The Cage of Dreams version 2 is now open for business.
And for their first run-out on the third of hallowed astroturf, Hastings 1066 decided to play a first v second team match.
The best-laid plans of chairmen and men are often foiled, and a couple of key players were unavailable for both sides.( Big H was sorely missed in goal, playmaker Rusty had a trowel in his hand at home and Motormouth Hassan was attending his stepson’s wedding to name but three!)
So the teams lined up like this: Scouse Phil, Speedy Steve, Marco Van Gasman, Old John and Pops Poldark lined up with Bob the Binman for the firsts, with The Cat, El Jay, The Assassin (67) and Oh My Cod joined by rebels Mad Margaret and Hugh Canoe.
All proudly wore their team strips for a keenly-contested match which had some incredible highs and lows. The highs included a fabulous hat-trick of unstoppable goals from SS, four beauties from Oh My Cod, a couple of sizzlers from Scouse Phil and some superb football from newcomer, former ex-pat El Jay. The lows included Poldark stomping off after ten minutes to attend an important meeting at the Serbian embassy in St Leonards and The Gasman putting the ball into the river after a wild strike that might have got three points at Twickenham.
El Jay really played some sublime football at the back and the tussles between him and Steve were a joy to watch. Oh My Cod played in the number 9 position – a feat in itself in a six-a-side game – and could have had eight or more. Mehdi played at right-back for most of the three halves but squandered a few chances before scoring his single goal and letting the park hear him roar. The Seconds were two goals up for 40 minutes – largely due to heroics from The Cat who made a string of top-drawer saves before hard work and persistence from the Firsts midfield gradually levelled and then overran their opposition.
Margaret turned in another tireless, two-stone-lighter performance and The Binman was always a threat down the left flank. There were some inspired passing plays from both sides and a lot of encouraging performances which will stand us in good stead when we rejoin the battle in tournament football in June. There is an embarrassment of riches now playing in the Cage and the club is going from strength to strength.
There was a super cameo appearance from Paul Hutton, recovering well from his stroke, as referee and only a few suspect challenges and illegal sprints. The plan is to introduce a blue sin-bin card for persistent offenders so watch this space for more details.
Final score was 8-5 to the First Team but it was a much closer contest than the scoreline suggests. Man of the match: honours even for El Jay who ran the whole game and Speedy Steve who would have had three more if it hadn’t have been for the Fat Cat’s agility.
MOM: El Jay and Speedy Steve.