Portugal Tour | Day 1.

The team pictured prior to the first game.

The team pictured prior to the first game.

Juventude Sport Campinense 1 Sassco.co.uk 1.

The team pictured prior to the first game.
The team pictured prior to the first game.

As expected, the paranoia kicked in about 6:00pm on the Thursday evening. I must have sent around seven or eight (or more) texts to everyone with subjects ranging from passports, to times, to kits, etc. Most didn’t get much sleep. I struggled to get some shut-eye from 7:00pm, but eventually crashed out at around 10:30pm and had a good sleep. Being paranoid, I told Dave Smith, Scotty H and Harper to text me the instant they woke. I also warned everyone I’d be texting them when I was up.

Around 5.30am and the pre-match alcohol has begun to flow with Cresswell, Muers, Greenwell and Dave Smith.
Around 5.30am and the pre-match alcohol has begun to flow with Cresswell, Muers, Greenwell and Dave Smith.
Double whammy for Greenwell. First, being sick several times and second, having his passport photo from his car thief days being shown around.
Double whammy for Greenwell. First, being sick several times and second, having his passport photo from his car thief days being shown around.
Dixon, Greenwell, McConville and Muers.
Dixon, Greenwell, McConville and Muers.

Timing seemed okay. Scotty and Tash were picked up on time and then over to Dave’s. In check-in, I was a bit worried. The worst thing to happen would be a suitcase loss. My oversized Adidas wheelie bag had to be checked in at the oversize section. Security was quick and in no time we were at the bar having a few drinks and breakfast.

Only delays were Emu, Greenwell and Cressy. The nonces were standing outside the aiport downing their final cans of Stella. Apparently they were bombing down the A1 due to Muers forgetting his mobile charger. Both Muers and Greenwell caught a glimpse of Cressy’s mother and instantly had the hots for her. Mentioning her around twice every five minutes from then on. She had made them turkey sandwiches. Both Muers and Greenwell are now fighting each other for the opportunity to become Cressy’s stepdad.

Me and Cresswell celebrating the fact that Emu left his money and cards at home and has become the official tour beggar / skip rat.
Me and Cresswell celebrating the fact that Emu left his money and cards at home and has become the official tour beggar / skip rat.
Muers let loose with the camera enjoys the scenery.
Muers let loose with the camera enjoys the scenery.

Timing was getting better. Greenwell was bricking it on the plane and made full use of the sick bag. He also enjoyed several trips to the toilet. He also focused on McConville’s eyebrows – who made the faux pas of admitting his lass plucked them.

Eventually we landed and then another priceless moment (all caught on camera) was the removal of the smirk on Emu’s face when he realised he’d left his money and credit cards on the mantlepiece. He had to sub the Euros off me and others. And began to come up with schemes in order to raise funds such as male prostitution, tricks for Greenwell and mugging some locals.

The baggage also came in perfectly, and in the sweltering heat (yes, get jealous) we were on our way to the magnificent hotel. A real impressive site and ten-fold better than the shanty town we were in Malta. We turned up in the lobby and saw the welcome sight of a large sign / banner detailing our fixtures. The only hiccup was that mine and the Tash’s room along with Marky’s and Bianca were ready, but the others weren’t until a few hours later. I made sure the Sassco flag was flying outside our room, but eventually we asked to take it down. We all crashed in mine or Greenwell’s anyway and within minutes, we were by the pool in a perfect spot next to a few topless birds.

Better hotel than Malta. Even the cockroaches are smaller.
Better hotel than Malta. Even the cockroaches are smaller.

First serious training occurred with water polo (or handball) with a Sassco ball. We discovered that McConville’s shooting was pants. Several players nearly drowned. Best moment was Muers, submerged slowly coming to the surface head first. I waited and cannoned the ball off his head to get a bit of height to get the ball to Hembrough who nearly netted (scored or whatever they call it). After that, the fun and frolics continued with both Muers and Greenwell getting more affectionate towards each other. But that was probably Emu trying to get more funding off his pimp.

We met Gary Thomas, the tour operator who gave us the low down and a round of drinks. We also noticed a decent article in the local paper about us. After this we had lunch in a local restaurant, but Cressy and Dave Smith went to McDonalds.

Quite a few crashed out at the hotel after this, before the big game.

Hembrough, Paul, Gourlay and Harper.
Hembrough, Paul, Gourlay and Harper.

We walked it there. The stroll was around ten minutes up and down the hill and towards the original venue we were due to be in. However, we knew in advance that it was the excellent training 3G turf we were on. The team talk was good and the pre-match training was great. Only cock-up was Hembrough and Cresswell not having blue socks, which meant me and the Tash had to remove ours and give to them. This meant a swap over if any subs. Image is everything.

The match kicked off and our opponents, like us, were all shapes and sizes. We were performing better. Scott Hembrough broke the deadlock from a Greenwell through ball and looped the ball over their ‘keeper. Later on, Greenwell said to him, “Was that a Poborski style goal?” response: “No, Scott Hembrough, you daft twat.”

Priorities. The flag was erected immediately on arrival.
Priorities. The flag was erected immediately on arrival.
Sangha and Hembrough suffer in the humid evening on the bench. Hembrough, like in Malta, scored the first Sassco goal and wins a £13 bonus. Plus, Gourlay continues the second half.
Sangha and Hembrough suffer in the humid evening on the bench. Hembrough, like in Malta, scored the first Sassco goal and wins a £13 bonus. Plus, Gourlay continues the second half.
George Dawes, what are the scores?
George Dawes, what are the scores?

Muers, who was walloping around like a sap, then had a great chance to double the lead, only to see the ball strike the ‘keepers legs. It was then that we suffered in the heat. Dave Smith was called on for some great saves and his defence in front of him (Tim and Paul Mc) were very strong. Dave Smith looked for the short option to Dave G at left back all the time and we built from the back.

Second half saw tiredness kick in. They eventually equalised from a quick free kick and came into it strongly. Rolling subs came on. I came on for Dixon just after a massive “take them f**king socks off!” slanging match with him, and nearly had a perfect chance to score. I chested it down in the box and was about to let loose a left foot screamer until Muers came steaming in and shouted “bury it” which resulted in me completely missing the ball. Harper later said that had I scored he would have walked off and gone home.

Harper, Mulvaney, Sangha and Dixon (suffering) relax in the stadium restaurant afterwards.
Harper, Mulvaney, Sangha and Dixon (suffering) relax in the stadium restaurant afterwards.

More chances. Cresswell clean on shot at the ‘keeper, then right at the death, Marky’s cross shaved the post and Emu decided to nod it wide. So close. Torrents of abuse were heaped on Emu afterwards when we had a chargrilled chicken buffet at the stadium. I received several texts in response to the result and Emu’s miss. Most replies were to drop him.We’ve come to the conclusion that he whispers “Emu up front, Emu up front, Emu up front…” in Greenwell’s ear when they’re asleep together to subconsciously force him to play him in attack.

By midnight we stumbled back to the hotel. Si took afront at some public display of affection when Marky and Biance were hand-in-hand down the street, but I said if it’s acceptable for Muers and Greenwell, it’s good enough for anyone.

Some idiot, probably Cressy, rang my apartment door bell early in the morning and I discovered about eight missed calls from him on my phone. It was on ‘silent’ any way. Nob head must have locked himself out of his room.