2 July 2012
Village Manchester FC struck gold at the EuroGames for the second year running on June 30th, defeating a combined Kingkickers Italia and Cargo Lyon side 1-0 at the Vasas SC stadium in Budapest, Hungary.
On a day where temperatures reached a sweltering 37C, Jeremy Baker's first half goal was enough to give Village victory. However, goalkeeper James Toland proved to be the hero of the day, making a double save from a penalty awarded to the opposition in the last five minutes.
With the division split into two groups, VMFC were drawn against our good friends at Birmingham Blaze for the third year running, together with London Falcons and GFC Prague. Falcons looked to have a squad that was fully capable of winning the division but their opening match saw VMFC dominate in a 3-0 victory. Alex Wilson and Pete Ransom scored either side of half time before Jeremy Baker made jaws drop with the cheekiest of penalties in the last five minutes, chipping a Rabona shot into the top corner for one of the highlights of the week.
Prague proved to be a frustrating match as they hit two of the best goals seen all week and defended very well to hold Manchester to a 2-2 draw (Wilson and Karl Storey scoring) but the top spot was secured when Village went on a first half rampage against a Birmingham team that were certainly the worse for wear after the previous night, netting five first half goals in a 5-3 win that saw Wilson, Steve Clayton and Matt Hall get on the scoresheet, together with first club goals for Ant Parkin and Steven Holmes.
Trowbridge Tigers were the opposition in the semi final and what a match it was for Alex Wilson. The striker netted all five goals in a 5-1 victory that allowed for some welcome rotation in the 18 man squad.
The Vasas SC stadium was the setting for the final as the tournament moved from a tight, synthetic surface to a large grass surface - something that was welcome from a footballing point of view but not so much when the temperatures were so high they had forced the officials to introduce mid-half drinks breaks the previous day. The game was expected to be tight with the Italian/French opposition looking strong going forward. However, Manchester made the breakthrough in the first half when Wilson's throughball saw Baker race through on goal before calmly slotting past the goalkeeper to make it 1-0.
The second half was somewhat of a defensive operation as the British players struggled to cope with the heat and the roll-on/off substitution rule was used to its limits. Despite this, Kingkickers barely had a shot on goal as the team worked from front to back to keep them at bay. It looked like victory was to be denied when a penalty was awarded just a couple of minutes before the final whistle but James Toland clinched the trophy for Manchester, diving to his right to keep out the spot kick before flicking out his left leg to deflect the rebound over the bar in one of the slowest two seconds anyone at VMFC will ever experience!
After watching Stonewall come back from the dead in the 1st division final to make it a double English victory for the second year running, the team picked up their medals and the trophy before celebrating in usual Village style well into the next morning.
Budapest will remain long in the memory as one of the best trips Village Manchester have participated in. A really positive atmosphere where everyone pulled together was clearly evident throughout the tournament, and the range of ages and experience at the club proved to be a winning combination.
THANK YOU LIST!
Our thanks go to EuroGames, Klaus and the team in Budapest for making the tournament go so smoothly, to the British teams we had a lot of laughs with, to the two Andys, Tom and Reid for their support, to Joycey for the photos we'll be treasuring, to Matt for the tricky job of managing to rotate an 18 man squad, and particularly to Kev, Eric and Stu at HotScots who joined us for this trip and made an invaluable contribution to the success we shared.
Here's to Dublin and Antwerp in 2013!
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