British Deaf Football Cup / Feb 5th 2005 / 2 – 2 aet Fulham DFC win 7-6 on penalties.

What can I say? What a match! It was a poor show from Fulham Deaf with the tension during extra time and penalties worth the excitement (for the 100+ crowd). All credit must go to Belfast Deaf for their style and sportsmanship.

Once we had drawn at one all after ninety minutes, I was sure we could win the match in extra time and then move on but Belfast Deaf refused to buckle over and came out fighting to score in the first half of extra time going 1 – 2 up.

A third serious pep talk during extra time half time was required alongside a change in our tactics to 4-3-3 brought us an equaliser from the spot after a dubious penalty was awarded to us. It was against the run of play in which Belfast Deaf threatened to finish us off with a third goal. The equaliser seemed to lift our spirits and we pushed forward for a winner only to be beaten by time.

So it went to penalties. After ten penalties it was 5 – 5 and neither teams could be separated. Sudden death saw a further five penalties being scored and then Belfast Deaf had their last and decisive penalty saved by Michael Boyne. We got through 8 – 7 on penalties.

Hands on my heart, I did not enjoy the match at all, I really did age five years in the space of 120 minutes and all credit must go to Belfast Deaf who can fly home with their heads held up high in the knowledge they took Fulham Deaf to the limit and beyond. We did not deserve to win this at all and yet somehow we sneaked through.

In Fulham Deaf short history, we have now been involved in three penalty shootouts, won them all 5 – 4, 6 – 5 and now 7 – 6. Amazingly we have yet to miss a penalty in shootouts and we had a different goalkeeper in all three shootouts! I have no doubt that we will come up a cropper in a future penalty shootout but until then I’ll take all the luck I can possibly get.

I would like to personally thank John Watson (Belfast Deaf player/manager) and Barry Campbell (player/secretary) for their kindness, sportsmanship and camaraderie. I also thank the rest of the squad for their good wishes. I’ve promised them all that I will look into the possibility of us going over to Belfast for do a mini-tour against Belfast Deaf and possibly other football teams.

Belfast Deaf, I salute you all, keep that Guinness tap cool and ready for me. Slainte!

Christof Niklaus