The remaining friendlies were against Balkan Bukovica and 14 Oktobar. Neither were classics, nor where they meant to be. The object was to build fitness. Mirkin tore a groin muscle and ruled himself out for 2 months, and Novi Sad won both games, 3-0 and 1-0. Both Cretin and teenage sensation Pilipovic (Pillhead) looked good. I saw Slobodan Zecevic around the place, but managed to keep out of his way. I asked Boris to send him off on a trip and he just laughed, pushing his index finger in and out of his fist in a crude sexual gesture. What’s more, I was sure that Vasa was pissing in my office on a regular basis. On the plus side, I was back in Angel’s good books. I gave her half a jar of marmite, and she was happy.
The first game proper after the break was against pre-season favourites Mladost Apatin. I knocked up the programme a few days before, running over the bits of news from the closed season, and with match reports of the friendlies. I ran up 2,000 of them, and wondered how many would end up in the river. If I didn’t get better at predicting attendances, I was going to build a dam out of the bloody things. I had suggested putting back issues in the club shop, but the general response was: “What? We have a shop?” No, the river was the best place for them. I briefly considered interviewing Vasa, but that was like courting the devil, so I put the idea on ice until I really needed to sell myself short. That day would inevitably come.
Although Krusty had been the starting keeper in the friendlies, with the wings covered by Pillhead and Cretin, Boris reverted to type and went for a now fairly standard Novi Sad line-up. Boggy the Younger was in between the sticks; the back four was made up of Ninko the Kid, The Backside, Alex and Terminal Disease; Branko bossing things from deep in a defensive midfield role; Janker and The Turd on the wings; Ilijah in central midfield; Boggy the Elder and Darko up front. Mladost Apatin might have been the bookies favourites for the title, but when Novi Sad met them away earlier in the season we had beat them 3-1. A poor start had cost them dearly, and they were situated near the foot of the table.
In the 13th minute, Janker found Ilijah in space and on side, and the youngster simply powered the ball into the net from the edge of the box. It was the start that Novi Sad needed if they were to sustain their charge. In the 25th minute a poor clearance from the Mladost keeper fell to Terminal Disease, who headed it on to Janker. The winger again found Ilijah in space and in an almost carbon copy of the first goal, he doubled the Novi Sad lead. One minute later, a long ball from The Backside found Darko, who passed with slide rule precision to Ilijah. With the keeper rapidly advancing Ilijah shunned the opportunity of a hat trick and squared the ball to Boggy the Elder to make it 3-0. The dream was alive. What’s more, news filtered through that Veternik had gone a goal down to Elan. As if this was not good enough, Mladost Apatin’s first choice striker Radosavijev limped off to be replaced by Reserve striker Miroslav Grumic.
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.