Archive for December, 2017

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A Word About The Kiddos

Since today’s an off day for the senior side, let’s take a moment to talk about our youth program.  The Sons of Steeple Sinderby is designed to locate promising teenagers in local high school and travel teams, give them top-class training under the expert guidance of Jacopo Tezze, one of the best defenders to don the red and and white, and hopefully groom them to be the next generation of Wanderers.  While this all sounds simple enough, the brutal truth is this: they will not make it.

Since inception, our academy has produced precisely two players who have played any meaningful role for the senior side:  Alex Barton, who the coaches think could grace the national team one day, and Nick King, who not only can productively follow the same training plan as Barton, but also had the great good fortune to come along at a time when SSW was younger and poorer.  He would never get a look in today.  Indeed, the backroom staff is privately dubious that any current youth player will join the senior squad.

Compared to those two, the casualties are many.  Tezze has had to tell over 60 lads that their professional dreams were not to be.  Some faces crumble, some manage a stoic defiance belying their tender years, but all are forced to attempt to reassemble lives whose central purpose has been snatched from them.

So why continue the academy?  Because of youngsters like Adolfo Arizti.  Adolfo is one of the most likeable players ever to come out of our academy, a merry soul always ready to to lift a teammate’s spirit with a well-placed joke.  He is also an old school “fox in the box,” a solidly clinical finisher with no other skills of note.  That isn’t nearly enough to catch on with us, especially combined with a lack of elite speed, aerial ability, creativity or the like, but is promising enough that Lux Nova, a squad in the lower reaches of the Italian league was willing to take him on.  SSW only got a nominal transfer fee for him (barely enough to cover his plane ticket and goodbye party) but, more importantly, we also get the satisfaction of providing a young man with a chance to follow his dream and travel the world.  So, arrivederci Adolfo, and may you and the dozen other alums we’ve sent out into the world bring glory to themselves and their new sides.  Unless they’re playing us.

 

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US Open Cup: An Evening With The Wild Fenland Rovers

As is frequently my custom at away matches, I joined our supporters’ club, the Wild Fenland Rovers, in the terraces for our second round tie against Ballybofey United.  Much like the Holy Roman Empire, the Rovers’ name is inaccurate in all particulars:  they are a reasonably well-behaved bunch, located in NYC (which is entirely bereft of fens) and not especially given to travel far afield.  Instead, like the fans of the English club from whom we’ve cribbed our name, the Rovers were mostly respectable adults, muffled against the winter’s day with club scarves and performance fleeces; a phelgmatic, shuffling, stamping lot, gray men and women who handed over $30 to cram close to other gray men and women, huddling under a gray sky in a gray landscape on their gray way to retirement and Florida.  Here, lost in the throng, they had bought another identity for ninety minutes.  They bellowed disbelief at incompetence, cried scornfully to the gray heavens in godlike despair, clamored angrily for revenge.  For $30 they did all this and were not held to account.

In any event, for the first 60 minutes of the match, the bellowing of our fans progressed from melancholy to despair as a cagey, scoreless first half gave way to disaster right after the break as the inexperienced Luis Aldair Misariscabame was pressured into a terrible giveaway in his own end, which Ballybofey midfielder Enrico Presta calmly slotted home to put his side up 1-0.

There matters stood until the 58th minute, when a solo foray by Denzell Koszarek  brought Wanderers level, causing our support to erupt with shouts of cautious optimism.  From there, it was all SSW.  The imperious Leslaw Malolepszy, our man of the match, capitalized on a defensive error to put us ahead in the 67th minute and, ten minutes later, Terry King put the finishing touches on a 3-1 win.

Matters get no easier for the Wanderers in the 3rd round, as we host fourth-division FC Keto 17 at the Lane next week.  There’s the ghost of a chance, as the newly-promoted Keto may need to focus on the league, but the odds are clearly against any further progress. Still, the Rovers will be out in force to bellow, cry and clamor.  Thankfully, I will not be among them, instead tending to my responsibilities from the nice, warm Owner’s Box.

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Preview- Week 2

This week, SSW looks to stay alive in the US Open Cup and tries to keep its perfect league record intact.

The hostilities kick off tonight as Wanderers take on fellow NYC natives, Ballybofey Utd. in the cup.  Manager David Jorgensen previewed the game by saying “With Ballybofey’s strong defense, I expect goals to be few and far between today.  We’ve been brushing up our set pieces in hopes that someone can get a head to a corner, but really anything can happen in a derby match.”  In other news, the NYPD has announced that they will be laying on extra security for the match, as SSW’s ultras, the Wild Fenland Rovers, are expected to turn out in force.

The turnaround will be short for Wanderers, however, as they travel upstate to take on bot team Dybesciaki Bathory.  Hungarian natives Janos Paling and Adam Jonas are especially excited for this game, and have promised to bathe in pools of their foe’s blood.  In an unrelated story, I exercised my discretion as Club Secretary to ensure that Paling and Jonas will be travelling separately from the rest of the team for this match.

 

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Overly Dramatic Personae

In a press conference yesterday, Head of Recruitment Carl Oppum confirmed that SSW had likely concluded its personnel moves for the season.   Here are the key players likely to line up in the red and white this year.

Forwards

Rolando Blackmon-Thomas:  This young, powerfully built, Boston native was purchased last season for an eye-watering $3.7mm fee and was an initial disappointment with only two goals scored last year (though lack of service certainly contributed to that).  With intensive playmaking training starting to bear fruit, it is hoped that the Back Bay Bull will bounce back this year.

Ruggero Panero:  Nicknamed “the Baker” by non-Italian-speaking fans, Panero generally takes a more withdrawn role and relies on his speed to create chances.  Considered to be one of the main leaders in the clubhouse, Panero has started working on his UEFA coaching badges.

Wings

Alex Barton:  One of only two Wanderers to have been capped by the USA U20 team, the Wizard of Weehawken joined SSW as a 15 year old in Season 62 after being discovered by now-retired scout Tom Christian displaying his formidable pace by fleeing the ghost of Alexander Hamilton at the old Dueling Grounds.  After being promoted to the senior squad in Season 64, Alex has appeared in 46 competitive matches, scoring 7 goals and occasionally skidding off into the advertising boards during rainy matches.

Nick King:  Another Academy product, this Park Slope product is best known for his aerial ability and morbid fear of calzones. King is also the club’s leading active goal-scorer, with 36 strikes in 63 competitive appearances.

Midfielders

Freddy Krug: Nicknamed “Er,” this powerful Ogden native is SSW’s midfield destroyer and the most expensive player in its history, having been purchased for nearly $3.9 million.  Fond of giving a minute-by-minute account of his one U20 appearance, which is perhaps justifiable as he was only on the pitch for two minutes.

Densell Kosarek:  Also known as Clifford the Big Red Midfielder, this Canarsie native has a knack for heading in goals from set pieces.  Despite rocking a mullet, Kosarek is generally considered a leader among the young guns, and is already being talked about as future captain and possibly even coach material.

Luis Aldair Misariscambe:  The World’s Fastest Typo, LAM has been the scourge of program editors since he arrived last year.  While his skills as a midfielder still require some honing, his quickness and defensive abilities make up for a multitude of sins.

David Jorgensen:  In addition to filling in admirably as a reserve box-to-box midfielder and central defender, Jorgenson pulls double duty as Wanderers’ coach.  His memos asking whether he should also receive two salaries for this have been mysteriously misplaced by the management.

DEFENDERS

Terry King:  This Canadian fullback is popular among his teammates for bringing a wide array of Timbits to team meetings, while his towering height helps him intimidate any members of the nutrition staff who might have a problem with that.

Leslaw Malolepszy:  Probably SSW’s best player right now, this polished Polish fullback is deadly in the air and to anyone who dares call him Leslie.

Janos Paling:  The Mad Magyar joined SSW this offseason on the recommendation of Technical Director Damien Leguay, who was hoping that his powerful frame and slick passing ability would allow him to thrive as a man-marker and contribute to the Wanderer’s counter-attack.

Adam Jonas:  The Even Madder Magyar got that way due to all the “Fourth Jonas Brother” jokes.  Having moved to New York this offseason, Jonas has adapted to his new surroundings by embracing death metal and his role as a jack-of-all-trades defender.

Keepers

Two Old Eastern Europeans:  Ferdynand Pasieska and Grigory Gavrik both have veteran nous, fearsome shuffleboard skills and strong opinions about whether whippersnappers belong on their lawns (they don’t).  At this point, they each get considerable playing time, with the role of Wanderers’ No. 1 riding on the vagaries of form and whether its windy out (since Gavrik’s enormous ears make him less aerodynamic in such conditions).  Its fairly likely that this season will be the swan song for both players.

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Started From The Bottom, Now We’re Back

[Note: Perhaps realizing the exorbitant cost of commemorative DVD’s these days, our beloved Chairman has asked me to put together an official history of Steeple Sinderby Wanderers’ Season 67 campaign, in addition to my usual duties as Club Secretary.  I’ve therefore begun keeping this blog, since blog posts are an acceptable substitute for history these days, and save considerable wear and tear on the part of yours truly- Trayvon Hollen]

For the fans of Steeple Sinderby Wanderers, Season 66 was truly the best of times and the worst of times.

Fresh off their first-ever Division V title, SSW saw their inaugural Division IV campaign get off to a dream start as a Ruggero Panero golazo lifted them to a 1-0 win over GB Bucharest Team in their opener.

The dreams of the SSW faithful were quickly dashed, however, as the Wanders proceeded to drop their next nine league matches.  Manager David Jorgensen was able to keep morale high, however, and his efforts to teach a raft of young local prospects about the dark art of playmaking began to bear fruit in week 11, as they were able to hang on for a 2-2 draw against a 10-man Cucamonga.   From there, SSW turned into a juggernaut, stunning the mighty Chicago XI with a 1-0 win, easily dispatching the rebuilding Austin’s Reapers 7-0 and once again putting GB Bucharest to the sword in a 2-1 win.

This late-season surge was enough to propel the Wanderers into a 6th place finish and a qualifier against Raging Fork TsuFish.  SSW had momentum and a sold-out Slingsby Lane on its side but neither team could consistently control midfield or crack the other’s defense and the score was knotted 1-1 after regulation.  Then, the unlikeliest of scorers, Luis Aldair Misariscabame scored his first-ever goal in an SSW shirt in the 109th minute to break the deadlock, and the Wanderers faithful could taste another season in Div. IV.  A taste is all they would get, however, as TsuFish Forward Travis Cloutier capped off his professional debut by bulling his way through the center of the SSW defense and scoring the equalizer in the 119th minute.  SSW tried to rally in the ensuing shoot-out, but the blow to morale was too much and TsuFish prevailed.

The ensuing offseason did not provide much comfort to the fans either as several Wanderer mainstays departed.  Veteran defenders Radislav Matejcek and Fausto Di Luzio returned home, while techincally-gifted defender Alex Badgley was sold after the analytics department determined that his passing ability would not generate as many counter-attacks as they had previously believed.  Most devastatingly, however, the idol of the terraces, the last remaining Original Wanderer, Joe Gentile was sold, as it became apparent that the increased prevalence of man-marking tactics threatened to make technical forwards such as himself obsolete.  Distraught fans begged the management not to sell the club’s all-time leader in appearances and goals scored, but the decision was firm and hard feelings were salved by the club-record transfer fee received and promises to reinvest the proceeds.

Now, as Season 67 dawns, SSW faces the daunting challenge of climbing the league pyramid once more.  Will they be able to return to Div. IV at the first time of asking?  Only time will tell.