All or Nothing

Memba Ben By Memba Ben, 7th Jun 2018 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL http://nut.bz/2cup7-z_/
Posted in Wikinut>Writing>General Fiction

Supporting a financially smaller club can be emotionally wrecking at times. This is a fictional account of supporting a team struggling to survive the drop.

The first of a two part story about our local teams bid for survival.

It was the final game of the season and our home team needed the win to ensure their safety. To a small team like ours, the financial difference between top flight football and playing in the first division meant that the three points were non-negotiable else the club could face administration.

Not wanting to miss out on all the potential drama, my friends and I got tickets to what was probably the most important game in the city’s history and headed out to support the team and upon arrival at the stadium, we were met by an electric crowd. The townsfolk might’ve not shown an interest in the team on past occasions but with the risk of not having any top flight football for the foreseeable future, everyone and their mother rallied to the teams cause and the turnout was an impressive eleven thousand.

Throughout the pre match presentations, the crowd was singing and chanting songs of encouragement to the boys and after much anticipation, the teams came out to both thunderous cheers (for our boys) and deafening jeers (for the opposition). The opposition might’ve been favored to win (they were sitting seventh on the log, looking to cement a top eight position) but seeing the stands packed to capacity gave the team belief that they could pull a win out of the bag and if they were to go down, they were determined to give them hell before the three points and with the game officially underway, the stadium turned into a fortress.

Wanting to do our bit, the fans gave their best efforts to unsettle the opposition. Every time they had the ball, the stadium broke out in boos.

An opposition forward advancing on goal:
BOOOOO!!!

One of their defenders preventing an attack:
BOOOOO!!!

If they had a shot go wide:
YAAAAAAY!!!

As the game went on, it became clear that they were shook. Each pass became nervier than the last, every clearance was hastily done and whenever there was a stoppage in play, they didn’t contest any refereeing decision despite how dubious it may have been.

Like sharks, our boys could smell blood and with the crowd urging them on, they launched an unrelenting wave of attacks.

Crosses from both flanks besieged the box, forcing the opposition players to throw themselves at the ball in an attempt to clear it out. Ranged missiles flew in seeking their target but our opponents were equal to the task and prepared to guard their goal as if their very lives depended on it, sacrificing both their bodies and well-being to preserve a clean sheet.

Be that as it may, even though the attacks weren’t as successful as hoped, we grew increasingly bullish of our chances and got the sense that the breakthrough was a formality.

Then, it happened.

A clever pass from one of our center mids found the darting run of our speedy left winger. The opposing left back was caught out of position which forced one of their center backs to come out and clear the ball. The poor bastard didn’t get there in time and our winger played his part by throwing himself to the ground as if a sniper got him.

Eleven thousand and twenty something pairs of hands were thrown up in outcry and feeling the pressure, the referee nervously blew his whistle and pointed to the spot.

There was no debate amongst the players and choosing to lead by example, our captain stepped up to take the penalty. In a bid to unnerve him, the opposition keeper walked up to him, exchanged a couple of words and headed back to his goal line. Once he reached his goal, he stretched out his arms and began doing his best Bruce Grobbelaar impression all while our captain just stood there and like the rest of us, watched this idiot make a fool of himself.

Satisfied that everything was in order, the ref glanced at the linesman, the keeper and our captain before blowing his whistle.

Cap took his run-up, gave the ball a good whack and….hit an empty chair by the upper stand.

We were flabbergasted and one thought came to mind:

WHAT THE HELL WAS THAT?!?

Look, it wouldn’t have been so bad if the attempt hit the bar or if it had been saved but for it to go sky high?!?

The miss was like a punch to the gut and it deflated the atmosphere while seemingly giving the opposition a bit of a lift. Up until that point, we had their backs against the wall but after the miss, they were playing with more belief that they could get something out of the game.

No longer content with sitting back and absorbing pressure, they began attacking. Their passes became more adventurous and were beginning to find gaps in the team. Every through ball had us fans feeling more and more anxious which led to some of us coaching from the sidelines

STOP LOSING YOUR MAN AND START CONCENTRATING, YOU BLOODY BASTARDS!

With the crowd’s support having turned into agitation, the effect on the boys became evident. No longer playing with the same confidence and belief as earlier, they grew desperate to regain the momentum and began committing stupid fouls, and losing possession.

One of our center mids received the ball but was immediately pressured. Panicking, he tried to pass it out but he failed to connect with the ball properly, leaving it to be intercepted by one of the opposition center mids who passed it to an open teammate.

Seeing the acres of space gifted to him, this bastard made a surging run before firing a rocket of a shot. Our keeper (who was in no man’s land) flew across goal to try and parry the shot but despite his best attempts, was miles away from reaching it.

OH SHIT!!!

It took the combined efforts of the crossbar and the wind to save us. The ball clattered off the crossbar and ricocheted out of play, giving us a bit of a reprieve to recover from our heart attacks.

Momentum had shifted from us and if the opposition didn’t believe they could score before, they believed it now. To make matters worse, news broke out that our relegation rivals had taken the lead in their game which as things stood, would’ve meant that we’d be the ones suffering the drop.

Halftime couldn’t come soon enough.

The coach knew that conceding a goal at this stage would’ve been disastrous so he relayed a message to the players to abandon all forms of attacking and focus on surviving for the next couple of minutes. This tactical change left all the possession with the opposition and they took the opportunity to try everything to break our defense with glee.

All twenty outfield players were camped in our half locked in an intense game of attack and defense. The opposition would pass it around and our players would try to crowd the player on the ball to try and prevent a pass but what instead happened was that spaces were being opened up and this coupled with some clever runs from the opposition wingers made life incredibly difficult.

One of the opposition center mids played a one-two with his partner, drawing attention away from him. With the pressure relieved, he received the ball and made a defense splitting pass to one of the forwards who was left unmarked. The forward latched onto the ball, swiveled and made his way to face our keeper.

Hopeful shouts of offside rung throughout the stadium but it was to no avail. The linesman kept his flag down, allowing the forward to advance. Desperate to throw him off, our keeper charged out of his area and it became a one on one contest.

In that moment, eleven thousand people suddenly became religious folk and like they were attending a night vigil, began praying that things would work out.

With everything he had, the keeper went sliding in to try and claim the ball…but the forward saw his intentions and once our keeper went down, gave the ball a delicate chip just beyond our keepers reach, leaving it to find its way to the back of the net.

Home: 0
Visitors: 1

We were shattered and as the referee blew the whistle for half time, our players dejectedly walked off while the opposition was buzzing. What’s worse was that our relegation rivals had managed to double their lead courtesy of a penalty, which by virtue of goal difference and points put us in a terrible position.

Our season was forty five minutes away from being confirmed a disaster and our hope in the players ability to salvage something was quickly diminishing.

At this point, we needed more than just a win, we needed a miracle.

Tags

Football, Short Story, Soccer

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author avatar Memba Ben
I'd like to thank everyone for taking the time to read what I write and I hope you enjoy it!

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