The word ‘berserk’ derives from a group of Scandinavian warriors – ‘Berserkers’ – who wore wolfskin, got themselves into the sort of furious mental overload only usually witnessed on Arsenal Fan TV, and went into battle all flailing limbs and swords, taking down everyone in sight until their inevitable death in what amounts to an even more ancient form of Hara-Kiri. It made sense, then, that Merton 2s’ opposition, the hitherto unbeaten and admirably ball-on-the-ground Norsemen, spent 90 minutes in a relationship to “cool, calm and collected” akin to the one Denmark has with the planet Neptune: that is to say none whatsoever and most of a galaxy apart.
When the apparently blue boys in blue weren’t screaming at each other, us, the referee, and whichever poor saps stumbled across their path, there was, in fact, a decent match taking place.
“They can only play direct,” shouted one of the Norsemen, showcasing the way to his team’s weakness.
“CALM DOWN AND KEEP YOUR HEAD ON,” screamed another, centimetres from his face, in a manner anything but calming and including far more expletives.
There was a moment when the screaming, whinging and general grumbling stopped. It was the second or so Ackers’ lobbed opener looped 30 yards through the air in an arc so perfect God looked down upon it and wondered whether he should just pack up and quit. It was assisted by cross-field fade Gresty absolutely 100% intended, a ball begging to be professionally dispatched over the despairing, but unusually quiet, ‘keeper. It was the best surprise ball since Louis CK invited young female comedians into his dressing room.
Merton 2s harried and hustled, Ackers’ was presented with another opportunity following good work from AJ but narrowly dragged wide. Ackerman’s general hold-up play and quality would garner him man of the match ahead of the centre-midfield pairing of Big Scotty Scot and Ever-running Ever-ready Ryan Gresty who didn’t give Norsemen a moment’s peace all game.
Norsemen scored, a lovely goal that included some one-touch play and a smart finish. It whistled past debutant George who over the course of the match put in such a catlike performance that Pearcey spent most of the time in the changing room after stroking him behind the ears and talking to him in a baby voice.
Despite Norsemen’s quality, our heroes in yellow and black scored again. A long throw from Gresty, a flick from Ackers and DQ (putting in a Forest Gump performance: lots of running, often stupid) controlled with his head, rightly ignored the onrushing Ben Cook, and smashed the ball with such ferocity the only real surprise was the net stayed intact.
DQ was almost immediately given 15 mins rest to get over the excitement. AJ, up top in his place, skated through like Tonya Harding before the booze and leg-breaking and boxing and pornography, only to be denied by some excellent defending. Merton 2s were looking good but Norsemen’s threat was ever-present. Soon after, Jack did his best impression of Del Boy falling through a bar, only the bar was there, and was a football, and said football hit his arm, and it was a penalty.
“I can’t remember the last time the oppo missed against us. It never happens,” remarked Willgo from the sidelines. “They just seem to have remarkably clear heads.”
Berserkers to the last, the captain promptly missed the target altogether. Was it to be Merton’s day?
No, no it was not, because a win might’ve seen the 2s threaten to move away from mid-table security and that simply isn’t their way in 2018/19. Norsemen equalised, both teams pushed for a winner, one of the teams screamed more than the other, and a fair-ish 2-2 draw presented itself at the final whistle. An average single point return, but a match that wasn’t anything but.