Miloco 5-a-side Tournament 2007 Match Report
For the Record ....
1st Place, 2007 champions, Aspire Entertainment:
A full day in Miloco's flagship mix room, The Neve VR, a big champion's trophy and eight fantastically glitzy medals, with straps, and a bottle of Verve Clique champagne, chilled to perfection.
2nd Place, 2007 runners-up, Virgin Records:
A full day in Miloco's new Kentish Town Neve room, Musikbox, a medium-size runners up trophy and eight smaller medals, with straps, and a chilled bottle of Verve Clique champagne.
3rd Place, great effort, ATC Management:
A full day in Miloco's top-end tracking room, The Garden, a small trophy but still definitely one for the boss' desk, and a chilled bottle of Verve Clique champagne.
4th Place, give them a pat on the back, Miloco:
A full day in Miloco's Hoxton studio, The Square.
After months of ballyhoo emanating from Miloco HQ, we awoke on Thursday 12th July, our dreams of glory and nightmares of embarrassment filtering from our minds to be replaced by nerve-rattling adrenaline, and headed towards the pleasures of Battersea Park for what would be a momentous day of sporting endeavour. For t'was the day - the fourth annual instalment of the Miloco 5-a-side Football Championships had arrived, and this time we were celebrating a record-breaking number of entrees, with 19 teams of football talent big, small and humiliatingly vacant, flocking from their various corners of the music industry to participate, entertain, and/or simply suck.
In fact it was a day where this infamous sporting event was celebrating numerous developments since the previous three showdowns, including: the formidable sponsorship of Red Stripe, who did a great job in quenching the thirsts of all players, managers, spectators, and I guess a few random opportunists, with a very generous 1000 cans of lager (as well as the provision of t-shirts, pens, whistles, flags and so on); the fact that all entrees turned up more-or-less on time, not least to mention turned up full stop (we are forever grateful!!); that all four requested referees turned up! (again, thanks!); and there were no dislocated shoulders (always a plus!).
They all came with high hopes. Some left ecstatic, some merely satisfied, others disappointed, and a few rather angry - oh yes, the competitiveness of a day's sport ain't over until the fat lady sings, or in this case, until security at the post-competition watering hole throw out the rival perpetrators for taking the competition slightly too seriously. Handbags are becoming a traditional element to our 5-a-side extravaganza, which is why next year we may provide punch-bags for after-match fury treatment. "Eh?" we hear the intrigued amongst you yelp. All will be revealed in good time...
The Group Stages
The tournament consisted of four groups, the winner of each group qualifying for the semi-finals. Three of the groups had five teams each, but as you already know, this year we landed on the slightly awkward amount of 19 teams, mathematically an odd number, meaning one of the groups would be the odd one out. That would be Group 4, which consisted of just the four teams. To make sure they didn't get off that much lighter than the rest, the games in Group Four were extended to ten minutes, in an attempt to ensure that they would get just as knackered as everyone else.
Battling it out on pitch one were Underground Heroes, Grand Union Hijack, Team Gillian Glover, Virgin Records and Towers of London. With Virgin and the Towers set to re-ignite their dual from last year's final, at least one of these two firm favourites were destined for an early exit to the pub this year, adding that little extra spice...
Things kicked off with the ever-strong and ever-efficient Virgin Records, who came up against competition newcomers, the youthful and exuberant Underground Heroes. The Heroes definitely came with the support, they even had a manager with them, but alas, Miloco 5-a-side initiation was cruel for the new boys, and Virgin's experience saw them run out 2-0 winners. It was a strong start for 2006's runners-up. They were followed by a clash between two more debutants; the feisty Grand Union Hijack and Team Gillian Glover. The Hijackers dominated, and Gillian Glover caved in. 2-0 to Grand Union Hijack at full time.
The goals were clocking up on pitch one, and the crowd were warming to the occasion. It was all set for the day's first super-match, as last year's finalists took to the field to battle it out in a premature blockbuster. Would Virgin and Towers Of London continue the legacy of their fierce rivalry? Were we in for a historical thriller? Nope. 0-0 full time. Pitch one's spectators needed waking up, and looked to Underground Heroes and Grand Union Hijack who were both up next to do just that. The bookies were tipping Hijack after their first-game victory and the Heroes' defeat, but a tightly fought contest ended in a 1-1 draw as the Heroes shifted up a gear. Towers Of London were back on for game five, and faced Gillian Glover, however another goalless draw saw Donny and co. begin to dig themselves a rather large hole. Failure to win soon would surely see a shock early exit for last year's champions.
Game six saw the pumping of testosterone overflow into moderate violence. Grand Union Hijack got wound up, (not for the only time of the day), Virgin Records also fancied flexing their muscles, push turned to shove, shove turned to punch, punch turn to retaliation. It ended in two red cards and bucket full of tears. Virgin won 2-1 amidst the madness. The Hijackers were losing it.
Quietly making strides were the Underground Heroes, who wrapped up their first victory of the day with a 1-0 win over Gillian Glover. The crowd's favourite were mounting a challenge, while Gillian Glover sadly crashed out of contention. That game was shortly followed by the meeting of Towers of London and Grand Union Hijack. Oh the referee would be busy in this one, and indeed he was, with a furious ticking off half way through the match at a misbehaving Hijacker. Grand Union had lost focus, crashing out of the competition at the hands of the Towers, who delivered a good old fashioned 5-1 thumping to this year's rebels. But it was too little too late for the champs. Their title had been lost.
It was between Virgin and Underground Heroes for group qualification, with a game left for both teams. Virgin took advantage of their stronger position, seeing off Gillian Glover with a casual 1-0 win, leaving Underground Heroes helpless in their pursuit of qualification. Still a 3-1 victory over Towers of London in the group's final game saw the Heroes grab a well-deserved second place in Group One. Virgin were through to the semis.
Over on pitch two and the following teams were preparing with their strict stretching routines and pre-match mind games: Aspire Entertainment, Ark Recordings, Gilkicker, Mindloop and FX Rentals. With the group dominated by teams new to the tournament, the crowd were hoping for some fresh rivalries to be formed...
The group started slowly, with a goalless draw between Aspire Entertainment and Ark Records hardly meeting the requirements of the spectators, who were already looking to other pitches for an improvement. The following game was a little better, as a safe 1-0 victory by competition regulars FX Rentals gave opponents Mindloop an up-hill struggle to contend with. Game three saw Aspire back on the turf, this time taking on producer Tristan Ivemy's Gilkicker, whose fresh-legged advantage couldn't prevent a 2-0 defeat at the hands of Aspire, who were gaining some dangerous momentum.
Ark Records and Mindloop were up next, both looking for an improvement on their previous performances. It was a tight game throughout, but Mindloop edged it 1-0 to throw themselves back into contention. Producer Ben Hillier and his team mates at Ark were beginning to look down the barrel of a gun. Or were they?
With FX Rentals narrowly losing to Gilkicker in game five by a 1-0 margin, people were beginning to turn their heads to the slow-starting group, which was fast becoming the most interesting, with all sorts of final outcomes possible half-way through the matches. Aspire Entertainment re-entered the stage to take on the improving Mindloop. The improvement was short-lived however, as they were flattened by a 5-0 thrashing. Aspire were distancing themselves from the pack.
Could FX pick themselves up to get back on track? They were up against Ark who too had a point to prove, and proved it they did, showing FX the tournament exit door with a faultless 2-0 victory. Ark had Aspire in their sights, just, but Gilkicker had their own ideas. Looking to follow on from their previous victory, Tristan and the boys faced up to the challenge of Mindloop, who were looking to bounce back from their embarrassing 5-0 defeat. What a game!! Seven goals had the crowd roaring, but Gilkicker got their noses in front at the finish line. 4-3 to Gilkicker, who were still in with a chance.
Aspire could reach the semis with a victory over FX Rentals. FX were already out, but could they cause an upset in their final game? The answer to that was a definite 'no', as Aspire ran circles around the exhausted FX boys and put 4 goals past them with no return. After their semi-final finish in 2006, it was certainly not FX's year this time. Bad luck lads.
Much to Ark's disappointment, their competition was over, yet still had one more game to prove their worth. They were up against Gilkicker, both teams fighting for second place. The fight was not a good one, not for Gilkicker anyway, as Ark Records battered their opponents a devastating 6-0 in Group Two's final match. But it was Aspire Entertainment who advanced to the knock-out stages.
With a fairly even mix of old and new to the tournament, pitch three promised a good balance between experienced steady heads, and eager-to-please beginners. Would the new outpace the old, or the old outthink the new? Please welcome to the ring... Kosh, 18 Carrot, 679 Recordings, ATC Management and Big Life Management.
First up were newcomers Kosh and competition veterans 18 Carrot. They got the ball rolling with a half-decent encounter, yet when the final whistle blew at 1-a-piece, the door blew wide open for the other teams to take a group lead in the first round. Who would pounce on the chance? Well neither Big Life Management or 679 Records, who mirrored the previous game with another 1-1 draw. Mass-yawning was reportedly being heard 2 miles east in Clapham.
Could ATC Management break the 1-1 curse of Group Three? They took on Kosh for the third game; Kosh looking to build on their gentle start to the day. As it happened, a gentle day seemed to be turning into a rather awful one, as they were swept aside 3-1 by ATC who shot into the lead.
ATC had asserted the pressure. The rest needed to sort their act out. 18 Carrot took on Big Life in game four, but succumbed to a 2-0 blow which saw them slump to the bottom of the table alongside Kosh. Big Life on the other hand edged to the top of the group, turning up the heat on ATC for their game in hand. Following them came 679 and ATC, both determined to grab all three points. Instead they settled for a point each, ending in a stalemate at 0-0. ATC and Big Life were neck and neck and would soon be facing each other, with 679 not far behind. Exciting times on pitch three.
Lurking around at the foot of the table with performance progress going in the wrong direction, what could Kosh do exactly? It was now or never, and the newcomers grabbed a lifeline by delivering a painful 1-0 slap to joint leaders Big Life in game six. Big Life looked to have blown it. A forgettable 0-0 encounter between 18 Carrot and 679 presented the first real glimpse of the semi-finals to pace-setters ATC Management, who successfully launched themselves back into the lead with a closely fought 2-1 victory over Big Life, shattering the latter's chances of qualification. Only a miracle could deny ATC the knock-out stages now.
Kosh, seemingly back from the dead, had to beat 679 Records to stay in with a chance. That they did, with a nervous 1-0 victory, meaning the group would go right to the wire in the final game between 18 Carrot and ATC Management. ATC kept their cool with a solid 2-1 win which saw them through to the semis, but hats off to Kosh who turned around their fortunes to keep the fight going right until the end.
Finally to the fourth group, which as you know, consisted of just the four teams, prompting some to argue that it was easier as the endurance test was seemingly less demanding. So you can understand why a few eyebrows were raised when Team Miloco popped up on the group table. However I can promise you, groups were drawn COMPLETELY at random from a hat. We take competition fixing VERY seriously and would NEVER pull a few shady strings for the benefit of our own team. Ahem. Joining them in the group were The Infadels, Vita Ross and Stephen Budd Management.
The group got off to an explosive start, with Vita Ross destroying The Infadels 6-0, prompting some alarmed looks from members of the group's other two teams, particularly the notoriously crap Miloco who were already having nightmares of double-figure defeats. But never forget, football's a funny old game, and when Miloco and Stephen Budd Management took to the field, Miloco turned it on, at last, and won by a goal to nil. As a result Stephen Budd needed to pick up their game, but faced the daunting task of 6-0 warriors Vita Ross in game three. However this was the group of twists and turns, and Stephen Budd brought Vita down to earth with a convincing 3-1 victory. At that stage, the group could have been anyone's.
Miloco needed to maintain their winning form to take a seriously strong, not least to mention slightly unbelievable, position at the top of the group. They were up against Vita Ross. Everyone knew what Vita could do from game one, but they were feeling deflated from their unexpected defeat to Stephen Budd, and Miloco had an opportunity to kick them - out of the competition - when they were down. And they sneaked it. Another 1-0 miser's win moved the hosts within touching distance of the semis, leaving the flabbergasted Vita Ross to scratch their heads and ask themselves quite what the fudge happened.
Stephen Budd had to beat The Infadels to stay within reach of Miloco, but when they drew 0-0, the host team were automatically put through to the semi-finals, to the utter amazement of the on-looking masses.
"Drugs test!! Drugs test!!" demanded a section of the crowd. "It's a scam!! Instant disqualification!!!" shouted more.
We think not. Miloco had a tournament to win, and the belief was rising within the home camp. However when their ongoing glory was compromised by a 2-2 draw with The Infadels, were the cracks beginning to appear in the Miloco machine...?
With 3 convincingly talented teams charging forth to the knockout phase like hungry lions, and an undeniably dodgy one scraping through like a horrible old crook that steals kids' sweets, there was much for the growing crowds to mull over for the semis, as they commenced to indulge in the consumption of Red Stripe. Virgin Records were drawn against ATC Management, with Aspire Entertainment pitched against Miloco.
It was certainly business time at Battersea Park, with the sense of anticipation lingering in the air stronger than the outburst of fag-smoke, as the departed teams headed to the bar for a much-needed gasp. The press gathered, the crowds chanted, the remaining teams began to turn pale with angst.
Games were extended to 7 minutes a half. Man alive, this would really tell the fit from the fat...
Semi Final 1: Aspire Entertainment vs. Miloco
Miloco needed to get back into winning ways after a nervy draw with The Infadels in their last group game. With Aspire apparently breaking the sound barrier after slaughtering their previous two opponents, many questioned the strength of the host's threat. Could they pull another shocker out of the bag and prove the critics wrong?
Let's not kid ourselves. Miloco were doomed from the start. As the athleticism of Aspire prevailed, their opponents crumbled under the daunting experience of semi-final limelight.
You would have thought that Aspire had two extra players on the pitch; such was the strength and speed of their off-the-ball movement. Ironically, and somewhat embarrassingly, for a large part of the second half they actually had one player less. Aspire understandably decided the game was over at half time, so took a tactical decision to rest a player for the final, proceeding with just the four men for round two of the semi. Miloco felt mocked.
Aspire Entertainment were firing them in like it was going out of fashion. Each time Miloco goalkeeper Joe Hirst picked the ball out of the net, the teams' heads sunk a little lower. The dream was over. It was a sorry exit, but when Aspire ran out having delivered another exceptional performance, the modest 5-0 scoreline in some ways flattered the losers!!
Aspire Entertainment reached the final.
Semi Final 2: Virgin Records vs. ATC Management
With Aspire running riot, it was going to take some effort to stop them in their tracks. But as far as the prospect of a contest went, the second semi looked a lot more promising, with Virgin Records - in their fourth semi-final in as many years, a truly commendable achievement - facing ATC Management, who left their four group opponents for dead in their first year of Miloco 5-a-side.
Both teams were visibly physical. These were beasts of athletes with monstrous determination. Nervous mutterings from the now-observing Aspire Entertainment came across as rather apprehensive to the odd one or two eavesdroppers, as the first stage of the match got underway. Were they to be body-slammed before the finishing line?
Strong tackles were flying in. Both sides were unwilling to let each other in with a chance on goal. However the crowd could sense that composure was simmering, and soon it would evaporate. First blood went to ATC when they finally broke the Virgin defence to coolly slot the ball into the far corner. The goal celebrations were rapturous. However Virgin didn't let the setback effect their game, and it wasn't long before they pegged ATC back with a thunderous pile-driver from way out, almost breaking the net. Goalie had no chance.
It was tense. The second half kicked off where the first had ended, both sides determined to stay focused on the task in hand. You were already fearing for the career of the person to make that fatal mistake!!! Then Virgin attacked on the counter as ATC were caught napping, scoring their second goal and coming from behind to edge in-front. The clock was ticking for ATC to keep the game alive, but a last gasp effort before full-time saw the tiring Virgin defence out-played by some nifty ATC passing, and the keeper was left helpless as ATC smoked the ball past the keeper, taking the game - deadlocked at 2-2 - to the dreaded stage of penalties...
Now in England, most people are familiar with the traumas of watching a penalty-shootout, but I can assure you, no-one has ever seen one quite like this. ATC were the first to approach the spot of terror, as the boozing spectators struck-up cruel taunts from behind the fence. Virgin had settled to go second in the shootout. After five spot-kicks each, both teams had converted just two goals, and it was heading for sudden death.
The showdown re-started, and with it entered a display of some of the most pathetic penalty-taking known to man. The goalkeeping on the other hand, would have made Bruce Grobbelar proud. It seemed like eternity was being spent watching a never-ending string of atrocious penalty kicks, each of which were either ballooned over, swept wide, or punched away by the formidable keepers. The crowd couldn't bear the tension. Was this game ever going to end?
Finally on Friday 12th July 2008, Virgin Records twisted the knife in the side of ATC Management to the euphoric roar of the crowd - by this time far too smashed to care that they all resembled cavemen and smelt like a pack of skunks. Virgin, who were through to their second final in consecutive years, had won an epic battle. ATC were nothing but devastated.
We had arrived. After 36 group games, 2 semi-finals, and 1 third-place playoff between the losing semi-finalists (ATC won that one by the way, Miloco were honestly needing walking sticks by that point), we came to the 40th and final match of the day; the main spectacle, the grand parade. It was final time.
In the red corner: Aspire Entertainment. In their debut year, they had come to win, and had successfully blown the heads off anyone who tried to prevent them from doing that, so far...
In the blue corner: Virgin Records. In all four years of this extraordinary sporting event, Virgin have not once failed to reach the semi-finals. This was their second final in two years. Surely they would get their hands on the most-prized trophy in music industry sport some time...
The game kicked off with both teams making a steadily cautious start. They both knew that the first goal could prove fatal, and neither could bare the thought of losing out on the champion's trophy, gleaming in its magnificence from the touchline. The tempo gradually increased as confidence grew in both sets of players. They were beginning to show their strengths, and there were several close shaves at either end. But when half-time came, neither team had been successful in breaking the deadlock. It was too close to call.
The second half would be make or break, well that's what the crowd were hoping for anyway, for another 365 days of penalties wanted to be avoided, and besides the beer supplies were beginning to look a bit depleted.
They got what they wanted. Aspire began to turn up the heat, exploiting their youthful vitality and causing the Virgin veterans - still recovering from their epic with ATC - some disconcerting problems on the turf. They finally struck, and the crowd were beginning to write off Virgin as the runners-up for the second time in two years.
Some Virgin substitutions attempted to freshen things up and keep their heads above the water, but Aspire were just too hot to handle, and when the ball was unquestionably buried in the back of the Virgin net for the second time, it was all but over.
In fact it was over. Shortly after the goal, the ref blew up. "WHAT??? THAT'S AWFUL!!" you scream. No no no, I mean he blew his whistle, to signal the end of the game and indeed the competition.
Aspire Entertainment punched the air in delight. They had triumphed. The ever-sporting Virgin Records graciously shook their opponents' hands and headed straight for the Red Stripe. They would have to wait another year.
Final Score: 2-0 to Aspire Entertainment, who were crowned Miloco 5-a-side Champions 2007.
And so we marched on to the pub in our hoards, where we would continue in getting blind drunk to mark the end of a great occasion. Unsurprisingly, there was still some unfinished business to be settled by some. I'm not going to mention any names but a few more fists were swung, and the authorities had to step in again to settle the dispute, well, dispose of the sinners. No real prizes for guessing who they might have been.
The rest were left to drink, dance and laugh the night away.
The final whistle...
And so we drew the curtains on another year's 5-a-side Championships, and we certainly thought it was one of the best.
Emotional Oscar Winner's speech coming up...
As we swallow the lump in our throats, and sniff back the tears behind our eyes, there are of course a few thank-yous to be said.
Firstly to Red Stripe, who were of course hugely influential in making the day a success with the provision of all the beer and merchandise. We are forever grateful for your sponsorship. Hope to have you back!
To the four referees who did a great job as always in adjudicating the games, punishing the naughty ones and rewarding their victims. Spot on as always.
To Mick and his staff at Battersea Park All Weather Grounds for staging our tournament again. We appreciate your support and patience.
To the fantastic Lucy who kindly gave up her time to come along and take some brilliant pics of the whole day. They have made fine illustrations to this footballing fable.
To all the hoards of fans and spectators who conjured up a fantastic atmosphere on the day and relentlessly supported the teams through thick and thin. It wouldn't be the same without you.
To the magic hat which drew Miloco into the group where, we were allowed to not only score a goal for the first time in the tournament's history, nor just avoid defeat in any of our games, but actually proceed to the semi-final stage. We passed the drugs test by the way. Ha!
And finally to all the teams who came along to play. There could never be a tournament without you, and we really appreciate all the effort made when it comes to making strips, getting a team together and so on, not least to mention taking part in this increasingly successful event.
So here's to another year of 5-a-side. We sincerely hope we see all teams back next year, plus more! The number of entrees is increasing every year, and we have our eyes set on staging it at Wembley before too long.
Hey! It's music meets football, anything can happen!!
See you soon,
Everyone at Miloco.