On the 6th of June 2012, the teaching staff of POLSIS took on a select band of undergraduates in the annual football game. The POLSIS Blog dispatched football correspond Angus Nore-Hoghorris (who is totally impartial and has absolutely no conflict of interest with the staff team) for this once-a-year encounter.
It was Friedrich Nietzsche who once said ‘you are rewarding a teacher poorly if you remain always a pupil’. Yet, it was the undergraduate students of POLSIS who failed to reward their teachers after being subjected to a footballing masterclass, crashing to a 3-2 loss against the staff in conditions likened to the worst tropical monsoon ever witnessed – only worse. Wearing all royal navy blue, the staff showed that their pedagogical prowess extends beyond the academic world by handing out a lesson in defensive solidity, creative graft and – above all – spirit and discipline. Even some latter-game pressure and a conceded penalty could not stop the rollicking staff from romping home in style with some chic time-wasting tactics.
Each team got early goals to make it 1-1, but both were equally fortunate, with the ball slipping through both goalkeepers’ hands. To be fair to the keepers, the treacherous conditions made attempting to pick up the ball with a human hand akin to picking up a single water droplet with a pair of rusty tweezers. Nevertheless, the staff keeper was excellent given the circumstances, with lightening-fast distribution that would make any “goalie” rage with jealousy.
‘The Cat’, as he isn’t actually known as but probably should be from this point forward, was behind the excellent centre-back pairing of Taylor and Norman. To call this duo solid would be an understatement. Imagine a (ruddy great big) fortress. Now place a carbon copy of that fortress on top of the existing fortress. And then imagine trying to dribble a football through the middle of this intimidating structure. That is quite literally the only metaphor that will do justice to this pair.
But it’s more than just about defensive solidity; these two compliment each other like peaches and cream. Taylor is more comfortable on the ball, hanging back to sweep up with excellent distribution. Norman is destroyer par excellence. Sometimes roaming up pitch, Norman chases and crunches with the work rate of a horse. He even delighted the capacity crowd with a few of his trademark gigantic clearances. Rumours are that with England’s continuing defensive injury crisis, either one of these two could be expecting a call from Roy. Rio Ferdinand was unavailable for comment.
These two were complimented by Bates and Stanley on either flank. On the left, Bates let no one down with his characteristic roars of “c’mon blues!” On the right, Stanley pushed the boundaries of footballing law with his creative and idiosyncratic throw-in technique.
The staff team demonstrated their quality in the midst of the first half, with nice triangles forming between the midfield trio of Shorten, Reed and Viera, and even had a number of chances to get ahead but were wasteful with their chances. One chance in particular fell to Samman, who, unable to channel the spirit of his fishy namesake, failed to leap majestically to head home a close-range opportunity. Shorten, who is de-facto captain, manager and CEO, had an excellent first half, often dropping deep to make the much-needed link between defence and attack.
Fortunately, the staff made it 2-1 towards the end the first half when some tricky play by the dashing young right-back Stanley opened up space for Shorten to play in Narayan who finished with a sumptuous side-footed lob over the helpless keeper. However, the lead didn’t last long as the students equalised with a smash-attack blast into the top-corner from a ludicrous angle, with virtually the last touch of the first half.
The second half started scrappily, with neither team able to get a foothold. This deadlock was finally cracked when super-striker Dan slammed a scorching shot into the net. It was just rewards for big-man Dan, whose electric partnership with the deeper Narayan would have given the opposition nightmares for probably decades. With Narayan often finding space in between the defence and the midfield, he crafted a number of through-balls for the hunky Dan to run on to. After gaining the lead, the staff attempted to close down shop, with luxury ‘silk choice’ attacker Samman replaced with the grittier Hopkins.
However, the loudest cacophony of confusion, controversy and captivation was yet to come when, late on, amidst some seriously strong pressure from the students, the staff gave away a penalty. Your loyal correspondent unfortunately missed the moments leading up the penalty due to the distraction caused from engaging in a particularly delicious Tesco snack-size pork pie, but I am almost entirely certain that the staff were, in some way, absolutely robbed.
Justice however, was swiftly done, as the resulting penalty was meeker than something very meek indeed, with the keeper easily able to dive nothing more than inches to his left to make a rolling save. And from that point on, one felt destiny was on the side of the staff, who managed to hold on right until the last minute with some hearty defensive work. This will truly be a historic moment to remember, the staff’s second win in as many games, and they can walk away basking in the true scent of champions.