Adam Cook reports on the Baltic Football Club’s victory at Posidonia 2014
In the beating midday sun on Sunday 1 June seven Baltic members met up at the Baltic Exchange FC’s “team hotel” in Glyfada, Greece. After a carb-heavy lunch and alcohol heavy previous evening, the two taxis set off….one went to the Karaiskaki Stadium in Piraeus, home to Olympiacos FC, for the 2014 Posidonia Shipsoccer Tournament and another to an abandoned Olympic stadium. This was not the best start to the day!
The seven players dressed into the Baltic colours and walked down the tunnel onto the pitch to be greeted by the noise of 1000 supporters all cheering on their teams.
Adam ‘Captain’ Cook of GFI rallied the Baltic team together and laid out the plan for the tournament and made sure they were prepared. A very tight first game saw the Baltic squeeze out a 1-0 win over Bureau Veritas Hellas with Andy Walker of Clarksons scoring a superb individual goal setting a precedent for the rest of the tournament.
The Baltic continued through the group stages strongly winning their next three games with all the players playing a vital role in both attack and defence resulting in no goals being conceded in the first four games.
2nd game – The Baltic Exchange 3 vs 0 Campbell Jonhnston Clark – two goals from Tom Buckley (GFI) & one from Andy Walker (Clarksons).
3rd game – The Baltic Exchange 1 vs 0 Golden Union Shipping – a superb 20 yard rocket from Tim Mellett (Braemar).
4th game – The Baltic Exchange 4 vs 0 Hellenic Lloyd’s SA / Lloyds Register – two goals from Dan Parker (Vogt & Maguire), one for Tom Buckley, and one for Andy Walker.
The Baltic Exchange was all out of gas with practically every player picking up an injury en route to the final
The fifth game was against Marinakis’ Capital Ship Management Corp Team. It was a physical encounter and a speedy break from an ex-Olympiacos professional led to Capital scoring the only goal of the game which left the Baltic with their first defeat.
Undeterred Adam Cook picked up his team and marched them forward into their final group game against Japan Ship Machinery & Equipment Association, leading by example with a superb diving header the first goal home, Adam Bryne(Clarksons) provided influential in unselfishly setting up a number of the goals leading to the Baltic winning 6-0.
With no set goalkeeper, the role was split throughout the group stages of the tournament.
To keep consistency in the knock-out stages Alistair Donald of IVS put himself forward to play in goal. The Baltic Exchange FC found themselves up against DHL in the quarter finals. It led to a furious encounter with the Greek team buying plenty of fouls off an eager Baltic team early on. The game continued at a frantic pace with the ball flying from end to end. A ricochet off the Baltic cross-bar lead to a Baltic counter attack only for the ball to skim past the outside of the post. Another quick break lead to a cross ball from Tim Mellet of Braemar to Tom Buckley of GFI who thundered the ball home. The rest of the game was very tight, but DHL could not find a break through past a sterling defence, Dan Parker of Vogt & Maguire was at the heart of everything, giving the opposition no time on the ball and solid as a rock. The whistle blew for full time and the Baltic were ecstatic to make it through to the semi finals, and they firmly believed they could now go on to win the tournament.
Their next opponents Tsavliris Salvage Group were a strong unit, who played with speed and finesse, but the strength and determination of the Baltic showed a worthy opposition. With both teams struggling to get shots away, a tantalising cross led to a vital flying clearance from Alistair Donald in goal which resulted in a collision with his team mate Tom Buckley. Both were winded but able to play on.
The full time whistle went, nil-nil, which meant one thing….penalties!
It was best of three penalties and Andy Walker stepped up for the first penalty and with pinpoint accuracy placed it home. Dan Parker and Tom Buckley both put away their penalties respectively to leave the Tsavliris player with the pressure penalty, Alistair Donald in net stood tall and watched the opposition player loft the ball clear of the cross bar and leave the Baltic celebrating a trip into the Posidonia Shipsoccer Tournament Final.
The Baltic Exchange FC met PWC in the final a grueling six and three quarter hours after arriving at the Karaiskaki Stadium (via the Olympic stadium) where it really was a “backs against the wall” performance. The game was mostly dominated by the PWC outfit who had a 12 man squad including two Greek internationals, albeit for the Greek 5 a side team.
The Baltic Exchange was all out of gas with practically every player picking up an injury en route to the final and had to defend the majority of the match and only managed to create a few half chances. With only seconds to go the ref gave a dubious free kick only five yards from the Baltic goal. All that was left was for the Baltic Exchange was to stay strong, line themselves up on the goal line and let the PWC striker have a pot shot at them from point blank range. Shouts from the side were to “stay strong” and “keep your hands down and be brave”. There was to be no flinching or ducking in this wall, the striker then took a run up, hit a peach of a shot right into the Baltic captain’s chest, he went down to the ground and Ali Donald cleared the ball. The medics ran on and the whistle blew for full time. The Baltic had survived and the tournament was to be decided on penalties.
First up was the ever confident Andy Walker who placed his into the bottom right corner. PWC’s first penalty was dispatched with ease, which led to Tim Mellett stepping up take his pen which he blasted into the top right corner. What a penalty, although he later admitted he was going for the bottom right. It was then GK Ali’s turn to shine, he looked straight into the nervous striker’s eyes and read the shot diving excellently to the right to leave the Baltic Exchange one penalty away from taking the tournament. Tom Buckley stepped up and under immense pressure the GFI man took a long run smashing the ball low off the post and into the net. The Baltic were victorious!
Big thanks to the organisers of Posidonia, the players, their companies and all the support back home and out in Greece, let’s hope we can retain our trophy in two years time
Captain: Adam Cook (GFI)
Tom Buckley (GFI)
Adam Bryne (Clarksons)
Andy Walker (Clarksons)
Dan Parker (Vogt & Maguire)
Ali Donald (IVS)
Tim Mellett (Braemar)