The pre match meeting at the Irish place, while pleasant enough, was not actually overcrowded. Basically ajm and the folk I was with. We drank a couple of Irish beers which were on tap and had the pleasure of again seeing the Man U goals against Kosice on the bar TV. Subjects discussed were Andy Harper, Socceroos (Melbourne and Saudi), the STRIKERS and Andy Harper.
Looked like a small roll up, but I don't think the size of the crowd was posted again. Not only do the STRIKERS like to control the nature of comments appearing on their website, but they obviously don't want bad news to be needlessly broadcast in any way. We took our seats in what is gradually contracting down to an area of vocal support and, who knows, by the end of the season we may get our act together and coalesce into an effective singing/chanting area. The Squad had moved back to the "crowd" side of the ground and, obviously heeding John Croft's advice, were at the back of the stand and I think one could say the shift worked.
In the first half it was obvious both teams had been up watching the Brazil game the previous night as both appeared to be suffering the rigours of sleep deprivation and there seemed an iternity with virtually nothing happening. I think the highlight for me was Andy H's just a half yard late tackle which lead to a yellow card and the enticing prospect of a red and a couple of games' suspension. Alas, he kept well out of trouble and the action in a very wide right wing position for the rest of the half until called upon, despite vigourous chants of "Brownie", to take a penalty. He scored and the half yard rule, for once, worked in his favour as the ball missed going over the top by approximately that distance.
I was off buying a beer at half time and so was only just in time to see what I gather was a sack race involving Thor and two Santas which would have confused some of the kiddies present as much as does the continuing selection of Andy H confuse me.
In the second half two very good things eventally happened. The aforementioned Circumlocutary one was given the hook and Casey Wehrman was given 20 minutes to test his ankle. I'll admit I was apprehensive about his fitness and lack of match play; but I need not have been. Casey immeditely demonstrated the reason I still think he is the best prospect I have seen from Queensland (just now Harry K prevents my extravagent claim going national). The lad oozes class. Every touch, every jink, every pass, every move off the ball just had me drooling. One particular flicked header to the feet of a team mate was perfection. He did lose the ball once; but only attempting to beat a fourth tackler and with no-one in support and he did miss with a shot from the edge of the area. I don't know if it was only his presence, Harper's absence, or my bias, but the STRIKERS, for the first time this season were worth watching. We should enjoy Wehrman while we can, as I feel sure he will be off OS pretty soon. Forgive me for getting carried away, but he could be the creative midfielder we need in 2002.
The second penalty which seemed ill-deserved, was put away by Brownie and, as you all will know, this edged him past Kossies old record of 133 goals in the national comp. Brownie had a T-shirt with "134' on it under his shirt, so don't tell me he hasn't had the record on his mind. We wondered how long he must have been wearing it and hoped it had been to the laundry occassionally since he had it made! There seemed to be mixed feelings about Hugo booking him for his removing the yellow STRIKERS' shirt to show off the T-shirt. If he knew it was a bookable offence should he, as an old pro, have done it? Could Hugo have waived the yellow, smiled and shaken Brownie's hand, or was he bound to book him? What is the law that is infringed by this act? Would it have been OK if Brownie had merely pulled the front of his shirt up over his head, Ravonelli style? Come on you rulesmen, let us know please. It will be ironic, and a minor miracle, if he misses the grand final as a result of that booking!
For the first time this year, the walk and drive home was a pleasure with some good things to talk about. If the STRIKERS can keep this up, then perhaps they may sneak into the final six and who knows what might happen then?