Spirited Voodoo end Shooter’s monopoly in Cup Final battle

Posted by Chris Golding on Apr 02 2004 at 04:00PM PST
Big Bamboo Voodoo 2 Malones Shooters 1 (final edition) The Shooters stranglehold on domestic silverware has been finally been prised open. There will be an empty space in their trophy cabinet this year where once stood the Hebiguchi League Cup. The trophy now has a new home, just south of Malone’s, at the BIG BAMBOO, home of Saturday’s victors, Voodoo FC. This ‘smash and grab’ raid by the crafty boys from South Tongren Lu has taken 18 months to plan, culminating in joy for Big Bamboo Owner Bryce Jenner, Coach, Rick Howard, Captain, Sean Capes and the veteran player, Chris Golding. The long road to victory began at the start of last season in Nanjing Xi lu, which divides the north and south Tongren Lu, when Golding, later joined by Howard and then Capes, hoped to create a new SIFL force. The original squad, cruelly labeled at the beginning, ‘the odds and sods’, had by the end of the season earnt respect in the way they had developed and grown. They had started to give some of the seasoned sides some problems and got some good scores and results along the way. That season took its toll on Golding, now in the twilight of his playing career, so he decided to hand over the administration and responsibilities to Howard and Capes who were keen to develop the vision. The beginning of this season saw new money, a new logo and an influx of new players as well as the new leadership. All these things combined created challenges of their own and the results were not coming so easily. However, the squad has continued to develop and grow under the dogged guidance of Howard and his administrative team. Rumors of tactical arguments, leadership tussles and player frustrations were far from evident as I was fortunate enough to share the Voodoo bus on the way to the Tianma stadium for their showdown with the Goliath’s of South East Asian International Football in this League Cup Final. This was not only a Cup Final with a chance to win some honours but also a yardstick for how far they have come. The mood on the bus was relaxed and upbeat as music from their first successful tour of Manila last November was played as well as their top twenty Cup chant to the tune of the ‘Beer Barrel Polka’. You could sense there was an air of determined calm about the squad as they set about planning not only to spoil the Shooters party but to throw their own. Their mood was to lay 'the pressure to perform' solely on the shoulders of their close geographical rivals. Strangely, I looked around for Denis Wise, remembering the FA Cup Final between Wimbledon and Liverpool and my eyes settled on Capes, the Voodoo’s ‘cheeky chappy’. Was this going to be as much of an upset? Voodoo were the first to arrive and took the time to ‘model’ their training tops and provide photo opportunities for the press, traveling fans, corporate sponsors and family albumns! Something not new for Canadian centre-back Suchy who can be seen regularly gracing TV advertisements, magazines and bill boards, much to the amusement of his teammates. However, this felt more like the Oscars as the whole team assembled on ‘arriving the red carpet’ and spoke to the crowd. The excitement was slowly building. As the teams prepared to Kick off, a strong wind of change seemed to be blowing in favour of the ‘Yellow Devils’ of Voodoo. The Shooters were in line for a tough first half competing against their local minos and the wind. The game started in typical cup fashion as both teams struggled to impose their own passing game and establish control. It was difficult in the windy conditions and both teams were quick to close down space. The Shooters were finding it more difficult playing into the wind and gave up possession on many occasions. Long balls were blowing in to touch, short balls were being shut down and their players were being hussled and tackled from their defence to their attack. After 10 minutes, Voodoo forced a corner from their left hand side. As the corner was delivered dangerously in to Shooters penalty area testing the stand in keeper, the ball missed every contact effort that was made and found its way on the shoulder of a surprised Jimmy Allen. Unfortunately for Allen, the ball bounced like a rocket off his shoulder, passed the stranded Keeper and in to the net. This set the tone for Allen and the Shooter’s day. As the Shooters tried to get in to the game, Voodoo worked harder to frustrate them. This and the wind were taking its toll as Shooter’s players became visibly dejected with each other at the way things were turning out. Then, a Voodoo throw in half way inside the Shooters half on their right hand side, the ball found its way across the field towards the edge of the box and sat up beautifully for the industrious Hal Stockley. Stockley caught the ball with a sweet strike, which completely wrong footed the whole Shooters defence and flew in to the goal. 2:0 it stayed until half time. The second half saw the Shooters playing with the wind. They tried to take advantage as the Voodoo had done in the first half but the whole Voodoo team and the defence of Watson, Suchy, Hayward, Emsley and Seb in goal, held firm. However, the relentless pressure eventually caused a breakthrough when a ball was not cleared well in a penalty box tussle and was struck from the centre, just inside the box, beating Seb off the underside of the bar and in to the net. The Shooters joy and relief was plain to see. The remaining 25 minutes gave us a thrilling ride as Shooters tried to throw everything they could at Voodoo only to see wave after wave of attack broken down and chances came and went. Could Shooters force a draw or could Voodoo steal a breakaway goal against the run of play to seal it? As the hearts in the crowd pounded the clock kept ticking. Shooters could sense that lady luck was not smiling on them today and the Voodoo goal seemed to have a spell of its own. As Voodoo ran, chased and tried to find some space to ease the pressure, the joyous chorus of the final whistle blew like the factory whistle at clocking off time. Voodoo had done their job, produced an upset and were ready to collect their pay. Voodoo had done it. “I’m physically and emotionally drained but it feels great,” said Howard. “The guys did everything I asked for today and they were magnificent. Everybody played their part. The players, the subs and the supporters. A fantastic team effort. That’s all I can say right now”. A gracious Joffre added “they (Voodoo) wanted it more than us today and they deserve it. We had to lose sometime. Unfortunately, it was for another trophy. But it’s good for the league and they should enjoy it. Having already won the League championship, we’ll focus on the FA Cup. Maybe we’ll meet them (Voodoo) again in that Final?” Voodoo becomes the first team to defeat the Shooters since December 2002 and what a time to do it. They also become only the third team to win the Hebiguchi Cup behind Shooters and the famous Shanghai Lions. This win should send a signal to the rest of the SIFL that Voodoo can perform. It should also show them that the Shooters are not invincible and may help to cause one or two more upsets before the season ends. For now, there’ll be singing in the streets of Tongren Lu for the next few weeks as those associated with the Big Bamboo team celebrate a day to remember. Man Of the Match: HAL STOCKLEY. Stood supreme on a field of superstars. Voodoo Cup Squad: Rick Howard, Chris Golding, Steve Watson, Leslie Yap, Matt Emsley, Sean Capes, Justin Pau, Ben Peters, Mark Suchy, Kit Goodrick, Giles Hayward, Andy McClay, Hal Stockley, Jamie Connello, Per Skaarnes, Sam Johnson, Sebastien Ferret, (Chris Hughes, Fernando Soares, Dan Foa, Jason Bryce). Other notable results this weekend. Manchester United defeat Arsenal 1:0 to reach the English FA Cup. Millwall join them by beating Sunderland 1:0. Chelsea close gap on Arsenal in the premiership to 4 points beating Tottenham 1:0 Other match reports on


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