February 18, 2018.
As you know Nicksters, tradition is a high value. When all else
fails, tradition will carry us. In that vein, I give you the Old Nicks
of Winter 2017—18 players strong, and happy to be out on an icy field
on a weekend morning wearing shorts and howling at the invisible Storm
Gods dumping snow upon us.
Fast forward to this
past Sunday morning—Winter 2018. Early in the
snow-blurred day, fourth game in this year’s grand tour of the O58,
Nicks assembled to revisit the experience. We faced again the striped
green n black of Pierre’s, devilishly clever and
skilled opponents with greater numbers than we could muster at this
This year the match fell upon a lean time—only
fourteen Nicks could rally to the clarion call and take the frosted
field! We were buoyed in spirit, though, by our team mystic, Steve
Pinger, and our team optimist, Rich Black, both of whom appeared
dressed in sensibly warm clothes for Arctic weather, and who inspired
The match was officiated by a very cheerful referee.
And there was nothing to be concluded from the fact that Nicks set up
their folding chairs in the pelting snow and rain whilst Pierres took
shelter under the roof of the stadium. The fact that we are hardy and
proud and maybe not smart enough to get out of the weather had no
ultimate effect on the game. The failure of your manager to provide a
tent with propane heaters and a trained sports masseuse should not be
a reflection on the game’s outcome.
The serious truth was that
we had will and grit—but that we were facing a physical challenge
against Pierre’s. When the whistle blew for the start, we knew that we
would have to exercise our very best to be in this game. Our physical
champion, Glenn, was on the pitch but was struggling with a nagging
leg injury. We had skilled and solid defenders, but knew that they
would be heavily tested and that there was only a little relief to be
had. Each line—defense, midfield and forward—had only a single sub.
Despite all that, the Nicks took to the field with resolute hearts and
a commitment to give their best. The snow let up.
From the first touch
of the ball, Pierre’s came at our goal as always with a crafty,
shifting attack. Despite their pressure, pounding at our defense, we
did not relent. Midfielders fell back to fill gaps and stop the cross
field distributions. Pat McCormick and Bruce Barclay anchored the
center defense with the solidity of castle battlements under siege.
The communication among players helped. Outside backs Lyle and Al were
confident and Jack Hevel’s efforts were always well-chosen, helping us
get out of our own end for moments. Brink and Russ were disruptors to
the green attack and Glenn, despite his pain, made well-judged forays
that brought the ball into our attacking end where Geoffrey and
Makande lurked. Even when we were not able to carry the attack
forward, Geoffrey’s persistent and ferocious pressure on their counter
made a great difference in slowing the counterattack. Kim Bergenser
and Tim Leslie in their turns at midfield brought a change of pace on
the outside, and the Nicks managed to get close to goal more than once
in the half.
The high work rate of
every Nick on the field kept the Pierre’s juggernaut at bay and it was
not until just seconds remained on the clock that a small mistake
where our defensive line was holding high let a Pierre’s player
through to notch a score at the half.
All of these efforts
would have been for naught if it hadn’t been for Mike Calder’s wise
judgement amazingly athletic reflexes in goal. Mike kept us in the
game with his work. At least one of his saves was a fully out dive
sideways with a one handed clear—a feat of magic in our division. And
he bravely snagged, slid into or punched clear most other attempts.We
were pleased at the standing when we ended the half and went on the
field hopeful that we could stay close to our opponents—who were
frustrated—and perhaps begin to build some momentum of our own. That
hope faded several minutes into the half when Pierre’s won a corner
kick. The cross was terrible—a high bobble dropping down short of the
near post, but then bouncing so high our defender had no way to touch
it, from which it fell just at the near post and despite a flurry of
gold jerseys, rolled just inside the post. That crack in our
defense—despite our best efforts—was demoralizing and a short moment
after, another attack from Pierres tangled our defense and let in a
One team member noted that we have a hard time
recovering when we are pushed out of our game—and Pierre’s is really
good at pushing us out of our game. The second half thundered on —but
with our limited subs and the increased number of goals to score to
recover, the game became less-balanced. Every player gave it their
best effort but we did have trouble stabilizing our play, our anxiety
made us less intentional and we held as best we could but were not
able to break through. There were moments when we managed to turn the
play and come back on the counter attack—but at the end we did not
have enough players to effectively counter their defense.
At the end, the snow
had stopped and Pierre’s had notched 6 goals.
Everyone on the team was positive, despite the score. We will hope
that next year’s wintry match will put us back at 17 or 18 players and
that we’ll be able to come to that match with a little hunger to show
that we can play better than we did.
Old Nicks Training Day
August 27, 2017. The
faces were grim and filled with purpose.
Yes, the potentially stomach churning combination of mollusks and a
Timbers away game on tv faced our brave crew (yet again) at
North 45 Pub in NW Portland.
Unsurprisingly, North 45 did
their part with tasty food and drink. Surprisingly, the Timbers
produced a slightly unexpected 1-1 tie at the Clink in Seattle.
October 24, 2017
(update). Betting mania
still consumes the Old Nick. Both Steve Pinger and Kim Bergenser have organized wagering pools as to how the
Timbers and other teams of MLS will do as the 2017 season
progresses. Kim's version has an entry fee; Steve will let anyone
play. The results selection procedures are fiendishly complicated
for those of us who just have a tenuous sense of who the good and
bad teams might be.
But, we all feel that we have to predict the
future; both pools are well subscribed. To be continued...
Click for the Pinger Pool
Final Regular Season Standings. Al Gerritsen
pulled out the win, defeating Mark Dillon's
near-unbeatable Random Selection methodology.
(Another) Blast From The Past
Fall 2017 Season comes
into view, how many of your current Old Nicks players can you pick out of this
Stouthearts photo from 1983?
The names- ( L to R):
Rear: John Harland, David Porter, Bob
Stout, Mike Calder, Doug Morasch. ??
Middle: ??, ??,
Front: David Southey, Lee Gadinas, Al
Gerritsen, Mark Dillon, Peter Korn, Dan Murphy
our brethren who only got a "??". Old soccer brains only remember so
many names after 35 years. [Fill us in through the
FC77 Facebook page
if you are that person, or know their names!]