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Asia, Iraq Soccer Football
Sunday League 30 November 2003
Iraq Refugee's 0 Greenwood FC 1.
Princess Elizabeth Playing Fields

by Mo

It's been a few years since I used to drag myself out of bed on a Sunday morning, along with my flatmates to take part in the Sunday league, despite the customary 6 pints followed by a vindaloo and late night movies that typically finish up the Saturday night before.
Still even at my age I made it to the meet up point by the tearooms in Pickering park at 9:30 am, coffee and rollup in hand I sat in the car eagerly awaiting meeting the team I would follow for the net few weeks of Sunday league football.

This is no ordinary team, all of its players and it's manager are from Iraq, refugees who have arrived in this country from as little as a month ago. It wasn't going to be easy to remember all the names, so you'll have to bear with me on that score.
The lads were in a confident mood, and having taken their team photo, they attentively gathered around Bill the Manager for the pre match team talk.
Obviously, I couldn't understand a word of it, but I was impressed with the respect the Bill was treated to, they do take their football seriously and are keen Man United, Chelsea etc supporters. You know what it's like, if you love football, then no matter where you're from, you love football.

Greenwood FC were today's opposition, a word or from their keeper told me they had played maybe six games and won about half of them. Well, he was actually a central defender, but as their goalie hadn't turned up (work or something) so he'd been given the honours.
Ten minutes gone, one shot on goal by Greenwood, it's saved by the keeper but the play looks scrappy and neither team seems to have settled into a rhythm.

The Iraqis attacks are broken down through poor passing; couple of shots on goal come in from Greenwood who appear to be dominating with more physical play.

continued below


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Sunday League 30 November 2003
Iraq Refugee's 0 Greenwood FC 1. continued

by Mo

Although the Iraqis look talented as individuals the team is not gelling together well. The grass is wet and slippery nevertheless it's another brilliantly sunny day out here.

The Iraqi no 9 is working hard and starting to cause problems in the Greenwood defence, working with no 10 their play is improving although as yet unrewarded.
Calls like "that wasn't offside Curly" from the Greenwood players had me wondering if either they knew the referee or it was the fact that he was bald that had named him. Turned out it was the former, but I never found out if he even was a ref, we were told one would turn up, maybe it was just one of their dads.

The half time talk reflected Bills disappointments with the games stalemate result and he pointed out what the players should be getting right to win. Well, again I'm not sure exactly what he said but I'm sure that was the gist of it.
The second half began with intense Iraqi pressure on Greenwood, corners and crosses began to show cracks in the Greenwood back four, but their keeper was solid and pulled off some great saves.

As is often the case with football, missed chances, despite dominating pressure from the Iraqis turned the tables when Greenwood centre forward slammed in a loose ball in the box.
Number 9, goal hanger, glory taker, I used to be one, it was terrific, one kick and you can be a hero for a week.

As it was he will be, as despite several goalmouth incidents and very questionable referee decisions and more brave work from the Greenwood keeper they maintained their lead to the finish.
A great Sunday league game plenty of excitement from well matched teams, just short of a few goals, still there's always next week to fullfill my fantasy of a one minute movie of a penalty shootout.

The lads shake hands at the end of the game, pay their subs and it's adios until next Sunday.

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