It was a real pinnacle in the Gammies story.
Double trophy winners. Feeling unbeatable. And Kings of church football tournaments.
So when Christians In Sport organised a summer Saturday tournament we fancied our chances.
The omens weren’t bad. A few players weren’t available (through a mixture of India and cricket!), but Westhead had jetted back from the US to play and Nik could lend his continental flair to us. Scott made his debut. We had a chance.
Our time in the group stages was mixed. A combative draw was followed by thumping 7-0 win complete with one of the opposition swearing and stomping off the pitch, removing his shirt and chucking it to one side. Before the game could continue he had to go back on to retrieve it! Ridiculous.
We made it through in second place – frustratingly – and played a group winner. Star man Rick though had to leave; he was due at his boss’s husband birthday party to hang out with Tim Minchin. I’d hurt my knee and we weren’t so sure about which one of us would be going in goal so it didn’t look good.
So it proved. Dumped out with a whimper – 3-1 and not even that close. It was a disappointing way to end our run.
That summer also saw a significant change to the team. My wife and I moved 45 mins away and I was suddenly less available. Mike assumed the captaincy – he loved to literally wear the armband – and we needed to recruit.
Matt stopped playing. Not officially but his busy sporting activities elsewhere and travels round the country – (say Crow-cherrr!) prohibited his availability.
Rick picked up a niggling injury and became unavailable as well. Apart from once when he came to ref but we didn’t have a game so he watched our 3 on 3.
In came culinary guru Alec, a top guy of no little skill. His physical style did result in a fair few knocks though! He became our unofficial keeper.
This was also the year of the permanent URN fixture. We were always playing them! And even when the leagues turned round we stuck together like glue. Still not sure who was the better team!
After years of gazing longingly at Pitch 1 on our long snowy trudge up to the darkened Pitch 15 (!), we finally got our chance to play on it. I was late and arrived as we were drawing 1-1. I came on as a sub, very excitedly.
And we were duly thumped. Final score 20-3. The larger pitch and slick passing and movement of our opponents completely overwhelmed us. One of the worst matches in Gammy history! By the end of that, we were desperate to return to our spiritual home of Pitch 15.
After that, the season fizzled out somewhat with nothing to play for. My mate Marksy did get the chance to guest star, organising us, driving us forward and even scoring some goals in a competitive victory. Not bad for Marksalele! However, that was my last appearance for the Gammies at that Powerleague through a combination of illness, summer and ultimately moving up north.
Truly was the end of an era.