About 4 weeks ago I was asked if I wanted to play football with other OR analysts with whom I used to work. So I've been on the exercise bike almost every night since then. Until Saturday at least. Somehow I managed to get a groin strain to the extent that on Sunday I could hardly walk, leaving chilledchimp to do all the domestics. But by Tuesday night it had worn off enough that I was prepared to play in goal.
Attacking midfield is my position of choice but I am a decent enough keeper, Although I don't have the athleticism, I can catch and my positional sense is good.
It was a big field this year, 32 teams Teams were divided into groups of 4 with the winners only progressing to the quarters. So the games started at 10:30 but we didn't get our first match until 11:45. It was 6 aside but with big goals and half-size pitches. Each match was 8 minutes long.
We won our first game 1-0, more easily than the score line suggested. I didn't have to make any saves although I did put in a tackle to someone through on goal.
The second game didn't go so well. We didn't really have any shots until the last two minutes. I made several saves but we went down 2-1. Their second goal was very jammy. I saved a hard shot pushing it to one side. No defenders followed up and with an attacker bearing down I managed to lunge over and tried to push the ball into touch with my fingertips. I got it away but it bounced back off the post leaving an easy chance.
So, in the final game we needed to win 3-0. They were the best team in our group having easily won their previous games 3-0 and 2-0. They were all over us at the start. I pushed a shot on to the post and made a few other saves. Then we started to come back into it. They were running out of steam. With three minutes left we were on top. Then our winger brushed off a challenge and their player feel innocuously and broke his wrist. It looked pretty bad too, twisted at a strange angle and very swollen. They didn't have a sub and the medical care took so long to arrive that the game was abandoned as 0-0 draw.
Even if they'd forfeited, it would only have been 2-0 to us so we wouldn't have made it through anyway.
The ironic thing was that the guy with the broken wrist works for the Health & Safety Executive.
After the game we decided that we'd all come back next year. I won't even be working here then but, broken bones aside, it was a good day. I've been coming to this event on and off for 10 years now. I still haven't done better than in '98 when we lost in the final and I don't suppose I will now but it's great fun.