Thursday, November 27, 2008

A Minor Setback

The Cobbler Confederate were utterly stunned tonight at Irineo Cruz Memorial Stadium as The ShoeMakers suffered their first defeat in a league match for the season. It was at least a full minute before the flabbergasted fans regained their composure and showed the class of a city peerless in this country. They cheered enthusiastically for the local boys, Marikina United FC, as well as for their worthy opponents, Quikball FC, as the two squads shook hands, exchanged jerseys, and went back to the locker rooms. In a tremendous show of faith, club cheers and songs were performed as if a pitched battle for the World Cup was underway! Raised fists and proud, unbowed heads accompanied the final club hymn, thanksgiving for a fair battle and a guarantee to continue the fight. An outsider commented that it was a pity that the loss had to happen at a home match. A local replied that it was bound to happen, and they wouldn't have wanted it any other way. As the crowds start to leave, the sound system plays the Red Hot Chili Peppers' breakout hit, 'Under The Bridge'...

Which is exactly where I found Mar Queno, in a manner of speaking. The Sublime Supremo was in the conference room, replaying the game over and over and over again. An unlit MonteCristo was the only thing preventing the gnashing of his teeth. Aside from his right thumb which operated the remote, the man sat on the leather wingback virtually motionless, right leg crossed over his left knee, with nary a wrinkle on his three piece zegna. Even his scotch was untouched, the glass still firmly gripped in his left hand, perhaps his version of those little stressballs you're supposed to squeeze when you're agitated.

Being so engrossed, he wasn't aware of my presence, or so I thought. 'Help yourself to some Suntory 18, there's ice in the bucket if you want some.' he said, still unmoving. As I prepared my whiskey and water, the clinking of the ice on the glass and the sloshing of the liquid seemed almost sacrilegous, unwelcome annoyances during a ritual. I've never been witness to the Sublime Supremo's post game analysis then again, I'd never enjoyed such an expensive drink. Fitting then, on this night of firsts.

I was startled when MQ put the remote down and turned to face me. He managed a weary smile, a puzzling mix of understanding and relief. 'You've seen the 'how', I suppose you're wondering about the 'why'... possession wasn't the deciding factor and neither were scoring opportunities. I don't want to say that it was all luck, that would be disrespectful to Quikball FC. Raposo just had the best game of his career tonight, it was unfortunate that he was playing for the other team.' With the last phrase, he slowly sipped the Japanese elixir, clearly savoring the complex play of flavors that were developed since before some of his younger players were conceived. 'We thought we had prepared enough, knowing all there is to know about their squad and how they play. I still think we did everything we could have. It was clearly a hard fought match and, though I'm sure the lads are disappointed, no fingers need be pointed. There is no shame in a loss like this, only lessons to be learned, built upon, and used as fuel to drive us to greater heights!' Pouring another double, he continued, 'It was unrealistic to believe we would finish the season undefeated, despite what everyone else believed. At least, now that the pressure's off, we can more freely move forward and work harder to secure the league trophy. Dreaming is not for the faint hearted and even when dreams are met by a brutal reality, they do have their purposes.'

So as the dream of a clean sweep fades into the dead of night, we all look forward to the rest of the season as it unfolds. A milestone, though not a pleasant one, has been reached and the next one will surely be cause for celebrations! Rest easy, dear reader, Marikina United FC still holds reign over the standings, and will fight unceasingly until they lift the silver trophy at season's end!

Gabriel Isagani, Philippine Daily Star

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