By Patrick Goodarzi
Popular wisdom cautions against the worship of false idols. This year’s RSES soccer team chose to eschew this by elevating one player, Pat Carr, to near demigod status. The hopes and dreams of an entire School were pinned to Carr before the first ball had been kicked. Even the team’s name – Pat Carr and the Cardiac Arrests, and later Pat Carr and the Carr-pettes – blazoned the strategy. The role of remaining team members was simply auxiliary. Pat Carr was to be our champion. Our light. Our salvation. In Carr we believed.
Such feverish reverence was perfectly rational. The annals of football history do not lie. Any football fan worth their salt will recall the heroics of Carr in the triumphs of last season, when a talismanic performance hauled the team to the lofty heights of division four champions. It was, quite simply, a footballing tour de force. This year, in division three, RSES expected more of the same. It demanded peak Carr. But instead Pat Carr chose to reject his heavenly standing. He down-played his divine influence, and relegated his role to that of an ordinary team player. He refused his destiny, and with it our inexorable rise to glory.
In retrospect, perhaps this was ill-considered. Six defeats over eight matches made for quite an unflattering record. Goals were in short supply. Defensive lapses were not. 0-10 our greatest defeat. The record spared from greater ignominy by an administrative error (a careless swapping of the team names) gifting us a finals place, which, naturally, we went on to lose.
And so here we stand. Abject failures by any conventional metric. Yet to cast a more reflective eye over the season reveals innumerable positives. Most notably, and most encouragingly, was the plight of the new players. New not only to the team, but to the sport. They were unfalteringly magnificent. From their compliance to the conscription policy, to psychological conditioning (the ball is your friend), to voluntary extra training sessions, to extra cheering and support. Under the sage tutelage of a social soccer veteran, the improvement was remarkable. This contingent became the soul of the team. They embodied the virtues of recreational sport, and were the true successes of the season. Where rival sides were guilty of spurning their less experienced players in the pursuit of victory, teamwork and inclusiveness were always paramount to this team’s ethos. Even at our lowest moments the team resisted the temptation to fall back on demigod Carr – always the most potent weapon in the arsenal. To remain resolute with this WMD at our disposal was a testament to this team’s rectitude. It was, as the more pretentious amongst us might say, esprit de corps.
The season offered scant highlights on the pitch, save for a few notable moments: The eruption of gallic passion following a refereeing injustice. The subsequent dismissal. The almost-booty-goal. The brave goal-keeping. The nonchalant goal chipped from outside the area. The barbarous slide tackling. The suspect sportsmanship of opposition players. These are the moments that will remain on the lips of fans for the next twelve months.
What remains to be expressed is gratitude to all those who devoted their time to the season’s cause. Special mention to Hannah, for organising. Your valiance has laid strong foundations for the next generation of low level recreational soccer heroes. Bravo.