I woke up on Sunday morning with a jolt of fear banging around my bones: What if my soccer game is cancelled? It had rained pretty much all day on Saturday, and the Travis County Park Authority is notorious for shutting down the fields if only a millimeter of drizzle falls on the fields, so my terrible fear was not fantasty. I called the rain-out number, and a sleepy bear recording read “It is Sunday February 26th….the Travis County Parks…..are…...o….pen…for play”. Hallelujah!
This was an important game for the team. We were facing our arch-rivals Babaganoutch. They beat us just a couple of games ago 2-nil on our own turf. We had not won a match in weeks. Confidence was low. We simply had to win.
The weather helped. The sun was bright in the big blue sky and everyone felt that it was a perfect day for soccer. And it was, and so the game began with everyone in high-spirits. We had made some changes to the lineup in an attempt to get more offense. Instead of putting Scott ( an all around-strong player) in center defense, we put him in striker (his natural position and moved me into center-d instead. I was kind of nervous about playing center-d as I had not played there in a while, and I was afraid that I would go ball crazy and make too many runs upfield leaving the back-line stranded. Plus, moving me to center-d meant we were going to have vulnerable right-back. I vowed not to stray too far afield. I broke my promise almost immediately…
The game was tough. Babaganoutch worked the ball really well and they fought hard for posession. Most of the first half was pretty even- we did a pretty good job of moving the ball up the wings and crossing it in. But as usual we failed to get off any threatening shots. Babaganoutch tested out our keeper a couple of times though, our goalie however, was equal to the job.
Then something weird happened. Baba’s best player, Fernando (a great striker from somwhere, maybe Mexico) committed a light foul. The ref called the foul, Fernando disagreed with the ref, words were exchanged, Fernando walked away, the ref called him back, Fernando refused, more words were exchanged, voices were raised, the ref pulled out a yellow card, then another and like that Fernando was expelled from the game. Babagaoutch went beserk, feeling that the ref had hastily expelled their best player, without talking to the captains or anything. People were yelling at the ref, but he was adamant about the call and play continued.
At half-time the ref called the captains together and said they he felt ‘threatened’ and that he would cancel the game if people kept hurling insults. Everyone agreed to shut-up, but no-one did shut-up and so the referee grabbed his bag, said he was going to the bathroom and never returned…
It was ridiculous. Folks just would not shut up and the skittish referee had walked off the pitch.
We decided to keep playing anyway. We convinced the 16 year old line-judge to ref the game, and we let the expelled Fernando back on the pitch.
Our side dominated and we managed to put in two sweet goals. I even got a couple of really, really, really weak shots off. The end result was a satisfying 2-nil victory for PFC Quackenbush.