Following a largely successful pre-season, it was finally ready for the serious games to begin. The opposition – Old Grantonians – were new to the league after dropping down two divisions from the 4 South. If they thought that this season would be a little easier, they were in for an early wake up call. There was definitely an air of complacency as they emerged only a few minutes before kick off, with one player looking to borrow shin pads and another sporting a fetching pair of Nike trainers.
A bright start and solid possession from Tiffs quickly resulted in the first goal, with the ‘old man’ of the team Thommo rolling back the years to walk the ball around the stranded ‘keeper to give OTFC a deserved lead. Any question marks about his lack of attendance in pre-season were quickly put to bed as he repeated the trick to get his second before luring the ‘keeper into a late tackle to draw a penalty. Dave Bettis stepped up to keep his perfect record from the spot intact, confidently firing to the ‘keepers left and giving him no chance. The pressure was kept on, and after a few easy chances from set pieces went begging, Tiffs added to their dominant lead with Thommo sealing his hat-trick. There was a swagger to the football being played at times, and the hard work put in over the summer was paying off.
After a momentary lapse from the second half kick-off, the goals continued to come, with some excellent work from Ali on the wing resulting in two excellent and calmly taken finishes. Jason, not wanting to miss out on the action from left back, surged forward as only he can to bamboozle the defence and firing past the shellshocked goalkeeper. Thommo, not realising the financial implications of scoring hat-tricks (thanks for the jugs of beer), continued to walk in the goals to end the game with a phenomenal six – giving him an early and possibly insurmountable lead for top goalscorer. It is rumoured that Ryan Giggs has a poster of the ageless OTFC forward on his wall. Despite the heroics in the opposition box, there were still signs of the mistakes of last season creeping in, with a few lapses of concentration allowing the Grantonian team to sneak two goals against the run of play. Their third, a free kick from 30 yards, managed to bounce twice before rolling into the net, and against a better team these mistakes may have proved more costly.
It would not spoil the opening day victory though, with OTFC walking away with the much deserved three points and a 10-3 scoreline to show they mean business this season. Thommo walked away with a man a match award and a £30 bar bill to show for a great days work.