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Rather like the start of every Grand National you can recall, the runners (classic misnomer) mill around with pent-up nervous energy before forming into several lines ready for the off Monday morning's session at Ruskin Sports Village Arcoform Arena was temptingly in sight and looking mighty inviting but our members were denied prompt access due to a locked gate and an impressive Tesla vehicle parked in front in the space marked 'nouveau riche only'

Referee Jeff Betty had, of course, decided to bring his gold plated folding ladders so that access could be gained to the dressing room block roof to retrieve a ball delivered there 7 days previously by an unknown player

When El Presidente mentioned that the infraction of kicking a ball out of the arena would incur a Llandudno £2 fine - there was a denial that it was Daz who had achieved this dubious honour Only after some further delay we learned that the offending ball had already been removed (news of its present location remains unclear)

Andy Man(anger) decided enough time had elapsed and that regardless of the assembled masses present location, a warm up was required, simple to perform and now long overdue When access to the arena was finally granted (Come back Ellen we really miss you) players quickly prepared the pitches and themselves though not necessarily in the correct order

Team selection was next up on the 'To Do List' with Gonzalo arriving at his selections by dint of a cunning plan Bibs were swiftly dished out and as usual members drifted aimlessly to prevent any simple overview of comparative playing strength 35 players parading round waiting for the much delayed dash to the Melling Road and the first real obstacle It makes no sense to wander off but every week it is the one thing that is guaranteed to happen In the confusion it makes a swift review of playing strength & any attempts to rebalance the sides redundant Our side isn't as good as theirs - no surprise there!

The selections were;

Sky - Phil the Power, Tom Stretch, Margaret, Enoch, Donal and Steve Honeyman

Pink - Chopper, Les Meldrew, Gonzalo, Grazer, Andy Zac and Mika

Black - Kenny, Eamon, Cockney Rebel, Harry the Hatchet, Mark NR and Sheila

Orange - Andy Man(anger), Roger, Kirsty, Mike M and Clint

Purple - Daz, Amazon, Eileen, Phil Moss, Tom D and Chris Willo

Neon - Gaz, Little John, Tony Snakehips, El Presidente (first appearance since September and subsequent new knee2), Haggis and Paul Jennings

The analysis is presented pitch by pitch with varying degrees of details according to blind chance Jeff Betty patrolled the familiar surroundings of Pitch 1 (nearest to the grandstand) and ensured goals were as rare as rocking horse droppings (another racing reference?) The opening Black v Purple match produced a solitary Daz goal as Purple won 1-0

Next up Black and Sky fought out a bore-all scoreless draw Neither side troubling Herr Betty's pencil and notebook

Orange squashed Sky in the final game with Gonzalo (who had been the subject of transfer activity after Roger had withdrawn through illness) claimed a goal and a brace from Mike Mc sealing a decent 3-0 win over the hapless Sky

On the adjacent pitch or Pitch 2 under the watchful gaze of WFA's own Les Lomax Orqnge eventually overcome Neon thanks to a late controversial penalty awarded against El Presidente who was bundled into the keeper's area by some over zealous opponent Shurely shome mishtake Sir? El Pres' politely enquired but having already fallen foul of a questionable running infraction (2 full knee replacements and called for running?) it was clear

The Ref's Decision is Final Clint Eastwood found the corner of the net and that was the game 1-0

Purple had a field day in the next game, too quick generally and scoring 4 unanswered goals Daz 2, Eileen and Amazon claiming the spoils (quite literally for our Club Dictator)

In the final countdown Neon raised their game to keep Black to a narrow margin of victory Goals by Eamon, cruelly deflected by El Presidente's blocking tackle, and Mark NR sealed a 2-0 win Neon had plenty of chances but their luck was summed up with a procession of open goal misses Gaz, Paul J, Haggis and El Pres all off target from close range

Lord Rainford donned his Yves St Laurent Refereeing for the Discerning uniform and Sussex Constabulary Whistle to oversee Pitch 3 shenanigans Sky handed Pink a 3-1 drubbing with Tom Stretch finding the net from the kick off (not literally of course) Summing up the Pink problem was the corner conceded directly from the restart Gonzalo did strike back but this was his last action for Pink before his transfer to Orange The goal of the day (dubious claim panel unverified) was created by Tom & Margaret serving up a chance that Enoch buried At this point M'Lord's Butler arrived to serve a cooling glass of Pimms with Sky claiming their third goal during the unfortunate interlude No record of the scorer survived the distraction

Orange squashed Pink by 5 goals to nil Gonzalo humbling his former employers with Andy Man(anger) also cashing in Mike Mc also found the net

Pink fared much better in their final game but were on the wrong end of a 3-0 score line Daz and Amazon sprinted to fine effect Eileen delivered 2 great assists Dave Grazer Clark produced a string of fine saves, who despite his tender age was later described as 'The Boy stood on the Burning Deck' The saves over shadowed his eccentric distribution, intent at one stage to pass to Lord Rainford (who,lest we forget was the Referee) at every occasion

And now we have great pleasure to introduce a new feature provided from the Auld Country A part of the world sometimes described as God's Own, not to be confused with Oldham (that no one described as God's Own anything)

Our Gaelic Times reporter Shamus O'Hoolihan about the goings on at Ruskin Drive Monday morning. Firstly we had Jeff the Ref bringing along his step ladders! 'Everyone is going to look up to me today' was heard, everyone except Tall Paul (Roger) who was the same height as him as he climbed his ladders and took position on halfway like the umpire at Wimbledon!

And so to the action. Play had to be halted after a horrendous collision between Big Phil Moss and Kenny which left them both immobile and Phil right on top of Kenny! 'What shall we do? went up the cry! Well Eamon and Daz stood to one side to discuss the levels of pain thier respective Big Toe injuries were giving them. Harry the Hatchet got out a pack of baby wipes to clean his already spotless keeper gloves. Mike Maguire was seen wiping down his new white boots and Tom Stretch was extremely distraught saying 'we have got to get Kenny out of there, he has brought cake and I am starving'.

The situation was resolved when Margaret and Sheila lifted Phil up which was quite an achievementas Margaret is only as big as one of his legs! Kenny came around to be told to his horror that he had turned blue due to lack of oxygen but his rosy cheeks soon came back and he heard Jeff from his Umpires chair saying 'free kick against Kenny for tackling from behind dont do it again' to which Kenny replied 'dont worry I will never  ever do that again'!

And so to the playing return of El Presidente! So desperate was he to be named on the score sheet he claimed an own goal which struck one of his sticky out bits and then went into the goal! He had a chance of glory in the last second but sent it flying over the bar which would have brought scenes of delight in the All Ireland Gaelic Football Final at Croke Park in Dublin but we were at Monday Morning Madness at Ruskin! Welcome back Peter!

This is your roving reporter Shamus O'Hoolihan signing off! 😇🇮🇪r

Beginnings* - Chicago

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