In last week’s introduction, Rick explained the origins of the Gammy Knees. We left the story on a cliffhanger – the Gammies were through to the biggest match of their short history and they invited along a guest player to make his first appearance…
The semi-final match has some significance as it involved Joe making his Gammy Knees debut. I can’t quite remember why Joe was brought in for this particular game but I’m going to guess that it was because Mark Nichols was once again injured/couldn’t be bothered/had a Tesco shopping delivery to complain about.
Although this was the start of our Gammy Knees journey together, our actual footballing history goes further back. Brought together for the school football team back when Joe was a goalkeeper and I was in defence, we took advantage of being released from those shackles on the school field at lunchtime and enjoyed many afternoons playing as strikers and scoring a few goals between the makeshift jumpers for goalposts.
I always felt that Joe had a particularly awkward style of playing, which lulls you into a false sense of him being rubbish! But the truth is that he has a good football brain, uses the ball really well and is great a putting a tackle in. So I was excited about him coming into the team for this must win match. We were playing a university staff team who we’d played (and beaten) previously in a fairly bad tempered encounter – so we knew they’d be gunning for us in this fixture.
The details of the match itself are difficult to remember (it was 8 years ago!) but we controlled the game really well. I can safely assume that Lil’ Will scored the majority of our goals from 2 yards out. Josh piledrived one in from long range. Smalls tried a clever flick and fell over. Big Will made a series of great blocks before letting one in through his legs. And Matt Graham kept diving to his right (something that would stand him in good stead when he later became our goalkeeper but for now was pretty useless). That’s perhaps a bit unfair on Matt, he was the bedrock of the defence and was invaluable sitting there and making things awkward for their attackers, but it was always fun to pass him the ball and watch his legs take on a mind of their own. Joe had a fairly quiet debut, but better things were to come from him in the following years…the only thing I remember is him having a half decent chance towards the end of the match and putting it over, which I only remember because Josh (as the serial wind up merchant) gave him a lot of stick for it afterwards!
The important thing was that we’d navigated our way through a potentially tricky fixture and now had a final to come. By this point we were probably thinking we were miles better than we actually were and decided to invite a couple of friends down to watch the final so that we’d have plenty of witnesses when we heroically lifted the trophy. They even made banners!
One of those friends who came down that night was Danny Jones (who would later go on to play in defence for Gammy Knees II). He warned me that his friend from Southampton was on the opposing team, which was full of ‘ex Southampton FC Academy’ players.
He was probably right.
The game was a shambles for us. Hardly having a kick of the ball we were never in the game and were quickly something like 7-0 down. In the second half we did a bit better but still ended up losing something like 10-2. So we had to make do with a runners up medal, only they weren’t giving medals to the runners up, so we had to make do with nothing. But we’d got a taste of the big time and wanted more. Next year was our year, and we had plans to test ourselves on a bigger stage…. Powerleague.