London Varsity Series 2020: GKT FOOTBALL

GKT Womens’ Football

The annual GKT Women’s Football trouncing occurred this evening at Haringey Borough FC where the girls in navy triumphed 10-0 against RUMS, one goal shy of their similarly emphatic 11-0 victory last year.

The somewhat confusing colour clash for a player use to playing for GKT Football in yellow and blue (RUMS were wearing these colours, with GKT in their alternate navy) didn’t startle the women’s team in the slightest as they took the game by the scruff of the neck within the first 5 minutes, missing a sitter just 4 minutes in as a good piece of wing play which resulted in a cutback was scuffed by no.11 with the goal gaping. Despite their being scrappy moments to the opening quarter of the game, the GKT tactics of regularly hitting the wide channels behind their static back four to find star players Maddy Wood and Phoebe Read proved incredibly fruitful, though the deadlock wasn’t broken in this manner- rather from a carbon copy of the move for the missed sitter 4 minutes in, but this time no.14 supplied a calm finish to give GKT the lead.

From this moment on, GKT never looked back and began to totally dominate the game, with RUMS’ first shot of the match coming 43 minutes into the game. The duo of Read and Wood were simply too hot to handle for RUMS, the 2nd goal being a glorious sweeping move from GKT, including a lovely backheel blind pass from Read to switch the play. The 3rd had an element of Paul Gascoigne’s goal vs Scotland at Euro 96 about it as Read flicked it over the head of a RUMS centre back from a long throw and crashing home a finish. A 4th, 5th and 6th goal were added before Wood scored what looked like would be the goal of the game, lobbing the goalkeeper with from the right touchline from 40 yards out.

GKT continued in this vein after the break and started to put on a show- there were nutmegs galore in the second half. No.14 made it 8-0, lobbing the goalkeeper with a brilliantly executed finish from the edge of the box, before the highlight of the match happened as a GKT centre midfielder scored from (no exaggeration) 50 yards out, driving a half volley into the air which the goalkeeper couldn’t reached as it flicked off the crossbar and in. Cue limbs in the stand. Read then completed her hattrick to seal the rout with a delightful strike, whipping the ball back across goal into the far top corner with 15 minutes left.

A rout was admittedly expected, but it was so satisfying to see GKT execute exactly that with such aplomb. Well done team.

GKT Mens’ Football

Coles Park Stadium, home to the mighty Haringey Town FC, was kindly accommodating a face-off that was all but kind. Men’s Medics’ Football would be followed by a surprisingly high attendance given the freezing conditions – seriously, you could hardly type on your phone. Expectations on the GKT Men’s Team seemed to be very high since the Ladies had absolutely walloped the opposition on the score of 10-0. Teams have warmed up, fans have stood up: it was 8:00 pm, time for game. Actually no. Ref’s not ready. Ok, it’s 8:04 pm now?

Quick summary: the first half was not easy for GKT, as UCL generally took the advantage. We seemed to be playing in a 4-2-3-1 formation, well-balanced on paper and with quick forwards to strike on the counter. Up top was of course star man Harry Donkin, who would be our main offensive threat. First few minutes were about getting the tempo right – both teams being very cautious, dare I say slightly underwhelming to the pumped-up crowd. First scare came at the 12th min when a free-kick for the RUMS was well punched out by our goalkeeper. That foul we conceded would really set the tone for the first half – a plethora of tackles from our side ensued as RUMS kept coming back at us. After a quarter of an hour, our left-back got injured. His substitute had 2017-Marcos-Alonso vibes to him with his fresh darting runs on the left flank seemingly unsettling the slow opposing defense. Proof of this with the first of many wonderful chants to be serenaded by the GKT loyals tonight: “Who’s the fattie, who’s the fattie, who’s the fattie at the back?” and “Ta-ta-tadadada, UCL is shit!”. The first twenty minutes provided us with a perfect abstract of what this whole match would be: GKT spending a lot of time defending, and perhaps more action in the stands than on the pitch. Still 0-0.

From the 20th minute onwards, three major things happened in the first half. First, a pint was thrown by the crowd on the protesting RUMS striker after a foul was blown against him. Completely deserved. Then at the 33rd min, RUMS were through on goal and left to deal with a 2-vs-1 situation. However, that “1” was our tall center back Leander Xatzigrigoriou, a man with as many resources as there are letters in his name. Left on his own to face two forwards running at him, he amazingly managed to get the ball back thanks to a superb tackle. Our defense was amazing overall. First half remained goalless but as said earlier, the real match was happening in the stands – chants all over the place. The start of the evening was marked by the GKT loyals targeting a particular UCL big-mouth and his megaphone, and starting off with “Who’s the inbred, who’s the inbred, Who’s the inbred on the mic?”. Effective chant as the guy soon stopped with his racket, leading to “inbred’s gone quiet, inbred’s gone quiet”. Slight worry when UCL very nearly opened the scoring at the very end of the half but the shot failed to hit the target. Although UCL seemed to be in advantage in the first half and threatening our defenders with great dribbles, it was a good defensive performance so far. Half-time: 0-0.

After some impressive displays from the Cheerleading Society, it was time to get back into it. 75% of the crowd had left to get a few £2.50 burgers and who can blame them, that’s non-league-stadium food and we love it. What we do not love though is conceding a corner, a few seconds into the second half. Corner. Header. Goal. 0-1. They say a team can be very fragile the first few minutes after the break and that’s exactly what happened. No real complaints from our fans or celebrations from theirs as Dan from the stall is busy serving a portion of chips in the backyard to all of them and nobody is aware of what happened. The game had now opened up and both teams were keen on taking risks. Less patience and more drive. GKT was on the move notably through our right-back Anthony Vijayanathan who kept offering solutions. However, we lacked realism, seen through our failure to record a single shot on target in the second half so far. Understandably by the 60th min, cheering made place for worrying. This of course invited the good old “Is this a library, is this a library?” from the UCL fans, to which the VERY obvious response was “Is this an inbred, is this an inbred?”. 0-1 to RUMS.

Thrill is the word to describe the last twenty minutes. Back-and-forth went all the players in a beautiful display of “through ball and inshallah”. GKTWFC were chanting out of their lungs fresh off their 10-0 win and we were looking dangerous. 79th min: Anthony cuts inside and gets a wonderful through ball between the RUMS’ center-backs to find Josh John who unfortunately loses his balance when shooting. A great chance missed but let’s not let this undermine Josh’s performance who commanded the midfield throughout the game. 81st min: again, Dani Alves, I mean Anthony, is in the box and is pushed down by the RUMS’ defender. No penalty given. “Fuck off, get up”, say the UCL fanbase. A wild “Arbitre, arbitre, on t’encule” in the distance, is the answer from our side. It’s getting tense, both GKT and RUMS are getting clear chances and it could be 2-2 but both squads are making Jesse Lingard proud. Still just a goal in this game. Added time announced. Can we get a late equaliser?

Late surge on the left flank, the full-backs have been brilliant and it’s unfortunate the forwards have not been on the same level today. The ball’s in the box again, everyone is up, it’s the last chance of the game, the forward goes for a shot… and is taken down! Drama at Coles Park! No doubt here. No VAR needed. Before even one “REF!!” can be heard, the referee indicates the penalty spot. 93rd minute and last kick of the game to level it. Harry Donkin naturally steps up and immediately goes for it, no afterthought. And it’s off target. Ball rises and rises and hits the fence. Too much pressure for a 93rd min penalty in a derby. Massive disappointment in the GKT attendance as we all leave under the laughs from the opposite crowd. Fights seem to kick off in the back rows but what’s surprising there?

Heart-breaking loss for GKT on the score of 1-0 to the RUMS. Some great individual performances on our side but ultimately, it was a tight contest and a 46th minute corner headed in, was enough to see off a win for the rivals. Next year will be our year.

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