It was morning. The Pacific sun blasted against the corrugated iron sheeting acting as a roof, tied to the top of four crooked bamboo poles. The iron audibly crackled and creaked under the oppressive sun, beneath it the air had become a sauna. We hadn’t slept; training took priority. Lex, a Fijian local who had taken to helping us survive our island retreat, fished Gatorade from an eski and offered them around. Far above us the Union Jack ruffled in the breeze, a reminder than no matter where you go the oppression of British colonialism beat you there.
How did we get here? What was the meaning of all this? Weeks spent on a Pacific Island exposed to the sun, wind and rain, all in the name of football? Pre-season training was definitely underway. Emporer Graves decided to mix things up this season and sent the entire Hatchet’s squad to a summer intensive on a secluded Island with crack Fijian rugby coaches.
“This year no team will push any Hatchet’s player off the ball.” Graves was heard saying. Whether the strange off-season training would be effective would be shown when the season started.
The first test of the Hatchet’s summer preparation came in round 1 of the South East Queensland Division 1 football league last Friday, 13 April. Lining up against a new side, Brisbane Youth FC, the boys looked strong. Brisbane Youth FC showed good ball control, holding possession well in the midfield whenever they got the ball. Fortunately the Hatchet’s side were strong enough after their off-season rugby protocol to rarely lose the ball. Out of frustration Brisbane Youth found the Hatchet’s weakness – slide tackles to the back. Fortunately for Youth FC, the referee was not up to date with the rules and called ‘play on’ while Andrew Bennie was carried off the field after a nasty slide tackle in the back in the tenth minute.
Quickly the match reached a stalemate. Youth FC held good ball control transitioning from defence to the midfield but were not able to launch a successful attack past the Hatchet’s seemingly indestructible defensive line-up. The golden head of Rockie Kang, the indomitable dominance of Eric Phillips, the perfect decision making of John Zhang, the… the Irishness of Patrick Jay; the defensive line was unbeatable.
Unfortunately, the fitness of the Hatchet’s was found lacking. The boys were unable to turn their quick wing plays and stabbing centre runs into a result. The match was deadlocked at nil-all by half-time.
A cracking round of half-time speeches found the Hatchet’s re-focused returning to the field for the second half. The boys played slower,aimed for more midfield control, and began to control the speed of the game. The Hatchet’s looked good until the 65th minute, when Moonie Singh, who is currently on a loan contract from Def Jam Records (where he is the top up-and-coming mixtape feature artist), performed a legal tackle that was deemed a little too effective. He was given ten minutes in the bin to think about what he had done. Or maybe the referee just doesn’t like his music.
During those ten minutes, Youth FC were awarded a free-kick against Alex Graves for a lovely save outside the box in which his hands did not contact the ball. Apparently goal-keepers must use their hands at all times, this is a new rule for SEQ Football. This free-kick was converted off a rebound. 1-0 to Youth FC.
Despite the injustice, the Hatchet’s did not miss a beat. Redoubling their quick middle strikes, Nathan Sayer was in position when an awry back-pass from Youth FC found its way to his feet. Nathan ‘Captain Closer’ Sayer did not miss a beat and slipped the ball into the open net.
1 – 1
With two minutes to go, the Hatchet’s maintained control of the ball and tried to consolidate the game into a last-minute win. However, on weary legs, frustrated, and thinking back to the fun in the sun of pre-season, the boys could not execute. The game finished one-all. The coaching staff are happy with the effort for the new Hatchet’s squad in not losing points in the first game.
This Friday the boys will be playing Southside Punjabi at Acacia Ridge. We wish them luck. Stay tuned for updates on the upcoming intra-mural grudge match between UQ Med, UQ Law and EQ Economics.