Pete Davies’ book, Twenty-Two Foreigners in Funny Shorts: The Intelligent Fan’s Guide to Soccer and World Cup ’94, is an enlightening journey through soccer’s history. He blends tales of lower league English football with comments on European leagues at the time (early 90’s) as well as summaries of World Cups leading up to USA ’94.
I borrowed the title to talk about the Over 30 Men’s team in play on. Our team name is CCFC, which means or has meant several different things over the years. As I understand it, the original name was Coma Construction Football Club, with one of the founding members getting a sponsorship through said company. When he left, it morphed into Capital City Football Club as we are located in Lansing, MI. But the one name that all of our opponents agree on is Cheaters Cheaters Fuckin Cheaters, due to decisions, circumstances and incidents from seasons gone by, which we wear as a badge of honor as we collect trophy after trophy.
After several years of league dominance, we decided to try a new competition, the Gerhard Mengel State Cup, which is a traditional cup tournament, usually with teams from the Metro Detroit area. We had played some of the teams a couple of years ago in the now defunct Tournament of Champions, which we won in 2006. The draw was released and we went to Redford and played Metro Rangers. When we pulled up to the field, there were no nets or corner flags; then we went out to warm up and the pitch was hard as a rock, covered with grass (read straw), and even at 10:30 AM it was already 80+ degrees. Add to all of this no subs, and we knew we were in for a long morning. We came out strong and got on top, leading at halftime 3-1, but our opponents scored right after the second half kickoff and with a slender lead, we continued to look for the fourth goal, which finally came and we were able to relax.
The semi-final pitted up against a familiar opponents–Drita SC. Several years ago in a tightly contested match, heated words were exchanged and matters nearly came to blows. The following year, Drita actually got in a fight at the tournament, which we observed from an adjoining field. Looking at the team, they should be a walkover: old, carrying extra weight, not particularly athletic. But try getting the ball off of them. An early goal from one of our new players settled our nerves, but we couldn’t find the second as the momentum switched to the visitors. They continued to knock on the door but we kept it shut, finally winning a penalty that knocked the stuffing out them, and then we added a third to complete the victory.
In the final we met Carpathia Kickers, a sports club in Detroit, MI. The venue was Ultimate Soccer Arena, a complex with two full field indoor fields and a third smaller field, complete with bar, restaurant, and stadium seating. We had a full roster (18) but were missing a couple of key players. The match kicked off with the Kickers knocking it around very comfortably, causing us to chase for most of the opening 15 minutes. This period resulted in two quick goals for them, which put us behind for the first time in almost a year. Finally we settled down and created a few half chances but went into half time with a lot of work to do. As soon as the referee started the second period we were all over them, putting pressure on the ball, possessing a little better and taking control of the game. Try as we might we couldn’t score and were actually closer to letting in the third instead of scoring our first. Our opponent’s keeper, who looked mid-50’s, made several great saves before we finally scored with about 15 minutes to go. We continued to pile on the pressure, especially from set pieces, but the equalizer was not to be. With only seconds remaining, we had a corner kick and threw everyone in the box, including our goalkeeper. The ball was cleared by the Kickers right down the middle and their player walked the ball almost 75 yards into the net, killing off the game at 3-1.
Gutted, we were awarded a Finalist (not Runner-Up) trophy and medals for each player. The better team had won but we gave a tremendous effort to get back in the match. Now it’s back to league play where we hope to win the league and post season tournament. Doesn’t matter how young or old you get, winning is still great and losing still sucks.