The Legal League Sevens Tournament – 21st June 2015 – Kings Park, Jordon —– 12:30 to 6:30 pm

Manager Gazza started looking for his squad for this tournament 3 weeks earlier, just after the draw for the 6 groups of 6 teams (36 teams involved) had been made by the Legal League (LL) officials. DBFC were expected to do well, we are the League Champions after all, but the group B, in which DBFC were drawn, was soon labelled by league bloggers as the group of death because 4 of the 6 teams had been favourites to progress to main cup competition; French Dragons, BOF, FWD and DBFC; The other two teams, Soho Spartans and TWF were no walkover. However, such is life and with a wry smile and a chinkerty-chink, Gazza got on with the task of assembling his squad.

Things were not simple. Gaz had come to an agreement with fellow DBFC officials, Dirk and Robin, that he would endeavour to keep his selection to players not eligible for the Vets seven a side tournament the week after (28th June), we had the philosophy to share the football over these two weekends so that all players got a shout. So Gaz contacted the under 35s in the squad to find out that many were unavailable. The boy band members of Jordon, Tom and Rob Scott were going on tour in Bangkok (assumed to be football), Oli was under orders to attend his first wedding anniversary (setting a bad precedence), Robbie on holiday back to UK, Matt Hoare and Hans not back from Uni, Jonny Haines still with athletes foot, Sam due to leave on holiday (broken hand no help) and Jamie Hooper holidays. Nevertheless, Gazza still managed to pull together commitments from an excellent, world beating squad of 10 players; Travis, David, JP, Syd, Will, Rafa, Steve, Christian, Matt Z and Scott H. This was going to be our tournament and to ensure that the best minds were on the sidelines coaching, Gazza enlist the experienced Barry Brown as his assistant for the day. Baz and Gaz were to Jazz it up with Baz’s boom box and music.

The day arrived and straight away things were not smooth as Gazza likes. The taxis were late and Christian and Scott Holmes had not arrived at the taxi stand. A call to Scott revealed he was now making his own way to Kings Park and thought he had informed the boss. Christian could not be contacted and when Baz called his Mum and Dad to find out they didn’t know, we were worried. The day before Rafa advised he couldn’t change arrangements to be at home for the arrival of his in-laws, so would have leave after the third group game (2:15) and Steve advised he was having lunch with his outlaws so couldn’t get there until the fourth group game (3:15). So my Squad of 10 was going to be 9 throughout the day.

On arrival at Kings Park the new kits were provided (HK Sevens Kits) and the team looked the business. We still hadn’t heard from Christian and rumour was he’d been out on a bender (obviously to the disappointment of Gazza and the team). So we started with 8 players. Travis in goal, JP and David would manage the back, Syd, Will and Rafa would manage the middle and Matt the front. We would use Scott on the flanks or the front depending who look the most tired.

Group match 1: DBFC 1 v TWF 0: scorer Will Frost —– This was a settling in game and although we were clearly the better side we struggled with retaining possession and making a clear opening. The guys were playing too much like 11-a-side with long balls and not moving the passing simple and kick. They started getting it together and some neat inter-passing saw will go through and thump the ball into the back of the net. TWF never really threaten our goal.

Baz received the phone call from Christian that he was in no fit state to play football so would not be coming.

Group match 2: DBFC 1 v Soho Spartans 0: scorer Syd Ho —— Again we were the better side but still struggled a bit doing the quick simple things and short quick passing. We stood off the opposition players a bit too much and maybe never used Travis enough in passing out of tight situations. Nevertheless, there was marked improvement from the previous game and the team had patches of good fluid football. A great passing move resulted in Syd coming in fast from the flank to drive the ball into the corner of Spartans goal. Spartans didn’t really threaten our goal.

Group match 3: DBFC 1 v BOF 1: scorer Will Frost ——- This was the second French Dragons Team run by Philippe Brue and had some quality footballers —-but so did we. The standard of football in this match was obviously higher and Travis, David and JP had to work very hard to contain their forwards and stop some good chances. We were coming very close to a break through with great inter-play between our midfield 3 and Matt up front. Our tempo was great and we closed the BOF players quickly to frustrate them and nick the ball. However, some quick one two football for BOF on the flank caught us out and the player drilled in a cross for the BOF forward to react first and slot the ball past Travis. The guys were disappointed with a little lapse in concentration when the game looked to be turning our way. Not to be put down and in true DBFC spirit the guys raised their game and started to impose with great football and got a well-deserved equalizer from some good work by Matt and Syd for Will to burst through the middle and steer the ball into the BOF net. The winner wouldn’t come for DBFC although the guys got close and defended well at the other end.

Rafa left us at this point and Travis revealed an email from Steve to say he would not make it at a reasonable time because he’s still at lunch. We were down to 7 players now.

Group match 4: DBFC 0 v French Dragons 1——— We was robbed. French Dragons were obviously the better of the teams we played but this was our fourth game and we were looking a very good sevens team. The game was going to both ends. David and JP were getting to the ball fast and first in tackling the FD forwards. Travis pulled off some good stops and was imposing in goal. Syd, Scott and Will were busting guts up and down the pitch supporting David and JP then supporting Matt up front. We had some great chances but just didn’t manage to get clean on the end of the final ball. FD scored with a have chance bobbled shot that eluded David and JP and trickle past Travis hands to hit the post and fall over the line. Baz came on for a few minutes at the end of this one.

Steve still hadn’t made it and Gazza messaged to say that we only had 7 and the games were taking their toll and try to make the quarters to help out.

Group match 5: DBFC 1 v FWD 0: scorer Will Frost ——– FWD needed to win this game if they were to finish above DBFC in the group table. We needed a draw to secure third place or a win by more than 3 goals to come second place. The lads were up for this one and started at pace. The football was looking very good, smooth and slick and the team was mastering this sevens football. DBFC were always on top of FWD in this game but having to work hard for it. JP and David were solid at the back, Travis was sharp when needed to save and was inter-acting with the football passing round the back, Will, Syd and Scott were working their socks off, closing down and supporting Matt. Another good passing move and work up front by Matt saw Will, once again, burst through from mid-field to slot the ball into the back of FWD goal. We were unlucky not to get more but on the other hand we were not in danger of conceding a goal. Baz came on for a few minutes towards the end of this game.

   Group B P W D L F A B(3+) Pts
Soho   Spartans

5

1

0

4

4

7

0

3

French   Dragons

5

3

2

0

9

4

0

11

Discovery   Bay FC

5

3

1

1

4

2

0

10

TWF

5

1

1

3

1

6

0

4

FWD   FC

5

1

1

2

3

6

0

4

 BOF

5

2

3

0

11

6

1

10

French Dragons through to the cup —– eventual winners

BOD through to the plate (they were not one of the two best placed 2nd finishes to go to the cup)

DBFC through to the plate as best 3rd placed finishes

FWD went through to the Bowl

Game 6: Plate Quarter-Final: DBFC 0 v San Pellegrinos 0: DBFC win 3 – 2 on penalties.

This game was played across half the very narrow pitch 2 at Kings Park after all our group B matches were played across the wide pitch 1. The difference was profound and didn’t help the football. There was very little space to work the ball.  San Pellegrinos from the outset were playing with all their men behind the ball and their only attacking threat came from long goal kicks. DBFC had many half chances but failed to find a way through the SPs’ cramped defence.  DBFC were by far the better team but the game ended in SPs’ favour at 0 – 0 and to penalty shoot-out.

Matt and Syd both scored their penalties whilst San Pellegrinos missed their second penalty over the bar. Up steps Scotty Holmes, destiny in his hands, to coolly slot the ball into the bottom right corner.

Talking point: Matt Z calling the referee a few choice words, which clearly offended a San Pellegrinos player who insisted on an apology ‘for the good of the game’. It’s the Irish in him explained Gazza.

Game 7: Plate Semi-Final: DBFC 1 v The Losers 1: scorer Matt Z: DBFC win sudden death penalties.

DBFC were clearly tired in this game against one of the worst teams we encountered all day. After conceding an early goal, DBFC went on the attack for the majority of the game without much luck. Will was yellow carded with 5 minutes remaining (2 minutes sin bin) so to keep pressure on The Losers, Travis pushed out as a player (sometimes as far as an attacking midfielder) and tactic was working (most of the time). One occasion saw DBFC lose possession and David race back to clear the ball off the line. Will came back on and Travis maintained an advanced player role leaving our goal empty but The Losers packed their defence and the equaliser was not coming. Literally the last play of the game saw Travis (again attacking) with the ball in the opposition half, turned his man and unleased a shot that was going straight into the keepers hands. However, up popped Scott H like a Salmon to glance the ball with his head that The Losers’ keeper did well to save, and Matt was on hand to tuck away the keeper’s spill. Out of jail big time! The boys were ecstatic! So to penalties and for Travis’s heroics to continue:

The same three picked for penalties. Matt Z scored, followed by Travis appearing to save the opposition’s first penalty with a fine save onto the post (later to find this was an optical illusion) but at the time DBFC thought they were 1 – 0 up. Syd sent the keeper the wrong way but hit the post. Travis saved the opposition penalty so still at ­1-0 (DBFC believed).Scotty H had his penalty saved but Travis step in to save The Losers’ penalty.

Jubilation for DBFC as they and the referee considered DBFC triumphed 1 – 0 after the 3 player penalty shoot-out. However, the opposition insisted their first penalty went in and hit the back stanchion and not the post.  After much arguing, Travis tells the referee that the penalty did hit the back stanchion and was a goal. The referee then decided to go to sudden death (SD) penalties.

SD Penalty # 1 – David powers a left foot strike into the top corner. The opposition also scored.

SD Penalty # 2 – JP thumps it down the middle into the net as the keeper dives. The opposition also scored.

SD Penalty #3 – Will steps up to make a 9 iron shot over the rugby posts (worst penalty in DBFC history). Travis saves Will’s embarrassment and the oppositions’ penalty with a diving save.

SD Penalty #4 – Matt steps up for his second penalty and slots the ball into the corner. Super Travis dives to his left with his right leg trailing to save The Losers’ penalty kick. Ecstasy all around, the nervous tension snapped like an elastic band. Gazza came out from hiding to join the celebrations.

Game 8: Plate Final: DBFC 2 v BOF 1: scorers JP Nixon and Matt Z.

The boys were now exhausted and cannot wait for the day to be over. Gazza asked the guys to go into this final and try to enjoy the occasion and give enough so that we leave with pride. Looking at BOD bench of 4 players the feeling was DBFC would come out second. Will looks to everyone and says ‘I have absolutely nothing left in the tank boys’ and this captures the sentiment of the team and coaches.

Nevertheless DBFC crawl onto the pitch and Matt assumes a Captain’s role by getting the players to huddle and urges them to put in one last shift to turn over a good but beatable BOF team (full of ex pros). Matt (Baz and Gaz had been looking to stretcher him off in the last game) led from the front with new found energy. It was all DBFC pressure, with David and JP fast as lightning in closing down and tackling BOF’s massive striker to stop their plan of holding the ball up front for players coming through. Syd and Scotty H were having a lot of joy down the flanks; Scotty managing to skin three players before running out of steam and coming up against BOF’s center back.  Scotty had run himself to the ground and Baz came on with 6 minutes left. Then soon after DBFC scored; the defence rob a BOF attack for the ball to break to Will, who passes to Matt Z then onto Syd, to put JP through on BOF’s goal and smash the ball into the top corner. 1 – 0 and the boys believed.

DBFC were on top, the better team and as BOF pressed for an equalizer, David tackled the BOF midfielder to put him and Matt Z two on one against the sole BOF defender. David slipped a pass through to Matt Z who was one on one with the BOF keeper. Matt’s first attempt was saved but he got to the rebound to swivel on a coin and slot the ball into the far corner beyond the reaching BOF keeper and a recovering defender. 2-0.

BOF managed to get a consolation goal with the last kick of the game, but victory was secured.