As football competitions across Europe neared their conclusion, there was an eagerly anticipated game yet to take place which saw two giants of the game take centre stage. Crowds gathered on a sun kissed Shoreditch pitch to witness the Black and White teams do battle in the annual BRUIN Financial football match, with more than just the trophy at stake.
Pre match chat had the Black team as favourites, boasting ex pro Simeon Randell as well as unknown quantities Tom Cubitt and Matt ‘Fog on the’ Tynan, who ensured us they were “mustard” before their first outings since joining BRUIN in March of this year. The lesser fancied White team was captained by Amaan Haji, who can seemingly turn his hand to any sport after a distinguished university career at the crease. Big things were also expected of Mackerel Mackay, who impressed between the sticks in last year’s encounter to win the prestigious ‘Man of the Match’ award.
The game kicked off at a frenetic pace, seeing big tackles from Will Brown and Simon Dodds in the early exchanges. The Black team took an early lead when Randell stroked one in the corner passed the helpless Mackay, before captain Haji responded, showing strength and pace to shrug off Adams before slotting home the equaliser.
The apparent lack of fitness and energy sapping heat saw the pace of the game drop considerably after the first 5 minutes, but this lent itself to some aesthetically pleasing football with Tom Cubitt finishing off a nice team move to give the Black team the lead once again. Adams further stretched their lead to make it 3-1 before Adam Pollard thundered one off the crossbar for the Whites to let the Black team know they weren’t finished yet. The game then settled with Gillespie, another BRUIN newcomer, kissing the ball around at the back, much like Tynan for the Blacks.
Pollard finally found the net with a true strike into the bottom bin, and despite numerous wayward efforts from Will Brown, the Blacks remained only 1 goal ahead. A change of personnel in goal for the Whites gave Cristian Cernodolea the chance to prove his value, after a bang average stint on pitch. With his hands snuggly in the age 7-8 Le Coq Sportif gloves, the Romanian came into his own. Save after save followed, with the crowd responding to his bravery and commitment with audible approval, before the man from Bucharest was finally beaten as Cubitt bagged a brace to make the score 4-2. Stephen Self responded instantly to reduce the deficit once more, after a shocking throw from Muku Moyo in the Black team goal gave him the easiest chance of the day.
With 5 minutes left on the clock, everyone on the pitch found their second, third, and fourth winds to ensure the game was contested to the final whistle. Randell once more found the net for the Black team, before an instant response from Simon Dodds set up a nervy finish, with the score at 5-4. Haji displayed the grit and passion which justified the armband, leaving Moyo on the deck after a naughty 50/50 in the corner. Moyo stayed down to suggest serious injury, but eventually picked himself up to jovial jeers from the crowd accusing the ex American Footballer of time wasting – No shoulder pads here son! Both teams spurned good chances to score before the final whistle blew, where the tearful losers congratulated the victors in good sport.
The game ended 5-4 to the Black team, but the unanimous ‘Man of the Match’ award went to Cernodolea after his sterling performance in goal; without his heroics, the Black team would surely have reached double figures. Both teams quenched their thirsts post match in the pub around the corner, with any remaining hostility extinguished over a number of overpriced beers. At the end of the evening, it was Dave Lewis’ Black team who held the sizable trophy aloft, but as always…football was the real winner.