The Fitba - Your Attention, Please!
by Nathan Frederick Garden
As the Imperial Doric Football League continues, so do the woes for Cruden Chiels, who are already being consistently spotted in the quiet, poorly-lit corners of local pubs after every game, while the victors swill domestic champagne and go out on the pull in the regional night clubs. While it was an otherwise seismic week in the league and for the teams involved, for Cruden Chiels it was one they would surely rather forget, since they are already earning a reputation the ‘easy shag’ on goal difference and points for the season. Topping up on 6-1, 4-0, 3-1, and now 5-0 defeats, the number of Cruden Chiels strips being discovered in bins since Saturday’s game has trebled, according to local bin-men.
Also, and perhaps the most immense and surprising success any club in the Imperial Doric Football League has ever had, the unsuspecting island club Rùm have all of a sudden found themselves in the semi-final of The International Super-Duper Cup! When told the news by promoters, the ecstatic but utterly bemused Rùm manager Ewan Patrick Matthews reportedly exclaimed, “We were competing in that? I didn’t even know we were in it!” To those unfamiliar with the tournament, such confusion and oblivion is almost hereditary in the teams who compete in the Super-Duper Cup, since they often spend so long in one qualification stage or another, totally unaware of their involvement in the first place, that they assume they’ve just been playing friendlies for the last six years. However, such as is the case with Rùm, occasionally a team will find that they have been succeeding all along in a contest they thought they’d been knocked out of several seasons ago. Even Ringaskiddy Wilde of Ireland, the only ever winners of the competition (in 1942), had no idea they were even playing in the final until they were told at the airport by reporters. Similarly, the opponents on the day, the Ronda Toreros, thought the game was a friendly until they got onto the pitch. As many subsequent interviews told us, both managers were flabbergasted, and, over a warm and conciliatory opening handshake in the dug-ours, admitted that they’d lost track of the competition about three or four years ago. “I recall being in a group of some kind, with several other teams from different countries, but I cannot remember any statistics, any games, or any facts,” said former Ringaskiddy gaffer Tom Graces. “Oh yes, I remember being in the competition for about two weeks in 1938, but I thought we’d been knocked out soon after. But that’s how long the qualifications take! It was too complicated: because of the Super-Duper rounds system, I’m sure that at more than one stage we were playing about eighty teams in the same group; then we somehow played a further two hundred and eight games in the next stage to get to a pre-group knock out. Next, we played all fifty-two teams in the group, and got to the next stage of the groups. After we got out of that, we had another qualifier to get into the knock-out round before we could be put in the draw for the final group stage. I can’t remember, but it was ridiculous: teams were winning and losing in that competition, getting through or getting knocked out, and no one even realised! No one knew what all the games were for!”
Such is also the case for the manager of the German heavy-weights Fussen Neuschwanstein (who are also through to the semi-finals), Marius Hessenfürschtaffensteiner, who told us, “Well, I was told that we were through to the Super-Duper Cup final four last month and I couldn’t believe it: it was bizarre, and I’d forgotten all about it. It was as if I’d found a long-lost brother. But I’ve hired several of Germany’s top neuro-physicists to look at the group tables and the knock-out statistics to help me figure out how and when we got to this stage, but they can’t work it out. I’ve spent quite a lot of the club funds hiring every mathematics professor in Germany but they have all been driven mad by these statistics. They have even taken extended leave from their universities to figure it out, but they still can’t give me any answers.” Ronda Torero (who again find themselves in the Super-Duper last four) striker Luchino Calvino shared the sentiment, saying, “I no know how I get here. It is crazy. I no even know when we beat these teams: teams I have never heard of. No one told me I score all these goals in tournament.” Indeed, Matthews himself told us at a press conference, “Well, I have no idea what’s going on, but I do know that if the Germans can’t figure it out, then we’re all well and truly fucked.” Indeed, such was the confusion of the qualifications earlier this year that top Super-Duper Cup executive [name removed for legal reasons] exclaimed to an associate on his mobile, “This is a mess. I don’t have a fucking clue what’s going on.”
However, there are more than enough quotes and libel there to keep the rabid fans frothing at the mouth, and it has, so we are told, all been done and dusted, with Rùm confirmed by officials and statisticians through to the semi-finals of the greatest and longest (and rarest) club tournament in the world. Fixtures are:
Rùm [SCO] vs Fussen Neuschwanstein [GER]
Ronda Toreros [SPN] vs Fantasmas de Copán [HON]
Such stupendous news must certainly have played well on Rùm’s confidence, as one could tell from their high-spirited if unrewarded performance against A Chàirdean, who now have their third win from three league games.
In other league news, The Edinburgh Princes beat the Aberdeen Granite Men today in a 1-0 victory which was slightly over-shadowed by the fact that Granite striker Callum Haye played with a cast around his leg for the entirety of the game. The result of “jist a wee training injury, wasn’t it? Nothing to worry about, for Christ’s sake,” saw Haye on the deck for almost the entire match, since every time his foot made even the slightest contact with the ball he involuntarily descended to the ground in snarling spasms on agony of almost slap-stick proportions from which it took an average four minutes for him to recover.
It has since came to light that everyone in the team had been told to give Haye the ball as often as possible, despite the prominent handicap. An un-named new-coming midfielder defended the initiative, “What did you expect? He’s our best player, so it was easiest just to give him the ball. We’re not going to take it easier on him just because he was in crutches: what would be the bloody point in that?” An interesting strategy though it was, it stemmed partially from necessity since all of the rest of the first team had been out the night before and were ‘confined to bed until they had had enough fry-ups to forget about the taste of dark rum.’ Others, said the Granite manger, were ‘seeking medical assistance for unexplained, prolonged and severe bouts of vomiting.’ In the stead of his actual team, the manager was forced to scour the pubs in the vicinity, recruiting men still with enough coordination and energy to stand erect for ninety minutes, and, Haye being the only man left from the usual 11, was an obvious and indispensible choice to keep the momentum and skill of the original line-up in the game. The Granite manager defended the decision to put and keep him on the pitch, even though his leg was visibly throbbing in pain, and leaking blood all over the grass: “What else could I do? There was no way I was taking him off the pitch: who else would I have put on? I didn’t have a team! Trust me, it was better having him on the pitch with a broken shin than any of the lads at home in bed with a hangover: at least he could walk!”
The game, however, while far below the league average on excitement and drama, has smashed the record of the most injury time ever played in a league game. It had previously been held by the League finale of 1970 between A Chàirdean Battledyke and The Granite Men. This was when Battledyke had their famous ‘Bruiser’ line-up featuring a grand total of eight ex-convicts and thirteen concealed weapons. The game had twenty-one minutes of injury time at the end of the 4-4 tie, and the as-yet-unsurpassed injury tally of three-hundred-and-two, six of which were the A Chàirdean gaffer mauling the Aberdeen Granite gaffer, and twelve of which were inflicted by gunshots or sharpened aerial weapons from the stands. Last Sunday’s game, however, is the first game in history to have more injury time than normal time, with a colossal ninety-six minutes added on because of Haye’s disruptive tendency to fall over in tearful hysterics. Haye did struggle heroically on to play every last second of injury time, if somewhat confined to the solace of a corner flag where he lay unconsciously and undisturbed.
Finally, the date of the Caledonian Cup Final has been announced for this weekend! For those of you too busy, poor, or incompetent to get a hold of some tickets, you will certainly hear all about it in out next update where we will provide a special of all coverage, results, and annotated correspondence of the inevitable night out afterwards.