|Daddy reporter, mummy reporter + baby reporter|
|Tom's Galaxy Humdinger rides the QR Code Highway|
We settle for the radio commentator's booth as our perch for the evening, as there do not seem to be any radio commentators for this one, the Big One, the replayed Big One, between leaders Belenenses and not half bad Sporting B, led by old Sporting captain the silver fox Manuel Fernandes.
By the start the crowd has swelled to beyond 2,000, with a percussion section of Sportingistas away to our right and, directly in front of the press box, in an unfortunate lapse back towards the organisation we had met the first time we came, a rotund character in a tight fitting Sporting rain jacket, who appears to have brought with him to the game the most powerful larynx in southern Europe. His mono syllabic explosions will litter our experience up to the 80th minute of the match. Also within a bevvy of high-spirited Africans in our midst stands a giant figure dissimilar only to Lilly Savage by the fact that he (maybe she) is from a different continent.The outfit is Starskey & Hutch slacks, a pink cashmere sweater, massive black bead necklace (each bead is the size of a bat's head), gold rimmed spectacles and a towering conical fluffy beige hat.
Sporting have the marvellously unhurried look of a team that know however well they play, they will not get promoted. League rules prevent it, so they might as well just tippy tappy it about and they do this to some effect, helping themselves to heaps of possession but only two shots, one of which comes back off English keeper Matt Jones and is swiped into the net. 1-0 to the unpromotables and cue high drama from Lilly Savage and high volume from MacMan. A bomb goes off immediately in the section of Sporting teenagers to our right. Smoke envelopes the press box and Tom's Galaxy Humdinger fails to read the QR Code for scorer Carlos Mané.
The second half is kicked start into life by the addition of Arsenio, replacing Fredy, who has clearly been missing a 'd' all evening. The red headed left midfielder has decided tonight's the night. His cross finds ex-Guimarães frontman Desmarets and it's 1-1. Cue proper celebrations from people, whose club can and will get promoted back to the big time at the end of the season.The goal does not seem to have put off the Man With The Loudest Voice, whose monosyllabic explosions can be heard way above the thunder of the crowd. They do not seem related to anything Sporting does, even blasting out when the ball is dead or when the oppostion have tame possession in their own half. He appears to have been programmed to watch a different game, involving different teams going at a somewhat different speed.
A man called Nii Plange takes his place on the pitch for Sporting B. We agree this is a good name. Belenenses have "Kay" and "Rambé" but Nii Plange takes the plaudits from us.
|Belenenses ladies toilet dress code advice leaflet|
|When The Voice runs out + there's only clapping left|
In a departure from usual policy, Sporting keeper Victor Golas (no really and it's two Golas that he has let in already) comes up for a corner with fully four minutes to go. Sporting B obviously do neither urgent attacking nor last minute desperation. Young home keeper Matt Jones gets one final chance to produce a Hollywood Save, his third meaningful effort of an underworked evening. It is curtains for Sporting, forever destined to be locked in the Liga de Honra. Tanoyman shouts about a "justissima vitoria do Belenenses" as the crowd files out to a rousing sea shanty on the loudspeakers.
|Manuel remembers Malcolm|
Out in the calm of the car park, Manuel Fernandes is attempting a private phone call, so we bustle into him and force him to talk about Malcolm Allison for quarter of an hour instead. To our surprise and gratitude, the friendly Sporting B manager does not find this a chore at all and regales us with story after story of one of Sporting's biggest "misters". With warm thoughts of Big Mal, Big Matt and the man with the Big Voice, we head for home, assured that Belenenses will be a top flight side next season and that Matt Jones will not look out of place there either.