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The beautiful game: Alexi Duggins plays three-sided football

Posted at 2:15 pm, December 1, 2013 in Fun London, Outdoor London
© Louise Haywood-Schiefer/lhschiefer.com/2013

Editor-at-large Alexi Duggins is at your mercy. This week, you had him play football with three teams. At once.

The first difference between three-sided football and the conventional beautiful game: three teams play at once. The second difference? You win not by scoring the most goals, but by conceding the least. And the third? Apparently, you’re at the mercy of Polish builders.
‘Why are you attacking us?’ roars our goalie as one of the five-a-side team of Polish labourers leaves our defender for dead.
‘You should be on our side!’ he bellows as the attacker slams a precision cross into our box. ‘No!’ he barks, spying a sprinting Pole.
‘Wait… Don’t!’
But he does. Right into our net.

It shouldn’t be like this. Three-sided football is a game of sneaky tactical alliances where the two losing teams gang up on the winning team to level the playing field (and then turn on each other). Given that both the Deptford Three Sided Football Club (my team) and The Polish Builders have conceded two to Philosophy FC’s zero, you’d think it’d be everyone against Philosophy. But no. The Poles won’t leave us alone.

So as we kick off the final third of the match (Yep: ‘third’. You expected halves?), we’re pleading with the Poles to join us. Then, as we sprint down the hexagonal pitch (rectangles? Pah!), towards Philosophy FC’s goal, one of our players does something nuts. He passes to a Polish player. ‘No! He’ll betray us!’ yells someone (maybe me). But he doesn’t. He strikes the ball at Philosophy FC’s goal, and for one second, we’re united. United in skill. In sportsmanship. In a wonderful repayment of our faith in humanity.

And then the ball flies a mile wide, Philosophy FC counter, and despite ten of us taking on their five men for the next 20 minutes, we fail to score. But hey, it’s not about the winning. It’s about the fun. And this match: easily the most fun game I’ve ever played. I guess there is indeed the magic number.

Matches are on the first Sunday of the month in Fordham Park, New Cross. To field a team, or join Deptford FC, see d3fc.wordpress.com.

Read more of Alexi’s adventures or tweet suggestions for his next task @Alexiduggins

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