If one were watching a football match, Football Club Indoctri Nationala (FCIN) would be in the running for a record number of self-goals.
The opposing side would be approaching half-time – yes, this game would still have a long way to go – in better spirits. Audiences would have applauded the surprise goals it had slipped in, seemingly out of nowhere, amid otherwise extraordinarily effective defensive play.
Audiences would be growing by the minute, and the match would be the talk of town. Among the hottest topics of discussion: when would this wonder team now taking on FCIN with such zest and nerve reveal the name and banner under which its players would play the big championship match?
For the moment, it wasn’t even clear who all were playing on the amazing team opposing FCIN – except that they were cool, unflappable and better coordinated than FCIN. Calmly, they dribbled and slipped the ball to each other, playing with the amazing coordination of a dream team.
Let’s imagine some highlights: FCIN’s first self-goal came when the team went after Jay Anew in a coordinated side tackle by Mantry, Santry, Bussy, Abe Weepy and others – after the grey-masked bandana-ed Kash Mearly tried to slip a loose ball past Abe Weepy.
Already off-side, Kash Mearly slipped off the field while team FCIN swooped in on Jay Anew. Nobody missed Kash Mearly. He had seemed dodgy anyway. No one was sure who had invited him as a guest player.
FCIN had a reason for letting Kash Mearly slip away. And the entire FCIN team was really excited at the chance to swoop on to Jay Anew. They all hated Jay Anew, who had spent earlier seasons flashing a red card at all FCIN’s players, as if he was a referee.
The second self-goal came when FCIN tried to run down the spindly Tired Comred, who was playing left of centre, with a flying tackle in the early minutes of the game. As Polly Tickle Dogmatix at left back ran to Tired Comred’s side, FCIN tackled both together. The duo bounced back, ably helped by a deft pass from Dilly Sarkar and surprise backing from Raul, the hitherto ineffective centre-forward.
Team Opposition had come together like a dream – a nightmare for FCIN.
The third self-goal came off a penalty after a foul by FCIN team members standing off-field near the players' bench. That’s when the audience started growing. It was now clear that this was no benefit friendly. It was going to be a crucial match for the next championship.
The game slowed down for a while, while the opposing team engaged in brilliant defensive play. Then came the big goal of the match, under floodlights. The ball soared in with a piercing yell from the new striker – ‘waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaz doh! It happened as soon as FCIN allowed striker Kanya Prez back on the field after forcing him off over a disputed foul and following up with injuries off the field.
As soon as he got back, Kanya Prez got the ball under his left foot at the very edge of the field. Playing expertly barefoot, he struck the ball with a light but firm touch – unerring. The ball arced across the field straight into FCIN’s goal, starkly lit by the floodlights.
Kanya Prez’s injuries seemed to have worked like an elixir. The audience on the left of the field and on either side was on its feet in a thunderous wave of applause. FCIN was on the back foot. The loud fans who had been sitting behind the FCIN goal went quiet. Some showed their thumbs down.
A mirror called fudge-tape had been laid across the centre line. Players could pass through it but the audience behind FCIN’s goal couldn’t see past it. To them, the opposite goal seemed to be near that centre line. The entire game seemed to be only on their side of the field. Whenever FCIN kicked the ball to the centre line, their fans cheered wildly – sure that they had scored a goal. To them, the penalty area seemed like centre-field.
Fudge-tape was very effective. It amplified the booming commentaries from behind the FCIN goal line. Through most of the first half, those commentaries spoke repeatedly of Kash Mearly’s early move, calling it a foul the like of which could not be tolerated on anyone’s home ground.
The referee – having sworn never to use a red card – kept flashing what looked like a saffron card at the opposing team. They didn’t like it. Some of them flashed blue cards back at him. A few in the audience held up `boo’ cards.
The booming commentators in the box behind the FCIN goal line yelled shrilly that blue looked green. Either way, it upset them. Authority could do no wrong, they yelled, so it was a green light for the referee to force the opposing team to like him.
The referee, who was called Pay Tree Arki, agreed. He sent some of the opposing team into the barred and bolted dressing-down room, and threatened to send other team members there. But they still did not like him.
So, having taken a green signal from their blue cards, he would not award penalties to the opposing team, even when they and their fans appealed that FCIN had played foul. The linesmen too turned a blind eye when FCIN kicked the ball – and members of the opposing team – off the field.