It was a dark Sunday night. As I lay in bed clutching a half eaten pot noodle, semi-watching Come Dine With Me on mute while my dog quietly urinated in the corner of my room, I wondered what I could have possibly done to deserve the misery that had been mercilessly served to me with such ruthless force that day. For Saturday was a wonderful day. I was going places in life. The birds were chirping and I had ended the day 17 points up on my opponent with 3 players left to play over his 2. There was very little doubt in my mind.
As the Everton match got underway and Arouna Kone, my opponents striker, registered his first points for the day with an assist I barely flinched. He was destined for mediocrity I told myself. I’ll be kind enough to let him have it, I’m a good sport. As he got off the mark shortly after the half hour point I began to nervously twitch in my seat, but still mildly defiant and fairly confident. Surely Arouna Kone was not going to ruin my weekend. I was on a three hour train journey and as I completely ignored my girlfriend while a bead of sweat trickled down my gleaming forehead, I realised it’s going to be one of those days. As Defoe scored on the stroke of half time I don’t know what made me want to throw up more, the fact I traded him the week before or the fact I just lost my clean sheet for Stones. Either way that first half made for grim viewing, but I was buoyed by the fact I had a far superior attacking threat in my team in Ross Barkley, and that I could actually afford another goal AND have my opponents other player keep a clean sheet later that day. You’re going to be fine I quietly told myself.
As the woman with the cart of overpriced nuts and chocolates trudged her way past me after the second half had kicked off, we exchanged a momentary glance until my attention was diverted to another goal. It’s a Sunderland goal, I can live with that. As I realized Stones just lost another point I felt the uncontrollable urge to tell him off and give him a detention. Bad John. My opponent was annoyingly chipping away at me and there was nothing I could do about it but slump on my £42 seat and take it. As three rapid goals followed, panic began to set in while I furiously refreshed Livescore, sparking desperate scenes in carriage C. My telephone signal was shakier than a newborn antelope trying to walk and I read exactly what I didn’t want to. As my friend Sim exclaimed the word AROUNAAAAA to me, (with pleasure no doubt) I began to grind my teeth and question the meaning of life. Unclear what was worse, Stones getting booked and leaving me with 2 points from 2 players, or Everton scoring 5 goals and Barkley failing to muster a single assist, let alone a goal. As I began to calculate points and see where this left me, taking into consideration worst case scenarios, I realized I was still in it, granted the score remained the same. Then the unthinkable happened. With a quarter of an hour left Arouna Kone had risen to the occasion and completed his first career hat-trick to finish a rout and firmly put his injury woes behind him. Arouna flipping Kone. As I sit there, casting a dejected forlorn figure wishing I could crawl into that very same food cart and hide for the foreseeable future, I had once again hit rock bottom. To compound my misery all I needed was Southampton to concede and I would have drawn, and Ritchie could have won it for me, but Bertrand typically got an assist and they didn’t concede, firmly putting the nail in my coffin. This was not about Bertrand though. The damage had been done when Arouna Kone singlehandedly clawed back the 17 point deficit while Barkley and Stones may as well have been sipping Pina Coladas from the directors box.
Let this be a lesson to everyone, no matter how over you think it is, no matter how comfortable you think you are, Arouna Kone is likely to get 3 goals and 1 assist and lose you the fixture. Expect the unexpected and be fearful of every possible scenario, no matter how harrowing they seem because I had to learn the hard way. In hindsight it’s those moments that make for a truly spectacular experience and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Thank god for this international break though.
Shayan Shahdi, FC Hibak
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