The ‘Kongzi Danchen’ Derby
The 28th September is an important day in many people’s diaries each year.
Not because of a football fixture, but primarily because it celebrates Confucius’ birthday. Born in 550BC the Chinese teacher, editor, politician and philosopher was also known, according to Monty Python’s Philosopher’s Football match, to love refereeing the occasional ninety minutes when his time allowed…
And so it was, with thoughts of the great “Master Kong”, that Singapore Football Club (SFC) headed to the familiar surroundings of Dempsey Field to take on Singapore Cricket Club (SCC). A game that was framed not just by the surrounding Singapore jungle, but also by the fact that 99% of the SFC roster this season had won 100% of SCC’s silverware over the past 10 years. “I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand. ” reflected SFC Chairman Graham Dickson, as he arrived for the afternoon’s purported derby, to celebrate his own birthday.
With SCC kicking off the match, it was the Singapore Football Club that was the most comfortable of the two teams. The amaranthine Matt Hulen, immediately started to dictate the speed of the game, and SFC was flying forwards via the twin threats of Kieran Bestall and Dom O’Shea. Eventually, the deadlock was broken in the tenth minute. Callum Dunne crossed with laser precision to find the bristling Bestall at the back post. The American hitman calmly headed it back across, the goal for Gabriel Myong to pounce. First Blood SFC: 1-0.
Having taken the lead SFC, continued to probe. Aashish Balani, in particular, started to find frequent gaps down the right flank as Dom O’Shea was unlucky not to double SFC’s lead. It didn’t take long, however, for the housewives’ favourite to show his class. O’Shea, with a deft flick, put Myong through on goal. The Singaporean speedster needed no second invitation. Flying over the next ten yards, and past two sprawling defenders he unleashed a vicious shot past the despairing SCC keeper. 2-0. Twenty minutes played.
As the first half carried on SFC continued to control the game. At the back, a new defensive pairing of Dom Lane and the sublimely assured Lee Ebbutt, meant SFC was able to pass the ball around at will. “It does not matter how slowly you go, so long as you do not stop…” thought SFC skipper, Dom Lane, as he tracked back on numerous occasions…
The team talk from Coach Yasin was short and to the point: “Lads… our beloved Kong Fuzi once said ‘Death and life have their determined appointments; riches and honor depend upon heaven’ – but as far as I can tell, we are miles better than them so just go out there and finish it!” Awash with thoughts of personal morality, the correctness of social relationships, justice and sincerity… SFC’s players ran out for the start of the second half.
A few changes to SFC’s personnel meant that the effervescent Owen Monaghan and Matt Hulen rekindled their midfield partnership, and the SFC continued to press forward. An additional substitution, in the form of Ross Plain, saw the Football Club register their third goal. Somerset’s favourite son, showing some quick feet, before unleashing a fierce shot that gave the keeper no chance and effectively sealed the match. 3-0 SFC. Game over.
As the rest of the game played out, SCC finally began to string some passes together and threaten the SFC goal. With ten minutes remaining a well-delivered cross from SCC’s danger man David Cookson, found Tim Mellett at the back post. As SFC players collided, the ball was headed back across the goal for a simple SCC tap in.
“He who learns but does not think is lost! He who thinks but does not learn is in great danger.” Monaghan mused to himself, shortly after the goal, whilst observing the tangled heap of SFC’s Lane and Nasri on the floor. 3-1.
There was still however more to come. Balani continued to create opportunities down the right flank for SFC, frequently gliding past his defender. The young Singaporean beat his man once more and unleashed a thunderous right-footed drive, which hit the underside of the bar before falling at the feet of Ross Plain.
“When it’s obvious that the goals cannot be reached, don’t adjust the goals, adjust the action steps…” Plain whispered to himself, as he waltzed past a trailing leg and planted the ball firmly into the back of the SCC net.
Final score 4-1.
After the match Coach Yasin imparted one last Confucian thought to his players, as he closed out the day: “He who thinks in terms of a year, plants a seed; he who thinks in terms of ten years, plants trees; he who thinks in terms of 100 years, teaches the people.”
Man of the Match: Gabriel Myong & Dom Lane