DBFC Vets 1 – 0 Spartans Masters.

Played at the King George 5th (KGV) School Field.

Monday 26th June 2023 with 21:00 kick-off.

Squad: Travis, Darius, Tita, Rigby, Nik, Justin, San, DJ, Sammy, Job, Crommy, Anago, Ping, Kwai, Magic Mike, Pius, Nin and Bradders.

Goal scorer: Crommy

This year’s cup final was a rematch of last year’s final (2021/2022 season) against Spartans Masters when DBFC Vets lost 1-0 to a Spartans’ sucker-punch goal after dominating possession and chances. This time DBFC Vets prepared for another tough game, with both teams having won a game each in their league encounters. Luckily, DBFC were blessed with a strong squad in player numbers and quality, including at least four right-backs (England Manager Gareth Southgate having success with a similar squad selection at the Qatar world cup), whilst Bradders arrived and looked to be kitting up in the full John Terry role despite his injured something.

With the continuation of Gazza’s touchline ban, banished all the way to the hell-scape that is Essex, it was left to Stephane to pull the strings on the touchline. Initially, this led to an unusually calm substitutes bench without the usual spikiness between the opposition coaches. However, in the middle of the first half, some disagreement with a fairly inconsequential man-handling of Darius, followed by a host of changes to our midfield, left the DB side raging and ill focused, allowing Spartans a few breaks which fell just wide, include a far post header.

Until that point, Justin had been secure in winning interceptions in the midfield, whilst San was mercurial going forward, regularly releasing Sammy and Job behind the defence. On one occasion, Job was upended on the edge of the box, but Crommy was unable to keep the free kick down, as Gazza had predicted from 10,000 miles away, whilst Job’s earlier lob just failed to drop despite the cheers of the exuberant DBFC crowd.

On the word of the Rigby, Tita, Crommy leadership committee, a near return to the starting XI, with DJ as the target man gave us renewed cohesion. DBFC repeatedly cut through the Spartans’ defence, though Job just failed to control through balls from Sammy and the offside flag left DJ disappointed. Pius twisted and turned but could not find room for a shot, a textbook, close-range header from DJ was parried away on the goalline, whilst Darius was getting himself in the box on the right. When San chased down a 50 yards and played it across the six yard area for Darius to shoot, the Spartans’ keeper spread himself to stop a near-certain goal.

Despite the chances, DBFC still had Travis to thank for keeping the score level. A quick break by Spartans provided them with a 1-on-1 opportunity, which he firmly kept out. Later, he was confident in collecting the high ball put in the DBFC box from a number of set pieces, with Rigby, Tita, Justin and Ping bravely dealing with others, to secure the clean sheet.

Eventually, midway through the second half, DBFC’s persistence and efforts paid off when Sammy and Job broke forward together and combined to slide the ball across the edge of Spartans’ box for Crommy, running through the middle, to take his first touch towards the onrushing Spartans’ keeper and a second to poke the ball underneath him, bringing delight to the DBFC sideline.

With Spartans then chasing the game, spaces opened up for both teams. DBFC had the best chance in the dying minutes of the match when Job struck a firm shot past the Spartan’s keeper only to see their defender save on the line in a replay of the Suarez 2022 world cup hand ball. A red card was given to put Spartans down to 10 players and whilst the crowd were already celebrating victory, Job fired the resulting penalty against the bar and DBFC were left with the nervousness of a one goal lead for the remaining few minutes. DBFC could have taken better control of possession with the extra player and there were a couple more rash challenges by Spartans that could have given a greater numerical advantage but DBFC had just enough to get over the line.

The Spartan’s manager had generous words as he handed over the trophy (Cup) at full time. Afterwards, half the DBFC Vets squad enjoyed celebrating at a restaurant in the bright lights of To Kwa Wan. However, after seeing the deteriorating condition of the cup, they eschewed the tradition of drinking from the trophy and drank beers from their bowls, whilst the goalkeepers union (Trav and Bradders) showed off the trophy on their tour of the New Territories, with the police kindly closing some roads as the crowds came out in force.