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Tom Petty on the radio, the evening summer sun still strong, it felt like we were on a coastal highway in California… well almost.  We were actually flying on a wave of anticipation up the M5 to the  Kick Off 2 UK Championships in Oldbury. F**k yeah!

california-l

The M5 but not as we know it

A key fixture in the KOA calendar, the UKCs have taken place in Gloucester,  Sheffield, Nottingham, Stoke,  Manchester, Reading, Bournemouth and now for the 5th time in Brum.  There’s a rich history to this event that began in 2002 and the latest chapter was about to be written…

DAY1 – Surreal

Every UKC is different of course but the curtain raiser for the weekend, the drunken tourney, certainly creased us up.  No word of a lie but for part of the evening we shared the conference room with a small army of ironing grannies!

ukc13 Ironing

Behind you! (Invasion of the Ironing Boards!)

Not that this mattered to us.  We had plenty of drinking to do though wasn’t sure what the laundry ladies must have thought? Anyway, beers, laughs and games followed in increasing quantities….

ukc13 drunken tourney

Anything could happen, and probably did…

The league didn’t matter which is just as well as I’m quite happy to forget my own league position. I’m told it went to the wire, with a title decider between Steve Drinksmore, who’d topped the league pretty much all night, and Andy Gin, 3 points behind.  A very tight match ended 2-4 in Andy’s favour and maybe was just the tonic he needed for the day to follow.

DAY2 – For Real

After a sleep, shower, and bacon, sausage and egg butty fit for a champion, all thanks to Steve and Donna who  kindly put me up for the night,  I was re-charged for the real deal, the  x2 UK League Championship! The thing was, so were the others!  And by the halfway stage, it became obvious the contest to find the best player in the UK was a two horse race.  The rise of the onliners was clear with Andy G and Mark W, sparring partners in Dagh’s Online School of Kick Off Excellence,  were quite simply head and shoulders above the rest.

The chasing pack were left to fight it out for 3rd spot, and most players had a shout for it at one time or other. Everyone was beating everyone else, or so it seemed.  Even I managed the double over the unusually below par former UK Champion Steve E (both 2-1 scorelines) and both very lucky it has to be said.  Steve, though, is just the type of guy who’ll bounce back and I’m sure he will.  My only other double was against Sid.  He’d had nearly two years of inactivity so losing 3-6 and 1-7 to me means nothing and I hear he might even be resurrecting KORA (Kick Off Reading) in the near future.  Make it happen mate!

Against Robert the volume levels were once again much higher than the scorelines. I lost both matches and both involved serious Fisher f**k-ups; firstly the spillage of a waist high lob (!) that proved decisive in a 1-2 defeat, and secondly an utterly butterly parry into his own net and, as if in a sulk for this, the repeated refusal to lift his arms to three subsequent lobs that gave me a 0-4 mountain to climb.  Despite a second half rally I went down 3-5. Well played on your 5th place finish Rob and good luck with the launch of a new Nottingham kick off venue!

Speaking of low scores my battles with  Simon B were superb stalemates.  In the first round I was 0-3 down at HT only to score three in a minute straight after the break and go on to clinch a satisfying 4-4 result. As for our second round, I can’t recall this ever happening before.  You might expect otherwise but this was no “snore draw”.  We’re talking a heart-stopping, woodwork-pounding, fisher-flying, how the-f**k-did-we-miss-that, belter of a 0-0!!! Very, very rare result indeed and the tension built minute by minute that I needed a lie down afterwards lol

Always good to welcome a newcomer to the KOA and so it was with Ian K. Funny, smart and enjoys his kick off. And a very impressive debut he made too. Our first match, I think, was goalless at HT before I managed to squeeze a slightly flattering 4-0.  But our rematch was different.  He’d already claimed an impressive point from Simon B, and so it looked against me until with around 30 seconds to go, he scored an assured trap and move goal to claim his first and deserved KOA victory, 2-1.  Kinda wished it hadn’t been against me hehe but pleased for him all the same. Swine!

SAM_0030

Game on!

 

Mark W aka the New Durban was a revelation at these championships and the online hours he’s put in have certainly produced the goods. After just a few games it was evident he was a serious contender to the title and I had no answer to his stunningly improved gameplay and finishing, first losing 2-4 and then a battling 3-4 defeat. Very well played mate and I hope you are enjoying your runner-up honours!

Andy G has been a force for a few years now, and semi-finalist at the last two World Cups, and runner up to Dagh at the UKCs in Bournemouth last year.  He was most people’s favourite and he proved why. Trying to restrict Andy’s relentless attacking simply didn’t  work, and I lost 2-5 and 3-7 but I was not alone.  Andy finished the championship unbeaten, winning all matches bar a draw to Simon B.  Superb effort mate.  Salute the UK’s No #1!

So third place was still undecided though out of my reach of course. Steve E had clawed himself back up to the final podium position after a bruising first round by his high standards.  Only Steve C could challenge him and guess who his final opponent was….me!  I’d claimed victory 4-1 in our first round meeting but this would be Camberman’s revenge, 4-2. You might think you can intercept the through ball to his striker, but he’d receive, turn and lob all in the blink of an eye and before you knew it the crowd were cheering another goal. Unstoppable. Huge credit to the KO2CV technician on taking 3rd spot and producing yet another killer version of the great game now with 6-a-side mode and the graphtastic post match analysis. The missile command-style goal map is a thing of  KO2 beauty and really has to be seen to be believed!

With time now almost up, Simon suggested a golden goal fun cup competition, the first of its kind in the KOA.  Whoever scores first is through to the next round so matches can literally be won in seconds if you’re dirty enough to go for the kick off lob, like I did. Twice hehe. The New Durban then gave me a taste of my medicine by knocking me out without allowing me a touch of the ball, before Steve E, after twice narrowly missing out on some silverware, claimed the Cup.  Well played my friend!

ukc13 winners

UKC’13 winners!

UK Championships 2013

FULL RESULTS:

Robert S  4 – 2  Mandhir S
 Steve C  5 – 1  Ian K
 Steve E  2 – 5  Andy G
 Mark W  5 – 2  Garry C
 Steve C  1 – 2  Simon B
 Steve E  7 – 3  Mandhir S
 Mark W  3 – 1  Ian K
 Garry C  3 – 7  Andy G
 Steve E  5 – 2  Robert S
 Mark W  4 – 2  Simon B
 Garry C  7 – 1  Mandhir S
 Andy G  6 – 4  Ian K
 Mark W  6 – 3  Steve C
 Garry C  1 – 2  Robert S
 Andy G  8 – 1  Simon B
 Ian K  4 – 5  Mandhir S
 Garry C  2 – 1  Steve E
 Andy G  8 – 6  Steve C
 Ian K  1 – 4  Robert S
 Mandhir S  2 – 6  Simon B
 Andy G  7 – 4  Mark W
 Ian K  2 – 3  Steve E
 Mandhir S  2 – 8  Steve C
 Simon B  5 – 2  Robert S
 Ian K  0 – 4  Garry C
 Mandhir S  3 – 5  Mark W
 Simon B  6 – 5  Steve E
 Robert S  3 – 7  Steve C
 Mandhir S  1 – 9  Andy G
 Simon B  4 – 4  Garry C
 Robert S  2 – 5  Mark W
 Steve C  7 – 2  Steve E
 Simon B  1 – 1  Ian K
 Robert S  5 – 8  Andy G
 Steve C  1 – 4  Garry C
 Steve E  1 – 6  Mark W
 Mandhir S  1 – 5  Robert S
 Ian K  2 – 6  Steve C
 Andy G  4 – 3  Steve E
 Garry C  3 – 4  Mark W
 Simon B  4 – 6  Steve C
 Mandhir S  2 – 8  Steve E
 Ian K  1 – 4  Mark W
 Andy G  5 – 2  Garry C
 Robert S  5 – 6  Steve E
 Simon B  2 – 4  Mark W
 Mandhir S  3 – 6  Garry C
 Ian K  0 – 7  Andy G
 Steve C  2 – 4  Mark W
 Robert S  5 – 3  Garry C
 Simon B  3 – 3  Andy G
 Mandhir S  4 – 3  Ian K
 Steve E  1 – 2  Garry C
 Steve C  6 – 7  Andy G
 Robert S  6 – 1  Ian K
 Simon B  1 – 1  Mandhir S
 Mark W  6 – 7  Andy G
 Steve E  5 – 1  Ian K
 Steve C  5 – 3  Mandhir S
 Robert S  3 – 1  Simon B
 Garry C  1 – 2  Ian K
 Mark W  5 – 1  Mandhir S
 Steve E  6 – 4  Simon B
 Steve C  8 – 1  Robert S
 Andy G 10 – 0  Mandhir S
 Garry C  0 – 0  Simon B
 Mark W  3 – 2  Robert S
 Steve E  5 – 4  Steve C
 Ian K  1 – 2  Simon B
 Andy G  5 – 2  Robert S
 Garry C  2 – 4  Steve C
 Mark W  2 – 6  Steve E

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