The visit to Proleter was a time for heads to clear. They were top of the table, but after one match that only meant they’d had a good win on the opening day! Darko had recovered, so Horvat dropped to the bench. He was still with us. Boris had upped the price by £5,000 and both clubs had walked away. Boris also dispensed with the long ball approach. A first minute Ilijah corner saw Boris the Elder nod past the keeper. Novi Sad maintained the ability to get early goals. It was whether we could defend later on that was questionable! Novi Sad controlled much of the game, until against the run of play Proleter equalised with a near post header from a corner. It was time, Boris decreed, to go long! The Turd came on, and Peasant replaced Zorro at the back. The ball fell to Ilijah six yards from an open goal, and with the cunning and skill of a cunning skilful person, he lifted the ball over the bar, and into the open mouths of the unbelieving Proleter fans. Still, all was not lost. Proleter switched to a 3-4-3 tactic, making the long ball more effective. Almost immediately, Boggy the Elder broke free, latched on to a long ball from midfield, and tucked it away. Proleter had proved by their tactic change that they weren’t in the mood to draw, and they certainly weren’t in the mood to lose! Their pressure told after 83 minutes with a superb equaliser. Hanging on for a draw seemed the best option, and Boris told the team to play defensively. They did, all except Branko. Considering his instructions are defensive, long ball passing from deep, not getting forward; essentially a play maker in front of defence to get the ball out, he has different ideas about what that means. In the dying moments, he picked the ball up in his own penalty area, and dribbled the length of the pitch, taking on three defenders, and then coolly slipping the ball into the net. Goal of the month. Goal of the season.
A few days later, on the way back to Belgrade again for the ill-fated game with Rednicki Novi Beograd, we learn that our first round cup game is against local giants, Vojvodina. Essentially, with Kabel and Veternik disappearing in the qualifying rounds, and with Novi paired with Vojvodina, there could only be one team from the town left in the cup. The feeling was that team would be Vojvodina. Boris thought otherwise, and so did I. We only had the rest of the team to convince. We also noticed in the paper that Oliver Lilic, one of the reserve players, was shooting his mouth off about first team football. I showed it to Boris, and without passion he simply picked up his pen, and drew a cross through the picture of the player alongside the story. Although Boris had talked of off-loading Horvat, and he was still around, I didn’t hold out hope for Lilic!
An early goal for Darko and a nodded on corner by The Impaler put Novi Sad two up, which was a relief as Boggy the Elder was out injured. Radnicki pulled one back before half time, as the game was anything but pretty, played in torrential rain with a pitch more akin to a mudbath. On the hour Radnicki equalised, and Nikola and Knobber came on, alongside the now perennial second half substitute, The Turd. The game could have gone either way in the mud, with both teams hoofing the ball from one end to the other – there was nothing here for the purists.
If you want to see beauty, go to a strip club. If you want to see football, expect to witness grown men rolling about in the mud and hoofing a ball around the park so long as they get the three points. Knobber’s first touch was not as beautiful as a stripper, and his cross to Nikola was no where near as good as watching a pole dancer peel of her pants, and her goal was not in the same class as a hooker’s shaven horrors, but as far as getting three points went, it put us back on the right road. We knew from the cup game that Radnicki would not lay down and die, and for a while all the Novi players were behind the ball with the exception of Darko and Nikola. However, with ten minutes to go and Radnicki down to ten men, Novi Sad managed to push out, and a Darko cross was picked up by The Turd, and his thunderbolt goal allowed the noose around Boris’ neck to slacken just a little.
Even at 4-2, Novi Sad were under the cosh, and a second goal from Kovacevic brought Radnicki back into it. Backs to the wall type defending, however, saw the full time out, and Novi Sad remained undefeated in the league! Okay, it might only be for three games, but it was a start. On the bus back to Novi Sad I asked Boris if with his undefeated record, he would like to emulate Arsene Wenger. He snarled: “No, never, I like women”. I shrugged and went back to reading the paper. I noticed that Lilic wasn’t alone in complaining about a lack of first team football; Dragan Brmbota had jumped on the bandwagon too. I said nothing, mainly because Brmbota was a promising talent, and his wife had a lovely arse.
NB. As I said before, this is not my own work. It is Vic Flange’s. The original work can be found on TheDugout, right here. TheDugout is dying, so I’m rescuing the story and giving it the attention it deserves.