“The secret of change is to focus all your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.” Socrates (470 – 399 B.C.) We all just want to be happy. Isn’t that the case? But what defines happiness, what is happiness to others and, most of all, can everyone be happy? These are just a few of the musings amongst the SCC faithful, moments before kick off on any given Saturday. Although it may come as a surprise to many, the pre-match chat at the SCC can be a thought-provoking mix. If DJ Titan isn’t waxing lyrical about Aristotle and Socrates, then it’s Owen arguing that Plato’s realism is a distant second to Parmenides’ cosmology. Our frequent discussions around happiness, the Greeks and the metaphysical all come from a deep-rooted desire for people to be happy. We want our players to be happy, we want our coach to be happy, we want the officials to be happy, and most of all we want our guests and visitors to be happy. But,… what if other people don’t want to be happy? With that in mind, we welcomed perennial battlers Olympique Gaulois (OG) to Dempsey. A team that has historically been at odds with itself. Clearly, they are a very talented set of individuals, but frequently have to battle with massive inner demons, a huge identity crisis and that’s before we even begin to discuss Arcot or the Plains of Abraham. Every year we worry about them, and yet every year they leave upset with us. The fact that this French team has now morphed in to a contingent of Iberians clearly hasn’t helped them; yet it was reassuring that the Gallic grumbling manage to bubble through before kick-off, when they started to complain about the temperature and location of the ice-cold water cooler, that the SCC had kindly provided to their visitors. With OG now settling comfortably into their preferred role of victims, even before a ball was kicked, it wasn’t difficult to see where their afternoon was headed. Sad. Fortunately, by 5 pm the histrionics were concluded and a football match was allowed to begin. The SCC Firsts, without 6 regulars, started well and the first twenty minutes saw us impose ourselves with no response from the Spaniards. Matt Hulen fizzing a dipping volley just over the bar and Liam a constant danger, having started the game in “Beast Mode”. The deadlock was finally broken when Liam was cynically scythed down, in the penalty area, after a well-worked one-two with the regal Ben King. Liam finally dispatched the penalty after some delays from OG. 1-0 SCC Firsts. Smiles all round. As the game continued the returning Jahan and Anto Garreau began to link up well and reinforced SCC Firsts’ dominance. The effervescent Matt Hulen was again unfortunate not to score as he rattled the crossbar, with a sweetly hit free kick from 30 yards out. At the back, man mountain Igor and Marigolds poster boy, Dan Rowlands, kept things neat and simple. Meanwhile, the baby-faced assassin, Felix, starting his first match in between the SCC sticks, looked calm and assured. As the match grew on SCC’s quick passing continued to pin the Spanish defense back and eventually, Liam was able to make it two. A well worked free kick, straight off Hutch’s training ground, saw Matt pass it wide to Jahan who, with typical laser precision, picked out Liam for his second. 2-0. The first half continued with OG offering precious little in footballing terms, apart from the occasional warped cry of “Tarjeta Amarilla”, but by and large the SCC Firsts’ goal remained untroubled. Dom Lane continuing his 6th renaissance, by ensuring an unusually timid Remi had to be subbed at the interval. The halftime sermon, from Merthyr’s favourite son, was everything positive. “Enjoy possession. Enjoy yourselves. Enjoy the game.” “Be happy, Lads”, he said before delving into his standard-issue SCC First’s ‘Little Book of Happiness’ and plucking out one of Hutch’s favourite Artistole quotes, “Happiness depends on ourselves.” At this point a huge “thank you” must also go to our latest midfield dynamo Patrick, who’s half-time refreshments were a feast to behold; Dempsey has never seen such beautifully cut, half-time, Seville oranges. More happiness at Dempsey. One change was made at the break, with our new Japanese summer signing, Kimi-San, entering the fray. As the second half got underway, OG started the game with a cuirassiers vigour that hadn’t been seen since Watercooler-gate 45 minutes earlier. Kike began to see far more of the ball and was causing more problems than previously. At the same time, however, space at the other end began to open up for Ben King and Leon. The latter growing into the game and asking some good questions of his opposite man. Will he ever ask those same questions of his barber, one wonders? Unfortunately, the SCC Firsts were not able to take one of their many chances on offer, and instead a well-worked goal by Kike eventually saw OG pull a goal back. 2-1. As the match wore on the SCC Firsts were becoming buoyed by the (Sam balls look away now), rapidly evolving Hulen-Yamaura bromance. As their partnership blossomed so did some neat interplay meaning Liam was finally able to complete his hatrick, with a relatively simple tap in. 3-1. Some sloppy defending (some might have deemed it hospitality) by the SCC Firsts, then gifted OG a second goal before the SCC Firsts steered the game safely home. Aidan and Tommy G. both coming on with fresh legs to shut the game out, whilst Liam, Matt and Kimi-San took it in turns to play “keep ball”, before Brad blew the final whistle. Final score 3-2 SCC Firsts. Within seconds of the game ending, excited murmurs of “Ikigai” soon broke out on the bench between George Parrott and Dirtbag. For the less informed, Ikigai is a Japanese term for “the reason for being”, “the thing you live for”. It’s why you get up in the morning. Was it possible that whilst we had all become so fixated on Plato’s Symposium, and making others happy that instead, the answers had in fact been lying with Kimi-San at Cuppage Plaza all along? It was clear, we were never going to make our visitors happy. Fortunately, through this Okinawa enlightenment here at the SCC we now know that our very own Ikigai is most definitely “Dempsey at 5 pm, on a Saturday afternoon”. Thank you, OG for a competitive and enjoyable match. We hope you find your Ikigai soon. Special mention to Brad and his officials who did a superb job in ensuring the game was able to flow throughout. Despite the competitive nature on offer from both teams, it never spilled over into anything more, which is what makes the Cosmo League so special.
Frustrating afternoon at Dempsey for the squad that left the pitch with a bitter taste that things could / should have gone differently. 5pm kick off with a bit of drama at 4.59pm with SCC kicking us out of THEIR bench, and telling one of our player off for taking one glass of water out of THEIR gallon. Our sincere apologies for the water. Rest insure that our player will be severely punished for taking this glass of water from you. This is unforgivable! Looking at the communion that happen at Turf city after the games, I guess a few SCC players still have a long way to go, to better understand what the Cosmo league is about… Once the event settled, we knew what we were up for as we were not welcome here on THEIR pitch. Fortunately SCC started doing what they do best; playing football leading to them dominating the first 20minutes of the game thanks to us having a sloppy and timid start. Scc with limited chances opened the scoreline from a penalty obtained and well converted by Liam. Minutes later they hit the cross bar from a nice 25m range free-kick but ultimately doubled their lead minutes later again from a free kick quickly played on the right wing for their winger to cross it back to Liam. 3 chances on set pieces only, 2 goals. Last 20minutes OG shown some better move and were very unlucky not to have at last 1 goal back. Hugo had a brace of excellent chances, once from a header on the 6m line and the second was an open goal from a sloppy clearance from the keeper. Kike who caused SCC a lot of problem had a brace of good opportunities too, but we lacked efficiency. 2-0 HT Coach Simon changed Marc for Remi who had not managed to fully recover from his hamstring injury. The change paid off as we dominated the first 15min of the second half creating a few chances and pressuring SCC into their own half. 5min into the second half, Kike did a bit of magic again, and after dribbling a few guys, put the ball into the back of the net from a very tight angle. 2-1. We pushed for the equalizer but again conceded another goal due to our lack of concentration on set pieces. A very long through in, poorly cleared as no one was around. Ball was sent just outside the box for SCC player to volley it straight into Liam who only had to deflect it to put it in. 3-1. Coach Simon again did a few changes that paid off as we got one goal back from Jorge at the 75min. 3-2. Full of hope we pushed for the last 15min and got a few good chances, especially one from Fred which was cleared on the line by the last defender and then 2 penalty claims on Kike. Both were denied by the ref. We ask for the VAR ! Final score 3-2 for SCC. Hard to take, but we move on and welcome SCC to play the return leg at Turf City. Despite the frustration credit to SCC who at the end did their job, play some really good football and do not un deserve their victory even though a more balanced result would have better reflect the game.