It’s back to school for half of the Saigon Saints’ squad this Saturday in the final squad game of pre-season, as they take on the experienced grit of ‘Everyone Jordi’s Age & Above’.
Just what age Jordi is was the subject of much debate this week, much to the Dutchman’s chagrin. As the youngest member of the veteran half of the squad, a heavy burden rests on young(?) Drietelaar’s shoulders to bring some youthful endeavour and, crucially, a lust for life sadly lacking among certain elements of a battle-hardened, motley 550-year-old crew.
Let’s look at some key battles ahead of Saturday’s grudge match.
Kit-factor Final 3
The biggest battle on Saturday takes place off the pitch, on the hallowed turf of The Local Saigon, as our favourite bar plays host to the final showdown and vote for this season’s away kit. Having negotiated their way through a quite frankly appalling collection of entries from numerous squad members, three hopeful kit designers in Mr. 15%, aka Keith Way, Scouse Waterfordian Dal O’Neill, and previous winner, Gaffer Conor O’Reilly, will see their creations modelled on the catwalk before a final and hopefully contentious squad vote.
The Ravages of Time
With club captain Chris Grant emerging largely unscathed from his twenties last month to bolster the over-30s, confidence is high among the veterans. However, a predictable slew of visa runs, injuries and work commitments has seen some key members fall by the wayside in recent days.
Nevertheless, Chris spearheads an attack that includes Alan ‘4 goals(?)’ Roche, Pablo ‘Paul’ Caulfield, and Jacob ‘Nosebleed’ Spong. The oldies look strong in midfield, with prodigal son Conn Kirby pairing up with breadwinner Chris Byrnes behind tricky Mancunian Irishman Dec Neill. At the back, five from a pool of six long-serving (suffering?) players 215 years young will look to gain any advantage allowed at the expense of naivety.
It goes without saying that the greatest battle these men will face is the ever-faster march of time, that and all the pre-game cigarettes, hangovers and other old-timey amateur football things.
The Folly of Youth
Ah, the folly of youth.
For the younger half of the squad, shorn of the leadership they occasionally listen to, a vacuum must be filled. Who will step up to the plate?
Perhaps Adrian Carroll, one of the few level heads in a young squad, can hold together the collection of young renegades. Aido will look nervously to referee favourites Dan Murphy and Mick Condon for support at the back, with Bailey offering a left-footed option and Howley hoping to put himself in the shop window for the over-30s.
An energetic midfield of Oisin, Darren, Gav and Zak will hope to press home the advantage of youthful speed and endeavour. However, with Zak having recently challenged two of his ageing opponents to a 2 a.m. race in which he came third(last), it may not be as straightforward as it sounds. It's all part of the learning curve for these young hoodlums.
Toro and Nathan lead an exciting forward line alongside another referee-favourite, Jai Sharma, with club youth academy (sorry, Oscar), Minh, representing the even younger generation of Saint.
As some of you may have guessed, the greatest challenge for this young band of men is the naivete of youth.
Will they party too hard on Friday? Can they even handle matchday hangovers? Which one spark sets this tinderbox alight?
—------------------------------------------ Battle lines drawn. Major voting scandal imminent. Delicious post-game burritos ordered from La Fiesta.
Who wins? Experience vs. Youth
Let’s find out #whenthesaintsgomarchingin
Massive thanks to our sponsors for this season for their continued support: