54th EMPA FOOTBALL TOURNAMENT, MARSEILLE 2018
This year UK Pilots traveled to the Southern Coast of France with the Marseille Pilots hosting the 54th EMPA Football Tournament.
Bristol Pilot Martin Greenslade was once again in the UK Pilots squad in his 8th tournament.
With a small squad of only 14, the UK Pilots were attempting to retain the cup after their success in Bremerhaven the previous year.
The squad included many of the usual suspects, gratefully strengthened with the addition of 4 new pilots freshening up the team: Yosif Yordanov, Mark Macdonald, Jonathon Davison and Joe Stevens.
The team was once again ably managed by Simon Wood, who did a fantastic job coordinating and preparing the squad into turning up at the right country, right venue and right time.
The team, all taped up and full of all the latest energy supplements known to man, kicked off their campaign with an enthusiastic display, gelling quickly and dispatching Kiel 2-0 with goals from the busy Zane Joachim and new centre-forward Yosif Yordanov. Yosif’s enthusiasm on and off the pitch tagged him our very own “Beast from the East”!
The lads were allowed a quick debrief before starting a tough back to back fixture v the Rotterdam Pilots. This is always a test for any team and it was a real marker for how the team was playing. Some excellent and patient football saw UK Pilots dispatch the Dutch by 3-0. Goals from Greenslade Junior and a brace for the determined and enthusiastic Yosif.
This meant UK topped the group and went into lunch knowing that they faced Belgium Pilots, who were yet to get off the mark with any points and the consistent Amsterdam Pilots.
The UK Pilots always help out the EMPA team and this tournament was no different with a few of the UK squad bolstering their numbers. This was commendable as many of the players were getting little rest between the games.
The afternoon started with a match v the luckless Belgium Pilots Team. They must have spent lunch reversing a Flemish Team Bus across the goal area as they frustrated the UK Pilots with a wall of red, black and yellow. The celebrations of the Belgians were heard from afar as they came away with a commendable nil-nil draw. They were then seen all boarding an open top bus, carrying on their pitch-side celebrations, proud of a point against the UK Pilots.
This put pressure on the UK Pilots to beat a formidable Amsterdam Pilots team. We needed goals and a Martin Greenslade hatrick in 5 second-half minutes was the foundation to a crushing 5 nil win, with other goals from the busy and skillful Ben Greenslade and Yosif Yordanov.
Dave Davey, who was on the ball with the maths and stats, confirmed that we had once again qualified for the Final Tie v the Flushing Pilot Team.
The Flushing Team decided to play defensive tactics and this played into the UK Pilots hands and once Yosif had driven in the opener for a 1-0 lead, following another unsuccessful bicycle kick attempt, the Flushing lads heads dropped as they tired. The second half saw UK play some excellent football and the impressive Greenslade Junior notched his fourth goal of the tournament to bring the cup back home.
The Marseille Pilots, who organised the weekend, were excellent hosts, the weekend events finishing with an impressive Tournament Presentation evening at the Fort Ganteaume where the UK were presented with the EMPA Cup.
Next year it is Antwerp where the UK Pilots will once again line up to try to make it three in a row.
The UK Pilots Squad :
Kevin Walsh Liverpool
Pete Flanagan London
Simon Wood London
Zane Joachim Tees
Ben Greenslade Bristol
Martin Greenslade Bristol
Yosif Yordanov London
Joe Stevens Langstone Harbour
Terry Mcdonaugh Liverpool
Iulian Gram London
Willie Terry Forth
Nathan Greenslade Guest
Mark Macdonald London