You know what they say… all good things must come to an end. And if you didn’t know that… well… that’s what they say. What those glass-half-empty-ers fail to mention while they wallow in self pity crying out ‘why, God, why?’ is that all bad things come to an end too. They probably didn’t mention it because it’s not always true (see The Big Brother television series), but we’ll glaze over the details and leave it at this…The Chicago Liverpool Supporters Club (logically shortened to CLFC) Sunday League team has broken our long trophy drought and won the Windy City Wanderers Co-Ed League title.
Sunday morning saw many of the Co-Ed Reds head over to The Globe pub at 9 a.m. to watch Liverpool take on the newly promoted West Bromwich Albion. As the transfer window neared its end, most Reds were looking for a reassuring performance to instill confidence for the new season. A nice 5-0 maybe, a comfortable performance. What we got instead was a nervy 1-0 win. A moment of brilliance from Fernando Torres gave us the first win of the new Premier League season, but it wasn’t the type of performance most Reds were looking for. But CLFC were determined to pick up where LFC had fallen short.
Everyone arrived about 20 minutes early and well sober, although some of us were packing heat (not guns (as far as I’m aware), alcohol), as we would later find out. Uberstein won their third-place match (the one they were in because we beat them last week) 1-0 and CLFC took the field for warm ups. CLFC were raring to go. Koby Larbi-Siaw and Mark Killeen were missing from the first team, so CLFC only had a bench of 87 players to call on.
The team sheet looked something like this:
Actually, that was the teamsheet. It was especially hot out Sunday, so the deep bench was extremely useful. Knowing what was on the line, CLFC rotated early and often… but it was before the first set of changes was even made that Bryn Griffiths was brought down in the box. Step up Andrew Ladd. Bam. 1-0. Captain Dan Skinner and Griffiths had made a last minute change (a tactical stroke of genius in the ilk of Rafael Benitez or Barack Obama (he’d probably be really good at it)) to the normal 4-4-2 formation, pushing one more player to the middle, to stifle any opposition attacks. It worked like a charm and CLFC controlled the game. CLFC turned the possession into yet another goal when Patrick Garrity found a gap in the defense, ran through it and coolly chipped the goalkeeper. 2-0. By the end of the first half, CLFC goalkeeper Aran Quinn, the exception to every rule, didn’t have a single shot to deal with and it looked comfortable.
Too comfortable. It wasn’t the first time CLFC had a 2-0 advantage over Bakgat. Last time it didn’t end so well. CLFC members knew all too well that this game was far from over. Oranges and water were the refreshments of choice at half time and the same team that started the first half, went out in the second.
Bakgat knew it was an uphill battle and attempted to take more control over the game. The crowded center midfield (Ladd, Griffiths, Arif Ismail, Greg Whalley, Max DeZutter, Justin O’Neil), paired with a solid performing central defense (Skinner, Remi Soyode, Kevin Achettu, Tarek Abdel-Halim) forced Bakgat to take the game out wide. Not to be outdone, our full backs (Liz Risoldi, Hollice Wrobel, Meredith Lansdown, Lauren Irizarry) put in an even more solid performance. Well timed tackles and smart, clean clearances were the name of the game as the ladies put in a brilliant performance. Bagkat weren’t getting a sniff of the goal (and the goal did absolutely reek, seeing as though it was being occupied by Quinn and his never washed gloves). Quinn had little to do.
Aside, of constantly reminding us that 2-0 is the most dangerous scoreline. Step up Max DeZutter. The fresh legs and quick rotation meant the team could afford to run down every ball. And it paid off. DeZutter did his best Dirk Kuyt and had already earned some applause from the sidelines as he chased down a seemingly hopeless ball back. The mere presence of our baby faced Max DeZutter in the box put the fear of God in the defenders as they fumbled around trying to mark him up. Two defenders and the keeper closed in on him, never a good idea, and the ball ended up in the back of the net. Since FIFA has yet to approve goal line camera technology, we’re not quite sure who knocked the ball into the back of the net, so let’s say it was a brilliant toe poke on Maxi’s part. 3-0. At that point, the likes of Andy Gray would probably say, ‘Game well and truly over.’ Just a bit of background, Gray said that when AC Milan were beating Liverpool 3-0 in the 2005 Champion’s League Final. LFC came back to make it 3-3, before winning on penalties.
But CLFC knew better. Smart, cautious play had led to a 3-0 lead and the Reds were determined to keep the cleansheet and the confident style of play going for the full 70 minutes. Of course, the complacency did have a slight effect, with a couple more chances for Bakgat coming through. Quinn, who probably could’ve learned a language (or at least improved upon his terrible English) during his free time as net minder, had a little more to work with in the second half, including watching Bakgat miss a completely open goal. Still 3-0, still a clean sheet.
A sublime pass from Heather Ribeiro (who had been working tirelessly on the wings, along with new signing Sara Knox, Jenny Sze, Brittany Parenti & Lisa Gerberding) put Ladd through on goal for his second and CLFC’s fourth. It was a beautiful move for that 4th, probably the best goal on the day. Time to relax, the cup was coming home.
Carlos Aguirre put the icing on the cake by toe poking it past a hapless Bakgat defense. 5-0. Celebration time. Aguirre won a penalty kick in the dying minutes of the game (earning himself a skinned knee) and Greg Whalley stepped up to take it. Captain Dan, in the interest of sportsmanship offered to take the penalty kick… Not wanting to run up the score, Skinner did his best David Beckham impersonation and with that the final whistle was blown. CLFC were champions, pop the champagne.
Post game celebrations were at SmallBar, which along with having plenty of parking, are now sponsoring our Sunday League team.
The beer was flowing, as were the pregnancy announcements. No less than two Chicago LFC teammates announced that they are both expecting new additions to their own squad early and mid 2011. Miles Skinner, heir to the CLFC captaincy (and another child that was born during a CLFC season), made a quick appearance, looking around disapprovingly as the CLFC squad celebrated the big win.
Greg Whalley also had a look around and once 4-5 teammates had left the pub (and the offer became slightly more reasonable), he bought a round of drinks for all the CLFC members and fans still at the bar! It’s not likely that he remembers this as he was 8 beers in at that point (ordering two at a time) and was last seen with a gin and gin.
It was happy times as CLFC finally won the trophy they have been coveting for their two and a half year existence. Finally, the team had earned a trophy and it now looks as though we will be accepting our promotion to the so called ‘Premier League.’ It won’t be as easy (6-0-1, 17 goals to none in the playoffs), but CLFC are ready for the new challenge. A couple of old faces will return to the squad (Chris Liebelt and Mark Killeen) and a couple of new faces will join up as well (some girl Eliza and Aran Quinn (nosejob)) as the Co-Ed reds embark on a new journey. Regardless of what happens, the performance of the team during this outdoor season is one that will be written in the history books (this blog) for a long, long time (as long as the internet exists).
Details on the sure-to-be-messy championship party to follow shortly.