Notes from a commentators’ booth extra.

I have a confession to make: I don’t watch a lot of local league games as I ought to.

Blame it on still trying to have a semblance of balance in my life or just the fact that I have too many things on my plate and would rather watch reruns of the overly vapid Keeping Up with the Kardashians, but I just haven’t been able to do so. It’s as if it’s not enough that I wake up at ungodly hours to catch matches in Europe, but that I have to spend afternoons and evenings watching even more football too. It’s not that I am complaining—it’s just that I have other (trivial, seemingly) matters to attend to.

Upon the insistence invitation of Ryan, I trooped to the University of Makati yesterday evening to watch the quarterfinals match between the Loyola Meralco Sparks (I swear to the high heavens, the name still reminds me of a women’s basketball team) and Stallion FC. And boy oh boy, that was one hell of an introduction to live UFL action.

I suppose it is fair to say that the match began with both teams pretty even, with lots of running, attacking, and counter-attacking. Naturally, there’s always that one point in most matches when the momentum swings the way of one team. That, I thought, was during the first Phil Younghusband goal early into the game, off a defensive error by Stallion FC. And really, that threw the Ilonggos off their game.

To make the match even more interesting, I was treated to a flurry of fouls and cards. After one Stallion FC player got sent off (I apologize, I should know who they are), Mr. Younghusband scored another goal, pretty much adding insult to injury.

Gotta hand it to the Ilonggos though—they did eventually go down 2-1, but they sure went down fighting. I do remember they had more shots on goal—quite a feat especially having been down to nine men.

That said, while the match was high on entertainment value, you can’t say the same for everything else. The officiating was terrible—there were instances when cards should have been shown but weren’t, and jeez, even the medical team entered the pitch while the ball was in play. I’d say it would have benefited everybody if the referees had a better handle on the game.

It’s also quite refreshing to see such rabid fans for both sides, especially for the Ilonggos—it’s the closest I’ve seen to Pinoy football hooliganism.

Something tells me I’m going to be watching more local league matches pretty soon.

***

But really, if you ask me, the highlight of my evening was meeting the one and only Chris Greatwich. Of course, I’m playing it cool with the guys at the commentators’ box, but internally, I was spazzing, “Holy fuck, it’s Chris Greatwich!”

I’ll be pretty candid in saying that when I started paying attention to the Philippine NT, it’s Chris Greatwich that first comes to mind. He’s the guy that scored the equalizer against Singapore and the first goal when the Philippines defeated Vietnam, 2-0.

And in one moment of incredible vanity, here’s a snapshot. Yeah, I look too happy, it’s so ridiculous.

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