Miloco 5-a-side Tournament 2006 Match Report
For the Record ....
1st Place, 2006 champions, Towers of London:
A full day in Miloco's flagship mixing studio, The Neve VR Room, as well as a chilled bottle of Verve Clique champagne, the Miloco 5-A-Side Football Tournament Champions' Trophy, and golden medals on ribbons round necks for all players.
2nd Place, 2006 runners-up, Virgin Records':
A full day in Miloco's supreme tracking studio, The Garden, as well as a frosty bottle of Verve Clique champagne, and a slightly smaller and decidedly silver-coloured Miloco 5-A-Side Football Tournament Runners-up Trophy.
3rd Place, almost-but-not-quite, FX rentals:
A full day in Miloco's tracking room, The Square, as well as a slightly tepid bottle of Verve Clique champagne and a not-actually-that-dissimilar-from-the-winning-trophy-but-allegedly-more-bronze-coloured Miloco 5-A-Side Football Tournament 3rd Place Trophy.
It was August 10th 2006 and - as diary fanatics, astrologers and clairvoyants all knew/suspected/foresaw - it was time again for Miloco 5-a-side Football Tournament. And as if the raucous roar of anticipation were not enough, the day somehow excelled all expectations.
It was the day that commentators are already calling 'The day genres collided'. The coming together in the semi-final stages of the mighty, pumped up Roll Deep and the mighty (-ly large haired) and psyched up Towers of London was always going to be 'interesting', and as it turned out, it certainly was...Stay tuned throughout the rest of the round-up for more.
The weather was a mixed blessing, occasionally full-beam sunshine, occasionally git-cold and rain-filled. But the spirits of the hardy competitors ne'er wavered. The Miloco bar did a roaring trade (if it's free is it still called a trade?) in water, Red Bull and Grolsh. And, curiously, as the day progressed, more and more folk found themselves graduating from 'refreshment' to 'oooph' to 'ah, feck it'.
As always, the levels of skills varied. As always, the addresses of referees' opticians were enthusiastically requested. As always, bloodied knees and elbows, dislocated shoulders, aubergine-coloured hands and 'I'm pretty sure that's cracked' ribs told their own tale of the extent some were willing to go to achieve glory.
But fun was had. Boy was it had. Everywhere you went the smiles were wide and the banter was lively. We'd like to thank all who came and played, the referees and the never-anything-but-feisty Battersea Park staff. It wouldn't have been the same without you.
Now, the facts...
The Group Stages
Due to last minute no-shows, the group stages had to be hastily re-jigged from four groups of four to two behemoths of six teams each. This meant everyone was guaranteed a will-sapping five games each. This didn't please a fair few of the pie-enthusiasts, and sweat swiftly sprang from brows...
The first group saw big-hitters FX Rentals and big-haired Towers of London duke it out with the laughably named Miloco-A, the sparky, fizzing (possibly fused) Brighton Electric, the rag-tag t-shirts and trunks of Z Management and, last but not least, and inauspiciously-clad-in-the-red-kit-of-England, Bella Union.
And it was clear from the off that God had not been democratic when he dished out footballing skills...
Miloco-A started appallingly. Shipping some 8 goals in 2 games against the clearly-taking-it-much-more-seriously-than-last-year FX Rentals and clearly-benefitting-hugely-from-their-shared-Rod-Stewart-gene-pool Towers of London. These two teams had clearly hit upon the cunning tactic of a) possessing talent b) possessing a work ethic c) communicating with each other and d) not being afraid to stick an elbow in an opponent's particulars to gain advantage. Elsewhere, the peace-loving, pet-fancying, beer-loving, clearly unfit and untalented Bella, Z, B'Electric and Miloco-A never even pretended to be a match for them.
Brighton Electric, possibly suffering from jetlag after their brave and arduous trip up from the coast, failed to score a goal throughout the competition. When asked by a roving reporter how they'd got on in their first couple of matches, they responded with the self-effacing (but regrettably accurate), "In the race for the wooden spoon, it's neck and neck".
Meanwhile, Bella Union made-like-the-national-team and flattered to deceive, and after a couple of early victories and a draw with Towers, somewhat ran out of steam. Miloco A managed to recover from their early drubbings and steadily improved, registering Miloco's First Ever Point In Three Years Of Trying with a close-fought 2-2 draw with Bella. They then went on to out-manoeuvre Z Management and the far-from-home Brighton Electric, who were by now suffering from one heavily bruised hand and several heavily bruised egos.
Z Management suffered a dislocated shoulder part through their match with Miloco and the injured party was led away by a colleague to have it clicked back into place. Needless to say, Miloco took brutal advantage of their two man advantage and wasted no time slipping in a few more goals (this is a lie. They graciously removed two of their own players so the numbers were even. They did score though, and felt a little guilty about it).
On the other side of the tracks FX Rentals and Towers of London were thrashing all they came across. However Z did manage to stem the tide with a 0-0 draw with FX, whilst Bella caught the Towers napping and snuck away with a 0-0 draw too. When the big boys came head-to-head, Towers beat FX 1-0.
Elsewhere, Group 2 was a cauldron of quality and/or calamity. Roll Deep were back in town to avenge their early knock-out last year, while Virgin (in their delightfully logo'd and swanky new kit) were their usual slick and effective selves and destined, once more, to go far. Trying to put up a fight were: my-God-you-can-see-that-shade-of-pink-from-space, Vita Ross; the red-bibbed producers collective 18-Carrot; the sadly-appropriately-named Miloco-B; and the familiar navy blue of everyone's-favourite-management company-that-rhymes-with-heaving-spuds, Stephen Budd Management.
Matches came and went and Roll Deep and Virgin were the clear frontrunners, whilst 18-Carrot and Stephen Budd put in a good show. Vita's team theme tune was Too Drunk To Fuck and it's possible that extended to football too, as they didn't fair too well. Then again, the Dead Kennedys would have snared a slightly smaller fan base methinks, had they called the track Too Drunk To Play Footy On A Thursday. I may be wrong of course. The Flying Vs did however get one win under their bright pink belt, and that was against poor old Miloco-B. Pointless, they started, pointless they finished. They struggled and strained (mind, body, calf muscles and fingers) but just couldn't make headway. There was a rumour that they scored a goal, but in a cruel twist of fate (or accurate reporting) the official record fails to record in which game.
Stephen Budd did well but got a hiding from Roll Deep and lost out in a 5-goal thriller with Virgin, while 18-Carrot lost narrowly to Roll Deep, got a draw with Virgin but then lost against Stephen Budd. It's a fickle business this football.
At the end of all the matches a gaggle of mathematicians calculated the victors and runners up and two sides from each group marched on, hopes high, to the semi-finals.
Group 1: Towers Of London & FX Rentals
Group 2: Roll Deep & Virgin
Meanwhile, of course, eight bitter/bruised, careless/amused teams (delete, once more, as applicable) had been knocked out, and so wheezed their way straight to the ice-cold buckets of Grolsh and started comparing grazes and drowning whatever sorrows they had left to drown. Within minutes, legendary tales were concocted that in years to come gullible grandchildren would be left to swallow and repeat, foolhardily, to their disbelieving school chums. "Your granddad? A Cruyff turn? You're having a laff!"
And then, heads turned as the semi-finalists came toe to toe...
As the final 4 teams limbed up and discussed tactics, the referees drew lots for the final showpiece events. Bystanders were hushed, sensing the business end of the competition had arrived. Even the little kids in the neighbouring playground stopped their hard-hearted abuse of anyone in shorts. Everyone knew the time was now.
An eager photographer snapped portraits of the line-ups and encouraged them to huddle together. He stood before them, their differing strips blending together in a cocktail of fond bonding and the mutual respect of worthy adversaries. Joking, he said it was best to record them now, before they all came to blows. Little did the fool know how close to the truth his mock-prediction would prove...
Semi Final 1: Virgin vs. FX Rentals
The first semi-final was a close fought affair. Featuring two teams sporting bespoke logo'd kits, it was clear from their body language and garb they had taken their pre-tournament preparation seriously and were now reaping the rewards. They agreed ends, shook hands with their opposite numbers and began.
Virgin were everywhere. Drawing on their years of experience, it was clear they'd been at this lofty stage of the competition before and there wasn't a sign of big match nerves. Meanwhile, the sleek monochromed strip of FX was perhaps struggling to conceal the fact that last year hadn't been so kind to them.
But they played well, thwarting Virgin's every move whilst almost succeeding with their own. Indeed, neither team could break the deadlock and so a dreaded penalty shootout was called for. The crowd could barely bring themselves to watch. Which gentle face would soon be wracked with remorse? They quite wanted to know...
The showdown came and the showdown went and holding their heads high, Branson's ex-beloveds had just a little too much aviation fuel in their tanks and ran out winners. FX swore they'd be back...
So, one berth in the dreamed-of final was claimed. But who would Virgin meet? Only time and controversy would tell...
Semi Final 2: Towers of London vs. Roll Deep ("When genres collide...")
Now then, where to begin? In years to come, will it be deemed a worthy successor to Rumble in the Jungle? Will it too get to delight in its own name, to be passed lovingly, with a mixture of respect and awe, throughout popular culture? Grumble in the Jungle, perhaps? Toe-To-Toe on the Thames? Battering in Battersea? Who knows. Maybe Tina Tuner will provide the soundtrack to the inevitable film, a cunningly reworked ditty, entitled River Deep, Towers High? Again, who are we to predict?
Anyway, suffice to say that those who were there to see it will not forget it for a long, long time. And, like Nirvana on Sesame Street, The Beatles on Countdown and Elvis on the Teletubbies, already thousands of people who couldn't possibly have been there to see it are claiming that they were.
Why? Read on, of course...
It was never going to go smoothly. How could it?
The plumped, spiked, crimped, dyed hair Vs. The cropped, dreaded and shaved
The bespoke, logo'd kit, camera crew and infant groupies Vs. The swagger, casual style and lingering bitterness of last year's early exit
The pomp-metallers Vs. The grime-rappers
Towers of London Vs. Roll Deep
...and, as sure as eggs are eggs (and they are, kids, they are) it all kicked off. Pun intended.
The Towers were good. The Deep were good. Skills were everywhere. Elbows too. The will to win was tangible. The language incorrigible. The referee tried to keep things on the straight and narrow but all too quickly things went wonky. Tackles flew, bodies collided, words were exchanged. And soon enough chests were pressed against rival chests and the ball and goals and football all too swiftly forgotten.
Several people seemed to have become suddenly overwhelmed at the prospect of spending time in our (admittedly ace) Neve VR Room, as opposed to the slightly different, but still pretty tremendous, Garden and Hoxton Square studios. They were obviously also extraordinarily keen not to have to pick up a slightly bronze-coloured plastic trophy instead of slightly gold or silver-coloured plastic trophy. It is, it seems, such things that turn men against men. Is it our fault our studios are so alluring? Anyhoo, to matters of the fist and fury.
As foul words were exchanged and dummies flew from prams, onlookers took to the pitch to try and calm the combatants and get the game restarted. This took some time. Unnecessary insults followed uncalled for barbs and no one, anywhere was employing their sense of humour or perspective.
(It's only to be hoped that the aforementioned children on the nearby climbing frame had turned their backs to this whole affair and got on with the friendly, more mature pursuit of swinging from netting and sliding down slides. With luck, their parents never got to hear of "the strange grown ups' game across the park...")
People stormed about viciously intent on laying knuckle on chin, barely held back by their more restrained teammates and/or concerned onlookers. It was not a pretty sight (but this didn't stop the Towers' film crew lapping it up, nor the hundred or so gathered witnesses taking time out from tutting to chuckle a bit...) Testosterone was rampant, and the future of the match and the tournament as a whole was in the balance...
But, in time, the aggressors saw sense and the game resumed, albeit in an uneasy atmosphere. And then, at last, the whistle blew, the dust settled and it was Towers of London who emerged from the mire 2-nil winners. The autopsy revealed no blows had been landed and, although tensions remained lofty for a while, no further incidents of note occurred. The red mist had receded and the sun was high in the sky, ready to shine upon the Grand Finale...
The last match, the gem-encrusted showpiece, the final hurdle en route to the gold at the end of the rainbow, was a slightly muted affair. The hangover from 'The day genres collided' left the watching crowds slightly unsettled and less vocal than in previous rounds.
As Roll Deep stalked the perimeter of the pitch - still knocked out, still far from chuffed with their day out, Towers of London skipped about - still clearly in the competition, still clearly doing well. No one who was there was really sure if the day's extra-curricular activities were at an end. Meanwhile the match went on.
Virgin were clearly worthy of their berth in the final and they darted about the pitch well-oiled, coordinated and bristling with intent. However, perhaps due to their 'exertions' in the semis, Towers were on top of their game, adrenaline flowing freely through their pale, rocker's legs, their hair-bands seemingly everywhere at once. Defending as a unit, springing Lynx-like into attack, disrupting every Virgin counter, there was only ever going to be one winner.
And as the game progressed they slowly but surely out-did the Virgin boys and slotted home a triplet of goals. Virgin didn't crumble though. They got one of their own too, and for a short while appeared as if they might launch a spirited comeback. But it was not to be and when the final whistle blew a huddle of men beneath bleached, streaked and spikey high hair leapt for all its worth and celebrated victory. It was their first appearance at the Miloco 5-a-side tournament and they'd waltzed off with first prize.
After the yelps of glee and high fives and so forth, a glittering ceremony took place. Celebrity chefs, occasional ballroom dancers, foreign royalty and more all crushed in together to share the special moment and far-from-faint aroma of still sweating men.
Sophie & Nick distributed the prizes. Bottles of champagne, trophies, medals and free studio time were liberally distributed and photos-for-the-mantel-piece were taken. And, for a final dose of drama, The Towers' groupies even fought (milk) tooth and (painted) nail when a victorious and overwhelmed player threw his medal into the crowd...Somewhere, to this day and forevermore, in a young girl's poster-filled bedroom, a gold (coloured) medal is hanging draped around a bedroom mirror, or else secreted in clouds of cotton wool in a locked box under her slender bed, only to be opened on birthdays and at Christmas to be talked about in hushed tones of admiration and awe...
Such things are dreams made of, my friends! Ne'er again doubt the power, sheer breathless power, that a booze-drenched knockabout can have on the annals of history and the lives of mortal folk! Next year, let us make new dreams come true! Join us! Spread more joy!
The final whistle...
Many thanks are given to the referees who - more often than not - kept games fair and fun and helped matters pass with an air of professionalism. Thanks too to Sophie, Pete & Finn for setting the whole thing up and somehow managing to keep track of all the matches and mathematics and mayhem.
A special thank you to the 'always keen as mustard' park-keep who, at the death, tried to wrestle a cigarette out of the hand of a victorious Tower of London and was told - in no uncertain terms and in the manner of a splendid rockumentary - 'Don't you ever put your hands on me again!' I was a lovely moment for all who witnessed it.
A few grumbles as always for the two teams who dropped out - on the day of the competition, if you will! Shame on you and see what you missed? Next year, if you please. Prompt.
There were a load of photos taken throughout the matches and of each individual team, so follow the links above for evidence of you all bleeding and drinking and sweating and grinning. You should all be very, very proud.
Thanks too to lager-makers everywhere and Red Bull for fueling the barely-trained athletes through their paces and to everyone, of course, who came and took part. Thanks for a great day and hope to see you all again very soon.
Remember, as the sign said, "Miloco - recording studios to make you dribble".