Week 10 Recap: The Rise of the Back Bay Bull

I found out this week that the Back Bay Bull, Rolando Blackmon-Thomas was the son of a lovely pair of certified public accountants who came up from Brookline to watch us slaughter bot team and caps lock aficionado 4EPHO MOPE.  Frankly the news that Ro has parents came as something of a relief, as I always half-suspected that he was an anvil brought to life by some spirit who was either particularly football-obsessed or determined to spite his local blacksmith.  After all, he appears wider than he is tall and is strong enough to shrug off all but the hardest challenges.  On the other hand, most anvils have a better first touch than Ro displayed last season.Rolando Blackmon-Thomas

Ok, I’m being a little unfair.  Ro joined us last season for what is still a club record fee, and the pressure of that was clearly too much for a shy 20-year-old.  Rather than embrace the best part of his game and simply bulldoze his way past defenders, he felt that he needed to display a level of finesse and refinement that he did not possess.  The result was two goals for the entire season, what appeared to be two thousand failed stepovers, a level of frustration that caused him to repeatedly snap at the manager and, relatedly a new club record for most stairs run at Slingsby Lane in a single season.

This week’s match illustrated how much things have changed this year.  Ro notched two first-half goals off free kicks swung into the mixer when he was able to shoulder opponents out of the way and get to the ball first.  He then completed his hattrick in the second half by out-hustling a demoralized defender to get on the end of a cross from Alex Barton, a feat which represented his fourteenth goal in all competitive matches this year and put him in a tie for our league’s Golden Boot.

What’s different this year?  Well, a lot of it might simply be getting used to life in the big city, plus the team’s initial success this year meant that our fans were more inclined to forgive and forget the occasional missed chance.  But I suspect the biggest part of the change is the role of our other forward, veteran Ruggero Panero, who deployed a mixture of Zen aphorisms liberally salted with Italian expletives in order to get Ro to stop thinking so much and get back to playing more instinctively.

While this approach has worked wonders so far, who knows if the changes will last.  For one thing, Panero picked up an injury at the end of our last match and will be away from the team for the next month as he undergoes rehab.  In addition, the gaffer has sketched out a plan to spend the next season or two focusing on the team’s defensive skills, which will inevitably raise questions about Ro’s future at the club.  Will a potentially unsettled Blackmon-Thomas revert back to his bad habits, or will he be able to drown out the noise with the sound of one hand clapping?  Only time will tell.

About geigerted