…NOW. And do you know why we’re starting now? Because we’re playing KGHM Zagłębie at home. They lost their first match too, 2-0 against Wisła Kraków, so they’re only 1 place above us in 15th. I know that league places are meaningless at this point but it’s still a bit of a confidence booster.
As I walk towards Stadion GKS Katowice’s home changing room, I get my instructions for the players ready in my mind. We’ll play an incredibly standard and flexible 4-2-3-1 and we’ll work the ball into the box. That’s all. No messing about.
As I turn the corner though, I see something that sends shockwaves of pure terror through my entire body. Walking towards me is a man. A huge, horrifying man, with skin as white as snow and lifeless eyes as wide as saucers. His jet black hair is slicked back and his mouth is wide open, the corners curled into an unsettling smile.
“Powodzenia”, says the scary man in a gruff, muffled voice. His lips don’t even move.
“Are you a vampire?” I ask quietly, as he really looks like a fucking vampire.
“I am GieKSik”, he replies, somewhat more chirpily but still muffled. He continues walking towards me until he’s very very close, and then stops, holding up his massive hand for a high 5. I don’t move. I stay perfectly still. He seems to get the message after a few seconds and I sense a touch of sarcasm in his gruff voice as he says “Well we could talk until the cows freeze over, but I have to go.” As he skirts around me he drops a business card into my suit jacket’s right pocket, before striding around the corner that I’ve just come from and out of sight.
Once I’m sure that the obvious vampire’s gone, I take out the business card and have a look. It reads:
Maskotka GKS Katowice”
He’s a mascot. Of course he’s a bloody mascot. And of course I already knew that. And of course I wasn’t really scared.
Anyway, there’s a link to GieKSik’s Facebook page on the card too, because obviously. I make a mental note not to have a look later because I’d like to sleep tonight.
I walk into the changing room as the lads are chatting amongst themselves and announce in my boomiest voice “Right lads, thank you.” The room falls silent.
“Are you OK boss?” Asks Dennis Lawrence, a look of concern on his face.
“Fine thank you Dennis”, I reply.
“You’re all white, you look like you’ve seen a ghost”.
“No I don’t. Right then.”
“Can anyone smell piss?”
“RIGHT THEN, KGHM Zagłębie”, I boom, feeling the colour flood back to my cheeks.
The team that I name for this match is the same as the team that faced Jagiellonia, with the exception of Fossy replacing Rodrigo Silva and playing behind the striker. After relaying my minimal instructions and making my way to the dugout, the match begins. And it’s not a good one. The only first half action is an early shot from KGHM’s Vasilef which flies high and wide, followed by a quick game of pinball in their box which we’re unable to capitalise on.
The second half is no better, but as the match begins to wind down, I realise that I’m OK with it. Our first point on the board is not a thing to be sniffed at in our position. We might even move out of 16th place.
With 15 minutes to go, Bart finds himself with the ball in KGHM’s half and plays it out to Kevin, who’s cutting in from the left. He takes a touch, looks up, and drives the ball low into the far corner of the net.
Kevin is mobbed by his teammates, in particular his fellow former Heróis Hurley and Olivier, but he wriggles free and runs over to me in the dugout and I give him a high 5, as our resident scary bastard, GieKSik, watches on enviously in the background.
A couple of minutes later, Bart nearly makes it 2-0 when Goncerz lays the ball off for him, but his fizzing shot across the ground is just wide of the post.
Thank fuck for you, Kevin. I know that one swallow doesn’t make a Summer, but that goal gives us a bit of vital breathing room. From being mid-meltdown last week, we’ve now scored the first goal of my tenure, kept our first clean sheet, picked up our first points and our first win, and that is not bad for a day’s work.
So let’s keep this momentum going… Against the team that finished 2nd in the Lotto Ekstraklasa last season… And are predicted to do so again… Well let’s at least try. Lech Posnań have so far won 1 and lost 1 but as they’re favourites to beat us in the same way that the Death Star was the favourite to beat Alderaan, we’ll be playing a cautiously standard and flexible variation of Project: Burnie MK II, with Gregurina coming into the team in place of Fossy as a holding man, and Janga replacing Mandrysz on the right wing.
Less than 10 minutes in, Jevtic stings Nowak’s hands with a low drive, but the veteran keeper can only parry it as far as Jozwiak, who thankfully smacks the ball into the side netting.
A few minutes later Lech are dominating, and Mbemba plays a good long ball forward to Galán, who dribbles into our area – And is tripped by Olivier. My heart sinks. The referee puts his whistle to his lips and runs over, pointing to the spot.
Jevtic stands at the edge of the area as the ref blows his whistle again, and the attacking midfielder runs forward to hit the ball from the penalty spot. He places the ball low to the left – And Nowak goes with it, tipping it behind for a corner, the beautiful bastard.
Before the 20 minute mark, just as things are starting to turn our way, Olivier under hits a back-pass to Nowak. Hutton tries to get to the loose ball before Galán, but he’s not the quickest off the mark. Galán gets to it first and smashes it past our helpless keeper. Oh Olivier. Poor, sweet Olivier. Today is not your day, my friend.
Lech’s pressure does not let up. A couple of minutes after the opening goal, Mbemba dribbles forward and hits a hopeful shot well wide, and a few minutes after that, Jevtic’s free kick is shoved away by Nowak and Galán rifles the rebound against the post.
At half time, I tell Janga to position himself more centrally as he and Goncerz have been quiet so far, and I’m hoping having Janga as more of a secondary striker will bring both players into the game.
We start to drag ourselves back into the game after the break, and 10 minutes into the second half, Scheffel hits a good pass over the Lech defence and Goncerz runs through on goal, slotting the equaliser past Lis, the Lech keeper.
Spirits are high after that, but only temporarily. On the hour mark, Radut swings a free kick in from the left, Jach gets up above poor Olivier and directs what I would describe as a “Bobbling header” towards goal. It is utterly without pace, and Nowak should save it really, but he doesn’t. 1-2. I suppose the penalty save balances out that horrendous mistake though, so I’ll let him off.
5 minutes later, Baran and Fossy come on for Gregurina and Janga and we change to a fluid counter attacking system to try to catch Lech out again. It nearly pays off immediately when Hurley runs the ball into the box, but he puts his shot just over the bar.
With 10 minutes to go, Majewski swings a Lech corner to the near post. Galán nods it on, and their debutant centre back Valente is unmarked at the far post to head past Nowak. We go attacking, but the game’s over.
You know what? Fine. I’ll take that. On another day, Olivier is his usual solid self and doesn’t give away a penalty, under hit his backpass, or get beaten in the air for their second. On another day we keep our focus from that late set piece and mark Valente. We were no doubt beaten by the better side, and I have no problem with that, but on another day we might have scraped a draw. I can live with that result though. And I can live with 13th place too.
Although there is one thing that’s troubling me. Something that’s been eating away at me for the last week, actually.
Why does GieKSik need business cards?
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