Monday, March 28, 2011

Sunday March 27 Bobfest

Cold, like 20, but sunny at 8 AM game time. We donned our blue and white Mangione commemorative T shirts and started without the guest of honor. Keebl scored for the whities, then Bob arrived with his son Mike. Play was halted for a rousing HBDTY and congratulatory handshakes, back slaps and hugs. Bob turned 60 on Thursday, the first of our group to reach this milestone.

The game restarted, with Bob handling the kickoff. More dudes arrived and we got up to 14 v 16. Mark Schwartz went down with a pulled calf muscle and had to leave, Guest Joe D. arrived and started knocking down payed up members. Dino came, but didn't play due to injury. He didn't want to miss the celebration. Game summary:

Keebs for white 1-0
Vince for blue 1-1
Shamu for blue 1-2
Super Mario for blue 1-3, after which we were kicked off by a bunch of little girls.

After the game 15 or 20 players and members of Bob's family reported to Nellie's to continue the celebration. Pizza and beer: the breakfast of champions. There was much discussion about overcrowding at the games, and general agreement that 13 v 13 is the maximum number of players that should be allowed. There was no agreement how to enforce this. I still think it's up to the 27th player to arrive, who should not enter the game until someone else leaves. Ten minutes of bench time is not the end of the world, and we can usually extend playing time so that everyone gets a full 90 minute dose. We just need a little voluntary cooperation.

I have known Bob for many years now, but just to say "hi" before the game and "by" after. He was a blue defender, and I was a white defender, so our paths seldom crossed during a game. It's just the last several months that I have had the pleasure of being his team mate. He is competitive, pretty quick, and his cheerfulness is contagious. He seems to be getting knocked down more regularly lately, but he keeps coming back for more. Last week he shoved an ice pack into his sock and came back into the game. He's one of the original Waldwick Team players and has the orange uniform to prove it. He's a guy who always shows up to play, even if it's raining or snowing Bob's there. I hope we get to play together for years to come, and meet up again to celebrate his 70th. Why not? Cheers, Bobby!

Bob didn't give me much for his player of the week profile, so a few others chipped in with some comments.

Player of the Week

Bob Mangione

Born March 25, 1951 to Anthony & Marie

Garfield Elementary School – graduated 1964

Barringer High School – graduated 1968

Montclair State College – graduated 1973

Married 1977 to Michele

1984 Moved to Wood-Ridge

1985 Assisted in establishing the Wood-Ridge Youth Soccer League

a. Lipton Youth Soccer League (spring/fall)

b. Pacsack Valley Indoor Soccer League (winter)

c. Coached recreation & travel soccer teams

1988 Certified FIFA Youth Soccer Referee

1996 Moved to Waldwick

1996-2000 Coached Youth Soccer

NCSA (Wildcats & Americans)

Waldwick recreation teams

1996-???? Participate in Waldwick Senior Soccer

2000 Certified Bergen County High School Soccer Referee

Michele Mangione :

Bob played football before high school and was captain of his wrestling team in high school. He tried to teach me how to play some tennis when we were first married and was very involved with soccer and baseball with his children in Wood-Ridge before moving to Waldwick in 1996. He loves basketball but he was never tall enough to play I guess. Sports are an important part of his life and still at age 60 if he can't play soccer on Sunday mornings he isn't a very happy guy. I for one hope he can continue to play for quite some time!!

Adam Keeble:

From the early days playing alongside Bobby at right back on the bare dirt

of Trap Hagen to playing against him on the hallowed turf of Waldwick

High, it has been a pleasure. Chatting with Bobby while the ball is at the

other end of the field is part of the WSS experience for me and I hope he

plays for many more years to come... Although if he would slow down a

little, it would make my life a lot easier. Cheers - Keebo #6

Vince Janelli:

"In all my years playing this sport, I have never met anybody that embodies the spirit of fair play better than Bobby. Week in and week out, he comes to the gathering of the soccer faithful in Waldwick to compete. He gives it his all, from the first minute to the last, sometimes getting knocked over by men half his age. Yet, in all these years I have never heard him complain; he simply gets up and keeps on going. And if he happens to knock you over, he's the first to help you up. Not the youngest, not the quickest, not the most skilled...but he plays his hardest, and is the greatest gentleman on the pitch....Auguri bello! Cent'anni!" – VJ

Mark Schwartz:

All indestructible men have a weakness. Superman has Kryptonite. Iron Man gotta hate magnets. It's taken me years to figure it out, but I think I finally found Bobby's weakness - it's the mustache.

Oh, you doubt that Bobby is indestructible? There's no other answer for it. How else could he brush off a charge from a 200 pound missile in the shape of a man? How can you explain his sixth sense in knowing when to pull the offsides traps? Who else could laugh off a 90 mile per hour ball to the face, chest, or err...balls? It has to be some sort of super power.

I've done the research. Bobby's playing strength perfectly matches up with the size of his lip spinach. There's no denying it, it's actual science.

Perhaps one day Mrs. Mangione will tell him to get rid of that old soup strainer and we'll see exactly what it's like for Bobby to play like a mortal man. We'll witness a Sampson-like crash and the whole defensive line will start to collapse. But until that day, Bobby will have his mustache - protecting the innocent from both Brazilian step-overs and Beckhamish bends. And we're lucky to have it, and him, on the field with us.

(Note: Mark obviously didn't know Bob when he had the pony tail. Talk about awesome.)

Monday, March 21, 2011

Sunday March 20

First day of spring and its a beauty. 35 and clear at game time. Lots of guys showed up today, including Bucky and Dan Gonzales and guests Uttam, George from last week and Juan. We got up to 14 v 14 with some registered players sitting out, so we had to ask the guests to leave the game, except for George who was in the net for white. Juan left, Enzo came late, hung out for a while, and left.

Game summary:
Fernando for White with a bicycle kick! 1-0
Tom for white 2-0
Vince for blue 2-1
Shamu for blue 2-2
" " " 2-3
Vince again 2-4
Keebs for white 3-4
Mark Miller! for white 4-4
Vince again 4-5
At this point in the game Shamu changed his shirt and joined the white team, Tom and Dino, both playing for white, left.
Keebs again 5-5
C for blue 5-6
Fernando again 6-6
Shamu for the white 7-6
Keith for white 8-6
The game ended early in spite of the beautiful conditions and abundance of players. Next week we start early 8 or so, watch your e mails.

Player of the Week

I grew up in Teaneck, and my soccer career started in 1968 playing in the Rec leagues at Votee Park. I played a few years there and I didn’t play again until my Junior year in High school. That year, we had an undefeated season through the last game, which we lost in a half shortened game in about a foot of water to Paramus. I’ll never forget the bus ride home. Our coach literally in tears in the front of the bus, and my buddy and me laughing uncontrollably in the rear. Just the sad, stoic faces of my teammates struck me funny and by the time we got back to school, almost everyone was in stitches, even the coach. My senior year, 1975, we had a great blend of Sophomores, Juniors, and Seniors and went on to win a league championship. After graduating from Washington University, where I didn’t play, I played in a league in Englewood for a number of years. I started coaching my kids in the Hohokus/ Saddle River Rec leagues, and coached my two sons until they went to High School. My oldest son went to Midland Park, and over the summers they let parents and walk ons scrimmage the team. When he graduated, I realized I was hooked and was looking to keep playing. I found out about the Upper Saddle River games at Lions park through the coaches games that we had every year. My youngest son was a keeper for Northern Highlands and my years of taking him to training and watching him play must have rubbed off a little. I was a halfback by trade but when showing up one day to Lions Park, no one wanted to play keeper so that was my opportunity to walk on the field and give it a whirl. The rest is history. I remember thinking I’ll do this for a few weeks and then make my way onto the field. Yeah, right.

I really hate exercising on my own, but love competition and maybe the camaraderie of teammates. That’s why I also still play softball and tennis. I know my wife of 32 years holds her breath every Sunday, thinking I’m going to call her from the hospital, but she knows how much I love it, and I thank her for her putting up with it. The whole Soccer experience from the very beginning has been extremely rewarding. The time spent coaching my kids and their friends was priceless. I’ve been lucky to play with my boys on a team at Chelsea Piers, where my son and I share duties between the posts. I look forward to Sundays every week, and I hope to keep playing for a long, long time.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Sunday March 13

Cloudy windy and 44 at game time. The snow is long gone, and the boys are ready to play. We had as many as 34 people show up today, and 30 on the field at one time. Guests included our friend Joe Diedrichs, Eddie Mulane, Dennis and George. Ted's brother played for about ten minutes and left due to crowding.

Doug in the blue net, guest George, who was apparently invited by Keeper Steve, in the net for white. Keith left early with some ailment, Kennington stayed til halftime, as usual, Tom left at about the half and Juan and Joe Bagels came into the game. Scoring was started by Keebs for the white and it went like this:

Keebs 1-0
Shamu 1-1
Kennington 1-2
Shamu again 1-3
Dom for white 2-3
Keebs again 3-3 (garbage goal)
Jordan for white 4-3 with a scorcher that Doug stopped, only he stopped it inside the net;
Joe Bagels ties it up 4-4 where we finished as a bunch of little girls kicked us off the field.

No goals were scored by Mario, Super Mario, Jay, Eddie, Fernando or Tom thanks to the blue defense anchored by Bobby and Doug. Player of the day goes to Doug, without a doubt. Player of the week deferred till next week, too many players today to sort it out.

Next week, or soon anyway, we should start to enforce the 26 players on the court rule. This is the responsibility of the 27th player to show up.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Sunday March 6, 2001

Season Opener!

Finally, after a brutally snowy winter, twelve members and two guests got the season started. The forecast is for torrential rains, so we had a provisional pre-season indoor match up on Saturday. The indoor games have been great for conditioning and working on small ball skills. Thanks again to Keith for organizing these sessions.

Sunday morning its warm but drizzling. 4 guys are there at 9, but then a few more started to show up, and when Jay arrived it's Game On! Jerry brought his son Alex, and we had another guest, Juan. We played on the red field with lacrosse goals. The drizzle turned into rain, and by 10:30 we were pretty exhausted and soaked, but its great to be back.

Player of the Week

C. C is a relatively new member of the group, but he's been with us for three seasons. His athleticism and cheerfulness make him a great team mate, and his signature jumping karate chop celebrations of the rare times he scores are a highlight of the game.

A few words from C:

My fondest memories of soccer was going to the national stadium with my father to watch the national team play against other countries during the African cup qualifiers. Yes, I said "African cup".

I was born in Ivory Coast, West Africa and immigrated to the US in 1995; I was 21 then. I completed my bachelor degree at Queens College, CUNY. A few years later I completed a master in information systems at Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken. Needless to say that I moved from Queens, NY where I lived in my early years to New Jersey. I currently live in Hackensack and work in Montvale, NJ.

Growing up in Cote d'Ivoire, everyone else was so much better than me at soccer that I gave up soccer for a while and played basketball instead. But I couldn't stay away from it too long . We used to play what we called "maracana". Maracana is a form of soccer you play with small goals on any empty space you could find whether there was grass or not. Back then most kids would even play bear feet, no fancy yellow or pink soccer boots. We would also play on the beach. Obviously, the name "maracana" was inspired by the famous Maracana stadium in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil. I am glad I was able to visit during a recent trip to Rio and saw it being renovated for the 2014 World Cup.

I'm one of the new members of the Waldwick Senior Soccer Association. A few years ago I was restless. I was telling anybody who would listen that I was looking for a group of guys to play soccer for a fun. That's when a co-worker of mine, mentioned that her husband played soccer on Sundays with a group of guys. He was nice enough to invite me on a Sunday to play with them and the rest his history. So, Mike, thanks for inviting me! I'm grateful that the guys invited me to join the association. Since that day I've been looking forward to soccer on Sundays.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Saturday February 26

Saturday we had another nice 7 v. 8 indoor matchup. Jimmy & Joey were on opposite teams so the scoring was a little more even. Thanks to Keith for setting it up. After the game I checked out the turf field. It's coming along, but still some persistent ice chunks at the south end and snow cover at the north. Sunday a handful of players showed up for some pre season activity, Frank, Dimos, C, Roccus and a couple more. The weather this week has been improving, and just as predicted by the Hock, March 6 should be our outdoor spring opener. I can't wait, hope to see you there.

I just wanted to review our league rules before play starts up again. I can think of four: No slide tackling; No arguments lasting more than 30 seconds; No more than 26 players on the field; and No shin guards, no mercy.

Player of the Week

This weeks player of the week is a stalwart of the WSS group. He's been there since the group's inception, he's at almost every game, policing the field, enforcing the rules, orchestrating the offsides trap. If his team needs defense, he's defending. If his team needs offense, he' offending. And of course he ran the winter indoor program this year. Player of the Week:

Flash back to 1970 with me. WAAAY back, man...let those psychs do their thing... I'm a new transfer to Waldwick High, jus' trying to fit in. Don't even think about signing up for football they say...even cross county is full...hmmm, what's this, a soccer signup sheet with a ton of empty spots? Me and a couple other nerds give it a go and I've been hooked ever since.
Back then, soccer was nowheresville as my older colleagues will testify to. It's been great watching the sport grow to where it is now, and knowing that I was on to something great 41 years ago and right all along.
I played 4 years at WHS and one season in the North Jersey Schaeffer league, which pitted us against powerhouses in Newark, Kearny, Clifton and the like. My next formal and long-overdue exposure to the beautiful game was as a soccer dad, coaching my daughter in the Midland Park Rec League. Unfortunately she took a liking to hoops...oh the pain...where did I go wrong??

So flash back now to 1994 or '95 with me. Bucky, who I've known for years, is taunting me to come play soccer down at Trap with him and a bunch of other soccer dads - one of whom is the WHS soccer coach! (the original Vince) I hesitate for almost a year because I'm afraid these guys will tear me apart...little did I know how welcome they'd make me feel right off the bat when I finally did lace up the boots and join in the fun.

I've seen so many guys come and go...thankfully only one wake - Klaus - in all this time. Bobby & Bucky have been there all along. We formed a team for the North Jersey over-30 league a for few years...did indoors down at Teaneck for a bunch of winters too...and got schooled up at Rockland CC for a couple of tourneys even (thanks Bobby H!). But the Sunday morning pick up looks like it'll be around for a long time thanks to a couple of dedicated members and the rest of all you guys & gal.

So when that crotchety left defender starts carping about something, cut him some slack...he's seen a lot and is maybe trying to hang on to some of the old ways, which he thinks have served us well.

Aw shit, just scream back at the old fart and tell him to shut the f up and play.
(1974 WHS Varsity team: I'm 7th from the right. Coach Laurenzo was indeed a bad ass and the best damn coach ever. Notice the thigh-high shorts that were so popular in the day! )