TOURS > Match report
|WKS Slask Wroclaw
After a long gruelling season, Landsdowne Rangers sealed their place in the English 2nd division with a triumphant victory over Essex Royals on the last day of the season. However, they narrowly missed out on winning the title by a cats whisker, only goal difference separating 1st and 2nd place. Despite this disappointment, teams from around the globe were trying to persuade Landsdowne to commit to pre-season tournaments and end of season tours.
Landsdowne’s Secretary Vegas was taking calls left right and centre and hence he informed Manager Peter Smart of the interest being shown world wide. He was ecstatic, more excited than John Wilson in a field of butterflies. However, the Manager needed to speak to the Chairman Tony Bush first before booking anything.
Landsdowne’s Manager had set his heart on taking the players at the end of season to Poland for an end of season tour, his only concern was getting the backing of the Chairman Mr Bush.
Landsdowne’s Chairman Mr Bush had founded the club back in B.C. sometime, and although a caring, giving man and very much a team player, Manager Peter Smart knew prising the Chairman’s hands open for this tour was going to be tougher than stealing a pint off the Gorilla.
Walking down the corridor to the Chairman’s office, Pete was thinking back to the time when the Chairman was once in a room full of people and he would not pass wind as he did not want to share it with anybody!!
Anyway, the door opened and round swivelled the Chairman twiddling with his grey wisp, smarty engaged in a deep conversation for at least 2 maybe 3 minutes, and after the persuasion of the beer and the quality opposition,
Mr Bush was happy and sealed the deal. Landsdowne were officially in Europe and their destination was Poland.
The Chairman colleted the money, booked the flights, arranged the travel and handed over the accommodation and games to our "Head of Polish International" Department, Dariusz Szymanski.
Dariusz was elated by the news and made many, many phone calls all over the country. Trying to get quality opposition, rooms to stay, places to eat and people to see were just some of the items on his agenda. His fingers were moving quicker than Dave Rix’s on his mobile in Croatia and eventually after weeks of planning and organising Landsdowne had their opposition in place. The teams were Slask Wroklow on the 16th June 2007 and
Widawa Kielczow on the 17th June 2007.
GETTING TO POLAND
Landsdowne's players arrived at "Staples" to board the team bus. The players were excited and full of optimism and looking forward to the task that lie ahead. Everyone had donned a new hair style for the occasion and it must be said for the first time in years Dave Allen looked people friendly.
Landsdowne arrived in Poland with no problems and only had 2 incidents at the airport.
The first was not allowing Tony Bush through customs, but after closer inspection of his passport they realised that the passport photo was actually of him.
The second incident was Dave Allen passing through customs with his wig on and the Passport Control talking and falling about laughing. However, it turned out later after translation that they were actually pointing and laughing at the eyebrow, not the wig (Thanks Dariusz for clearing that one up).
After retrieving their luggage, Landsdowne players were collected at the airport and were 45 minutes away from realisation, a 45 minute trip that heard Chairman Mr Bush inform the players on the bus how pleased he was seeing the Captain in the shower, which makes complete sense now why they shared in Poland.
The bus turned the corner and there it was, realisation. It was an awesome sight as the words passed Dariusz lips, "that’s the ground lads, that’s where we're playing Saturday".
The players looked on in awe. It was a long stone throw away from the days of Oakwood Park and now holy cross!
In front of the players now was a 10,000+ seated stadium with state of the art treatment rooms. There was one for all, an Ice Bath room, Physio Room, Massage Room. There was even a Drug Room. This ground was steeped in style and history and boy, there was some history.
TURNSTILES, TEAM TALK AND HANDSHAKES
The day finally arrived and Landsdowne were looking forward to getting on the pitch, which was described perfectly by Rob as a carpet. It was as flat as pancake and as smooth as a John Smiths, this pitch was perfect.
The players slowly drifted through the side exit into the ground an hour before kick off. The gates were unlocked and despite Landsdowne being in town the turnstiles remained locked, supporters entering the ground the same way.
Dean pointed out that this was probably for the best as the numbering system on the turnstiles could confuse people as they were numbered 12, 34, 56 and 78. But after a brief discussion with his brother he realised the only one confused was himself, they were actually numbered 1, 2, 3, 4 and so on.
With this matter cleared up and 15 minute to kick off the Manager gave his team talk. "Lads, let’s keep it tight. They are going to come at us like a bull in a china shop. It’s imperative to get out there and keep two banks of four, sit deep, soak up the pressure, then we can work our way into the game and attack". His final word’s were "have ya got that lad’s?", to which the players were like "yeah, no worries, we can do that Boss".
The players made their way down the stairs and onto the pitch with good intent to enforce the Managers wishes.
The only thing left now for them to do was warm up before the game and prepare themselves mentally.
Landsdowne were about to embark on their 14th competitive game in Europe. However, despite Landsdowne’s experience on the continent, their opponents were no stranger’s to European action themselves.
Slask Wroclow have competed in Europe 28 times to date and these appearances came in the U.E.F.A. Cup, Cup Winner's Cup and the Champions Cup. With Dinamo Moscow and Real Sociedad just some of the names Landsdowne’s opponent’s had played, to get a result everybody would have to be on top of their game.
The whistle blew and the players met in the centre circle area to shake hands with the officials and opponents.
Landsdowne players were now fully instructed what to do, they were mentally pre-pared, what could go wrong?
After the handshakes and the swapping of pageants, the team sheet was announced over the P.A. system giving punters one last chance to glimpse at the team sheet and history of both clubs in the programme.
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There was a roar from the crowd, the electronic scoreboard read 0-0, the whistle blew and Landsdowne were making history. Slask came at Landsdowne at what seemed like 500 miles an hour, they were spreading the ball all over the park, but despite Landsdownes efforts they could not even get in a tackle. Every time they got close, their opposition passed it round them in triangles. However, Landsdowne had stuck to their game plan and at the moment it was working. It was still 0-0 with 4 minutes gone!!!
It looked just like Chris was going to get in a tackle and the Slask player decided this was not to be so and just for good measure he decided to play an easy ball. He passed the ball 50 yards onto his colleagues toes. Landsdowne were rugged and in trouble, however 5 min’s were gone only another 15 min’s to go, the player’s were putting in their all, but despite their best efforts with 6 minutes gone their striker ghosted in and put the home side ahead.
The electronic scoreline flashed "GOAL".
Landsdowne were 1-0 down but this did not deter this fine bunch of athletes, everybody dug in and was determined to draw level. After the re-start a quick pass and tackle from Vegas bought Chris into the equation, who held the ball then delivered a pass into space allowing Weaving to stretch his legs down the right, but despite a good ball in Landsdowne could not capitalise seeing Dariusz header into the keeper.
It looked promising until the keeper dispatched the ball from his gloves with the ferocity and speed of a bullet from a guns chamber. The throw was also as deadly and accurate as a bullet, finding its target with exact precision, and before the players could get back into position it was too late, the ball was in the back of the onion bag.
The attack was just a false dawn, Landsdowne kicked off and were 2-0 down, it was clear at that moment in time as if they did not realise it before, this was one way traffic and with 10 minutes gone what the hell could they do?
On the bright side Landsdowne were 10 minutes into the game and were clearly heeding their Manager’s words and were doing as instructed before the game (2 banks of 4 and sit deep). It was either that or despite trying their hardest they just could not get out.
Slask ploughed through their opponents like a tractor through a field, there was no longer 2 banks of 4, it was a bank of 8 and when they broke through the bank of 8 they had Mr Bush to deal with. Tony made some good saves but despite his efforts and the players in front of him, he good not prevent Slask adding a third.
25 minutes gone, 3-0 down. Landsdowne had no shape and no hope due to their opponents superior fitness, movement and ability. However, despite this the lads just dug in deep and stuck in there, a bit of bickering broke out amongst the players but this was just due to frustration, which was understandable given the situation in hand.
The pitch was about as wide as the length of a Sunday pitch and the players were struggling, but rolling over and giving in was not on anybodies minds. However, despite the huge hearts Landsdowne could not prevent Slask adding another 2 goals before half time.
Half time had finally arrived and the players were grateful to hear the whistle, the players clambered off the pitch in search of water, air and a rest. Right now was time to relax and assess the situation, listen to the Managers words, then get back out there and give it 200%.
Everybody gathered round "the Special One", awaiting pearls of wisdom and after some deep panting, just excelled a lot of air and said "hold on, I’m trying to breath". A few minutes went by and he asked the players just to get out there and enjoy the occasion. Its a once in a life time experience, he made his substitution which saw "Dave the TAZ Allen" fill the goal and Landsdownes true great return to his normal position of striker.
The second half started and straight from the kick off Slask took a shot to test Dave, but he put the 50yard shot wide and to be fair the keeper had it covered anyway. A few minutes passed and after some more intricate football there was a opening for their striker. He leathered it, this was to be Dave’s 1st test, it was going just left of the keepers body and you could see the cogs in motion. DO I DIVE FOR IT? DO I KICK IT? DO I PUT MY HAND OUT? Unfortunately whilst the data was processing the outfielders saw the keeper put his arm out then his leg then for some reason spun round fell into the net, leaving dust in the air it looked like a scene out of the Taz Devil cartoons (see below).
Dave picked himself up untangled himself from the nets, dusted himself down and got on with the game. Landsdowne kicked off again, leaving the scoreline now 6-0 to the home team.
The game pretty much carried on from the first half, Slask attacked, Landsdowne defended. Goals went in, the score was 7-0, it was purely shooting practice for the home team. Smarty couldn't go on anymore as he winced in pain for the last time this match, his early forced substitution saw the Manager have to re-shuffle his pack, this saw Vegas shift out to the right side of midfield, Chris dropping in at left back and the Gorilla coming on in central midfield.
Despite the substitution the outcome was the same, attack after attack rained down on Landsdowne’s goal. However, they could not capitalise until their striker was put clean through 1 on 1 with just Dave to beat. Graham described it as, "Dave was quick off his line, he made himself big and at the last minute he looked like he fell over and passed out leaving the striker to slot home".
Had the game got to Landsdowne’s keeper? Was it the overwhelming effect of the crowd? Did he pass out? Or, had he just run out of beer? Whatever the reason Landsdowne now trailed 8-0.
Then what happened next was unthinkable to the crowd, or the home team, Landsdowne were on the attack. The ball had gone out of play onthe right and with 15 minutes to go Dean and Dan were trying to make the other one run as they were both knackered. Dan said "Dean you run", to which he replied "No, you run". Dan then thought if he threw the ball quickly Dean would have to run and that is what he did. So Dan threw the ball to Dean, up-stepped youth and cunning, Dean passed the ball back within 5 seconds leaving Vegas no other choice than to run (so much for wisdom but then again Vegas and Wisdom had never before been in the same sentence). So with the ball at his feet, under his breath thinking Bas*a*d, Vegas ran at the left back. Vegas beat the player and played the ball quickly to Graham, who played the ball with precision to Landsdownes my legs hurt after 10 min’s Mayo, and without hesitation he slapped the ball in the back of the net. He turned around red faced as if he had just been caught naked with Graham in the shower again, he was off running at the opposition supporter’s with delight, his fist clenched pumping the air. The home team cheered and music was played, Landsdowne were back in the game.
It was at this point Vegas said "Come on lads, another 7 and we can get a draw" and the sad part is he actually believed it. Up stepped Graham, "Don’t think like that, another 8 we can get a win". So, with this in mind Landsdowne went in search of 8 goals.
There was another 4 goals but this went to the home team as Landsdowne ran out of energy and suffered their biggest defeat in Europe since Seclin F.C. demolished them 12-2 way back in 1999. There were only 4 survivors of that fatal clash, Vegas, Harty, Tony, and Dave Allen.
Landsdowne players fell off the pitch at full time and could have not given anymore, they staggered over to their opposition and shook their hands with what energy they had left. Landsdowne not playing for 8 weeks clearly showed, but despite this every player gave their all against such quality opposition.
The whistle had gone and a couple of young lads wanted their picture taken with the team and asked for a few players signatures and to add to that a write up in the local paper the next day.
The article translated as "during the match, the first league players and reserves on Saturday played Lansdowne Rangers. Dariusz had compared the level to that of the regional teams. However, they were weaker with Slask Wroclaw winning 12 -1, bagging the goals were: Biliinski 1, Trafien 6, Gul 2, Blakala 1, Wilusz 1 Mrozi Pedzich and that a team player was coming back from injury".
So, there you have it. The Landsdowne tour and coverage of the first game and to sum it up is hard.
However, I believe "surreal" would be the appropriate word.
To wrap up probably the greatest tour of all time with top mates and some surreal moments including some for memory lane, I hope the little brief account below will raise some smiles. Yes, it’s a mega report, however it is the first tour match report and given the stature of the tour, I hoped to make this big and help you re-live and
re-capture just some of the breathtaking moments we had as a team. I hope you've enjoyed the report as much as I did putting it all together and thank you for taking time out to read it. Here's some memories:
It started with the fastest descent I have ever known a plane to make after accelerating round a bend to take off, then Dave going through customs looking like a human being and not a thug for the first time in years and trying to throw the towel in, however not only could he not handle his drink with the young ones, he could not even throw the towel.
Smarty ready to do Bushy after a 7 hour snoreathon. John and Martin re-acting the naked fight scene in Borat. Mark actually drinking more than two halves in one night. Dean so drunk getting the chair and the floor confused. Gavin running and doing a sawing impression as a goal celebration after 75 minutes when he realised his legs did work after all. Chris trying to do the backstroke in a fountain. Vegas standing at the window naked. Robs face when the tramp urinated like a fountain sitting in his chair in public and then being recognised by the tramp days later. Martin taking Daves title on the 2nd night and part of him turning in to the incredible hulk. Graham getting away with another tour and looking like he was about to sh*t himself when they offered to sign him and the village idiot (top line Robo). If you don’t believe it, see the picture in the "Tour DVD" that was compiled this year by Gavin Mayo after some fine work by Dean the last 2 years. Last but not least, Tony admitting he liked naked captains in the shower.
Top that off with the best pub in the world, we lived the dream, a table with free-flowing beer, mmmmmm beer, followed by the best chicken kebabs in the world, a 10000+ seated stadium, signatures, fans, electronic scoreboards, gifts, unbelievable cake and nice tea.
Need I say anymore?
2008-2009 Tour coming soon!!!!