Ernie's Owls 5 v 8 Hapoel UNRG – 19:45
A run, a twist, a turn, a touch, a pivot, a dribble, a STRIKE! Matty SU proved why he’s taking home the Owls’ top goalscorer award as he popped in his 16th goal against Hapoel UNRG as the Owls occasionally snaffled up their chances as if the season depended on it. Which it didn’t.
‘Strength and honour’ Sutton shouted after the game, remembering his team had avoided relegation. The more knowledgable Owls fans cooed at the Gladiator reference as Matt completed a lap of the stadium while FaceTiming his family.
Before KO, Critchley reminded the team that ‘Hapoel had us last time’. ‘Owls’, he continued, ‘what we do in life…’ he kneeled to touch the synthetic turf, ‘echoes in eternity’ before donning the gloves. Nott, Williams, Thorne, and SU completed the starting line-up and looked to gain inspiration from Critch’s interpretation of Crowe’s words and Oscar-winning performance.
And they did, with vengeance in their hearts they played the crowd - Matt performing a variety of flicks with mixed results, Thorne keeping things ticking in the middle, while Williams was chasing lost cause after lost cause. An early chance fell to Nott after a neat 1-2 put him into space on the right, The Owls #39 delayed the shot allowing BFG to pull of his signature move: going to ground early and leaving a gap… 1-0!
The goalkeeper’s landing combined with the Owls’ squawks created a pleasant symphony of treble and bass that reverberated around HAP.
However, the Owls were right to be cautious as, with a move Commodus would be proud of, a Hapoel player simulated injury and went home, only to be replaced by the ref’s mate, the best fucking ringer ever. Hapoel immediately drew level and then pulled ahead, their cheers muted by Ernie’s barking at Voss and Ball to warm up. The subs momentarily shackled the ineligible player as Matt volleyed in an equaliser after a quick counter, but ultimately paid for their risky play at the back and nonexistent marking. Half-time: 4-2 to Hapoel.
Handing over the gloves to Voss, Critchley saw his strike hit the bar from range and a goal ruled out for being inside the box as he tried to grab the game by the scruff of the neck. No dice. The defensive shitshow was to continue into the second half as Matt inexplicably passed the ball back to their best player from a kick in. He later justified the gaff by pointing out the lack of photoreceptive cone cells in the periphery of the human eye, an excuse that also explains the quality (or lack thereof) of his backheels. Soon after, in a staggering reinterpretation of the rules the ref first admitted his mate stepped into his own box but then ruled out the penalty due to ‘common sense’.
Commodus Sense 7 - 2 Ernie’s Crowes.
But Ball, in his trademark white trainer socks, refused to roll over. After some smart play by Matt and Critch, the Owls #8 pummelled a low drive past the goalie for his first of the season. Moments later, a high press gave Williams space to shoot dead centre of goal, the ball flying through BFG’s legs who fell like a sack of common sense. Thorne also got off the mark late on with a smart finish following a parry by the black and bruised BFG.
With the game over and Tarturus(relegation) beckoning for Hapoel, skipper Voss sought commiserations and handshakes of reconciliation. He even went on to extend the olive branch of offering the Owls’ spot in League A, before placing his thumb on his nose, wiggling his fingers and wheeling away to join the rest of his team in celebration. Owls Owls Owls!
After an unconvincing season fighting against relegation, the impending loss of academy graduate Ball to Mozambique, and rumours abound about a squad divide, supporters across the globe were left wondering what the summer would bring. New signings? A new league? A second league? A 3rd, 4th, 5th league? A new kit? A new sponsor?
‘Everything will be revealed after the social’ tweeted Ernie amid rabid speculation, as well as replying with a not-so-cryptic 💯 to a fan demanding a testimonial for the outgoing club legend.
Man of the Match:
As the mercury soared above 30 degrees, two men stayed ice cold to get their elusive first goals of the season: James and Harry. 8Ball captured the hearts of fans with his industry and lateral one-touch play this season, which dovetailed well (at times) with Harry’s silky touch and worrying lack of fitness. If the latter can bring the goals back, the Owls will be a force to be reckoned with next season.
Ernie's Owls 6 - 2 Unprotected Cesc
This past week, the UK bore witness to two tense finals that went down to the wire; the Cricket World Cup and the Mens Wimbledon Finals were prime examples of evenly matched opponents, unrelenting in their desire to win, stretching the boundaries of just how close sport can really run.
Enter the Owls, and a demonstration of what real sporting excellence is. Did the Owls need to go to a twelve game tie break to decide their fate? Did they need to use the super over (furiously searching google to try to understand the shitshow that is the rules of cricket) and count the boundaries and extra wicks to runs? Did they fuck.
On a balmy Tuesday in Peckham, the Owls did what they have sometimes done under pressure and notched up a comfortable win to secure their place in the HAP Premier league for next season- WITH A GAME TO SPARE. There is a certain understated elegance in the approach they took – I hear you saying what about the spectacle and the drama of those late finishes – and to that I reply; that’s not what well oiled winning machines do, nor the Owls.
EOFC started brightly with the attacking triumvirate of Wright, Yates and Sutton- affectionately known as WYS for both their initials and trademark “what you sayin?” when squaring up after a tactical foul they’ve either committed or been victim to.
Wright had been doing sprints down the touchline before the game, like an overzealous energizer bunny with a top knot, to shut out the existential angst and anguish the prospect of relegation gave him, and started with typical aplomb – taking a bouncing ball on the chest before slotting in with his left foot. What you saying, Hapoel?
This spurred some excellent football from the Owls who doubled their lead to go 2-0 up through Sutton – who quickly subbed himself off to update his personal spreadsheet where he is both leading goal scorer – and, as he will tell you and quietly whispers to himself as he goes to sleep, also best goals per game ratio “cos Hen’s actually played more games than me” – talk about net spend, eh Matty.
Critchley, being the martyr that he is, clipped his own wings for this game – nobly offering to spend the entirety of the game in goal to “keep the owls up, lad” – and made some fine saves to keep the Hooters ahead. Between his giant fingers and Voss’s giant nutsack, the Owls went into the game at half time 2-1 up.
In the second half, Wright put a shot through the side netting with such ferocity the Ref clearly hadn’t seen whether or not it was a goal– but in his inimitable typically assured, albeit entirely unwarranted style -happily gave it the Owls. Yates followed suit with a blast he claims to have “not properly connected with” into the opposite corner for good measure. Ough and Voss continued to plug away at the Hapoel attackers with crunchers with more bite than a West Country Farmhouse cheddar – the Referee refusing
Any doubts about the Ref’s impartiality and/or knowledge of the rules of football were put to bed when Pradhan well and truly put one of Hapoels players to bed with a horrendous tackle to which the Ref unflinchingly and unironically shrugged “he got the, ball” – Pradhan let us know that during the game he had commit two other fouls of a similar nature but got away with it by pretending it was just clumsiness (he endeavored the rest of the game to play sloppily so as not to give up this alibi) – that left Sutton one on one with the keeper. In that split second, Sutton had two figures on his shoulder - on one, an angelic Wright whispering “don’t hit it too hard Matt, get it on target” and on the other the devilish figure of Matty SU – jagerbomb in hand screaming “eat shit, Henry – the golden boot is ours. Smash it, son” and smash it he did, blasting in from close range to secure what was already safe. 6 fucking 3.
As the Owls gathered around Ernest, the familiar question of “what you saying” hung in the air – and Ernie wiping tears of pride from his eyes whispered in reply “we are staying up”
Ernie’s Owls 2 - 9 Unathletic
That bright orange cycling jersey. That perennial complaints to the ref. That fucking LAND ROVER. Are Unathletic the league’s most detestable side? V v possibly, my dudes. This week we were not hundo P litty, but I’m sure we will be ‘OKurrrrrr’ next week. By OK, I mean we’ll lose 6-4, starting slowly but playing well in the second half.
With one chip firmly rested on one shoulder through the middle class nightmare and terrifying vision of our yuppy future of Unathletic, my other shoulder lays nude, covered sparingly by a skimpy bit of violet lace, draped over my shoulder as we begin to kiss…
Right anyway, I’m pissed off cus I played really well the week before and PROFESSIONAL JOURNALIST Tom Ough gave this disgracefully unjust write up-
At this point Ball, presumably seeking to gently cushion the ball into Voss's enormous, unmissable hands, instead thumped an unstoppable header into his own net. After approximately thirty seconds, the Owls were behind
Load of fucking bollocks. Which made me think, I’m never fucking mentioned in these write ups. I searched ‘James’, which came up once, about me eating a worm. Then I searched ‘Ball’, which, to be fair, came up 54 times. But here are the four (FOUR) occasions where I’ve been mentioned in a match report:
During a post match interview, Ball revealed, ‘training has been awful, Sutton can’t sleep with the fear that he will lose his place up top, Grace continues to cry uncontrollably, and I’ve been having to eat extra worms to prove my worth. If he comes back, one of us will surely get the cut’.
I never said that, weird fan fiction.
'What a response' Ball added, fist-pumping whilst running over...
Again, didn’t say that.
from the security of the bnch, as the ref held his mouth to the whistle. Ball nodded in response, spitting into the communal gloves.
Never nodded that.
A drop in concentration meant a back pass was sent to Ball.
Cut that out and send to my mum, please!
You really want to know the truth about my life in football? Well take a seat, things are about to get self indulgent…
First side- Martock Albion (2000-2003)
Sarah Ball (born 1962) and Andy Ball (born 1962, died (in a way) in 2003) raised a keen little striker. I once scored with my first touch in a game. Also very pro-active in collecting cones.
Sadly I soon fell down the ranks in the team for being ‘too gobby’ and ‘not very good anymore’
The Teenage Years- Stoke Youth
Basically this was shit because I didn’t start puberty until college, so I was exceptionally weak, short, and overweight. The common rule of ‘you need to come to training to play’ often checkmated my managers: Yes I was shit, but also I was at practice every week. One week I was a sub, got brought on, then taken back off again. I cried and the manager apologised afterwards in front of everyone’s parents 😎
And then, POW- the first time I’d ever won something apart from music quizzes and karaoke
Those months of pretending I’d done drugs before and that I liked Radiohead more than I actually do paid off. I was in a COOL team, of WINNERS.
Now we’ve got to dig deep over the next few weeks and come out on top in this relegation scrap. UP THE FUCKING OWLS!!!
The first M stands for MEN as two players were piffting against Unathletic-
Matt Sutton- so reliable up top, two goals which saved us from total embarrassment. Jah bless.
Jaya Pradhan- Admiring from the goalie spot, I was really digging Jaya’s movement and blossoming confidence in the first half. Positive player. Went in goal 2nd half, and pulled off some great saves (obvs scoreline doesn’t show this, but they had some very tidy finishes). WELL PLAYED SHAGGER.
Ernie's Owls 4 - 6 Seshiktas
Judging by their name's clumsy wordplay, Seshiktas FC seem to fancy themselves as conoisseurs of dankness. Yet the league leaders, having lost a single game this season, were very nearly outwitted on Tuesday night by a gange-loving owl and his seven beloved hatchlings.
With the tactical acumen that has made him the Pep Guardi-Owl-a of League A, Coach Ernie retained the sweeper system that had dismantled Keith's Desk two weeks earlier. Henry Wright hung behind Thom Critchley, James Ball and Jon Williams; Nick Voss, despite his girlfriend having a busy week, made it down to the Owls' Nest for a shift in goal. On the bench, the Owls' £100m record signing, Tom Ough, assured Matt Nicol, the emergency loanee, that he had been parachuted into an exciting team that needed some fine-tuning but made few mistakes.
At this point Ball, presumably seeking to gently cushion the ball into Voss's enormous, unmissable hands, instead thumped an unstoppable header into his own net. After approximately thirty seconds, the Owls were behind, and the half got a whole lot worse. It was like taking a bite out a worm's head, finding it immediately disgusting, and then learning, to your surprise and dismay, that the rest of the worm tastes just as foul. Play was fast and aggressive. Voss made some good saves. Ough and Nicol joined the fray, while Williams dropped back so that Wright could harass the Seshtikas even higher up the pitch. Wright managed a goal, whacking the ball home after Williams successfully harried Seshtikas' overgrown, Voss-sized midfielder, but the Owls went into half-time 4-1 down. I don't remember the nature of those four goals, but I will never forget the sight of a furious Coach Ernest removing the Sharpie-sized, drizzle-defying zoot that was blazing in his beak, and hooting, in perfect English, "Keep Wright leading the press up top! Have Nicol sweep up at the back!"
Leaping high and heading hard, as if he were the cherished lovechild of Harry Maguire and a freshwater salmon, Nicol cleared high balls time and again. Meanwhile, Wright continued to flout his off-pitch amenability with his on-pitch aggression, and scored a second goal while he was at it, a quick free kick slotted into the bottom corner. Critchley underlined his status as one of the Owls' top two Scouse marksmen with a brace, the first of which he scored on the rebound following an elegant one-two with Williams, the second of which he walloped home thanks to a cross-field pass from Nicol.
Seshtikas had earlier nicked a fifth goal, giving them a 5-4 lead, but they were on the back foot. The Owls, on their front talons, continued to create chances. Critch hit one shot so high he almost knocked Ernie's fetid nest from a nearby treetop.
Shortly before full-time, however, Seshtikas scored a sixth on the break. Their bad trip was over. They were now two goals clear, which, on one talon, rendered all the Owls' prior efforts meaningless, and, on the other, detracted only very slightly from a performance far superior than the team's place in the league table, one point about the relegation zone, would have suggested.
Still, it's a precarious perch. The humiliation of Harris Academy Peckham Soccer Gods League B awaits. We need Ernie to drag us clear. Cometh the hour, cometh the manager: Sam Owlardyce is on the job.
Man of the match
Speaking in the mixed zone after the game, Williams hailed Wright and Nicol's leadership. "Being in the middle between Matt and Henry," he recalled "was like hearing conflicting things from Mum and Dad: 'Push up!', 'Drop!', 'Stay on your man!', 'Cover!'"
It takes real guts to enter the furnace that is the Harris Academy Synthetic Turf Courts. Many men have been broken by it. Nicol was not one of those men. Matt of the match.
Keith’s Desk 1 - 3 Ernie’s Owls
As the story goes, the Winter of 1991 was unseasonably warm. But in the early hours of 2 November, in Sheffield, it fell cold. Mist descended. Lights dimmed. Hearts slowed. As Jane Sutton cradled her new-born son in her arms, weaving his straggly wisps of hair through her fingers, she heard the wind carry through the nearby trees. She heard the wind carry the bark of the neighbour’s dog through the lonely streets of Sheffield.
It was as this bark dissipated that a young Matty SU lifted his improbably large head, opened his improbably green eyes and, with eloquence far beyond his years, said to his mother: “We need to abandon man-marking and implement a system that pivots around a static sweeper.”
And implement a system that pivots around a static sweeper the Owls did, some 28 years later, to greater effect than our infant Sheffield Jesus could ever have predicted. Throughout last night’s game, an imperious Henry Wright intercepted pass after pass, repeatedly leaving midfielders on their respective asses as he no-fucking-nonsensed the ball out of play to devastating effect. At times, he became four players. At others, a single player with the legs of four men. He was a majestic owl with the thick-set legs of an octopus. A disgusting Frankenstein’s monster fuck of a thing, undoubtedly, but the hideous beast that the boys in black needed so desperately.
The scene was familiar; the opponent, fresh in the memory: Keith’s Desk, atop of which their eponymous manager had arranged his team not a week before, edging the Owls 6-4. Defeat can breaketh the man, if that man is weak as fuck, but defeat can also inspire a rag-tag bunch of QMUL alumni (and Tom Ough) (oh, and Matt) (wait, and Critch) (did anyone actually go to QMUL?) to interrogate their tactics and sharpen their beaks.
The Owls set up with Yates between the sticks, looking like the “After” photo to Big Fat Goalie’s “Before”. Wright sat in the holding role, while Thorne and Williams occupied the middle and Sutton balanced on the tip. Eager to right the wrongs of last week’s game – the opening five minutes of which the Owls spent constructing a human pyramid in the HAPS carpark and, as a result, conceded before the referee could say “I wasn’t even watching so fuck off or” – the start was strong. With Wright barking instructions from the base of the makeshift diamond the Owls passed their way through slick moves, slalomed past wayward challenges and retreating with military discipline whenever the ball evaded their control and bounced back to Keith’s Desk. They were everywhere, anywhere, all of the time, literally.
Within minutes, Wright brought up a well-deserved 1-0, only to turn provider shortly after when he flicked the ball over the top to the indefatigable Sutton, who took a touch and lashed a shot across Big Fat Goalie, a man who seems to exclusively be on his side, like a log or a large ship or the notion of sadness. The Owls’ intensity held throughout the first half, something that will surely pleasure Ernie, who was seen stomping away from a training session following last week’s game, visibly angry as he threw his hat to the ground and kicked it. With Tom “Oh” Ough and Jaya “Can’t Think of a Good Nickname” Pradhan moving seamlessly into the mix, the Owls applied consistent, heavy pressure to the Desk, slowly reducing its frame to a shoddy pile of balsa wood and rivets. What last week appeared artisanal, crafted from the sturdiest of materials, this week was unveiled as some cheap IKEA bullshit.
The owls have often been criticised for their startling inconsistency. Much like the Northern Lights, their performances can be dazzling washes of green and blue, shimmering through the cold South London skies; but much like the aurora borealis, again, their performances can be total non-starters. Total wastes of time. Fuck ups. In the second half, however, their versatility played to their advantage, as precision, intricate passing and skill gave way to raw, hard grit. ‘True Grit’, if you will.
As Thorne took Yates’s place in goal, Wright continued to nip in front of Keith’s midfielders, clearing out legs and shattering dreams. And the Owls, as we know, are an impressionable bunch, so others got in on the act: Sutton hassled heavy-legged defenders, Ough hit a 50/50 so hard that his boss, Boris Johnson, was summoned to court the following morning; and Williams threw a forward off balance with such little subtlety that the referee didn’t think to award a free-kick.
This good will was a common theme, throughout: Following last week’s game, stories emerged about the Owls’ harsh treatment of the match officials. Some outlets claimed that Wright shouted, “We pay your wages!”, while others alleged that Yates had the cheek to criticise the referee’s policy of not actually watching the game, but instead making decisions in response to subtle deviations in the wind or the moistness of his hands. This week, however, the Owls showed an outstanding level of respect to the referee. And they reaped the rewards, with decisions frequently going against the Desk while Williams ran about booting the shit out of their players and facing little to no retribution.
Thorne made a number of crucial saves deep into the second half (one of which was made with a strong thigh and looked hard as fuck), but in a rare moment of communal distraction following a throw-in, Keith and his merry band of Desks pulled one back. The goal gave them hope, and for a few minutes the Owls were under pressure: runners lost men, through-balls hit marks and shots were pinged with an increased frequency, but the Owls quickly retained control. Zipped ball from Yates to Sutton on the right side of the D (not your first time on the right side of the D is it Matt eyooooo!!!). First time finish. 3-1. Job done.
From this point onwards, the Desk begged for the mercy of the final whistle in that pathetic way that only a desk can. But they underestimated that the Owls are all fucking sadists who take pleasure in the suffering of others. Fucking animals, the lot of them. Seriously. (Especially Jaya.) Attacks grew sharper, tackles more furious, shots more ferocious. If Sutton were to have converted one of the 5,000 shots that he had in the final five minutes, this surely would have gone down as one of the most impressive Owls performances to date.
And, to think, it all started on that mysterious night in Sheffield, as a young mother nestled her full-bearded baby, his eyes wide and his squishy little fingers clutching the slowly browning roach of a zootang. “Mattttty SUUUUUUUU.”
Man of the match
Do you remember that bit in Gladiator when Russell Crowe first gets fucking good at fighting and just mauls the shit out of everyone? He has a mace, I think, which is cool because you never really see maces wielded anymore, and he brawls as if he’s got a force-field around him. (Or as if he’s the title character in the multi-million-dollar movie and he quite obviously can’t die yet as we’re only half-way through and what would we do for the remaining hour?) Someone comes from the front: MACE; from the back: MACE; three come from all sides: MACE MACE MACE. That’s what Henry Wright was like, last night. Whether a searching through-ball, a hopeful punt from BFG or an overly-ambitious midfielder, he stamped each down with such ferocity and finesse that it seemed utterly baffling how anyone would weasel past him. That he didn’t emerge from the Colosseum with a clean sheet is not a reflection of his own performance – far from it. Instead, it is a message to his fellow Owls that, in spite of this full-blooded performance, there is still work to be done.
Ernie’s Owls 4-6 Keith’s Desk
They’d never seen anything like it.
Crowding the HAPS Players Entrance were South London’s assembled media. For the time being at least, matters on the pitch were a trivial affair. As far as the tabloids were concerned, there was only one man for tomorrow’s back pages: Harry Thorne. Back on English soil after years in a Brandenburg hinterland, the Owls had secured his signature on a Bosman. He was back at the club where he made his name. Regular Owl Tom Ough had even been forced to withdraw from the squad late on, consigned to meeting a hard 10PM deadline to get the Thorne story to press.
The press conference was a tense affair. A voice from the back of the assembled throng piped up: “How will Thorne’s fitness levels hold up in HAPS’ fabled cauldron of intensity?”
Williams stepped in, a snarl across his face. “Now’s not the time son. There’s a game to play.”
The threat of facing Ernie himself, talons glinting overhead in the Peckham sunset, forced a change of tack: “Owls, will you be considering any legal recourse against Big Fat Goalie and his implicit conflict of interest in representing over 75% of the teams in the league?”
As the press pack dispersed, rumours began to circulate that Big Fat Goalie may in fact be Keith himself, a sort of Keyser Söze of the Bellenden Road, consuming identities as though they were mere pork pies. His Desk: the emerald turf of Harris Academy.
Regardless of his true identity, Keith had certainly been hard at work at his Desk earlier that day, analysing the Owls’ routine tendency for sloppy defensive play in the early exchanges. 1-0, with barely 10 seconds on the clock. Before the Owls had had a chance to settle it was 2-0, with vast chasms of space being exploited in behind the Owls’ defence.
And then: hope.
In darkened pubs of the Wirral they speak in hushed tones about such legend, as though the mere mention of his name might summon a plague of howling Jabulanis. Of names he has many: the Huyton Howitzer, the Bulldozer of Birkenhead. We know him simply as ‘Kev’. Left-foot. Half-volley. Big Fat Keeper: no chance. 2-1.
The Owls were going blow-to-blow with Keith and his unwieldy Desk, but a carbon copy of the second made it 3-1. “Come on lads!” Up the other end we went. It was scrappy, messy, but Sutton poked it home. 3-2. Game back on.
With reflexes that belie his portly frame, Big Fat Goalie denied Sutton an equaliser with a remarkable stop. Unphased, the Owls continued their onslaught. Critchley, barreling beyond a tackle on the wing, launched one into the net. 3-3! The Owls were level.
One man, however, was unwilling to let his name go unwritten in history.
A whistle. Shite Ref© was having his say. “No goal, that’s gone out.” Further investigation has revealed that Shite Ref© in fact had no evidence of the ball leaving play, but refused to give the goal on the murky ground that he could not guarantee that the ball definitely stayed in play. Ernie has refused to comment in full but he may be considering future legal action.
“In for a penny, in for a pound,” Shite Ref© has been quoted as saying in the morning papers. Minutes later he’d pointed to the spot, penalising Yates for defying the laws of physics. Keith’s Desk had made it 4-2 at the stroke of half-time.
Nott and Sutton swapped the goalkeeping gloves at half-time and the Owls began on top. Thorne took on the mantle of Sutton’s lone forward role, whilst Nott and Wright sat deep, looking to penetrate the lines to success. A slick one-touch passing display saw Williams through on goal and he kept his head to slot home. 4-3.
As the half opened up, lungs began to shut down but the Owls stayed disciplined. Both sides were limited in shooting opportunities until Keith’s Desk capitalised on a long ball bouncing around and re-established that 2 goal gap. 5-3.
The game seemed to be drifting away from the Owls as full time was nearing. Sutton took the initiative though and resorted to the long ball tactics of the opposition, finding Nott square on the chest deep in Keith’s Desk territory. Some nice interplay followed, before the ball fell to Critchley. Fucking hell though, it’s on his left. Fucking hell, it’s in the top corner! 5-4.
“Ref! REF! How long left?!”
There was a goal still in this one, but it was Keith who had the last laugh. 6-4. Final whistle. The result wasn’t to be, but it was a strong performance from the Owls. New signing Thorne received positive game ratings in the morning papers and will prove a strong addition to the squad. Next week: Keith’s Desk all over again.
Man of the Match - Williams
Yep, he’s got it again. As tough a call as any this week for Man of the Match, with every Owl giving their all and every one to a man putting in a solid if unspectacular display despite the result. However, if the Owls’ one collective failure was to be caught out by balls in behind, Williams was a one man Pong paddle, shifting left and right to intercept high balls and header, chest and volley away any attempt to get in behind. And got himself his second Owls goal of the season to boot.
Ernie's Owls 4 - 6 Hapoel FC
Inconsistent is the word for the Owls this season, nothing more, nothing less. Having lost 7-0 to Fat Ronaldo’s 2 weeks ago, followed up by an incredible 4-2 victory last week, the bookies were left clueless and suspended all betting on Owls games for the foreseeable future. Sitting uncomfortably in 6th place, and only 1 point ahead of this week’s visitor’s, Hapoel FC (shit name), the Owls faced a much-needed win; that they didn’t get.
The Owl’s started strongly. Wright set the tone from the off with an echoing ‘keep the ball, KEEP THE BALL’. It seemed to work a charm; an impressing string of passes found Yates out wide, a quick shift onto his left foot before finding the top corner. 1-0 Owls.
The following ten minutes of play can only be describes as shit (fine by me). A lack of concentration, sloppy passing and terrible positional play left the Owl’s chasing shadows and conceding four goals. The half looked over, but Williams was having none of it and decided to take matters into his own hands. In true Steve Bruce form, he charged forward from the back and made Hapoel (shit name) suffer. 4-2. Game on.
Then Hapoel scored just before half time... Game off.
A cry of frustration during the break led to a number of football cliche's; ‘it’s a game of two halves’, ‘we need a goal dead quick’, ‘goals win games’. Wright ignored the nonsense and rallied the troops – ‘Keep. The. Ball’.
Crithley took up Goalieman position and led from the back but the theme of frustration continued. The Owl’s were by far the better team; far more organised, great passing, great positioning, but it just didn’t seem to be their day as they saw a number of chances go begging. A great piece of individual play saw Yates bag another, taking the ball past 2 Hapoel (shit name) midfielders before passing the ball straight to the Hapoel (shit name) keeper; but in a way that the ball was always going to roll under the keeper’s foot. 5-3.
The belief was there throughout and the Owl’s marched on. It was clear that the next goal was decisive. A world-class save from Hapoel’s (shit name) keeper followed up by a couple of narrow misses from the Owls talisman, Wright, kept them at bay. It looked like a matter of time before the Owls would get their 4th, but for all the pressure up top, they were left short at the back and conceded from an unfair counter attack. 6-3.
Critchley was back outfield and wouldn’t let the game sleep. Before the final whistle, he charged passed the large orange tent - in the form of a right-back - and swung in a difficult ball to Yates who managed to adjust just enough to complete his hat-trick. Game over, 6-4.
A disappointing result for the Owls, but with mental health awareness week upon us, they stayed positive and kept each other’s spirits high after the game. Ball suggested they lose the remainder of their fixtures in order to be purposely relegated in the hope that they ‘may actually win a game in the league below’. Wright rightly pointed out that they are simply playing to have fun (and win). Grace decided he hadn’t had enough exercise and so spent the remainder of his evening in the 24-hour gym. Critchley showed off his fag rolling skills whilst bragging to the boys about the incredible steak he had eaten over the weekend; the non-smoking veggie who has it all.
Some will say this was this just another one of those hit-and-miss days for the Owls but I cant help think that it has something to do with the recent rumours about a surprise return of Owls legend, Thorne.
During a post match interview, Ball revealed, ‘training has been awful, Sutton can’t sleep with the fear that he will lose his place up top, Grace continues to cry uncontrollably, and I’ve been having to eat extra worms to prove my worth. If he comes back, one of us will surely get the cut’. We later questioned Voss, the Owls skipper, who said he could not add any further comments. Ball added ‘he didn’t make training last week because his girlfriend was on holiday’.
Thorne, who left the Owls back in 2016, has been breaking records in the German leagues ever since. Upon recently winning the golden boot he told German reporters that ‘he feels the time is right to move back to England’ and that ‘he has always dreamt of finishing his career at his boyhood club’.
We can’t be sure if the rumours are true, but it would certainly add a whole new level to the squad. And no doubt the fans would be happy.
Man of the match:
Although Pradhan gave the Hapoel (shit name) midfield hell and Wright led from the first whistle, this weeks man of the match has to go the skipper, Williams; not only was he running like he had an engine up his arse, but he was also the loudest man on the pitch. Not to mention his incredible finish. Congrats Williams.
Ernie's Owls 4 v 2 Unprotected Cesc – 8:30
Més que un club. You’ll never walk alone. 7 May 2019, the day when alldoubters became believers. Where were you when the fourth went in? Me? I was stood next to Wright, watching the ball leave my foot and land on Sutton’s through on goal. ‘Touch, shooooot’ instructed Henry, in a murmur, while miming the movement as the rest of us stood stock-still. Goal. 4-1.
‘We’ll take that’ chirped Nick as he ‘high tenned’ me following the final whistle (high fiving with both hands, sometimes, not this time, followed by an embrace). ‘Yeah, well in Owls!’ Ough chipped in, turning to shake hands with the opposition, ‘what a response’ Ball added, fist-pumping whilst running over to join the group huddle.
The response was indeed a resounding one. Step back to gameweek 5 v Fat Ronaldos where club management made the tactical decision to rest talisman Wright with the forthcoming fixture against bottom trawling, literally pointless Chop City in mind. The result? A 7-0 humping.‘That wasn’t the Owls’ Nick is said to have said, ‘but we’ll be back’ he is said to have added. A complete upheaval of club regime ensued with mayo, drugs and drink pulled from the menu and replaced with worms for some and Trolli gummy worms for others.
The Owls had hoped to feast on another course of invertebrates in Chop City, but the ‘Chop instead proved themselves to be completely spineless by dropping out of HAPS without a goodbye following their 5th loss in a row. ‘A total embarrassment’ leaked a source close to the former club (Big Fat Mercenary Goalie (BFMG)), who was more than willing to fill net for their replacements, Unprotected Cesc – like some sort of big fat mercenary.
‘Whoa, they look… big!’ said Kev to me, eyeing up the opposition 5 + 1 sub from the security of the bench, as the ref held his mouth to the whistle. Ball nodded in response, spitting on the communal gloves.
WHISTLE; Sutton kicked off, with Ough, Wright and Voss in support. They quickly worked it around and fashioned a chance for Matt – saved by BFMG’s thunderous thighs. ‘Get into ‘em!’ I yelled. Wright managed a mazy dribble before popping off a shot – saved again! The Owls worried they would rue their profligacy as Matt went down with an ankle injury, a ‘Cesc man got a shot away from a corner and the Owls were required to put in a few, somewhat desperate, ‘welcome to HAPS’ challenges. ‘Mark up!’ rained in a cacophony.
But rue they wouldn’t as Ough led the Owls’ gegenpress, the ball falling to Fantastic Man Matt Sutton, who lashed in an Atomic Bomb of a shot to score his first of the night, which was swiftly followed by his second. ‘Side-netting’ said BFMG, ‘SIDE-NETTING’ he said, even louder than before. Waved away by the ref, the Owls celebrated by turning on the style. Voss, Wright and Yates seemed to rub their Owl-like peripheral vision in BFMG’s face by chesting down goal kicks, evading markers, slowing down the play and picking out passes as they pleased.
A drop in concentration meant a back pass was sent to Ball, who had made a string of strong saves, which ultimately led to a corner that Unprotected Cesc capitalised from. 2-1 at half time.
‘Keep talking’ was the shout as we switched sides. ‘Stay concentrated’ others may have said. Matt looked extremely delighted as he immediately completed his hat-trick. ‘Get innnn!!’ he screamed, flying down the wing to get back in position for the restart. 3-1.
What followed was trop drawer Owls footy. Bally (Kev) tried a chip from close range, Matt struck a low shot that hit the inside of the post – both having beaten the keeper – and the Owls’ defence frustrated the opposition as they kicked at least three balls out of the HAPS Arena and still had the audacity to complain of time wasting.
The moment of the match was to follow as my pass saw Sutton put the result beyond doubt. The Owls would go on to concede a conciliation before the final whistle, but could have scored more themselves on a night that’ll be remembered forever as one where they could have scored more and conceded fewer. 4-2.
Man of the Match:
I’ve been meaning to instigate a player vote for man of the match, but fearful that it may undeservedly swing in my favour, I’m going to give it to 4 goal hero Matt Sutton – even if he could have scored a double hatty.
Ernies Owls 0 – 7 Fat Ronaldos
The less said about this week’s match, the better. With most of the squad still suffering the ill effects of a heavy weekend in Liverpool celebrating the maiden Yano Da Records label party, the Owl’s performance was uncharacteristically poor. A 2-0 deficit at half time quickly transformed into a 7-0 rout after the break, leaving Ernie fuming on the touchline. Rumour has it that amongst various punishments meted out to the squad, he has implemented a strict new canteen policy; beer, chips and pizza are off the menu and will be replaced by a new high-protein diet consisting only of worms. It remains to be seen how the squad will respond to the changes but, seeing as there’s a word-count to meet and presumably no one wants a blow-by-blow account of how we got battered 7-0, let’s take this opportunity to ask ourselves that age-old question:
Which Owls Player Would Eat a Worm?
Let’s get the ball rolling with our midfield maestro. Not a natural worm eater, but I think he could turn his hand to it. He’d eyeball it for just a second in his palm before chucking it in. Grimace on his face, chewing furiously before swigging it down with someone else’s Carlsberg, the whole thing would be over before it even began. A professional job.
Verdict – Would eat a worm.
Tom does stupid stuff like this for a living. It wouldn’t surprise me if he and his editors have already discussed eating a worm under the guise of a piece on sustainable future foods. ‘It’s no different to eating other invertebrates’, he’d say, ‘lobster used to be considered a trash food before the American civil war’. I don’t think eating a worm would be a big problem for Tom.
Verdict – Would eat a worm.
Nick would be horrified by the whole spectacle. I think he’d worry about the safety of it all. ‘Is it okay to eat something that lives in the ground like that? Where did you get it from? I’m a veggie, anyway.’ He’d frown and shake his head nervously at the back. No amount of persuasion would convince Nick to eat a worm.
Verdict – No wormy
I’ve seen Ballsack once vomit out a whole hotdog before shoving it back in his mouth. Anything for a laugh. Despite being a vegetarian, he would definitely eat a worm. It’s quite easy to imagine him smacking his lips, dangling it theatrically above his mouth while everybody howls with laughter around him. Next moment it’s in his gob and he’s eaten it.
Verdict – Would definitely eat a worm.
Kev definitely would not eat a worm. Just the thought of it makes him sick. I don’t think he’d even be able to hold it, let alone put it in his mouth and eat it. One look at its fat, pink body wriggling around in Ernie’s claw would be enough to start him gipping.
Verdict – Would not eat a worm.
Tom is quite an adventurous eater. If you dressed it up as a filet de ver and served it to him for thirty-five quid he would eat the worm. He’d enjoy it too. He’d talk about its complex flavour profile and how insect-based dishes are actually becoming quite popular in contemporary cuisine.
Verdict – Would eat a worm.
George is quite level-headed. I think he’d take some satisfaction from watching everybody else do it, but when his turn came to eat the worm he’d shut it down quite quickly. He’d chuckle politely and say something like ‘no not for me, thanks’, in a way that made you instantly realise what a stupid idea it was.
Verdict – Would not eat worm.
I think Thom would be the most conflicted. On the one hand, the worms would scare him, and he’d probably think it was cruel. On the other, he wouldn’t want to be found lacking in bottle if other people were eating them. I think if you framed it as a test of his manhood, you could get him to consider it, but ultimately he would decline.
Verdict – No wormo.
Jaya would raise strong objections to eating a worm, on ethical grounds. He wouldn’t be opposed to it in principle, but he’d want to know that the worm had been sustainably sourced and hadn’t suffered at all. He’d question its impact on the local ecosystem and the potential threat to other species if we’re all just eating worms willy-nilly for a laugh.
Verdict - Would not eat a worm.
Another tough one. I think Jon’s eating the worm would be contingent on who else had done it, and how many cans he’d drunk up to that point. Sober and alone, I can’t see it happening, but its hard to imagine him not joining in once it became ‘a thing’. I think by this stage Ballsack has already eaten another one, and Jon probably wouldn’t want to miss out on the fun.
Verdict – Would eat a worm if pissed.
Nothing would compel me to eat a worm. Ever since my teenaged self experimented with feeding some to my tropical fish, worms have been my bête noire. Still now I experience flashbacks of their bloated, waterlogged bodies thrashing around on the gravel, drowning slowly while frenzied neon tetras eat them alive. Its just not happening.
Verdict – Would not eat
Ernie's Owls 4 - 5 Chenwell Rovers
This week's Owls' report will be refracted through the glorious prism of Mr Ronan Keating. Would the evening's encounter with Chenwell Rovers reveal itself to be a joy, like the Keatmeister's 2001 number 2 smash Lovin' Each Day? Or crash us down to earth, as down to earth as Ronan comes across on his morning show on Magic FM?
Unfortunately, I missed the first five minutes because I was crapping out a mud pie in the school bogs. With a freshly wiped chocolate star (bumhole), I returned to the cage and was going to give try my hardest, No Matter What.
We started brightly, and this game had everything- throw ins, shots, passes back to the goalie, throw ins. The opposition leapt at our lapses and soon we were two goals down, despite playing well. Of course our very own Ronan, Henry Wright, whacked a goal in soon. And yes, Nick Voss is Stephen Gately.
Another goal for the oppo and we went into the break 3-1 down. We had a Picture of You ('you' referring to a method of breaking Chenwell down for the 2nd half), and boy(zone), were we going to give it a go.
SECOND HALF. The idea of this high concept match report arrived to me after trying to think of a way to describe how lazy the referee was. Sitting on a bench, staring into space, the ref reminded me of Ro in his classic video for When You Say Nothing At All.
Anyway, Chenwell then scored a very good goal but who cares. 4-1. Then I think they scored another one? 5-1. Or it might have been 4-2 then 5-2? Life Is A Rollercoaster, man!
Kev, released from his first half goalkeeping, was effervescent in the second half. A Berocca of a man, Kev upped our tempo and banged 2 well taken goals. Side note: Kev puts his Berocca in orange juice! Maybe that's his secret to his sporting prowess. 5-3! Are we back in this?
Next came the move of the game. In the same way Keaty boy had an affair with a backing dancer, the Owls had an affair with liquid football, a lush move which involved everyone in the team, ending with George sealing the deal from a perfectly weighted pass from Henry. 5-4! Game on!
If the game went on for another 10 minutes, it would've been ours. Sadly, this wasn't to be, and soon Lazy Ref rustled up the energy to blow his whistle. 5-4, but to top of the league!
Man of the Match aka Love Me For A Reason
This week I love Kev for a reason, that reason being his two goals and also epitomising the attacking mindset we need for this league. Shots gets goals and Kev proved that this week! Shout out to Tom Grace on his debut for his impressive tackles and decent shift in goal in the second half! Here's a snap of TWG with our main man, just moments before Tom was thrown out of the charity event for putting Vol au vents up his bum.
Ernie’s Owls 3 - 4 Various Artists
Fire, bloodshed and civil unrest. Where were you on 16th April 2019 ?
Notre Damme? Waterloo Bridge or Marble Arch ? Rye Lane ?
Not tonight, tonight we were back at Harris Academy Peckham - Bellenden Road and the events that would unfold here arguably reflected, if not eclipsed, the wider socio-political climate of the age.
Star Striker-cum- Met Informer, Sutton arrived from a day exiled in the library somewhat animated after witnessing a machete laden gang fight on the way to HAP. A Lynch film unfolding before our very eyes, was it a sign of stranger things to come? Apparently so.
The Owls got off to a strong and stable start, manager Ernie opting for a familiar setup; two of the big lads holding down field allowing the other two big lads a bit of freedom up top.
Keeper Knot showed some fine distributive skills, the big one over the top worked extremely well despite no Owl flying to take it. However its win or learn out there and surely this will become key to unlocking defences in the future.
Various Artists were visibly shaken in the opening 10, the customary big challenges Ernie’s lads have become well known for rattled the cage. It wasn’t too long before this terrier-gnashing-press would unlocked them and of course it did. A quick ball from outside into Wright high-up left the defence afoot and a goal in the net. 1-0.
Gnash, press, rattle repeat was the order of the half and within a series of quick minutes The Owls where up 3-0, further goals from Sutton and Wright respectively.
After what can only be described as headless, the Various men were shook into calm by the shrill voice of their limp legged goalie (may this be a chance to point out that this was the first Owls opponent not to feature Big Fat Goalie, his transfer loopholery clearly not extending to Various Artists) and they came forward well, yet only to be denied by some strong armed defensive clearances from Critchley, Williams & Ough.
However one blast forward saw a ball ricochet off Wright leaving our Knotty off guard. 3-1.
Not to worry, we’ll fucking have ‘em.
It was from this point that the Ref began to prove HAPless, a man clearly not big enough for the cards and whistle in his pocket. Further big tackles where met with incredulous disdain from the Artists and artists they were! Falling down like spuds in the back of a van driving very very fast.
Stoke-like perhaps, but you’re playing with The Owls now lads. “Whats that ref?” “Sinbin shmimbin”...
In at the half 3-1 up, no sweat. The lack of sweating perhaps foreshadowing the complacency to come.
Some disaster decisions and the aforementioned complacency opened the second. Things really started to heat up when a vengeful challenge on Sutton was met with a near full squad brawl. Ref had lost the plot at this point, “where's that bloody sinbin ?”
Various Artists where less varied now, quite uniform to be exact and it was not long before a couple of their twinkle toed displays and long range pulsars found their way into the back of the Owls nest. 3-3.
After another strong Owls challenge one of the more various artists, a clear ticking time bomb of insanity, exclaimed “you better call the next one Ref or I'll fucking pull the trigger” judging by the appearance of his ill kept 70s sideburns, this firearm was probably in as good nick as his razor blade. Threat level: low… Play on.
It wasn’t to be when one of Artists’ sharper blades pounced on another loose ball and sent it past Ough for what would be the winner.
A couple of chances came and went for The Owls; Knot, Williams and Critchley all misfiring from good positions, Critchley as ever putting his body on the line for The Owls, the felt turf of HAP taking half his knee off. An excruciating final two minutes that couldn’t muster a crust for our feathered friends.
A well fought yet disappointing outing for The Owls. The events on the pitch a clear microcosm of the sociopolitical climate of the day. Despite the loss its win or learn, and learn we did.
Man of the Match:
Williams played his socks off, strong runs forward and good defensive rigour. His voice perhaps the only one left at times during that battle of a second half.
Ernie’s Owls 3-1 Unathletic
What a night it was for English football. Liverpool set one foot in the Champions League semi-finals; Tottenham and Manchester City looked the equal of any continental rival; and Ernie's Owls climbed to fourth place in Soccer Gods Harris Academy Peckham League A.
It was fully deserved. Unathletic FC were no match for the Owls’ innovative blend of quicksilver counterattacking and loveable shithousery. Ernest Potowl, returning to management after five years focusing on worm-eating, hooted his approval at the final whistle. Rightly so: his six featherless sons had done him proud.
It hadn’t looked like an easy win. Down several players, the Owls had been forced to make a transfer swoop. Fortunately, Jon’s friend Cal, an Owls fan from the womb, offered to fill the gap. Ernest’s owlish talons render him unable to operate fax machines, but he flew Cal’s documentation to the FA quickly enough to secure an emergency loan. The Owls were ready to take wing.
With Wright in goal, Cal started alongside Sutton, Voss and Critchley. It was a formless but aggressive outfield, though its early-game energy was matched by Unathletic. The opening ten minutes were fast and fraught, but remained scoreless. Cal, having started brightly, came off for Ough, the Owls’ £90m record signing.
Ough was soon complicit in the Owls’ concession of the opening goal. The ball ricocheted first off him, then off Voss, trundling passed Wright into the net to put Unathletic in the lead.
But the Owls didn’t give up. At the back, the extreme length of Voss’ limbs covered all four corners of the goal. Up front, Sutton was a menace in leggings. In midfield, Critchley drove forward at every opportunity, Ough bustled diligently after Unathletic’s forwards, and Wright put on a masterclass in tactical fouling. The team’s efforts were rewarded when Sutton won the ball in midfield, took on two defenders, and sneaked a shot through the keeper’s legs. 1-1.
Typically for nocturnal birds, the Owls grew stronger as the night went on. When a loose ball split the Unathletic keeper and defence, Sutton pounced again, finishing from a tight angle. 2-1.
The longer the game went on, the tighter the Owls’ control of it. The midfield kept running, Wright kept fouling, and Sutton continued to pressure the keeper, who, in his defence, appeared to have played the game immediately before Owls v. Unathletic as well as for Seshiktas last week, thus making him fairly effective for someone who is essentially an indentured Harris Academy goalkeeping slave.
The poor guy was to concede a third. Cal, back on the pitch, scored the Owls’ final goal with a close-range finish from a tight angle. It was a strong end to a good win, a credit to Ernest and, most of all, a credit to the English game.
Man of the match:
Step forward Matt Sutton, who besides scoring two goals was a frequent threat on the turn and a reliable long-ball outlet. At last we know what happens if you combine Marcus Rashford’s finishing with Jonathan Woodgate’s hair circa 2005/06.
Owls 4 v 4 Seshiktas - 9:15
After two years of intense training camps, negotiations that make the withdrawal agreement read like the Beano and the controversial uprooting from East London, the Capital’s favourite Owl led a squad of seven to the uncharted footballing territory known as Harris Academy Peckham (‘HAP’).
Known for its large surface area, oversized retro football jerseys and exposure to the brutalist of elements, the club’s executives were adamant that the team should be propelled immediately into the first division, with no doubt in their mind that this group of players could perform at the highest standard HAP had to offer.
However, a more than questionable pre-season friendly - evidencing a lack of structure, discipline and ‘the basics’ - threw this executive decision into doubt.
The opening five minutes were no more convincing, adjusting to a new surface the Owls were slow out of the nest, trying too hard to tame their excitement with a couple of forced passes and a lack of composure ultimately culminating in two routine goals for Seshiktas .
A shift in momentum was required. Two crucial saves from Critchley and one disallowed goal (fortunately for the Owls HAP decided against the introduction of VAR) seemed to kick the Owls into gear. Settling into the rhythm, new permanent signing Knott started to pull the strings from a deeper position, Williams (who had not stopped running) started to find space on the right and before you know it the Owls were finally looking comfortable.
Comfortability, however, only gets you so far. This was HAP, not QMFL. The Owls needed a goal, something to give them hope for the second half. Chances came and went, Sutton constantly running the channel (a sometimes thankless task that will reap rewards throughout the season as the Owls learn how to utilise it best), Pradhan arriving late at the back post and finally within a minute of the halftime whistle, Wright slotted one in, fuelling half time optimism and murmurs of a comeback.
As if approaching Helms Deep, the rain started to fall and conditions worsened for the second half. Knott and Yates, a combination fans have been longing to see, started strong in the middle as the Owls applied early pressure. However, it was Seshiktas who, against the run of play, capitalised making it 3 - 1.
Although many moons have past since this blog was updated, readers will be aware that it takes more than a two goal deficit, horizontal rain and a big fat goalie to dampen the Owls’ resolve. Critchley, fresh out of the net, harnessed the team’s spirit by slotting home a nicely taken scramble which was quickly followed by his second, 3-3.
With the wind in their wings, the Owls took it to Seshiktas. Sutton and Yates worked diligently creating space and chances and their hard work off the ball resulted in a solid bit of defensive work from Pradhan and a quick release to Wright who, with a short burst of pace, caressed the ball in for number 4, and the lead for the first time in the match.
The remaining five minutes witnessed chances at both ends. Seshiktas reverted to a long ball - unusual for 5 aside pondered the Owls, naive to HAP’s tactics - which was brought down and executed exquisitely for the equaliser.
The Owls dug deep right up until the final whistle. Two low late saves from Williams, and a half chance to take all three points, but the game was destined for a draw and it would be hard to argue with the end result.
A solid start for the Owls with many positives, and a few lessons, to be taken away from their HAP debut.
Man on the Match:
Both Fans and Management were in agreement in their appreciation of Cricthley throughout. It appears, contrary to common belief about engagement, our Critchley hasn’t ‘let himself go in the comfortability of a relationship’, quite the opposite, he has let the shackles constraining his right foot ‘go’ and long may that continue!