Reds play to perfection in three-sided tussle

Deptford 3SF League match 2

Ally, 3 November 2013


Sunday saw the second match in the regular Deptford 3Sided Football League between D3FC, Philosophy Football FC and Polsky Budowlancy, with some players from Strategic Optimism FC filling the gaps in all three sides. The match was refereed by the Gaffer in a strong, unbiased way considering his ties with the team in red. Philosophy welcomed legendary goalkeeper Rob the Cat back into the squad alongside another former Players' Player of the Season, the team’s current goalkeeper Kadeem. This rock-solid turnout from their goalkeepers' union was to help the Reds in their defensive display in each third. In the outfield, Ally, Will, Michele and James completed the lineup with Mark from SOFC being a welcome addition in the rotation, to help tired legs. Time Out’s Alexi Duggins was there with a couple of photographers in tow, maintaining the press interest that has followed 3sided football for the last couple of years.

The game was played in Fordham Park, close to New Cross station and the splendid London Particular café, whose meagre size unfortunately prevented us all from congregating there before or after the game. As usual, Mark Dyson of D3FC laid out the pitch, but this time there were plenty of hands to help set up the goal posts. This was a tough job, one likened to a Krypton Factor test of logic and cunning which, eventually, was completed before the clock ran out of time.

Ally delivered the tactical team talk before the match and the other experienced 3sided players in the squad tried to give Rob some advice as to what he might expect in his first game. We knew we had the best goalkeeping lineup in the history of the team, so Rob would start and finish the game between the sticks, and Kadeem would take over for the middle third. We decided to make James a target man, always nearer the two opposing goals than his own and never required to defend. This meant that if we were under pressure from both teams, there would always be an outlet and a chance to relieve the pressure with a swift counter-attack. Ally, Will and Michele could change roles as and when but in general Michele would stay back with Will and Ally in the middle, revolving round all three goals.

The first third was played out with relative ease by the red men. It was clear that we were fitter than either of the other teams and, with D3FC fielding a weakened squad, the best of the three in technical terms. Polsky were their usual anarchic selves, with more than one can of Special Brew spotted in their pre-match warm up. Play was mainly in the Polsky and D3FC sectors and the Reds soon broke each team down by scoring in each goal. We expected waves of attacks to rain down on us after this, but the flow of the play remained the same with Will dominating the middle of the park and James, Michele and Ally available on the flanks to relieve pressure. The end of the first third brought the reds together and, with the score 1-1-0, we found ourselves going into the second rotation in the lead, which can be very difficult to maintain. Until Istanbul, Mark had never seen a team hold out to win a 3SF match being in the lead after each rotation. The question was: should we try to keep our lead knowing we would sustain serious pressure for the rest of the game, or should we let in a goal or two to move the focus of attack away from our goal?

We decided to see how the other two teams reacted and were justified instantly. D3FC tried to rally Polsky with them to attack the Reds but instead, the Poles went with whomever they wanted at any given time. We would pass to them and they would attack D3FC and vice versa. When we attacked them with D3FC’s help, they still did not form any permanent allegiances, although they were as experienced in the ways of deception and alliance as any team on the pitch. As usual, no logical explanation could explain their actions and the random nature of their play resulted in two more goals being scored against themselves and D3FC. The Reds were living a charmed life and when any attack was thrown against them, they managed to survive unscathed. The second rotation ended with the scores 3-3-0.

During the final break, there was talk by Philosophy of the possibility of a clean sheet. To our knowledge, no one had ever claimed a clean sheet in 3SF and although the opposing teams would surely now partner each other in the final third, we felt we had a good chance to prevent them scoring against us. What happened was another bizarre twist in this form of the game.

Once again, the flow of the game remained the same. It became clear that Polsky had given up on first place and were simply attacking D3FC’s goal. With the red men’s help of course. Deptford responded in frustration, attacking Polsky, and the score quickly became 4-4-0. It was not until the last five minutes that the Reds' goal was under pretty sustained attack, the other two teams awakening from their slumber and realising that Philosophy hadn’t yet conceded a single goal. We held out under intense pressure, however, and the match finished 4-4-0. As far as we know, this was the first ‘perfect’ game of 3SF played, in which a team conceded no goals.

After the game, the Time Out team constructed a fake flow of play so the magazine’s reporter could, in print at least, live out the glory of scoring past the Philosophy goalkeeper Kadeem. With Ally and Will planted as ‘hapless defenders’, Ally had to be moved for not being able to act haplessly enough and finally, after three or four attempts, Alexi managed to dribble the ball past the ‘stranded’ keeper. With scoring a goal against Philosophy Football FC remaining a piece of fiction, the red men could enjoy the rest of their Sunday knowing they had done a good job.