So, June 11th we had our inaugural Timeless Football Championship. As we are at the time of the Euro's each side represented one of the nations involved. We had Portugal, Spain, France, Italy, Germany and of course...England!
Portugal were touted as potential winners from the offset, with a couple of talented individuals, a large squad and even a Spanish national playing under the guise of his nations rival for the day.
Italy were in the same camp as Portugal, with some obvious talent in the squad, a goalkeeper that almost filled the entire goal as well as earning the dubious honour as the only squad in the tournament having had a training session leading up to the tournament.
Everyone outside the France camp had them touted as a potential winner. With a disparate assortment of 'talent,' which were arguably living on past glories, it was always going to be an uphill struggle for the side. They can, however, take pride in the fact that they were the only side with a national from that country playing for them, so thanks for that Tristan, the Laurent Blanc of the side.
England, an obvious crowd favourite, had the worst preparation for the tournament. With 3 members of the squad getting the call up the night before and the other three travelling from Guildford, Manchester and Newcastle on the day itself, their performance was always going to be affected by these factors.
The main unknown quantity of the tournament were Spain coming into the tournament with a large squad and an air of mystery.
Finally there was Germany. A young side with a rugby player spine to the team, concerns were made whether they could mix it with the big boys out there.
The tournament was a round robin competition followed by a knock out stage and a plate final for the bottom two sides. Some great football was seen in these group stage games including some emphatic high scoring victories from Italy over England (3-1) and Spain (4-0) as well as Portugal over Germany (3-1) and England (3-0). As early favourites, both these sides dominated proceedings and qualified as the top two. Italy were superb throughout finishing undefeated and top of the group.
The other two sides surprised themselves in their progression to the Semi's. England, despite two heavy defeats, employed Wimbledon-esque tactics to propel them to third place. France, despite losing their opening 3 games, managed to scrape a win and a draw in the final two games to book their place in the semi finals.
The semi's took place at the same time on two different pitches. On pitch 1, Portugal took on France. In their group stage meeting the game finished 0-0 but with France's lack of fitness starting to show and the loss of their highly influential goalkeeper in the previous game the odds were in Portugal's favour. Two mistakes from James "Tony Hibbert" Woodward saw France all but dead and buried, and despite getting a goal back through Tom Clarke, Portugal went on to complete the rout 4-1.
The second semi-final between England and Italy has been dubbed the "game of the tournament" by spectators, players and football scholars alike. It was a game of contrasting styles with the tricky, technical ability of the Italians evidently being in stark contrast to the agricultural tactics of the English. A heated game, with Italy really living up to the passionate Italian stereotype. One moment of controversy came when the whistle was blown seconds before an Italy player shot and scored, much to the dismay of his team mates and the relief of England. Golden Goal extra time couldn't produce a winner so it was down to penalties. By now quite a crowd was gathering as the other semi had finished. Both keepers had heroic saves before Ben McKean did his best Roberto Baggio impression, blazing the ball over the bar. For England, up stepped Thomas 'Peeps' Pettyt. A man, looking a lot like Lol's Dad from This is England and with questionable football ability managed to produce the moment of the tournament, smashing the ball into the top corner to put England through to the final. Captain, Richard Fletcher, commented that Peeps had missed every penalty when they practised in between games, so must have been saving the best till last.
Next up was the plate final. Spain managed to produce some of the form they showed early on in the tournament defeating Germany 2-0 to lift the Plate trophy and avoid the wooden spoon prize which was a Newcastle United dress shirt and a 9XL Glasgow Rangers top. Not much use to the Germany joint captains who are both Celtic fans!
The final was a bit of a snooze fest until the final minute. England led by Richard Fletcher and the veteran Rob Cunningham were nullifying the Portuguese threat by continuing their long ball approach to 6 a side. The game had gone into Golden Goal extra time. As it reached the end of that 3 minute period, with penalties on the cards, Ryan Mellow, impressive throughout, struck a thunderbolt shot to claim the title for Portugal and make his own personal tally 9 goals for the tournament.
A great day for all involved, thanks for those who came out, took pictures, referee'd and helped organise the tournament. Here's our run down of the awards from the tournament!
Best Team- Now Portugal won, and they were extremely impressive throughout. However, it has to be mentioned that Italy won the group stage, were unbeaten in normal time and had arguably the most technical side out there. It would have been very interesting to have seen those two in the final.
Player of the tournament- All of the out and out goalkeepers in the tournament were superb from Spain, Italy, France and England. Rob "Bogdan" Pickett made some very impressive saves, including one in the shootout for England. Josh Gray was extremely solid for Italy, also making a penalty save and was the key for his side's impressive defensive record. For France Aaron "Brad Pitt" Skipper was doing his best Barthez impression before injury ended his tournament.
On the pitch, Richard Fletcher was at his best and despite being a lazy playmaker fit well into England's hard working, long ball approach to the game. Italy also had a number of impressive technical players and Spain's big lad, referred to as an "Arryan Stormtrooper" by a member of the Italian squad, also caught the eye.
However, the award went to Ryan Mellow from Portugal. They weren't a one man team, but he won them the tournament. 9 goals in 7 games says it all. Well deserved.
Moment of the Tournament. England. In general. They had it all. Richard Fletcher, their captain, put their success down to their superior team morale and camaraderie, which is surprising as most of the team didn't know each other. The moment that exemplifies this was Peep's penalty to take them into the final. Arguably, and he'll admit this himself, one of the worst players on display producing one of the best moments. Fantastic stuff.
Goal of the tournament- Portugal's goal to clinch the title was a thunderbolt in the last minute, it doesn't get a lot better than that. Although France scored a superb passing move against Germany with most of the team involved.
Quote of the Tournament- A toss up between 3.
"Chill out lads, this is for charity," A Portuguese player after some petulant behaviour from Italy. Timeless Football, now a charity.
"That guy, in goal for France, a young Brad Pitt don't you think?" Timeless Football's silent partner.
"Think you've had one two many Stella's mate," One of the best moments between one of Italy's players and the ref. The ref may or may not have brought a six pack of Stella which was said to enhance his own performance.
Gaffe of the Tournament- There's a few. France's keeper shouting "keeeeepperrrsss" rushing out, getting the ball headed over him and then bundling the ball into his own net trying to save it," Peeps for continually being warned about wondering into the area. Ben McKean for unfortunately getting the Roberto Baggio award for his Penalty for Italy. Myself, finally, for not telling one of the ref's we'd changed the timings of the game which brought an extremely hostile reaction from the usually mild mannered Portuguese player/ coach as things were getting a bit "Fergie time," for his liking.
Ref of the tournament- Two guys gave up their time to referee the tournament and both did a superb job, so it's difficult to decide between them. Yet, despite most people buying into the fact it was a bit of a laugh, there was a laughable amount of abuse directed at them. Both handled this in different ways. Kev, like a ghost, did his best to ignore anything that came his way. Tim, a 20 + stone former top level rugby player who played during an era when it was more warfare than sport, and has the battle scars to prove it, took a bit more of a confrontational approach. After the 30th moan at him for a foul to be given he did say " I now remember why I don't like football!"
Finally...The Shirt of the tournament- 95% were provided by Timeless Football. For me it has to be a toss up between the Euro 96 Portugal Shirt below or the 1994 France Shirt seen below also!
Thanks again to everyone who turned up and participated. Maybe we'll have some more in the future, there are plans for a London tournament in the pipeline!
All photographs are on our Facebook here