The Fitba - Open Season
by Nathan Frederick Garden
So far, for the half a million-strong Imperial Doric Football League fans, the opening of the new season has proved a slow one. With the Grand Final of the legendary Caledonia Cup having been postponed from June to the beginning of the current 2013/14 season due to the infamous ‘Weedgie Mudbath’ (which made the arranged Glasgow pitch unplayable), opening league fixtures had to be pushed back until the tournament had been concluded. Hoping for a quick and easy replacement, however, officials crumbled beneath the challenge of finding a suitable venue and appropriate date for most of the summer. In fact, so chaotically abysmal was the organisation on the matter, that finalists Current League Champions Glamis Deils, billed as favourites to win despite three consecutive runners-up places, and first-time finalists Beinn Bhreac of Jura, only the other week learned of the confirmed venue and were both forced to capitulate their first games of the new season. (The double walk-over meant that their two opponents will have an automatic 3 points on the new table, and a grateful extra week to recuperate from their lads’ holidays in Aiya Napa and Ibiza, respectively.)
However, for the few of you who were not present at the game, the 2012/13 season still lingers on. The official reason behind the latest set-back is the advent and persistent mischief of a bumblebee the size of a cricket ball which, throughout all twenty-nine minutes of the agonising final, tormented and terrified both players and the officials. “It was monstrous: absolutely gigantic,” exclaimed fourth official Iain Nesbitt who observed the game from the plasma TV in the executive bar. “It could have taken on a Spitfire. But the worst part was its determination: you could tell that if it had a mind to, that bee would have gone for any of the players, and they wouldn’t have had much of a chance, let me tell you.” The bee was seen by a combined crowd of thirty-five thousand pestering every player who found himself in possession, consistently sending them running away from the ball shrieking and waving their hands around their heads. As one might imagine, the hype and anticipation of the game was scuppered completely by the players’ collective inability to perform to their highest standard, so distressing was the presence of the bee. Passing was scrappy at best, dribbling was nigh-on impossible, and set-pieces were increasingly delayed because of the bee’s appalling behaviour and lack of consideration for the football players. But its malice stretched far further, as it only, if ever, allowed play to continue long enough for it to sabotage the referee and linesmen, distracting them from witnessing key tackles and, as replays will tell you, forcing them on at least eleven occasions to vacate the pitch altogether.
When Glamis centre-forward Patrick Connelly could not even compose himself long enough to take a free kick, the game was finally called off to the relief of the players but scowls and jeers from the fans. The decision was, however, defended and justified: “No one should have to play in those conditions,” said referee Terry McKinley at a press conference after his disappointing verdict. “I know I may have to defend myself for a long time for doing this, but you don’t know what it was like. The thing was vicious; the players could hardly keep hold of the ball! The game was only going to get more and more uncomfortable for everyone on the pitch; we were all at the bee’s mercy and it was definitely not in a good mood. If I hadn’t done something, someone could have gotten stung, and no one wanted that: that’s not what football’s about. It’s a beautiful game and I couldn’t just stand back and let the bee ruin it for everyone. Ask yourself: what would you have done in my position?”
Caledonia Cup execs are negotiating alternative venues and dates for a rematch. Since the score was 0-0, there will be no aggregate advantages, but both Glamis and Beinn Bhreac are likely to lose out on another 3 points for missing future games.
Despite the furore of pushing back last season’s finale yet further towards Christmas, League fans did have something to smile about since IDFL bosses gave new fixtures a reluctant go-ahead. In another press conference, shortly after the final had been stopped, they admitted that if things kept going as they were, “Last season will be six seconds finished when we’re all six feet under.” Notoriously feisty Tigh nam Bàrd Alloway gaffer Hugh Dyce also provided his own insights in an interview: “We cannae fuckin’ amuse wursel’s wi’ fuckin’ friendlies for much fuckin’ longer, can we now? It’s gettin’ beyond a fuckin’ joke.”
So, the 2013/14 season was initiated with a diabolical 6-1 home defeat for Cruden Chiels’ FC against arch rivals Ben Nevis FC. As the goal tally will tell you, game was ludicrously one-sided, the only Cruden goal coming when unwitting Nevis defender Gareth Wade played a safety back to the keeper without noticing he’d nipped to the bogs to be sick. The keeper himself, freshly retrieved from his lads summer holiday in Magaluf by medical staff, still seemed too crippled by his hangover to feel the gravity and shame of his mistake. He did not, however, have to make any saves for the rest of the game and spent the last fifty-odd minutes leaning unconscious against the goal post.
Despite their single wild flash of luck, Cruden manager described the opening home defeat as “an absolute fuckin’ gubbin’”, while Nevis gaffer confessed, “I really did feel sorry for the poor lads. At one point, I conferred with my coaching staff and asked if I could put a couple of my injured players on the pitch. I had a couple lads in crutches and things so I thought I might give Cruden Chiels’ a chance, but no means no. I even tried giving the lads deliberately bad advice just to let the other side keep the ball for a bit, but it was hopeless. You’d have thought they were a cricket team.”
The second game of the season was a superb clash of the titans, starring League runners-up Mooreland of Cammachmore playing A Chàirdean of Battledyke at home. Although one would have expected the traditional wild enthusiasm of both fan bases, especially after the frustration of a postponed season opener, the rousing cheers clearly worked magic on the players who, despite still struggling through a hangover they all also took home from Magaluf, performed with professionalism and shrewd improvisation. This improvisation was perhaps best displayed when A Chàirdean centre-back Darren Flight, actually on loan from a local amateur wrestling outfit, close-lined the season’s first streaker, Annabelle Campbell, 42. He took the initiative when he realised that stadium coppers hurrying back from the take-away would never catch her on such a mal-nutritious diet and took matters into his own hands. Claims that he ‘copped a feel’ while the miscreant was down and out (and while officials waited for the fuzz to catch up with the incident) are being investigated. A Chàirdean eventually won with an emphatic and deserved 4-2 lead.
Updates on upcoming fixtures to follow.