Renewing my vows: the B team boycott match

Cod Almighty | Article

by Lee Johnson

30 August 2017

When Lee attended the B team boycott match between Internet Mariners and Donny R'sonists, it reminded him what made him love football in the first place

I didn't play any part in the organisation of this game, nor do I have any connection with either the Internet Mariners or the Donny R'sonists. What I did have was a very strong compunction to be in attendance.

Walking to St Christopher's I'd hoped to see the roads jammed with a multitude of traffic, full of passionate football supporters. The fact that this didn't happen didn't dampen my spirits too much, and entering the ground it was heartening to be greeted by the sight of smiles, collection buckets and the nearside of a pitch lined with people.

Being of a slightly contrary nature, I made my way to the far side and took up my position to view proceedings. When a linesperson joined me, he questioned the reason for my solitude and I outwardly laughed and shrugged, and inwardly wondered the same. Either way I was pleased to be there.

The game began at quite a lick with both sides obviously keen to give their all in front of a healthy crowd of 161. The thing I love about football is that, whatever the level, as long as there's passion and commitment on show I become absorbed. On this day that wasn't in question. A comical pitch invasion by a very small dog and its very slow owner added to rather than detracted from the spectacle. A goalless first half flew by, a testament to all participants.

Darkness falls on the match

Watching reminded me of long summer nights playing until it became impossible. I always loved the point at which we realised that it was ridiculous, and yet we played on

The second half began in twilight with electrical generators in each corner enabling play. The game continued in the same manner as the first half and a Doncaster goal only served to increase the pace of the game. As night fell it began to become apparent that it would be impossible to complete the full 90 minutes. Tackles became rash as frustrations grew and the light slipped further and further away.

Watching this reminded me of long summer nights playing football on the park until it became impossible. I always loved the point at which we realised that it was ridiculous, and yet we played on. Just like my childhood games, this game continued long after it had reached that point, perhaps more through duty than choice but wonderfully apt nonetheless.

At the final whistle on 75 minutes there was a disappointed resignation that the darkness had won... Or had it?

This game represented those very ideals which drew me to it more than 40 years ago: passion, commitment and, perhaps most importantly, a sense of fun. I'm grateful to the organisers for allowing me to renew my vows in support of an extremely worthy cause.

Photo: Alex Green

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