Matchday 16 preview: Sat on a beach somewhere outside Honalulu

POWF Plate

Stanislav Yevgrafovich Petrov (Russian: Станисла́в Евгра́фович Петро́в) was a lieutenant colonel of the Soviet Air Defence Forces. Born in the Eastern city of Vladivostok, as soon as he was able to Stanislav followed in his father’s footsteps and joined the military. Stanislav rose through the ranks of the Red Army and at the time of his death in 2017 was revered as a hero in the West and yet merely a footnote by the Soviets.

From the 1960’s to the 1980’s, the distrust, accusations, shadow wars and outright hostilities of the Cold War between the United States and Soviet Union meant that a nuclear conflict was a very real possibility. Only Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) – the theory that if one nation launched an attack the immediate counterattack from the other would ensure both were wiped out – was stopping international nuclear war breaking out.

On the evening of 26th September 1983, Stanislav was on duty at the Serpukhov-15 bunker, overseeing the command centre of the Soviet early-warning satellite system. Shortly after midnight, one of the computers suddenly raised the alarm that an intercontinental ballistic missile had been launched by the United States and was plotting a course towards the Soviet Union. Nuclear war had started and it was on Stanislav’s watch.

Except that Stanislav knew this was bullshit.

With nerves of steel and the cojones of an 16th century siege cannon, Stanislav ignored the exact thing he was paid, trained and entrusted to obey. Indeed, he ignored his own survival instincts. Stanislav knew that the technology the Soviets had developed was extremely unreliable and decided, despite all evidence to the contrary, to back his guess that no nuclear warhead was bearing down on him. Facing the prospect of his own death and of millions others, he did nothing. He trusted his instincts and knew that if he reacted to this incoming threat the Soviets would launch one back and mutually assured destruction would begin. Obviously, Stanislav was right and nuclear holocaust was averted.

Stanislav knew how to handle pressure.

On the evening of the 24th March 2021, CSKA Tulse Hill will play Tulse Hill Invicibles in the final of the Prince of Wales Feathers Plate with THI looking to claim their first ever (more on that later) piece of silverware.

Statistically, this is one of the most mis-matched games in the history of the game. This is the first season with separate divisions and the greatest number of teams to date. THI, the overwhelming favourites, finished the season in second place in the top division whilst CSKA finished third bottom in the bottom division. They finished the season separated by 13 places, or 81.25% of the game apart.

Going into the game the teams are already heavily mismatched in THI’s favour and yet CSKA also have three of their starting four midfielders injured with the fourth nowhere near match fitness. Tulse Hill Invincibles do not have a single injury nor even one single player below 100% fitness and thus find themselves in the unenviable position of merely securing an underwhelming routine victory if they win, perhaps even a lucky win if it is only by one or two goals, and the mother of all upsets if they lose.

Despite possessing one of the best squads in the game for the last four seasons, Tulse Hill Invincbles have yet to win a single competition of the eight they have entered, a fantastically woeful display of underperformance that would surely have seen their manager sacked in any other capacity. They will be absolutely desperate to claim their first ever trophy, even if it is a consolation for missing out on the league title. Morally, they have nothing to gain and everything to lose, which begs the question…

Can the Tulse Hill Invincibles manager handle the pressure?

Meanwhile, rumours continue to circulate that the CSKA Tulse Hill manager compiled his teamsheet sat on a beach somewhere outside Honalulu, the strains of ukulele music gently floating on the breeze while sipping a daquiri as the waves gently lapped at his feet and he loudly announced to passers by that he has “absolutely nothing to lose and everything to gain”.

CTH vs THI

  • THI are the overwhelming favourites with the stronger squad going into the game. They have no injuries, suspensions or fatigue.
  • CTH are the massive underdogs so a win here would be a huge upset. As well as having a poorer team, three of their four starting midfielders are unavailable with the fourth severely fatigued.

MJCoF

An all-Division One line up contests the MJCoF final with the Dulwich Isolation Crew and Galacticos FC both looking to turn the season into a success.

Cup specialists DIC will be looking to complete the double… a double, following their POWF Plate victory last season. This is to go with their runners up medal in season two. Indeed, there was only been one season where the Dulwich Isolation Crew haven’t been in the final. What have they done with all that prize money? How closely do we need to audit the accounts at DIC House and why has their owner been seen driving a new Maserati each week?

For Galacticos this is their first final, what with this being their maiden season, and a victory will help take the sour taste of relegation away. Especially when you consider half of the entire league gets relegated anyway. They’ll be looking to Fernando Morientes to fire them to victory, although they might have to schedule an extra coaching session to remind their players what the big white rectangle with the fishing net is, having played 5 defensive players and with instructions to play defensively for the past eight (eight!!) league and cup games combined, including every game in this cup campaign.

For either manager, victory will be sweet. Galacticos will be looking to make this count and put down a marker whilst Dulwich will be non-plussed because they’re probably going to be in another final again next season anyway.

GAL vs DIC

  • DIC have no injury concerns apart from a rubbish forward who probably wasn’t going to get a kick anyway, but are looking a bit… knackered at the back.
  • GAL are without their first choice left back, but with the rest of their injuries and fatigue to reserve players they have a relatively clean bill of health.

Mike

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