On Friday twelve of our Forward Rollers headed to Cheadle to compete in The Northern Power Hive’s Football Tournament. Eight teams battling it out to be crowned the Recruitment Champions of Football...
Unluckily for our second team it wasn’t meant to be, but our first team fought all the way to the finals and finished the competition as runners up!
The Rollers (First Team) Commentary by Matthew Borthwick
Rollers Battle in the Box
The day began with the group stage draw; with The Rollers drawing City Blue, The Misfits and another.
The first game saw The Rollers take on City Blue. Looking for a positive start to the tournament, Guy passed the kick off to Nathan looking to spark a quick attack. Nathan promptly lost possession, allowing the Blues to strike first. This early setback could have derailed the cup charge but a quick strike from Guy drew the game level. Further goals from Guy, Luke and Phill took the score to 5-1, with the only other action being a long shot to bring the score to 5-2 to The Rollers.
The second game saw The Misfits looking to bounce back from a first game defeat, with The Rollers dreaming of securing qualification with a game to spare. As expected, The Rollers went behind early. A quick pass to Guy’s feet saw him spin the defender and fire low across the keeper into the opposite corner - levelling the game. Then a quick free-kick from Luke set Matt up for a long range strike, to give The Rollers the lead. Brad was then called into action to keep the advantage, before a fast break-away allowed Luke to put the game beyond doubt.
The Rollers then discovered they were second on goal difference, with a win allowing them to top the group. This game proved to offer minimal resistance and a Guy hat-trick saw The Rollers top the group and progress into the semi-final.
The semi-final saw Insight IT play The Rollers after they came second in their group. The game started intensely with strong tackles flying in from both sides (and a few elbows from the opposition!).
This was only amplified as Insight IT grabbed the lead after 4 minutes. With tackles flying and a rather lackadaisical refereeing display, the two teams battled on. Goals from Luke and Guy gave The Rollers the advantage with just minutes left in the game…
When Phill received a late, high challenge, angered protests were directed to the referee from both sides. With tempers raised, Paddy leapt to his team mates’ defence and in the aftermath, enforced substitutions for both sides for the final moments. With the last kick of the semi-final, Insight IT levelled the tie to take us to a dreaded penalty shootout.
Nathan quickly withdrew himself from the shooting order, leaving the takers as Guy, Josh, Luke, Phill and Matt. Guy stepped up first, brimming with confidence from his goal scoring record in the competition. One short step, followed by a crisp, clean connection which sent the ball flying into the crossbar. Following this miss, Insight IT took the lead with their first penalty.
All hopes then rested on Josh Pepper to get The Rollers back in the shootout. In true Stuart Pearce style, he sent it crashing against the bar to leave The Rollers 0-2 down. Hope was quickly restored as a cheeky word from Brad lead to the Insight player sending the ball wide left with the next kick.
Luke stepped up next for The Rollers and calmly fired the ball into the top right corner to level the scores, unfortunately Insight’s penalty followed suit to take the score to 2-1.
Phill stepped up next and whipped the perfect penalty into the top left corner. Insight IT then shot wide again to leave the score at a precarious 2-2 - with each team having just one penalty left.
Matt tucked the final penalty for The Rollers into the top corner, taking the advantage for the first time. This sparked huge confusion from the Insight team but after a considerable delay the realisation set in that nothing but a goal would keep them in the competition.
As their performance and attitude deserved, the final taker cannoned the ball off the bar to the joy of The Rollers, the referees and the remainder of humanity...
This set up the final appearance for The Rollers. Astoundingly taking the lead early on! Despite this strong start they were pegged back quickly. An excellent, fair contest ensued with The Rollers sneaking ahead before sadly conceding two late goal to finish runners up on the night.
Man of the Tournament: Guy Walker (despite the pen!)
Forward Role B’s (Second Team) Commentary by Josh Pepper
Forward Role B’s Struggle to Make Fees
The B’s began in typical Forward Role fashion - smart, versatile and ready to ‘ave it!
Some may say we began on the back foot after Middlebrook’s warm up injury. Safe to say there won’t be another kid for a while.
We were soon put in our place as our competitors eased two goals past the despairing Paddy (the ghost) Wells. Yet, despite our best efforts to fight back, we came out behind. But with high expectations nonetheless!
Expectations quickly diminished when we were called up immediately for our second, and what proved to be our final game of the day.
Following a quick goal, Tom Byrne (second best bodybuilder in the north) withdrew himself from the competition early into the game following a mere tap to his right ankle. Tears were shed, but this was not to be the end (it was!).
Unfortunately, it was not meant to be for the Forward Role B’s and we came crashing out of the tournament despite Tommy B’s best efforts to keep us in the game.
Special mentions go to Paddy Mac (for showing what a 45-year Irishman can do when playing for the first time) and Dan ‘The Enforcer’ Haydon.
Some say 9-1 is a loss, others an embarrassment, but what I will say to the rest of my team is that it was great for them to experience football for the first (and hopefully last) time.
Following The B’s exit I abandoned my teammates to heed the call of the first team, as quickly as they abandoned me for the post match beers.
My performance on the first team was exceptional, helping lift the side to the final - despite the baggage left with me from the prior embarrassment I was forced to work through.
Man of the tournament - Josh “The Player” Pepper
For more information on Northern Power Hive visit their website www.northernpowerhive.com.