Sunday 6th September and somewhere in a car park in Mile End the cream of the UK’s rock and indie scene are gathering for a tournament to decide one and for all which is the greatest footballing band of all. Nervous glances are exchanged, hamstrings are stretched and cigarettes are smoked as the registration area opens and a group of men and women; all hair, tattoos, hang-overs and Sports Direct carrier bags swarm towards a small gazebo to prepare for battle.
And in one corner of the tarmacced yard stand Team Joyzine, the hand-picked elite of the South-East’s independent music crop featuring members of Mourning Birds, Lost Film Foundation, The Dredgermen, Sweetheart Contract, Flash Bang Band, Elephants & Castles and your Joyzine correspondent. Athletic, poised and 75% bearded, we make our way to the changing rooms to don our garish purple and gold kit, confident that the title is within our grasp.
Emerging into the crisp Autumn sunlight, the enormity of this event quickly sinks in: fourteen pitches house more than eighty teams, split into categories – the likes of The Darkness and Rolo Tomassi inhabit the Rock section, XFM and This Feeling are in the Indie group and there’s a collection of reality TV shows making up the Celeb section. Team Joyzine find ourselves in the Indie Kickstart Group B, taking on The SSS, Club Bandangos and Cold Ocean Lies.
We stride onto the pitch, full of confidence and raring to go to for our opening fixture against The SSS and within seconds it’s clear that there will only be one winner. Unfortunately for us, it’s them. From the kick-off a mis-controlled pass puts a blue-shirted striker clean through to make the score 1-0 within a matter of seconds and it doesn’t get much better from then on, despite a string of top-drawer saves from Dexy and a consolation goal that I gratefully tap into an empty net from three yards out following dogged work on the right by Sam Mourning Birds.
A change of tactics is obviously needed for match number two against Club Bandangos; I revert to a sweeper role, which as well as providing some much-needed defensive cover is also much less exhausting than the headless chicken position I’d taken up in the first game. It leads to a greatly improved performance with some good link up play between the three Mourning Birds and some tough tackling in midfield from Chris Elephants and Castles, but it’s not enough to overcome our opponents and we slip to a second defeat, albeit one with a rather more respectable score-line.
Determined not to go home empty handed, Bill Mourning Birds calls a team huddle and his inspiring words of kicking anything that moves have us fired up and ready for our final game against Cold Ocean Lies. Within minutes we’re two goals down. But then a hacked clearance lands at my feet on the edge of our own penalty area. With no passing options open I gingerly step forward with the ball, an improbable red-sea parting of space opening up in front of me I continue into the opposition half, avoiding a limp challenge I suddenly find myself just outside the penalty area and with a hopeful swipe of my left boot send the ball curling past the wrong-footed goalkeeper into the top corner with a strike that I couldn’t re-create if given a hundred opportunities to do so. 2-1 and the game is back on. Dexy is in inspired form between the sticks and a more direct approach with Jimmy Mourning Birds and Rob Flash Bang winning the high balls pays off when the ball breaks for Josh Dredgermen to sweep home the equaliser. The final whistle blows, ending our tournament on a high with our first point, which leaves us third in the group on goal difference.
Tired and bruised but happy we head to the refreshment tent and try to work out which of the backwards cap wearing neck-tattooed blokes in the celebrity group is Dappy from N’Dubz. We eventually get it right at the third attempt, much to the amusement of the gaggle of teenage girls thrusting scraps of coloured paper and marker pens at every young, clinically coiffed player that jogs by.
There’s always next year.
Article by Paul Maps
Header image by Caffy St Luce, all other photography by Ian Hurd