The guys and girls of Social Eyes FC brought a fantastic first season to a close at Doncaster Goals today with two narrow but thrilling defeats as the goals flew in at both ends during two exciting contests on a sunny but cold Sunday afternoon, write Margaret Gregory and Colin Muncie for the Social Eyes website and The Bootiful Game.
Before the game, word spread of a new, three-year contract for Manager Melissa. The rumours caused some consternation amongst the massive travelling support, with many of the club’s supporters questioning the wisdom of such a long deal so early in the Manager’s tenure. Melissa, however, was defiant in the face of any criticism. “When I took this team over, we were bottom of the table,” she barked. “We’re second bottom now, so if that isn’t progress, I don’t know what is.”
Equally controversial was the club’s decision to take a few of the squad on a jolly to Bridlington on the eve of such an important couple of fixtures. Many of the players didn’t get home until after tea-time last night, and with a long journey from Rawmarsh to Doncaster ahead of kick off, one or two of the loyal supporters felt that the preparations were far from ideal. The club’s backroom staff weren’t giving anything away. “What goes on in Bridlington stays in Bridlington,” Karen smiled, coyly.
When she wasn’t contemplating the impact of her new salary, Melissa had been sweating on the fitness of defensive rock Claire Sykes, who had been struggling with a knee injury. Happily, however, Claire passed a late fitness test and took her place alongside Martin at the heart of the Social Eyes defence. However, Kenny was celebrating a significant birthday, so hadn’t travelled to Brid – which was probably just as well – and wasn’t available today either.
First up for Social Eyes at 2pm was the reverse fixture with Bradford City DFC Diamond, against whom the guys had notched their maiden win prior to Christmas. Both teams had clearly improved since the last meeting, and the guys from West Yorkshire were out to prove a point, establishing an early lead with some lovely football. Just as the first murmurings of, ‘You’re getting sacked in the morning,’ were being hurled in Melissa’s direction from the all-ticket away support, Josh took centre stage with a quick-fire hat trick to pull the Rawmarsh team back into the contest. The third was a sublime half-volley which gave the excellent Bradford keeper no chance, as Josh fell to his knees in celebration with the Golden Boot firmly in his sights. Trudy came on – without her pink hat – for a five-minute cameo at the base of the midfield diamond, and the headband–wearing Connor put in a decent shift in midfield, but on the day Bradford City DFC were just too good for our guys, and as the sides shook hands at the end of a riveting contest the loyal support were asking themselves just what had gone on in Bridlington.
There was, however, no time for recriminations as the players licked their wounds and prepared for the last game of the season, a tough encounter against League Leaders and potential Champions Doncaster Community College White. Melissa went with the same starting five, and almost immediately it was clear why DCC are where they are as they played some lovely early football, with their No. 8 one of the most skilful players we have seen in the Competition this season. The table toppers took the lead, but after an inspired substitution from Melissa, Social Eyes levelled, and then took the lead. The travelling army dared to dream, but as the game wore on Doncaster CC took control despite a series of fantastic saves from Michael, a goal from Martin, and a series of long-range howitzers from Josh, who treated the crowd to a Cruyff turn before one of the goals. In the second half, Melissa introduced David for his debut, alongside the impressive Connor, with Claire – later voted, deservedly, as player of the day – battling through the pain barrier to hold the defence together and Trudy rocking that pink hat as she tried to impose herself on the game.
Fair’s fair though. Doncaster were excellent and fully deserved their win; and as the Social Eyes players trooped off to the acclaim of their supporters, everyone agreed that it had been a wonderful first season for a special group of players.
Congratulations to Claire, Faye, Karen, Ryan, Richard and Melissa and to a terrific group of parents and supporters.
We’ll be back to report on the mini-tournaments between now and the summer, and we’ll bring a summary of the winners in the fantastic SYACL five-a–side League during the week. As a preview, though our guys finished fifth in the table – an incredible achievement.
Just one question remains, though…
…what did go on in Bridlington?