Saturday, 20 October 2012

Pinto tops the averages

Click here for the stats in full!
So well done to Jon for winning the Team Picker Cup... great to see that the shirt is nice fit!

As you will know I have been keeping a record of games won and lost by each player participating in the TPC. For the full list click the link above - it makes for interesting reading!

I'm pleased to say our champ is near the top - but ISN'T top! That honour goes to Mike with an impressive 5 wins out of 6.  Well done to him! Please note that players who have less than 5 games are exempt!

All hail King Jon!

The prize on offer!

Jon Ridout (14) V (9) Billy Collins

Jon Ridout is the first ever Team Picker Cup champion after defeating Billy Collins in an absorbing final game at Sophia Gardens.

Emerging as the competition's dark horse, it was not the late show that we have come to expect from Ridout  but rather a confident performance from start to finish which won him the gold. Pundits were left stunned as Collins struggled to perform despite being the player with the more convincing results throughout the campaign.

As the players lined up for the last time in this fascinating tournament, they took a glance of the prized T-shirt which awaited the victor before being picked for the final match. Although by this time the falling rain had relented and the skies were clear, the pitch itself didn't not have enough time to fully recover. Therefore with that familiar, greasy and uneasy surface we have the weather to thank for affecting the quality of the entertainment on show. With periods of scrappy exchanges, overhit passes and slippery conditions, this match would have to be won in ugly fashion.

Our Team Picker Cup Final shirt and sponsor.. other energy drinks are available!

The tournament's leading player in these conditions, Mike Pinto Castro, was evidently not 100% and started the game in defence for Team Ridout. It wasn't long until he started to adopt a sweeper role however and teamed up with Chris Phillips and Stuart Parsons to form an effective attack partnership. Plus with the captain Ridout sitting up top too, their ability to hit on the counter was deadly throughout the whole game. Team Billy had a lot to thank their captain for he lived up to his billing as TTFE's Number 1 shot-stopper. Collins arguably opted for a stronger defence, but he had the players who can grab the goals that matter; Gareth Jenkins was settling well into his 'John Hartson' role, whilst James Pugh and Paul Preece provided the backup and pace behind him the sole attacker. When it came to outfoxing each other, both sides' formations looked almost identical. Team Ridout however took the lead at half time - a first for him in this tournament.

The second half forced Captain Billy to make a decision on whether a change was needed to win the game. Does he come out of goal to inject some life into his attack? Or does he continue with the plan and hold the fort? He opted to lead the attack and put pressure on Team Ridout. The move seemed to work at first with waves upon waves of pressure with the defence to deal with. However it felt like their luck had run out as they hit the post at least three times, whilst Team Ridout started to counter attack delivering body blows of goals to widen the gap. There was no need for the last goal winner rule here as Ridout had this sewn up well before the final whistle.

Jon Ridout - Team Picker Cup champion 2012!

In victory Ridout was gracious and thanked his opponent for the game. He stated: "Well I just say a massive thanks to all the boys on my team from last night! It was fantastic to win but I have to say commiserations to Billy and his team. The made the final a great spectacle for the fans! If conditions had been better I'm sure the game might have been tighter."

He also added that he would be happy to defend his title if TTFE decide to put the tournament on again.
Ridout stated, "I for one would love to do the tournament again but we will wait on the sponsorship to see if it goes ahead! I hope we can secure the deal we want me make it happen." At the moment the future of the Team Picker Cup is uncertain down to funding but organisers will be meeting to discuss the success of this year's competition.

Billy on the other hand was upbeat, but obviously disappointed in defeat. In searching for reasons for the final defeat despite looking string favourite to win the shirt he alluded to the key decision he made at half time. "I perhaps should have stayed in goal", stated Billy. "Maybe if I did it would have kept the stability of the first half."

Well done to Jon Ridout - Team Picker Cup champion 2012!

Billy's 7th man... Ben Dover!

Team Billy (L-R Pugh, Paul, Gaji, Billy, Callum, Greg)

Team Ridout (L-R Luco, Stu, Joe, Jon, Mike, Chris)

Sunday, 7 October 2012

Gigg beats G and the rain to grab third place

Callum Gigg (12) V (10) Gareth O'Neill

Callum Gigg came back from almost certain defeat to overcome Gareth O'Neill in the third place playoff of the Team Picker Cup. 

Often branded the game that no-one cares to win, the defeated semi-finalists did not let their exits from the competition soften their desire to win third place in the inaugural TTFE Team Picker Cup. Next week's final between Jon Ridout and Billy Collins would have to put aside for now as these competitors were not ready to leave the stage.

In truth, the game was not a spectacle worthy of a final but offered plenty of goals for the neutral spectator. It has to be said though as the awful weather conditions, varying from light drizzle to heavy downpour did not heklp matters. The to-ing and fro-ing of the rain disrupted any form of rhythm or momentum in the game, forcing errors and changing gameplans accordingly. As one wise man at TTFE once decreed, this type of match would be won by the side which played the pitch, not the opposing team. Foolish be the side that played their football long and high and fortune to favour whose who embark on brave, darting runs. Or indeed the side that had maritime maestro Michael Pinto Castro.

Like a duck to water, Mike revelled in the rain and caused havoc for Team Callum's defence. With Stuart Parsons in support and the heroics of keeper Billy Collins, they looked comfortable by maintaining lead of 8-5 at half time. But Team Callum also had a gambit of their own - Gareth Jenkins. For weeks he has steadily improved, in particular at the sole man attack role which he has begun to call his own. Where he was known for pace in the past, his elegant touch which he has always been blessed with will now be his TTFE trademark. By forming an effective partnership with Chris Phillips they kept the game within reach for their team.

In the second half with the weather worsening the game became less like aquatic chess but rather a comedy of errors. With each over hit pass or heavy touch on the ball, the struggle hold onto the ball became more of an issue than finding the net.  The conditions were ripe for pinball scrambles in the box and long shots - two of the goalkeeper's great fears in the rain.

However the game would find a real turning point with 10 minutes to go. Gareth must have had devastating deja vu which would change turn the game on its head. Just like in his semi final against Jon Ridout, his side suffered from an injury - but this time it was goalkeeper Billy Collins not himself. Team G was forced to play with a man down as he stood on the sidelines, which gave the advantage to Team Callum to hunt for goals. Collins eventually came back into play, but it was too late - Callum had grabbed the lead for the first and most important time to win the tie.

Gareth will be disappointed to lose yet another tie in similar circumstances after a blistering start in the Team Picker Cup. It may also be the case that he has played his last game at TTFE for the foreseeable future so we wish him well. Callum on the other hand, clearly feeling that his team pick had paid off in the end, looked to the sky and thanked the heavens whilst claiming "the weather has helped us".

Team 'G Unit' (L-R Tom, Billy, Mike, Paul, G, Stu)

Team Callum (L-R Pugh, Chris, Callum, Joe, Gaji, Greg)

Sunday, 2 September 2012

Ridout leaves it late to reach Final in goal thriller

We're Man United, We do what we want!

Jon Ridout (11) V (10) Gareth O'Neill - won on 'next goal the winner' rule

He left it late again but Jon Ridout led his team to victory in a tense encounter against Team Gareth O'Neill, pipping them  with a late golden goal and earning the right to play in the inaugural Team Picker Cup Final.

It seems like an age has passed since Ridout had last led a team out at the Team Picker Cup, which was the opening game against Gareth Jenkins. He won that fixture right at the death by trailing his opponent for most of that match and true to form he managed to keep his supporters sweating here too.

The challenge he faced was to get the better of the man who had yet to lose a game - as a team picker and player - and who was not ready to lose just yet. Gareth O'Neill's impressive record is a reflection of a ferocious hunger to win each game and the burning desire to be in the mix when the precious cotton will be handed out at the very final game.

Just like Ridout's trusty tendency to leave things late, O'Neill was also consistent by not failing to bring that trademark appetite for acclaim.  From the first minute he was winning tackles and driving forward in attack with Leviathan like confidence, providing effectively the engine room for his team. Ridout meanwhile led from the front, primed and ready to pounce on any opportunity to grab the goals needed to win the tie.

I've never seen the lads so attentive... but then there's always Billy!
The game offered a great blend of excitement, controversy and tension that we've come to accept as a standard for Team Picker Cup games; from the word go in this match it was clear that some of the previous quarter finals haven't been as enjoyable and competitive as this semi final. To add extra spice there was the token own goal, handball calls dispute over the goalkeeper handing outside of the goal area plus a spell of play which continued despite the ball being a goal kick. The TPC continues to provide a healthy dose of competition to TTFE!

At half time the score was tied 5-5 and no side looked to be running away with it just yet. In the second half however Team O'Neill seemed to push on the gas and the goal cushion began to widen. This was coupled with a Team Ridout which was looking nervous and slightly bereft of ideas - possession was cheaply lost in midfield, heads were dropping and the team were getting caught short at the back.

The turning point however came near the end when Team O'Neill were leading by two or three goals only for misfortune to strike the captain. O'Neill overextended himself whilst chasing down the type of ball he'd been winning all game and this time his determination alone could not help him through the pain.  Feeling the strain in his ankle he had no choice but to eject Billy Collins from goal and go in for himself. This unfortunate move possibly unsettled his team and Team Ridout began their fightback, grabbing the vital goals to force a draw of 10 goals a piece. The 'Next goal the winner' rule was evoked and it became the dreaded sudden death for that final place.

This was the REAL game changing point - that awesome tackle!
With no finger nails left to bite on either side, Stuart Parsons earned a footnote in the TPC history books by firing a superb finish into the net and secured captain Ridout a place in the final. Ridout's players jumped in jubiliation and riased their fists in the air to signal a famous victory. Gareth Jenkins, who perhaps was the strongest contender for Man of The Match with a superb performance, was once again on the losing side against Ridout and suffered the most bitter of defeats. O'Neill was gracious in defeat but understandably stunned and disappointed with his exit from the competition. He thanked his players as he nursed his sore ankle.

The question is will we see anything of this competitive nature like this in the final? If Running Late Ridout has anything to say about it, I'm sure we will all be in for a treat.

Well done Jon!

Team O'Neill (L-R) Tom, Chris, Gaji, Billy, Pugh, Lunges, Big G the fish

Team Mo Ridout (L-R) Stu, Luco, Mike, Callum, Ridout, Greg, Joe

Invest well William.. you have a final to play!

Do you know the way to TPC glory?

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Weather for Ducks?

As the second Semi Final approaches both Daddy Ridout and SuperGaz will be plotting and scheming their way to the final to meet Billy Collins, after he dispatched Callum Gigg. They'll be thinking about which players they will want, what type of game of play and how they will motivate their players. But will they fall victim to one factor which they have no control over whatsoever... the weather!

That's right - will the elements be their undoing? In the Team Picker Cup so far we have had two games which have been played in wet conditions. Both games have been incredibly one sided; in particular with the winning side scoring a massive 12 goals. 

So what is it about the wet weather that makes the game turn into a foregone conclusion? Or is the weather a distraction to the quality of the sides picked or the general performance of the night?

Who likes the rain?

Name QF Three SF One
Gareth "Big G" ONeill 1 1
Mike Pinto 1 1
Jon Ridout 1 ABS
Paul Preece 1 1
Joe Newbury 0 0
Stuart Parsons 0 1
James Pugh 1 1
Billy Collins 1 1
Callum Gigg 1 0
Tom Payne 0 0
Paul Evans ABS ABS
Greg Davies 0 0
Luco 0 1
Chris Phillips 0 0
Gareth "Gaji" Jenkins 0 0
Peter North ABS ABS
Dan Patterson ABS ABS
James "Lunges" Herbert ABS 0

The table above shows the performances for the two games which were played in wet conditions. Gareth O'Neill and Mike Pinto, who are yet to falter at all at the TPC, certainly take to a wet Sophia like ducks. However Paul Preece, James Pugh and Billy Collins all have registered a full 100% too. When you look at who have lost both games, you find Joe Newbury, Tom Payne, Greg Davies, Chris Phillips and Gareth Jenkins. It's clear from both these games that the sides were quite similar - and in both cases they struggled! 

So beware team pickers if the rain comes in - you may want to pay attention to the table above!

Who is in form?

Gareth O'Neill continues to set the tournament alight with a 100% record in all games played - to maintain this he will need to beat Jon Ridout in the proposed Semi Final matchup tomorrow night! Mike Pinto also maintains an impressive 3 from 3.

Gareth Jenkins and Chris Phillips however have had a Team Picker Cup to forget, only registering one win each from all games played. Both participants in the TPC and entering with so much promise, they have just not been able to get the rub of the green. But don't write them off - they are both determined to win their remaining games.    
Name QF One QF Two QF Three QF Four SF One Wins Games Success
Gareth "Big G" ONeill 1 1 1 1 1 5 5 100%
Mike Pinto 1 ABS 1 ABS 1 3 3 100%
Rolan ABS ABS ABS 1 ABS 1 1 100%
Jon Ridout 1 ABS 1 0 ABS 2 3 67%
Paul Preece ABS 0 1 ABS 1 2 3 67%
Joe Newbury 1 1 0 1 0 3 5 60%
Stuart Parsons 1 0 0 1 1 3 5 60%
James Pugh 0 0 1 1 1 3 5 60%
Billy Collins 0 1 1 0 1 3 5 60%
Callum Gigg 0 ABS 1 1 0 2 4 50%
Tom Payne 1 0 0 1 0 2 5 40%
Paul Evans 0 1 ABS 0 ABS 1 3 33%
Greg Davies 1 0 0 ABS 0 1 4 25%
Luco ABS 0 0 0 1 1 4 25%
Chris Phillips 0 1 0 0 0 1 5 20%
Gareth "Gaji" Jenkins 0 1 0 0 0 1 5 20%
Peter North 0 ABS ABS ABS ABS 0 1 0%
Dan Patterson ABS ABS ABS 0 ABS 0 1 0%
James "Lunges" Herbert ABS ABS ABS ABS 0 0 1 0%

Billy's not silly as Callum crashes out

Check out that shine.. that can only mean rain!

Billy Collins (12) V Callum Gigg (3)

Billy Collins dished out the pain as his team emphatically beat Team Callum Gigg 12-3. 

The first Semi Final of the Team Picker Cup was supposed to be Jon Ridout V Gareth O'Neill, however due to the expected paternity leave which came rather unexpectedly, the game was postponed and the other semi final was brought forward as both players were available. So with less than a few hours to spare Collins and Gigg were in action - only one week after Gigg's crushing defeat of tournament favourite Chris Phillips.

The prospect of playing on an ice rink always raises spirits!
On rainy evening at Sophia Gigg opted for a stronger defence whilst Collins went for a more attacking front. In the end the tactic to push forward favoured Collins as they showed no mercy and destroyed Team Callum on all fronts. In a similar fashion to the Quarter Final game between Joe Newbury and Gareth O'Neill, the more attacking team thrived on the wet conditions and Team Callum just couldn't find an answer to the constant attacking threat.

In what was a more subdued affair due to the heavy rain throughout the evening, there was not a lot of post match banter from two fine gentlemanly figures of the game. Collins will be happy with this performance however as he looks in great shape for the Final.   

(No Team Pic)
Team Billy: (L-R. Mike, Luco, Stu, Billy, Gareth, Paul P, Pugh) 

Team Callum (L-R. James, Chris, Callum, Gareth, Joe, Greg, Tom)