Whilst 9 boys had set off on the now familiar route to the south of England this morning, 9 giants returned northbound, having given everything that they each had for the AFC Pogmoor badge and each other.
A squad of 13 players always seems plenty in July and August, however manager Phil McNulty was wishing he'd a squad of 31 as news emerged throughout the week that half of the lads were off on their jollies this weekend. In this u12 9v9 format, that meant no subs. Cosmic.
Whilst usually being 100% compliant to Sheffield League rules, discussions were held with regards to whether Kev McNulty could pass off as being one of the missing lads if he shaved his beard off. As the realisation emerged that at 6ft 1 inches in height, he'd probably also have to kneel down for the "respect handshake", the management duo decided to stick with the 9 available kids.
The u12s Reds had the task of facing a strong Dinnington side with their depleted squad. Dinnington had already registered 2 wins this season, whilst the Reds had yet to gain a point after 2 games.
In a nice touch, the hosts offered a free warm drink to the McNulty brothers in the Poggy technical area. Despite asking for 2 sugars in one coffee and 1 sugar in the other, the brothers received no sugars in either drink. On a day when strength of character was required, the lads were determined to not let this apparent oversight spoil their day (it did a bit).
What followed was a great spectacle of battling football from 2 good teams. Poggy players played out of their usual positions and fought and scrapped for every ball. After conceding through an unlucky deflection in the box, the Poggy lads kept the score at 1-0 until the last 10 minutes when the kitchen sink, mud pies and everything else was chucked at Dinnington. After having a goal ruled out for offside (no comment), then hitting the crossbar and post, as well as finding a Dinnington keeper in fine form, the final whistle came and the game ended 1-0 to Dinnington.
It was a commanding performance from Pass in goal, a terrific trio of Dowding, Booth and Hawley in defence, a masterful midfield of McNulty, Ford and Mallinson, and a dynamic duo of Jeffers and Davies in attack; this was a 9 who gave everything that they had and then some more. It was a 9 who grew in confidence as they realised just how good they really are after a tough start to the season; a 9 who have set the standards for what is required.
Next week the Reds play on Saturday and Sunday to cram in the rearranged game against Ecclesfield Red Rose that was postponed after 5 minutes 2 weeks ago (Yeah that's right, we all got up at the crack of dawn on a Sunday morning, got drenched and caked up to the eyeballs in mud, for the game to be stopped after 5 mins).
You love to see it.