Before pressing on with the story, it’s important to recognise a dramatic game played out that summer for my stag do. Gammy Knees players split up to represent two different teams in the first epic duel of the day. Rick and I were on the same team and combined to play in Simon, my future brother-in-law, to open the scoring. He would freely admit he’s not sure how on earth that happened!
The game finished level though and resulted in a penalty shootout.
Highlights were Nick pounding the ball over the crossbar, my brother burying the winning penalty for us under Matt’s despairing dive and my delicate panenka chip which unfortunately just grazed the crossbar. (OK, it was poorly executed and a terrible pen but we’d already won the shootout anyway! Check out Matt’s memorable celebration though!)
Nick’s hitting Row Z!
Almost so glorious…
Back to the history.
After the high of the trophy win, we snapped up Pete W from the first team we played. His favourite skill was the “disguised” backheel – disguised because he often disguised who he was passing it to by passing it to the other team. Still, he had lots of ability and was a great signing (and not just because his continued presence in the team meant we still had a student playing for us!)
Our first game of the league season (we’d missed the qualifying tournament) was an incredible success. 34-2 to kick us off was incredible. Not before or since have I been involved in a game of such a huge difference in score!
However, with only a few seconds remaining, it was marred by a hideous injury to our German Pete. On fire in the match itself, he’d just come on as a substitution when a collision with one of the opponents caused him to collapse to the floor in visible agony. Clearly distressed, their player left the pitch while we ran over to Pete. His knee was at a horrible angle and the anguish on his face left us in no doubt that this was bad.
We waited around for an ambulance, trying to keep him warm but afraid to move him and he was taken to the QMC. As a team, we accompanied him and discovered that he has some serious ligament damage and would be on crutches for the foreseeable future. Of course, like the continental superstar that he is, he managed to bypass the NHS 6 week wait for an MRI scan by flying back to Germany to see a specialist (!) but still, a formidable member of the team was out of action.
We ended up being placed in League 2 for this season, perhaps due to our perennial appearances in the student league and having a half decent record. Even though our squad was only six strong, we were a tight knit unit, with consistent defending and rapier counter attacks. Everybody knew their job and we stuck to it. Even Matt, with his natural tendency to dive right, performed to an amazing standard that season.
At this stage too, we were still young enough and young-enough-looking to pass for students so we competed well with our League 2 counterparts. In fact, more than that, we actually got ourselves promoted to League 1. Another high point in this successful period of the Gammies’ history. Imagine how strong we could have been with Pete J on board as well.
Feeling confident then, we entered another Christian football tournament. This time, all the way north in Leyland, hosted by the church I used to work at. My usher Nick (he of the skied penalty) was organising it and I felt it was time the Gammy Knees were represented on a more national scale.
So off we set, early one bright Saturday morning. Could we carry our success into this latest comp?