As we pushed through the bustling crowd that had gathered at Mile End Stadium, I think some of the Boafista stars were feeling the pressure a bit. We all knew what was required of us: one win out of the two remaining games would earn us promotion to the Premier League, with both our closest promotion rivals, Southwark Lions and the formidable Fidel, standing in the way. Temperatures were once again soaring, and a difficult hour-long period of supposed relaxation after work wasn’t what we needed to ease the nerves. Seeing the legions of fans that had made the trip up from Hackney to cheer, and occasionally flash the opposition, showed us what we were playing for though, and going through the standard warm-up regime of stretches and cigarettes, we started to get fired up.
The first match was against a Southwark Lions team that had come on leaps and bounds since the timid foursome we played in the season opener. And by that I mean that they’d drafted in a Portuguese ringer who was probably the best individual player (besides myself obviously) in the Wednesday night Power League. Identifying the threat though, the self-appointed tactical expert Alaninho suggested we just sit on that guy man-for-man for the whole game to stop them playing, and you know what, it worked. We bossed the pace of the game, spraying it around at the back with aplomb, while further up the pitch a rejuvenated Lloydinho caused problem after problem with his movement and physical presence.
As the clock ticked down though, the still-goalless scoreline was a cause for concern, as a poached goal from them and we were in all sorts of problems. A huge effort from the ‘Fisters in the final quarter however, driven by a whole-hearted desire to not have to play poor Paul Hasting two more times this summer, proved too much for the toothless Lions, and with around seven minutes to go a deflected shot from Alaninho landed at my feet about 12 yards out. There was no pass on and no pressure on the ball, so looking up I picked my spot and drew that famously insured right leg back to unleash hell. My touch however unusually let me down, and instead of a drive of Roberto Carlos-esque venom, I topped the shot and watched it trickle embarrassingly towards their normally-solid keeper. Thankfully though he had an absolute mare, and somehow contrived to let the ball bumble through his legs for the game’s only goal. We played keep ball as the seconds ticked away, and when the ref blew for full time, the amassed crowd went chicken oriental to celebrate our glorious promotion into the big time.
Spirits were obviously high going into the final game against league winners Fidel. Since both teams were already promoted, they was little to play for, but we were definitely motivated by Fidel’s cock-ish habit of always wearing assorted Arsenal kit. Such was the energy expenditure in that first game however, we were honestly pretty rubbish, and to be fair to Fidel they can all play a bit. Jakinho, Jiminho and Jackinho all put themselves about, but the movement of Fidel was causing problems on the break. Only hardman enforcer Robinho and returning super-keeper Deaninho kept our clean sheet as the first-half rolled on at a high tempo. Bragging rights were clearly in both teams’ minds, and as the game got physical, tempers started to flair. Lloydinho was subject to some truly shocking illegal slide tackles, while Desmondinho also found himself getting a bit of treatment after throwing a few elbows about. The game descended into essentially a fight, with one of their players getting red carded in the dying minutes, but still, the final 0 – 3 scoreline was disappointing. We definitely look forward to playing them two more times in the big boys league over the next couple of months, and hopefully getting some revenge, while four new opponents in the Premier League will offer another new challenge.
So at the halfway point in the season our record is six wins, three losses and a draw. Big up to everyone who’s played so far and start getting psyched up for next week in the top flight! Oh also I finally took some photos this week so I hope you have enjoyed them. We are the ones in yellow by the way.