Miloco 5-a-side Tournament 2008 Match Report
The teams and team mottos...
Ark Records (Win or lose - u decide)
Aspire Entertainment (Win or die tryin')
Damunki (In It To Wing It)
Darling Department (Revenge is Best Served Cold)
Domino F.C. (Pot as many balls as you can)
Fireproof Entertainment (Win Beautifully)
Foreign Beggars (I'm Lovin' It - we got there long before McDonalds!!)
FX Rentals (Pass the ball you stupid moron)
Gillian Glover (Gillian Glover - she's got a hold on you, believe it!)
Grand Union HiJack (There's no "I" in team, but there is a "me")
KOSH (Kosh, bosh - you'll cry when you've lost)
Miloco (We never forgive those who humiliate us)
Mindloop UK (Win or die)
PSurreal Kilburn (If in doubt, kick the fannys)
SBM / MAMA Group (no motto needed, it seems...)
Vita and the Vicous (Never eat more than you can lift)
Wall Of Sound (like SBM, felt no need for philosophy...)
As the grey clouds rolled into the South-Eastern regions of England, they brought with them a fever; not one of hay, nor of night, but the type of fever that armies of music industry football fanatics had been spreading amongst each other for two months previous to the day. Ahem. It was Thursday 17th July 2008, and the fever was one of football. It could only mean one thing, The Miloco 5-a-side Football Championships had returned once again to London SW11.
It was always going to be a special day this one, if only for the fact that we were celebrating the fifth year of these ever-popular championships. The pride stakes were higher than ever, with yet more invaluably free studio time on offer for the victorious, and the prospect of complete despair and embarrassment through failure, keeping the less-confident athletes firmly on their toes.
There would be winners and losers, there would be injuries and altercations, there would be the drunken semi-final spot-kick taker who would regret hitting the lager van too early, after a shamefully cynical evaluation of his own team's championship credentials. There'd be tears, passion, applause and laughter. But most importantly, there'd be fun - fun in the form of 17 lung-bustingly ambitious teams, four sand-glistened astroturf pitches, 4 impeccably-accurate referees (errrm!), a pub area with chairs, tables, gazebos and bar-cum-hire van, 10 bottles of vino, and roughly 863 assorted cans of Red Stripe, Fosters, and some energizing taste-sensations which two generous promotions girls dropped off at Miloco HQ in mid-winter, and which we've been desperately trying to get rid off since (we hope they "energized" the brave takers!!).
The time was 2pm. The place was Battersea Park. We had 36 exhausting games of 5-a-side to get through. Best get on with it...
The Group Stages
17 teams made up four groups: three groups of four teams playing 6 minutes a half, and 1 group of five teams playing five minutes a half. That's right, there were to be no inequalities across the groups. Our job as hosts was to make every player on-site as evenly knackered as the rest. The groups were numbered 1-4, and the first two from each would line-up in the Quarter Finals of the competition.
Group 1 were assigned to Pitch 1, the 'Centre Court' of Battersea Park. The West stand, made up of pavilion-seated wives, girlfriends and socialites, was beginning to stir in anticipation. Meanwhile, the louts on the North terrace (restricted by a metal fence for safety reasons) were swilling the first distributed beer samples of the day. Stretching their calf-muscles on the side of the pitch were the group's competitors: Grand Union HiJack, SBM / MAMA Group, reigning champions Aspire Entertainment, Domino F.C., and Wall Of Sound.
First up were returning rockers Grand Union HiJack who were to take on tournament veterans SBM / MAMA Group. However when Captain Marvel from the SBM boys informed us that their goalie was AWOL, a re-shuffle was needed. So step-up 2007 champs Aspire Entertainment and Miloco 5-a-side newcomers Domino F.C. Was this to be a baptism of fire for the label that brought such unknowns as Arctic Monkeys and Franz Ferdinand? Well, it was infact a closely fought affair, neither team wanting to show their cards in the ever-important opening match. But just as the frustrated murmurs at an apparent stalemate filtered through from the stands, the champs delivered a sneaky winner. Final whistle: Aspire Entertainment 1, Domino F.C. 0.
SBM / MAMA's goalie had since arrived, so the initial game was ready for kick-off. The burly Grand Union HiJack had fire in their bellies. Was the SBM / MAMA goalie really just hiding behind a tree to bind his team a bit more time before their contest with the Grand Union fire-crackers? Well if so, it didn't pay off. Final Whistle: Grand Union HiJack 2, SBM / MAMA Group 0.
The fans wanted a goal-storm. Group 1 was not really delivering one. The clouds above looked more threatening which no one wanted. We needed a belter. Would the called-upon Domino F.C. and fellow debutants Wall Of Sound have something up their sleeves to entertain the gathering support? Well it was end-to-end stuff, but the Wall Of Sound advantage of not having already played, paid dividends. After an early scare, the men in white put 2 goals past the team in baby-blue, including an absolute screamer from half-way, leaving Domino F.C. two games down without a win. Things were starting to look bad for the Domino gang. Game Three: Domino F.C. 1, Wall Of Sound 2.
Things were beginning to take-shape nicely over on Pitch 1, when Grand Union HiJack and Aspire Entertainment stood shoulder-to-shoulder to sing the anthems. Both teams had clocked up three points in their opening games. This would be decisive in the outlook of who might be qualifying from this group. The champs vs the contenders, the grime all-stars vs the rock n rollers. The makings of a classic was on the cards. It was tense stuff, but Grand Union pulled a sly one over the title defenders, running out 1-0 winners. A dent in the Aspire armoury had occurred. The champions had work on their hands to keep their hopes alive.
After a gasp of air and a swig of fluids, Aspire were called back on. This was tough times for the cup-holders. SBM / MAMA Group were waiting, both teams needing something from the game, and after a few heart-in-the-mouth moments from Aspire, it ended square on 1-1, SBM / MAMA scoring their first points of the day, and Aspire doing just enough to cling on to their trophy, for now...
Grand Union HiJack were starting to look like they were in to win it. A convincing 3-1 victory over Wall Of Sound put a sharp end to the latter's impressive start to the day, and Grand Union were beginning to put daylight between themselves and the chasing pack. The quiet Domino then scored a point against slow-starting SBM / MAMA Group, when both teams conjured up a thrilling 2-2 draw for the onlookers, but it seemed too little too late for both squads, as the top two places looked like a battle for their three other rivals.
It was the group's biggest game so far, Game 8, when second-place to Grand Union HiJack would probably be decided. In the blue corner, Aspire Entertainment: the nervous champions who hadn't had the fluid start we were all expecting. In the red corner, Wall Of Sound: they'd scored one of the goals of the tournament so far, but had shown their weaknesses too in a telling defeat in their previous game. Well, the Wall Of Sound slide was set to continue. They couldn't cope under the fire of form-finding Aspire, who blasted three devastating goals past the Wall Of Sound keeper, without return. Wall Of Sound looked spent. Aspire looked revived. Full-time: Aspire Entertainment 3, Wall Of Sound 0.
The two-remaining games in the group, fun as they were, essentially meant nothing. We had our quarter-finalists from Group 1, but for the record - Game 9 saw the crossing of swords between Grand Union HiJack and Domino F.C., with Grand Union destroying their opposition 4-0, confirming their out-right finishing place at the top of the group, with all 12 points from their four group games. Then Game 10 welcomed the tiring legs of SBM / MAMA Group and Wall Of Sound. There was still a finishing position at stake in this one, so blood was still coursing through the veins. A good game it was too, ending 2-2, and Wall Of Sound sneaking a well-deserved third place in the group.
Group 1 final positions:
Grand Union HiJack (q)
Aspire Entertainment (q)
Wall Of Sound
SBM / MAMA Group
Located next to Pitch 1, was Pitch 2, where Group 2 were limbering up for combat. A respectfully un-named no-shower had left a group originally intended for five teams, with the smaller number of four, and so it was that FX Rentals, Vita and the Vicious, Damunki and Team Gillian Glover were preparing for three games of 6 minutes per half. We were welcoming back to the games FX, Vita and Gillian, and were pleased to see newcomers Damunki sign up for the first time.
The first game got underway with Damunki up against Vita and the Vicious. Would the fresh-faced Damunki fall-short of the Vicious Vita crew? Would Vita's boys live up to their self-proclaimed savageness? No to both, as Vita and the Vicious were chopped down at the first hurdle by an efficient-looking Damunki side. It was no landslide however: Vita and the Vicious 0, Damunki 1. Kicking-their heels by the pitch side were Team Gillian Glover and FX Rentals, who were both cheered on next. But they provided nothing but a yawn-fest I'm afraid, the game ending 0-0.
A ball-boy ran on with fresh orange slices for all to devour, and then straight back on were Team Gillian Glover, looking to capitalise on their first-game point against group leaders Damunki. Damunki were on a high after their debut game victory, and just proved too much for Gillian and co. Final Score: Damunki 1, Gillian Glover 0.
Just two goals from three games, and the spectators were starting to aim their peashooters and tomato guns at Pitch 2. We came for entertainment. We were not going to leave without it. All-eyes and barrels were on FX Rentals and Vita and the Vicious. Could these two meet the ruthless demands of the crowds? Not really. FX Rentals 0, Vita and the Vicious 1. However, after a lacklustre start, Vita and the Vicious had leapt into second place and were hot on the heels of Damunki who were yet to drop points. With victory over the struggling Team Gillian Glover, Vita knew that the pressure would be on for Damunki to produce in their final game against the point-seeking FX...
Vita and Gillian stepped up. Here was Vita's chance to march forward to the knock-out stages, but a surprise victory for Gillian would have really thrown a cat amongst the pigeons. But the form book spoke, and Camp Vita sent a crushing 3-0 sucker-punch towards Camp Gillian, sending Glover's soldiers crashing out of the competition, and the Vicious crew within touching distance of the Quarters!
Already through to the Quarter Finals, but with their seeded first-place in the group under attack by Vicious warriors, were Damunki. Their next opponents were FX Rentals, still looking to find the net for the first time. Could FX find something from the last chance saloon to pierce the tough-skinned Damunki boys, or would Damunki sweep them aside to beat Vita to the Group 2 finishing line? Well a 0-0 final score did send Damunki through as group winners, but by that time the crowds were turning their heads to the avalanche of goals gathering pace on Pitch 3...
Group 2 Final Positions:
Vita and the Vicious (q)
Team Gillian Glover
Whereas Group 2 amassed a modest 6 goals from 6 games, their neighbours on Pitch 3 were really going to town. Well, some of them were anyway. Heads were turning towards the endeavours of Group 3's Mindloop UK, KOSH, Ark Records and Fireproof Entertainment, who rustled up 32 goals between them in a group filled with contrasting emotions of triumph and humiliation. People were predicting that somewhere in the layers of this group were the soon-to-be crowned champions, but all will be revealed in time...
The vibrant green strips of Mindloop UK took their stance against the green and white hoops of KOSH for Game 1. Green on both sides? That's confusing! That's a valid excuse for Mindloop UK! (thrashed 5-1 by the unstoppable KOSH boys..!) Nevermind Mindloop, plenty of time to rectify that! Ark Records lined-up against a towering team of competition newcomers, Fireproof Entertainment. These boys looked strong, Ark perhaps a little apprehensive... A 4-1 demolition job from Fireproof confirmed all first suspicions.
With KOSH and Fireproof flexing their muscles and creating a gulf of goal difference between themselves and the flailing Ark and Mindloop contingencies, this group was looking tasty from the offset. A wee small game re-shuffle, for whatever reason, resulted in Game 3 involving the 'desperate dans' of the group, Ark and Mindloop, both eager to instil some dignity after their respective first game thumpings. Nerves were rattling, but when the ref blew for kick-off Ark soon got their act together, and asserted themselves on a troubled Mindloop outfit, building a mighty impressive 6-1 final score line to spring them out of the Group 3 doldrums, and leaving Mindloop firmly rooted to them. Ark were back from the dead!
Next came a true Grand Slam. KOSH and Fireproof Entertainment had wowed the crowds in their opening games, both amassing cricket scores against their opponents, and now they faced each other. This would go a long way in predicting who would finish as group winners. The fans and press were ready, KOSH weren't. Fireproof won a convincing 3 goals to 0, leaving KOSH deflated and in a battle for group qualification with the revitalised Ark.
In preparation for their crunch match vs Ark, KOSH were permitted a 10 minute break to nip-off for a quick beer and fag break. Interesting preparations...! Back on the pitch Ark were fired up. KOSH returned, perhaps a little tipsy, and hence lost, practically driving a blade through the heart of their qualification chances. Full Time: Ark Records 2, KOSH 1.
The last game of the group: Fireproof Entertainment vs Mindloop UK. It would be fair to say that Mindloop probably weren't looking forward to this one. Indeed, the nightmare continued, as did the Fireproof riot. These boys were really storming it now, running themselves all over Mindloop like an avoidable holiday rash. Final Score: Mindloop UK 0, Fireproof Entertainment 8.
Group 3 Final Positions:
Fireproof Entertainment (q)
Ark Records (q)
And so to the final group of 2008 title contenders. Here, tournament hosts Miloco welcomed three 5-a-side newcomers: Darling Department, Foreign Beggars and Paul Epworth's dangerous PSurreal Kilburn. The notoriously bad Miloco sprung a miraculous 4th place in 2007, but what could they conjure up against these new folks? Only time would tell...
From the city's North-Western neighbourhoods came PSurreal Kilburn, whose first game was against fellow debutants Foreign Beggars. The Kilburn boys shone in Game 1, delivering a sickening blow to Foreign Beggars in a very one-sided contest. Full Time: PSurreal Kilburn 5, Foreign Beggars 0.
Miloco and Darling Department were swiftly ushered on to the turf for the next game, the crowd stunned by the mighty performance they had just witnessed from PSurreal. But this was now Darling's hour, closing the gap on PSurreal Kilburn after tearing apart the Championship hosts by a devastating 5 goals to 1. Miloco were stuck-in-the-mud and scratching their heads in an early crisis...
... they had not long before their next encounter too, with the PSurreal Kilburn big-guns chomping at the bit to take on the hosts. The word 'Crikey' was heard emanating from the Miloco dressing room, and with good reason. Final Score: PSurreal Kilburn 4, Miloco 0.
So two games to the good, PSurreal Kilburn had clocked up nine goals and were yet to concede one. This looked a formidable team. The word 'Crikey' was soon on the lips of many...
The next encounter saw Foreign Beggars and Darling Department draw their pistols. With PSurreal Kilburn firing on all cylinders, Darling were apparently not prepared to settle for second best, and subsequently took Foreign Beggars apart with a 5-0 whipping, drawing neck-and-neck with the PSurreal lads, on points and goal difference. This was a real race for first place, and to the crowds delight both PSurreal Kilburn and Darling Department were up next, in the vital group decider.
The winner would take first, the loser second, but perhaps it was the knowledge that both teams has already qualified that resulted in an anti-climax, as PSurreal Kilburn just edged past the Darlings in a 1-0 battle, where both teams were clearly preserving their energy levels for the next round. PSurreal had won the group, Darling had secured second. It left Miloco and Foreign Beggars to battle it out for the pride spot of third, and a last minute Ben Thackeray winner saw the hosts clinch it. Cracking game to finish the group: Miloco 3, Foreign Beggars 2.
Group Four Final Positions
PSurreal Kilburn (q)
Darling Department (q)
The Quarter Finals
The Quarter Final draws would honour a seeding system: The winners of Group 1 would play the runners-up of Group 2, and vice-versa. Likewise, the winners of Group 3 would play the runners-up of Group 4, and vice-versa. We certainly had some intriguing battles ahead, all contesting the opportunity for a semi-final place, which would lead to everyone's favourite p-word: prize-prize-prizes!!!
Quarter Final 1: Grand Union HiJack vs Vita and the Vicious
After a subdued start to the group stage, Vita and the Vicous had turned their own fortunes, and had fired themselves past FX Rentals and Team Gillian Glover to a well-deserved place in the Quarter Finals. Their next challenge, however, was a daunting one. The winner of the five-team group, Grand Union HiJack, were gunning for anyone who crossed their path. The group stage had seen them triumph against all four of their opponents, including the reigning champions Aspire Entertainment, and their goal-scoring rate was growing by the game. Vita and the Vicious would need to up their game further and pull-off a real upset here to continue their winning streak.
It was, unfortunately for Vita, not to happen. The Grand Union lads were flying by this point, spurred on by their charismatic goalkeeper to attempt a demolition job on anyone who dared try to stop them. A pat on the back for Vita and the Vicious, it was a grand effort, although a 6-0 full-time score sheet confirmed one thing: it was going to take some stopping Grand Union HiJack if anyone else was planning on winning this competition...
Grand Union HiJack 6 - 0 Vita and the Vicious
Quarter Final 2: Damunki vs Aspire Entertainment
It was never going to be an easy draw for the winners of Group 2. With Grand Union HiJack gladly avoided through securing top-spot, the best Group 2 had to offer, Damunki, were instead drawn against the reigning champions, Aspire Entertainment, who had ended in a lower-seeded Quarter Final draw due to an uncharacteristic shaky spell in the group stages. But Aspire had found their best form in the final group game against Wall Of Sound, whereas Damunki were a tad off-target in their 0-0 bore-fest against FX. The bets were pouring in and favouring the Aspire crew, but Damunki surely weren't going to back down that easily...
The game took place on Pitch 2, you know, the notoriously dull one, and the curse frankly continued to plague the inspirations of both sets of players. Both teams strung some average moves together, but the only thing reaching pressure point was Aspire's team spirit, as a sequence of terrible passes failed to find their targets, leaving the champions feeling frustrated and a little vexed with each other. Damunki tried to capitalise on their opponents' in-house issues, but both teams ran out of time to impose themselves on the match. The ref blew for penalties...
There would be heroes, there would be zeros. A man with a broom ran across the pitch to sweep up the recently-fallen nail clippings from the petrified players' shaking fingers. But four slick conversions and an uncountable number of scuff-ups later, and the game had a winner: Aspire Entertainment, amidst the outfield turmoil, had grabbed their chance at a second semi-final place in two years of Miloco 5-a-side Football. If the champions were to go down in their title defence, it would be with a ruddy good fight.
Aspire Entertainment 0 - 0 Damunki
(Aspire win 3-1 on penalties)
Quarter Final 3: Fireproof Entertainment vs Darling Department
Meanwhile, Fireproof Entertainment and Darling Department were going through their pre-match warm up of press-ups, star-jumps and kart-wheels for the only Quarter Final between two tournament newcomers. Both teams were in cruise control in the group stages, amassing between them a staggering 25 goals against their slightly bewildered opposition. But Quarter Finals always serve up a different kettle of fish! Only one team could progress, confirming that one of the top group stage performers would be sent crying all the way home. We were hoping for goals in this one...
Fireproof got off to a screamer, stringing together a lethal-looking attack almost from the game's offset. The Darling keeper would have a busy game if this sort of Fireproof form was set to continue...
Darling Department were backs to the wall, with Fireproof shots flying in like asteroids. "Goodness Gracious Great Balls Of Fire", the Darling defenders yelped, sliding across the Astroturf in last-ditch defence mode, accumulating a gorey collection of knee-cuts and body-blows in the process.
But try as they might, the storm could not be weathered. The power of Fireproof Entertainment was too strong, and they rolled off the pitch as 3-0 winners over a Darling Department frankly left in shock. This was a team who had obliterated Miloco and Foreign Beggars, but just could not cope under the fire of Fireproof.
People were starting to talk of tournament favourites by this point...
Fireproof Entertainment 3 - 0 Darling Department
Quarter Final 4: Ark Records vs PSurreal Kilburn
There was one Semi Final place left to battle over, an opportunity for a much-coveted podium finish at stake. Ark Records were psyching each other in one corner, whilst PSurreal Kilburn gave their best-shot at The Haka on the half-way line. The ref waited, patiently.
Kick-off, and a theme of rip-roaring end-to-end stuff was thrown into the balance straight away by both teams. It was Ronaldo step-overs, Zidane swirls, and Cruyff turns galore, and the crowd were simply loving it. Half time came, and it was neck-and-neck at 1-1, a fair reflection of this even-stevens match.
When the game kicked-off for Round 2, it was gloves off straight away. We had a real quarter-final on the cards here, and both teams were clearly desperate to progress further towards glory. PSurreal took the lead with a beautifully-placed effort from just outside the box, but just as the game approached the full-time mark, Ark found a last gasp to squeeze one past the man in the Kilburn number 1 shirt, and drew level in the final seconds. The game was heading down Penalty Avenue at break-neck speed...
The spot-kick takers gathered, knees wobbling. The goalkeepers gave each other evils, chests puffed up. The supporters were hiding in their shirts. You could cut the tension with a blunt spoon.
When both teams hit the net from their first penalties, nerves were thankfully settled. However lurking around the corner was an absolute howler from the Ark boys, gifting PSurreal with the shoot-out's initiative. Finally broken free from the relentless chains of Ark Records, PSurreal Kilburn knew this was their chance, and delivered two more superb penalties to put the final Ark candidate under unbearable spotlight pressure. It was do or die for Ark Records, and die they did, helpless in the presence of a stunning display of acrobatics from the PSurreal Kilburn goalie.
Ark were no-more. The mighty PSurreal had prevailed in a battle of the ages. We had our fourth Semi Finalist!
Ark Records 2 - 2 PSurreal Kilburn
(PSurreal Kilburn won 4-2 on penalties).
Steaming around the corner onto the hernia-inducing tournament run-in they came: Grand Union HiJack, Aspire Entertainment, Fireproof Entertainment and PSurreal Kilburn. There were two hurdles on the remaining track ahead, and the first would deliver fatal blows to two of the remaining riders. It was Semi Final time. The business end of the competition was in full swing!
Semi Final 1: Grand Union HiJack vs Fireproof Entertainment
For many it was the dream final. Both the Grand Union fire-crackers, and the Fireproof grandmasters had blown their opposition away in each and every game thus far. But the time was nigh: one dream would continue, the other would end. Attitude was abundant, determination was rife. The winner of this one would arguably be the favourites to go the full distance...
Things got off to an edgy start. A Grand Union barbarian got upset by the shenanigans of a Fireproof jester. Fruity utterances were exchanged. It looked like the right-honourable yellow-kitted official would be kept busy here...
... a bit if rough and tumble continued to boil the blood of both teams, but mid-way through the first half, a lapse of Fireproof concentration let a Grand Union forward clean through, to slot the ball past the Fireproof keeper with grace. 1-0 to the Union!
Fireproof weren't used to being on a losing side, and they didn't like it one bit! The aggro was diverted to within the Fireproof camp, and the men in red began to turn on each other. We needed half-time to avoid fisticuffs here. The ref thankfully blew his whistle.
Second-half commenced, and Fireproof knew they needed to find something to cling on to their hopes. Grand Union were stuck in a tricky dilemma - "do we defend our lead, or try to extend it?" Well something didn't click in the Union's plan, and a Fireproofer pounced, finding a nifty gap in HiJack's defence to slot home. Alarm bells for Grand Union HiJack!!!
It was too tight to call. Both teams were cautiously sparing their attacks to prevent the risk of being stung on the counter. Then, a barrage of Fireproof shots paired with a string of stunning saves from the Grand Union goalie shifted the contest into turbo gear - but it was a telling sign of what was coming...
Fireproof were growing in stature and the nerves in the Grand Union stands were starting to crack. And then it came - a beautifully spread ball to the Fireproof left flank saw the winger through on goal, and in true Entertaining fashion, the man of the moment blasted into the top left corner, leaving the Grand Union goalkeeper helpless after his chapter of heroics.
Grand Union knew they needed to act fast. A short injury interruption caused modest concern for the well-being of a Fireproofer's leg, but Grand Union were only interested in lining up a substitution. And then out of no-where, the "injured" soldier sprung up from his backside, and threaded a team-mate through on goal, who then settled the dispute once-and-for-all with a cracking finish. CONTROVERSY!!! The Grand Union boys were not happy about that! Their substitute was left pegged to the touchline, while an apparently injured Fireproof player jumped up to catch the HiJackers' defence off guard. The ref was under fire. He also didn't care. The final whistle blew, as did the tempers of Grand Union HiJack. They were out of the tournament, body-checked and left for dead by an impressive, if albeit crafty, Fireproof Entertainment.
Grand Union HiJack 1 - 3 Fireproof Entertainment
Semi Final 2: Aspire Entertainment vs PSurreal Kilburn
It had been a rollercoaster ride for reigning champions, Aspire Entertainment. Sure, they'd swept aside Wall Of Sound and Domino F.C. in the groups, but a defeat to the now-departed Grand Union Hijack, stalemate with SBM / MAMA Group and less-than-convincing shoot-out victory against Damunki in the quarters, had left many wandering whether Aspire had left their Champion's boxershorts at home this year. But here they were, in the Semi Finals, up-against a mightily impressive PSurreal Kilburn, who were spurred on by their epic win against a battling Ark Records in the previous round. This one too, had all the makings of a classic!
PSurreal had a game plan. News of the in-house turmoil which had tarnished the Champions' day had drifted across to their opponents' training ground, and these cheeky Kilburn boys were going all out to wind up Aspire like a cuckoo clock. So things got off to a pokey start, with Aspire needing to focus on the job in hand to avoid losing their tempers once more.
Mind games aside, the forecast was predicting that a flurry of goals was on its way. And the weatherman was right. Just as Aspire shut-up the Kilburn banter with the opening goal, PSurreal immediately returned to bury a blinder and level the game. The match's pace was gathering ferociously when PSurreal Kilburn dummied a bedazzled Aspire defender to go one-on-one with the keeper and score in style, but just as the PSurreal boys stopped to catch their breath after a mammouth comeback effort, Aspire were back up the other end to peg the Kilburners back a level! This was great stuff!!!
Half Time was needed. As the captains worked their motivational magic, the scoreboard read an exciting: Aspire Entertainment 2 - 2 PSurreal Kilburn.
Not long into the second half, fatigue began to make itself at home. These men were shattered, and the last thing anyone on the pitch wanted was another penalty shoot-out. A Kilburner was hacked down by a clumsy tackle from an Aspirant, and the resulting free-kick came dangerously close to the target. Aspire's defence were rattled.
Not long after, PSurreal found their spears once more and drove forward into the Aspire resistance. The champs looked screwed here, oh boy oh boy did they look like gonners!!! A PSurreal forward burst through like a man possessed. The almost zombifyingly knackered Aspire defence rolled their eyes and wiped their brows in realisation of what was coming. The man drove on relentlessly, and slotted in a real corker from the left side of the box, almost breaking the net in the process, and sending Aspire Entertainment spiralling out of control.
The cup-holders had run out of chances. When the ref signalled for full time, a mighty roar erupted from the PSurreal Kilburn stands. The Kings had been de-throned. It was official: there would be a new coronation at the end of the day!!
Aspire Entertianment 2 - 3 PSurreal Kilburn
Third Place Play-off...
We had to find a bronze medallist, with both losing Semi Finalists on the shortlist. The low-spirited troops of Grand Union HiJack and Aspire Entertainment had to find some energy from somewhere for their lap of honour: the Third Place Play-off.
A friendly affair was needed to warm the stage for the grand finale, and hats off to both sets of athletes who gave one last push for the good of the tournament. It was Aspire Entertainment though who nicked it. The former Champions would be back on the podium again, to claim the third-place prizes in Miloco's 2008 5-a-side. Grand Union HiJack took the fourth spot with admirable sportsmanship. They'd been fantastic competitors from start to almost finish.
Bravo to both teams!
Aspire Entertainment 1 - 0 Grand Union HiJack.
The stage was set. A falling mist of confetti sunk down onto an ocean of fans: one half in the Fireproof black, the other in the red and white of Kilburn. The prize trophy, posing gloriously on the turf, was reflecting the sky; a sky illuminated by an arsenal of gunpowder, painting the early-evening canvas and welcoming the tournament heavyweights to the concluding Battersea showdown. In the red corner: Fireproof Entertainment. They'd shown strength, skill and cunning on route to an ultimately inevitable final in their first showing at a Miloco competition. Could they jostle away their final opponents to cap the perfect day of six wins out of six? In the blue corner: PSurreal Kilburn. These North-West London high-flyers had made the south-bound trip to SW11 with confidence by the barrel, and, like their final opponents, were yet to end a game as anything less than winners.
But something was to change, someone had to break. The hour had arrived. The Miloco 5-a-side 2008 Final was about to commence...
They were off, accompanied by a roar of upmost passion from the attending fans, all of whom were now gratefully clutching a well-earned bevvy. But enough of beer - there was the biggest game of the tournament taking place, the grand parade, and early signs showed that the youth of Fireproof Entertainment were gaining the upper-hand on a slightly jaded-looking PSurreal Kilburn side.
The Kilburn resistence were looking panicked, when all of a sudden, first-blood struck. In less than two minutes of gametime a Fireproof rocket had rattled the underside of Kilburn's cross bar, and rebounded past the wrong side of the white line for the goalkeeper. Tremendous strike! Fireproof were off, and PSurreal had taken an early blow where it hurts.
PSurreal restarted the contest, and heaved there way through to the opposition's goal vicinity in search of a quick equaliser, but when Fireproof's keeper collected a loose ball and brilliantly distributed it back to his team's star striker, there looked like more trouble on the way for Epworth's Kilburn crew. A shimmy, step-over, and left-footed swerve, aannnndd... GOAL! It was 2-0. PSurreal's wound had opened further. This was starting to look like a forlorn conclusion, and half-time was still some time away. Disaster for Kilburn!!!
Fireproof's showboaters were out, much to the dissaproval of a disgruntled Kilburn bench. "Behave" cried the PSurreal coach, as a Fireproof player stood and spun on the ball, executed a 360 degrees backward-reverse moonwalk, before ingeniously slicing it goal-bound and into the path of an incoming hitman. 3-0, and that one was really special.
Half-time did not paint a pretty picture for PSurreal Kilburn, and when the teams swiftly returned to settle the competition, Fireproof had the finishing line firmly within in their sights.
It was all too much for PSurreal. A blistering run from Fireproof's right winger left every Kilburner for dead as they conceded the fourth goal of the game. They wanted it to end badly, and when Fireproof's substitute placed the fifth and final goal in the top corner, the ref decided enough was enough.
"Hail the new Champions!" The crowds were yelling, as Fireproof Entertainment punched the air in sheer jubilation. They were the winners, and would revel in their prizes and newly-found status as 5-a-side Kings!
A warmly-received lap of honour did little to consolidate the disappointed PSurreal Kilburn, but they would be going home with their own assortment of accolades, and of course, would be back for another crack at triumph. They had been fantastic participants to the very end.
Fireproof Entertainment 5 - 0 PSurreal Kilburn.
The final whistle...
And so there we were, gathered around two buckets of ice-chilled beer, both large enough to house an unusually short family, reminiscing over the past four-and-a-half hours of exhaustive sporting exertion. We'd seen the brilliant, the commendable, the slightly-improved, and the categorically shocking, within a 130-strong group of music industry soccer soldiers, but now was a time for celebration. The closing ceremony - with all the pomp and grandeur such occasions bring - was finally upon us.
The bronze medallists, Aspire Entertainment, were welcomed back to the podium they once owned. A fine display of relentless title defending had got them miles, but their stamina had deserted them at the penultimate post. Their rewards: a modest trophy, bottle of champagne, and of course that all important free day in Miloco's Musikbox mix studio.
Let's hear it for the scintillating performance of runners-up PSurreal Kilburn. Led by the talismanic Paul Epworth, this team had taken the tournament by the scruff of the neck from Game 1, and had disposed of Miloco, Foreign Beggars, Darling Department, Ark Records and Aspire Entertainment before falling short at the hands of the tournament winners. They walked away with a medium-sized trophy, 8 silver medals, bottle of champagne and free day in Miloco's Garden studio.
And then came the triumphant winners, making their final climb up the steps to the royal box to receive their prizes of victory from the VIPs. It was Fireproof Entertainment's hour, and the applause recognising their fine achievement was electrifying. Fireproof will spend a day in Miloco's flagship studio, The Engine Room. They might still be wearing their 8 gold winners medals, which they received alongside a grand trophy and bottle of the fizzy stuff. We look forward to seeing them back next year in the defence of their title...
... and the same goes for the rest. We can't begin to describe our gratitude towards the armies of athletes who gave up their day for the good of our beloved tournament. We are not worthy of every one of your efforts, and of course wouldn't be able to put on a tournament without you. We of course sincerely hope that we can tempt you all back to Battersea for the 2009 Championships, which we will, as always, be looking to make even better than this year.
So we look forward to seeing you all next summer, and simply can't wait for another football fandango! We raise our plastic cups to toast another phenomenal year of 5-a-side! Hear hear!!!
Many thanks and much love,