Sunday the 12th of December saw the Johannesburg TFC aka 'The Joburg Eagles' host their last Subbuteo tournament for 2020 in a year that was decimated due to the Chinese Covid 19 Flu.
A field of 10 participants took part to see who could claim the 'Subbuteo Father Christmas Trophy'. Jason Kennedy, chairman of the ETS Subbuteo Club, brough 4 youngsters (all under 12) to participate in the Junior Christmas Challenge. Twins, Nicholas and Daniel Kassner, both in their maiden Subbuteo Tournament proved superior over a strong challenge by the young girls, Jorja and Hannah. Nicholas proved to be the worthy winner by claiming two victories and a draw to claim the junior laurels, followed by his twin brother Daniel, and closely followed by Jorja and Hannah.
The juniors, along with newbies Gavin and Brian, then took part in the Senior Christmas Challenge along with seasoned players Sean, Clifford, Jason and Carl.
In accordance with the long standing ethos of the Joburg Eagles, when senior players play against the juniors, it takes the form of a training class and the senior players assist and impart tips and hints on Subbuteo play. Suffice to say that there is also an UNWRITTEN rule that NO senior will score more than three goals against our juniors. The Eagles are also proud to say that the latter also applies to novice seniors playing in ALL our tournaments. Fun and enjoyment are the main ingredients and this leads to enjoyment by ALL the players. Pre-tournament favourite and 3rd seeded in the November WASPA world rankings, Sean Morgan and Jason Kennedy, easily qualified from Group A , along with Clifford Graaff and Carl Bolweg.
The semi-finals probably saw the game of the season when Clifford came up against an in-form Jason Kennedy. Clifford took an early lead via a defensive mistake by Jason. However the last two minutes proved why we all love this game so very much. Jason broke down the right and overplayed a ball into the shooting area leaving the only player with any hope of a clear sight way back in his own half of the field. However we all know that this does NOT deter Jason!!! He launched his player that brilliantly connected the ball, on the corner of the penalty box, and produced a replica that 'Hot Shot Hamish' would've been proud of to send the ball past a bewildered Clifford much to the delight of all present. Clifford, from the resultant kick-off broke down the right and some close control touches enabled him to fire a shot that sneaked in at the near post and score an unlikely winner with TWO seconds left on the timer. Clifford admitted after the game that the equalizing goal by Jason ranks as the best goal he has ever conceded.
The second semi saw an in form Sean lay down the gauntlet with a near perfect display and beat an ever improving Carl by three goals to nil.
As a curtain-raiser to the Final, Fason and Carl flicked off in the Third/Fourth Place Play-off with Jason securing yet another 3rd Place in a WASPA Tournament with a clinical two nil triumph. The Final pitted good friends and adversaries Sean and Clifford against each other in yet another Final.
Sean grabbed the early iniative, however Clifford came back strong towards the end of the game. However, the Final ended in a goalless stalemate, and the dreaded penalty shoot-out followed.
Sean won the toss and bravely chose to shoot first. This seemed a great idea as his first flick produced a great chip from out wide to see the ball nestle in the top corner of the goal. 1 Nil to Sean.
With the pressure on Clifford, he replicated Sean's great strike and neatly chipped the ball over Seans keeper to equalize. 1 All.
Sean once again produced a great second penalty with a trade mark chip to take a vital lead. 2 - 1 to Sean. With the pressure on Clifford to match Sean, his second penalty was brilliantly saved by Sean to set up a great advantage with 3 flicks left.
Sean's third flick was wonderfully saved by Clifford's keeper as he tipped the shot over the bar. Clifford responded with a neat equalizing penalty that saw the ball chipped over Sean's keeper. 2 All With the pressure now reverting back to Sean, he had to slot his fourth flick to maintain his advantage. However this was not to be as another great save by Clifford kept the ball out of the net.
Clifford now had the first opportunity to take the lead in the shoot-out. He did not waste the opportunity as he calmed chipped the keeper to take a 3-2 lead with only one remaining flick for each player.
With immense pressure on Sean to stay alive in the Final, his final flick was tipped by Clifford's keeper onto the cross-bar and roll away to safety. 3 - 2 penalty win for Clifford.
The above penalty shoot-out capped an awesome day of Subbuteo action, fun and great goals. Everybody was also treated to some great pizzas, snacks and a specially baked Subbuteo Cake featuring Subbuteo players on a muddy 'chocolate' field. A great way to end off the seaon by the Joburg Eagles.
Everbody associated with the Joburg Eagles wish one and all, a very Merry and Blessed Christmas, and may the true Christmas Spirit manifest itself to everyone as this dark year draws to a most welcome conclusion.
If travelling, please go carefully as we wish to see you all back and flicking in a Chinese Covid-free 2021!!!!!!
Merry Christmas/ Geseende Kersfees !!!!!!!!
(Report by Clifford Graaff)