave T, Gaffo, Baldy Nick and Damo.
There was an air of togetherness as Barney got kitted out in actual changing rooms for the first time this season (a rare treat) and following an intensely quiet focused warm up the red and white were standing shoulder to shoulder with Coogee in the cage tunnel. The atmosphere in the cage was tense, reminiscent of The Undertaker vs Mankind ‘Hell In A Cell’ match ’98 and if Davy Shannon had been there, may have ended up much the same way.
The embarrassment of walking out in single file as of it was a the Champions League final calmed the nerves of both teams, with neither really sure what the Hampden roar was.
Barney kicked the game off and very sharply realized it was going to be tough first half with a strong headwind and a competitive Coogee pegging them back deep and making it difficult to play on the break. However, Barney were battling hard with Simba picking up an early yellow for a competitive challenge on a Coogee chest, and Boot picking up another as a result of a number of early fouls on the quick winger (who was also a unit). Early in the first half a ball driven out of defence was plucked out of the air by Magic Man Merv, and like a young Merlin carried the ball in his stride past two players, and eventually got a shot away however didn’t look like troubling the keeper. This first shot away seemed to settle the nerves of Barney and opened the game a bit more.
Despite this fast start from Barnstoneworth, Coogee grew into the game and started to apply their own pressure earning themselves a succession of corners. Set pieces were going to be key to the first half and the gale force winds swirling around the Barney box didn't make defending any easier, Barney were under the pump but defending hard. Resistance was finally broken after another corner was whipped into the Barney box. Despite being initially cleared the Coogee striker anticipated the second ball and, under pressure by the on rushing defence, smashed a wonder volley over his shoulder and into the top left onion bag. 0-1 Coogee.
Barney continued to battle hard against the wind and started to get some joy both on the left as Alec started to get into the game and Chris and Andy linking up on the right. Walshy and Danny also working well up top, resulting in a number of corners which Barney were looking dangerous from. The breakthrough came when an in swinging corner wasn’t cleared by Coogee first time resulting in a 6 yard box scramble and a big appeal for handball as the Coogee defender blocked a goal bound shot on the line. Alec kept concentration though and was the first to react as the ball spilled lose and smashed home from close range. The crowd erupted, and the game was back on. 1-1.
The goal lifted Barney and they came close to taking the lead after a good ball into the box was only half cleared and fell to Marty on the edge of the box. The ball sat up nicely and the half volley looked destined for the top corner but it wasn't to be and it sailed inches over the bar.
Coogee continued to use the wind to their advantage as the half drew to a close and looked dangerous from set pieces. A ball into the barney box resulted in a bit of a goal mouth scramble with the ball eventually dropping for a Coogee player on the 6 yard box with the goal at his mercy. However, Charity Gordo made the first of many miraculous saves to deny Coogee taking the lead and some how managed to block the shot from point blank range. The resulting corner was cleared and Barney managed to get settled at the back once again.
Barnstoneworth kept trying to play on the front foot despite the Coogee pressure and carved open Coogee again with a great ball over the top towards Walshy. A great first touch and a good second touch got the ball out from his feet but just as he looked destined to give Barney the lead a Coogee defender slid in from the side with a great tackle. There were some appeals for a penalty but Walshy confirmed that the ball was won cleanly. That was the last action of the half and nothing could separate the two teams.
Simba decided to emulate his idol Phil Brown, and conducted the half time team talk outside rather than use the facilities provided. The message was simple – pure work and attitude would win us the game. We knew that we had more goals in us and with the wind in our favour for the second half we were confident of getting the job done. There was only one change at half time with Dave T coming on for Simba.
From the first kick of the second half, Barney were over Coogee like Hurricane Irma, with a rampant Marty tracking Coogee all over the park and winning every ball. Davy T had an instant impact at centre half winning every long ball Coogee could throw at him. Having only been on the pitch 10 minutes Dave managed to wipe out 45% of the Coogee team, but unfortunately he also pulled his groin. It wouldn't be a match report without saying Dave T hobbled off clutching his leg.
Coogee were delighted to see the back of Davy T, however Joe Newman came onto replace him and the two Ronnies (Joe and Joe) who had been so consistent during the season redeemed their partnership giving Coogee nothing. Big ZlaTom was also brought on to replace Merv who put in a hell of a shift in the middle and was running on empty after 4 weeks out injured. Having our top scorer coming on from the bench was a huge boost to the team and it was no surprise the game shifted in Barneys favour.
The tables were turned as Barney pegged Coogee back this half, and managed to play a lot more football with Chrissy M coming into the middle to replace Merv. This pushed Danny out wide allowing Tom and Walshy to resume the 37 goals combined strike partnership. Chris was winning every ball in the middle and being instrumental at getting the wings involved and starting attacks. A true captains performance.
The game changed on the hour mark after a long ball over the top allowed the Coogee winger a clear run at goal. Iain Boot tracked back well and manged to get himself in between the ball and the goal forcing the Coogee winger to get around him. The ball was over hit but as boot slid in for the challenge and the winger hit the deck hearts were in mouths waiting on the refs decision. Free kick to Barnstoneworth and a yellow card for diving, relief was felt among the players as on another day that could easily have been given as a penalty.
Barney’s second came from the resulting free kick and was a goal straight out of the 'Big Sam Allerdici' play book. Gordon took full advantage of the wind and launched a long ball towards ZlaTom who flicked the ball towards goal. Danny got to the ball first and managed to head on to Alec who was driving into the box, Alec took it under control and with his weaker right foot and buried it into the top right corner. 2-1 BUFC.
Danny and Alec switched wings, which allowed Alec to reek absolute havoc against the Coogee defence, at times completely unplayable. Danny was also getting joy down the left and connected well with Boot overlapping. Barney continued to defend well against Coogee, who were working hard to get back into the game, with Joe Peters reading the game as well as he has all season and Joe Newman not letting Barney reject Giles out of his sight.
Barney’s third came from a beautiful move started down the right by Andy, followed by some deftly one touch passes by Tom, Walsh and Danny around the Coogee defence which allowed a galloping Marty to drive through one on one with the on rushing keeper. Marty got to the ball first and lifted the ball effortlessly over him and rolled it into an empty net, sending the Barney crowd into hysteria. 3-1 BUFC. It may have been the beer talking but in the pub after the game there were rumours that Marty compared the feeling of scoring that goal to the birth of his first child.
Although 2 up, the game was still wide open with Coogee managing to create some quality chances near the end. The first coming when Coogee’s right winger cut inside on his first touch and bent a curling shot against the far post with Gordo rooted to the spot. Proper squeaky bum time. The second chance, which has gone viral on youtube, saw the save of the season from yet another Coogee set piece. The ball was whipped in and the Coogee player headed down with power to the bottom corner but somehow Gordo got down like a young Gordon Banks and managed to keep it out, with Joe Peters there to clear the second ball. Double squeaky bum time.
With Coogee throwing everything forward to get back into the game Barney were able to fashion a couple of chances of their own. Alec got the better of his man on the right hand side twisting and turning before cutting inside to the corner of the penalty area. On a hatrick he let fly but just got underneath it as it flew just over the crossbar, ZlaTom was screaming for the pass but no one can begrudge Alec the chance of a Grand Final hatrick.
Big Tom got his chance a few minutes later with a powerful run at the Coogee defence. After rounding the keeper and getting his shot off it look destined for the bottom corner but a Coogee defender did well to get back and clear right on the goal line.
Barney gave nothing away for the last 5 mins, and the attitude shown from the first whistle was maintained to the final. Sam Binks, who has had a season blighted with injury, came on for a Cameo appearance and within 30 seconds took a high ball under control with a cracking first touch skinned the full back and eventually got dragged to the floor winning a free kick to ease the pressure on the Barney back line.
The final whistle went and it was jubilation across the pitch, with the Barney fans performing a pitch invasion and Liam shouting ‘get it up ye’ to the Coogee supporters. 3-1 BUFC FT.
The ceremony at the end saw the Coogee captain eloquently congratulate Barney on a well deserved win, and this was followed by a largely in-eloquent Chrissy M stating, “I’m not trying to be shite right, but I really like Coco Pops”.
It appeared that ESFA blew their trophy budget on a stage and smoke machines this year as Chrissy M picked up a dubious looking trophy, however the symbolic value of said silverware will forever by cherished by those involved in the 2017 campaign.
Man of the match: Alec Faulkner.
A special mention to Simba from all the boys who has been a first class manager, player and driver across the whole season. Without him, I quite literally wouldn’t have got there.
Apres Match MVP – Merv Stynes aka Digestive Man. One man show now running at Star Casino