Miloco 5-a-side Tournament 2005 Match Report
1st Place, 2005 champions, 679 Recordings:
A full day in Miloco's flagship mixing studio, The Neve VR Room, as well as a chilled bottle of Veuve Clicquot champagne, the inaugural and much-coveted Miloco 5-A-Side Football Tournament Champions' Trophy, and medals on ribbons round necks for all concerned.
2nd Place, 2005 runners-up, Pete Gibbons aka 'V2':
Pete wins a full day in Miloco's supreme tracking studio, The Garden, as well as a chilled bottle of Veuve Clicquot champagne, and a markedly smaller inaugural and slightly-less-coveted Miloco 5-A-Side Football Tournament Runners-up Cup.
3rd Place, Stephen Budd Management:
A full day in Miloco's delectable mid-ranged studio, The Square, as well as a chilled bottle of Veuve Clicquot champagne and the undying respect of their peers, onlookers and well-wishers.
4th Place, Virgin Records:
A full day in Miloco's big boys' paradise, The Toyshop, and a fatherly nod from a passing net-maintenance operative.
And so, like they always said it would, Battersea played host to the Miloco Five-A-Side Football Tournament 2005. In droves they came, these brave men in an assortment of shirts, with dreams of darting runs, threaded through balls, a Grolsch or three and glory; beyond all else, glory.
And as the gladiators approached, eyeing kit bags and bow-legs for a glimpse of overt professionalism, the sun shone down and mothers held their baying daughters back by their straining too-clean pigtails. Bullocks bolted and professional wrestlers whimpered - for ne'er before had so much testosterone been gathered together in just one place, at just one time. Fireworks were inevitable.
The motley assemblage of referees brought whistles to taut lips and blew: they were under way! Legs swung, orbs rolled, lungs wheezed and many dreams were instantly, cruelly shattered. But on they played. The hot, hot sun shone on, brows duly sweated, knees got swiftly scuffed and bloody on the sand-coated Astroturf and an amount of swearing took to the air, zipped about on the cooling summer breeze. A few referees had their parentage questioned. Penalties were awarded, tempers frayed.
While some teams were in matching kit, well marshaled and barking commands to and fro, others looked at their own legs as if they were a stranger's, knew not where to stumble next and took to staring bemused at the curious oft' bouncing sphere that flitted about them like a devilish pixie. There was chaos. There were moments of sublime skill. A few, anyway.
The Group Stages
The initial group stages saw favourites struggle and rank amateurs fluke excellence:
2004's quarter-finalists Universal were well drilled and more than keen. Professing to have indulged in no pre-tournament training, commands were none-the-less bellowed from the side-lines and opponents duly harried and hustled. They were also in a battle of the anthems, having grabbed Back in Black by AC/DC for themselves, whilst Virgin had laid claim to Willy Mason's Oxygen ("cos we're gonna need lots of it chasing after everyone else"). Elsewhere, Nomadic had plumped for The Fall's Totally Wired, and then let slip, somewhat appropriately, that they had also indulged in no pre-tournament training whatsoever. Meanwhile, Atlantic fessed-up to "a little " preparation after admitting, sheepishly, to collecting the wooden spoon last year. They then registered their bold intent to finish "not last" this time around(the effects of training on morale cannot, it seems, be underestimated).
Meanwhile, Roll Deep lined up like bristling prize fighters with the gift of the gab, jink and juggle. But they were up against 'V2' aka Pete Gibbons & The Strangers (Pete was the single representative of V2, last year's winners, and when shackled to a similarly solitary 1-Extra member and a few hastily employed reprobates found in a Miloco office drawer, a scratch team was born). Roll Deep were slick, deadly and talented; 'V2' lucky, plucky and a bit more lucky, and they somehow emerged with a 3-2 victory. The referee was 'enthusiastically' questioned . 'V2' slunk off with a chuckle. Before their encounter, when asked about the team they most feared, Roll Deep had uttered "V2" with an undeniably sarcastic twinkle in their eye. Then, after the two teams' tussle, 'V2' were asked the same question and duly replied, with no little mirth, "Everyone. Oh, apart from Roll Deep" In the same group FX Rentals entered the fray to their chosen anthem - "the Laurel & Hardy theme tune" - and after getting themselves another fine draw against 'V2', unfortunately attracted the Roll Deep wrath and succumbed.
Meanwhile, in another group, on another pitch, Jim Abbiss' All-Stars, Club Foot, had admitted the team they most feared was the pumped up Universal. Whether or not this was due to them both sporting similarly all-black kits was not made clear. Rumours were sweeping the ground that Jim and his boys had been involved in in-depth training - some covert e-bay research had revealed a recent purchase of football training-ground paraphernalia - but such tales were subsequently pooh-poohed by the enigmatic Jim, who revealed they'd been bought on behalf of the Dads' Football team he's also involved with. Anyway, regardless of the truth nestling in that response, Jim's Club Foot struggled to find their feet early doors (eyethenkyow! Ed) and were held to draws in both their early matches. When asked for the team's anthem they replied "Final Countdown, by Europe", but was the clock ticking on their lofty five-a-side ambitions? Only time would tell In the same group, Bella Union were confusing analysts by simultaneously predicting they'd make it to the final whilst requesting that their anthem be The Dears' Lost in the Plot, while the all-too-confident 679 Recordings, whilst clad only in claret bibs, were the only team on the day with the cajones to suggest that they were destined for ultimate tournament success (well, apart from Roll Deep, who in a defiant double-headed statement proclaimed "We're gonna win, blud!" and revealed their chosen anthem to be Jay Z's I Will Not Lose. However, as previous paragraph readers will attest, they most certainly would).
Elsewhere, the event's generous hosts, Miloco, had put out a team just dripping with individuality, guts, guile, skill, pure animal beauty and no little charisma. And they promptly went down to a string of crushing defeats. Chat did do the rounds that they were merely making-like-a-rug so as to not upset the apple-cart of competitors and risk winning their own company-sponsored prize for themselves. Impartial observers are happy to let them believe this. They did twitch briefly and boldly when up against a rampant One Little Indian, after emerging for a second half already a shed-load of goals adrift. Somehow girding their loins for an astonishing 3-goal onslaught, they regrettably still fell short of their mark and departed the competition, their heads not so much held high as lolling at a disconcerting angle, at the group stage. Spin 28 were taking their taut Barnsley kits to new levels of athleticism with two wins from three, only failing in their endeavours against Stephen Budd, who stepped out to the rhythm of "anything from Shaft" and, in a thoroughly topsy-turvy division, made it through to the knock-out stages after succumbing only the once, to the heap-big-erratic One Little Indian Wanderers.
The Quarter Finals
greghughesphotography.com © 2005
And so, as the ice-melt revealed a few as yet un-downed Grolschs still bobbing in the complimentary drinks bucket, the draw was made for the first knock-out rounds. And as their fates were decided, several amongst the throng trembled at the sound of clustered children weeping, while women screamed with the anguish of it all, grown men scratched, blood clotted and somewhere, in the distance, a dog barked
The quarter finals paired Roll Deep with Stephen Budd, 'V2' with Spin 28, Club Foot with Virgin and, possibly the pick of the round, the uber-confident 679 Recordings with universally eager Universal. Battle commenced:
The dogged 'V2' scratch team upset the odds yet again with a succession of latched-on-to back passes and the occasional scuffed hoof which rocketed via assorted limbs, trees and passing livestock, somehow, into the top corner of Spin 28's net, while across the way the ever mighty Roll Deep were being subtly out manoeuvred by the slick and slinky Stephen Budd collective. Club Foot got stamped all over by a none-to-amorous Virgin whilst the battle of the big boys saw 679's dainty bibs out pluck the Real Madrid-sporting Universal to a berth in the semi-finals.
greghughesphotography.com © 2005
As several teams - now dumped from the competition and demoted to the sidelines as would-be fans - struggled bitterly to comprehend how the mass of quality outfits had somehow been whittled down to the quartet of patent numpties before them, the lucky/plucky/mucky teams themselves were in a terrible condition. Cramp was setting in and the desperate had resorted to glugging directly from the fast-melting ice buckets or, even more perilously, the silver bladders wrenched from dismembered wine boxes. Tactical preparation and physical conditioning were being abandoned to the ravenous ravages of approximately-700%-more-exercise-in-the-space-of-an-afternoon-than-any-of-these-pale-and-flabby-bodies-were-anywhere-near -used-to. Photographers asked for portraits, before backing away at pace, a bitter-tinge on their tonsils and their nerves lying shredded and distressed; Nike were not about to employ these gentlemen for a mega-bucks advertising campaign - few, at this point, could even tie their own laces.
First off the deck and sashaying to the centre circle, the now-purring 679 dealt unceremoniously with the challenge of Virgin, slipping two unanswered goals past them and advancing, as they themselves had forsworn, imperious to the final.
Next up, limping and damp and distraught, 'V2' took on the lithe and limber Stephen Budd. Yet again, however, 'V2's talismanic captain took the reins and, barking commands at his eager minions, they slipped greasily beyond the fast-tiring Budd-meisters and dry-retched their battered frames all the way to the final.
At this point two things occurred. One: 'V2's captain, reason d'etra, rock, man-about-town, inspiration, tactician, mascot, in-team beautician, legend, and all-round good egg, fled. With a hot date to keep elsewhere, the sham of a team that was 'V2' was suddenly sheenless, rudderless, naked and vulnerable. Next, and having only recently been abandoned, the efforts of progressing this far through the tournament without any additional squad members, entirely substitute-less and rest-free, dawned on 'V2's already poorly legs and they became all of a sudden and all at once, entirely made of raspberry-flavoured jelly. And, as the broken bodies of 'V2' looked up, with a squelch, from their dusty berth on the ground, they surveyed their opposition and saw
greghughesphotography.com © 2005
a squad with more numbers than science has given man method to calculate. There were hundreds of them, thousands of them maybe. Everywhere their bugged-out and bleary eyes stared there seemed to be a dozen or more men in 679's distinctive scarlet bibs, stretching and scampering and laughing and joking and looking, overall, thoroughly fresh-faced, honed, toned and ready to roll. 'V2', for their part, rolled over. Looking at the sky for inspiration, metaphorical clouds rolled in and pissed all over them. They stood, with difficulty, sloped onto the pitch and took what was coming.
They battled, manfully, despite it all, for the first half. Managing a semblance of resistance they even had a shot on goal, and reached half-time - having held the red tide back - on parity, nil-nil, 0-0, zip-zip. But that may as well have been the sound of their collective body-bag closing, as the 2nd half proved far too much for this band of pretenders and 679's undoubted class shone through. Goal after goal flew in beyond the hapless 'V2' as the final fast turned into a turkey shoot and a glorious, full-throttle romp to the podium for the bibbed and bubbling 679, who were ushered forth mere moments later and, in a glittering and star-studded ceremony, crowned worthy winners of this year's Miloco Five-a-Side Football Tournament - huzzah!
The final whistle
Many thanks are given to the fair and frank referees who marshaled events with accuracy, impartiality and no-little humour; Lind 'say' Parkin for conducting the end of tournament ceremonials; and, of course, the incomparable Jess, who somehow managed to organise the whole tournament, keep track of results, players and referees alike, and - generally, excellently, seamlessly - coordinate the whole sprawling shebang.
greghughesphotography.com © 2005A few grumbles depart in the general direction of Channel U who, after promising a team, failed to turn up on the day (or even call), and the particularly officious park-keep who came along at the end to have a good moan at our general conduct (which was, needless to say, tantamount to flawless).
Thanks also to Grolsch for their unwitting lubrication of all contestants and to the sign-makers, who rustled up (in ultra-quick fashion) the quality banner that fluttered above heads - guiding all to the results blackboard, coordination centre, beer buckets and more - and that bore the legend: "Miloco - recording studios to make you dribble".
In addition, it goes without saying, thanks to all those who took part - your participation was of course an essential ingredient in what was, I think, a stupendously marvellous occasion all round. Please take a peek at the rest of these pages where countless photos from the day have been painstakingly collected, compiled and corralled for your delectation and delight - you'll all be in there somewhere, knackered, nobbled or noble
Thanks a bunch, one and all, and hope to see you all again next year.