"When You Run Out on the Pitch, The Voices Stop"

Or so an Italian chap claims in this fascinating story about a competitive team composed of mentally ill people. The use of football as a treatment for depression and schizophreia seems quite promising. Though I must say it has never worked for me.

Case in point: Last night’s Inaugural Match in the new Rivals Cup, a fierce contest between my own Albina Going FC and the robust UrbanHonking Athletic Club. As relayed below, the Albina Going fixtures office has been in protracted negotiations to arrange a friendly between the two sides for a long time. Now that both teams will feature in Portland Futsal’s Third Division, it seemed natural to get this non-league match on the books. Leave it to the crafty geniuses at UrbanHonking to up the proverbial ante: team chairman Mike Merrill devised a new, unofficial cup competition to include our two sides and a third team. Last night’s match, then, would determine the first cup-holders (a term that always gives me an obscure shiver, don’t know about you).

After some multimedia trash-talk, both clubs were “well up for it,” and turned out huge squads. We had a full five-man bench, while Athletic fielded nine and brought along a uniformed medic (!) and at least a half-dozen vocal supporters, most of whom toted signs calling for the destruction of The Mighty Unicorns. (They were nice enough, however, to make one nominally pro-Unicorns sign, which ended up in the hands of a very enthusiastic little girl. Whoever she is, she’s now commander of the Unicorn Army.) With Portland Futsal owner Paul Lomanto manning the whistle, the match kicked off at about 7:25 and opened at breakneck pace.

You could see The Going’s cup-tie jitters from the outset, as we repeatedly gave the ball away and conceded the first goal. However, we soon settled and managed to knock four past Athletic’s portero. Unfortunately, we also gave away four, creating a Gordian knot of dramatic tension and a tied halftime scoreline.

In the second half, the Unicorns finally managed to shake off the bad voodoo of eight straight league losses: we scored five, conceded just once (despite some phenomenal pressure from UrbanHonking) and claimed the winged-angel trophy, which now sits securely on my own literal mantlepiece. Things got a bit heated at one point—but what can you expect when two proud clubs meet with hardware on the line?

During the post-match revels at the cozy (superheated, in fact) Brooklyn Park Pub, Lomanto mentioned the possibility of a Rivals Cup shrine on the walls of Portland Futsal itself. Stayed tuned for that one, football fans. In the meantime, it’s likely that video highlights will appear on UrbanHonking very soon, so check ’em out. Well-played, Athletic.

* * *

NEWS UPDATE: You will all be shocked to learn that, in addition to installing a “democratic” government that can’t even organize a proper hanging (even Montanans mastered that one early on), our canny plan to reinvent the Middle East starting in Baghdad has also screwed up Iraqi soccer. Not only will George Bush not have any city plazas in Baghdad named in his honor any time soon, but he’ll also miss out on handing the Iraqi Cup to the winning club’s captain. What’s the point of an empire, then?

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About zachdundas

Freelance journalist. Author of The Renegade Sportsman (Riverhead Books). Thank you.
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