Yeah, I know I should be working on something else at the moment (sorry Eric – I will get to it this week), but I'm really not in the mood to do much else than catch-up with TV shows that I've recorded over the last week, sort through my latest batch of printed photographs, and start viewing the first three seasons of Deep Space Nine that I've purchased recently rather cheaply. (Big W were having a TV on DVD buy 2 get one 1 free sale during the week, so I picked up the first two seasons, plus a copy of the Mariners' 2013 Grand Final victory. Sanity also have a sale going, and with much resisting of temptation, I only purchased Season 3 of DS9. Three seasons of a show I watched religiously for the best part of a decade for under $100 was pretty much irresistible. Believe it or not, there are Season 1 episodes of the series that I missed for one reason or another... )
That and recover from football. It was a tough weekend. We lost both matches, going down 2-3 on Saturday, after leading 1-0, then 2-1. On Sunday, most of us being rather sore and sorry, and me having to play defence once again (instead of being in goals like I had originally planned), we lost 0-2, which was the half-time score. My contribution for the weekend was around 85-90 minutes, playing the majority of it on Saturday, and less on Sunday, seeing my latest injury wouldn't let me play too much longer. Though I rested up during the week (three days at home 90% of the time), my poor foot was still aching – the ligament damage in the plantar arch being harder to recover from than the calf strains I usually have to worry about.
I played better on Saturday than I did on Sunday I feel. However, both oppositions were playing hard games, and there was a lot of body-checks, hacking, even man-handling that went unpunished. Even I got a bit physical, bumping an attacker off the pitch as he was trying to make a break down the side-line. The appeal for a free-kick was ignored, seeing I indicated I used nothing more more than my hip and knees. (That and the player was off-balance trying to get around me anyway. I just helped him on his way... ) Sunday though, it was yours truly that was bowled over in the penalty area during a rare corner down their end of the pitch. I even copped a boot across the thigh at some point during the second match. The sprig marks are still there.
Unfortunately, two goals got past me. The first, which was the winner on Saturday, came from a free-kick. I was left to mark one of the strikers, who was a good head taller than me, and he put that to good use, scoring the winner off it. The second, on Sunday, saw me (and one of the other defenders) with the afternoon sun in our eyes. Somehow the goal-scorer avoided it, and put it in the bottom right-hand corner of the net, the keeper's hand unable to stop it from going in.
Did I feel too upset over them? No, not really. They were just part of the ongoing problems that we were having defensive wise, that the mid-fielders (especially the wide ones) were still not dropping back enough times to help defend. Though in our second game we did not conceded any goals in the second half, weren't able to get any back, which high-lights our main problem – we have not been taking our chances. We should not have lead twice in the first game then lost, and we should at least gotten one in the second half of the Sunday game.
Apart from my current niggling injury, my main problem it seems comes from a lack of an appreciation of my defensive abilities from certain member(s) of the team. In my current “Renaissance” period, I shouldn't be harbouring such negative thoughts, but it can't be helped, considering I spend three or four hours a week with the person every weekend during the winter. I'm referring to the gent whom I share the ride with down each and every weekend to play. I think I have gotten to know him too well, and honestly, I don't like what I know. Those that have known him longer say he means well and is harmless. I see a gent who has a one track mind, who makes himself out to be far better than he is (especially on the pitch), is a tight-wad, probably quite racist, and, despite all his boasting that he would be there to defend a player on the pitch if it came to it, he's a physical coward, seeing he deliberately shies away even from a soccer ball that's kicked at him. On Sunday he was actually charged by an opponent and went over, and immediately came off. He said he had an injury, but he didn't look that worser off to me. (At least four of us, including myself, played yesterday with minor injuries.)
He also doesn't engage the brain before he opens his mouth either. I was quite offended on the car ride home yesterday when he said 'We're really missing Shankar (a defensive player from last year's side) – he and Michael could support Rod at the back.'
So, where do I play then mate? I've worked very hard to improve as a defensive player in this side, considering that I was initially recruited as a goalkeeper. I have received a lot of favourable comments from other players on the side, including the on-field captain, the current keeper, and the team's manager. (Actually, the manager said that when he got the new keeper last year, he gained two players, seeing that I could now serve as an extra defender seeing the side had no dedicated reserve defenders.)
So, it's obvious what my response should be. I shut up on the car rides, and say nothing, like I did on Sunday. I'm in no mood for an argument and I'm not out to disrupt the harmony of the side. (I can leave that to other people... ) My closest mate, Rod, knows the situation with me, and especially knows the problems that I have had dealing with this gent. (The travelling “restrictions” imposed on me by this chap have been made light of by us both. Two in particular, not being able to use the handle on the inside of the car door because I may get my greasy fingers all over it, and not being able to raise my arm inside the car – as the steam generated by my arm-pits my fog up the windows, seem incredibly anal.)
Sigh. All I want to do is play soccer. Why do off-field antics make things so complicated?
At least, not as complicated as the Russian Civil War. The book of the Australian involvement in the 1917-1920 conflict that I've been reading (ANZACS in Arkhangel, by Michael Challinger) makes the war sound incredibly confusing. I hadn't realised, that at the time of the Russian Civil War, the Finns were declaring their independence and then fighting their own civil war (divided up the same way as the Russians – red and white), with the Karelians of the Kola Peninsula seeking autonomy from the old regime as well. The Russian Civil War though wasn't fought like other wars – great chunks of territory changed hands without major engagements (which were few and far between) as sides over extended themselves, the fronts collapsing, and the territory changing hands. Villages and townships changed hands often enough for civilians to change their allegiances to suit their current masters overnight, and even keep two sets of flags to display.
The Australians made a small part of the British contingent, having first to be discharged from the Australian Imperial Force (but being allowed to keep their uniforms and their hats – the latter being a big sticking point), before being recruited into the British Army, along with other colonials – Canadians, New Zealanders, and South Africans. The one thing they couldn't keep, however, was rank. One Australian officer, a lieutenant, who had worked his way up through the ranks, was accepted into the BA – as a corporal.
It was interesting to note that there a few refused service with the “coalition of the willing” force for a variety of reasons, one (a former POW, interred by the Turks for three years) believing his application to join the force was vetoed by the then Australian prime minister; another, the infamous Francis de Groot (the same gent who “opened” the Sydney Harbour Bridge on horseback with his sabre), was knocked back because it was believed that his administrative skills in occupied Germany were too valuable to lose if he went to North Russia.
Despite the smallness of the Australian contingent (officially - around 150), two of them (the only two of the entire interventionist force) were awarded Victoria Crosses: Corporal Arthur Sullivan from Crystal Brook in South Australia and Sergeant George Pearse, from Mildura, Victoria. There was also 8 recipients of the Distinguish Conduct Medal. Volunteers were well paid (which was a major incentive to join the force) but had to endure weather conditions which saw the top soil frozen over for six months in the year, then thawed out to create swamp like conditions, which obviously made it hard to transport supplies to outposts.
The book flows nicely, exploring the reasoning behind sending the force there in the first place (to protect and remove the large quantities of supplies transported to the ports of Arkhangel and Murmansk, making sure that they didn't fall into Bolshevik hands), to the various reasons why soldiers volunteered to serve in the force in the first place. There is also a section about the author's trek trying to visit locations where the Australians' fought. There are some enjoyable little anecdotes, including a small group's reconnaissance trek which allowed them to engage in a lot of hunting and fishing (using rifles and hand grenades), to the establishment of a rating system of the fighting qualities of various nationalities. Australians, unsurprisingly, scored 100, whilst the Americans didn't rate highly (scoring 50), but they did outrank the Chinese (0.5), the Portuguese (0.1) and the Egyptians (-100). To demonstrate the esteem to which the diggers held their former enemies, the Turks, they were second on the list with 98.
So far, a great read, and well recommended if you want to learn about a very little known chapter of Australian military history.
Reading and footballing aside, I had an opportunity to take pictures again. Whilst staying with Rod over the weekend for the double-header, I was able to go on a Sunday morning walk with him and his son and take a few pictures along the way, then get most of them printed up today. (I'll sort through them later.) I was pleased to actually add another bird to the collection. A common one that I hadn't had – the Starling.
Prior to that, I went on a shopping expedition (which included getting more pictures printed up) to acquire a new set of winter manchester. It was time, I felt, to update the blankets/quilts in this house, and even get some new pillows as well. Event today I continued to shop and purchased a new set of shin pads, seeing my older ones were well and truly on their way out.
And I even managed to spend some time working on my long-suffering Feudball sequel, giving it a thorough overhaul last week. I was sort of hoping to finish off the twelfth chapter today if I had the time, but just had to get out of the house in the morning, then got side-tracked watching DS9 and taking a long time to rattle off this blog.
Speaking of which, it must be around dinner time. Best to get it started. Ciao!