Christmas quiz, question 1. What is the term used to refer to a collective group of Swans?
Judging from our poor turnouts every Saturday morning, a flock can’t be right. A gaggle would just about sum up our lack of organisation but sadly, refers to our tasty and topical cousin, the goose. Even more fitting, though, is the real term: a bevy. As we meander through December, listless with fatigue and heads heavy and hungover, a bevy seems an apt term for Escaped Swans FC’s collective squad, let alone the birds themselves. A bevy might just be the only thing that makes sense. The only thing that’s ever made sense. So a bevy it is.
To set the scene: it’s late September. A bevy of Swans gather and flock to a football pitch, a 4G pleasure dome located deep in North London, having clearly missed their migration memo. Here they were met by a fellow lost tribe: a flock of South American buzzards. Or was it bastards? In the ensuing encounter the valiant, though still nascent, Swans were defeated. But they would return.
Fast forward several weeks. The wedge is starting to break into full flight. And no, not Absolute Bankers FC, just about propping us up from the foot of the table; wedge is the term for Swans in flight. Genuinely. After a slew of early season defeats the team begins to click. A turning point is duly reached. The Swans return to the scene of their first defeat. And they win. They actually win, teaching the Chileans that revenge really is best served cold, drizzly and in mid-October. Tom Francis plays like Peter Schmeichel, unbeatable aside from the one occasion when he is beaten. Watts scores two golazo’s, including one from outside the area (hitherto assumed an impossible feat). Surely a foundation to build upon?
Improvements do come: passes reach feet; goals are scored; defenders head the ball. Beeson flies in 2 footed and earns the club an £8 fine. Luke Townsend promptly follows suit. What do they coach them up in Oxford? Matt Sarre turns up on time (once). Most bizarrely of all, Miles scores the Goal of The SeasonTM from 45 yards out without even looking up. Talk about knowing where the goal is. To imagine the celebrations, think Sturridge vs Wales, but with 11 Gary Nevilles.
Predictably, this improvement doesn’t last.
Famine follows the feast. Defeat rears its ugly head, but the Swans fly on. The team is rewarded when battle hardened Derbyshire Sunday league veteran Will Gratton makes the move to the big smoke and makes the armband his own. Sure enough, the unimaginable happens. At the glorious climax of a 2 game unbeaten run, the headline reads: The Swans Win Again. Did you know that “Swans often hold loud celebrations after the pair fights off an intruder together”? If they didn’t before, then Goonfellas FC do now. On a day when Matt Sarre arrives over an hour late and Harry Nicholas doesn’t turn up at all, this backs to the wall performance against title contenders is the team’s finest hour to date. Naturally, celebrations are had at the home of the bevy, The Famous Three Kings. Guinness is drunk, England win the rugby, Luke has a pint in his top pocket, and for a moment the world is perfect. On this tide of ludicrously high levels of morale, Gratton publishes a rallying cry discouraging lateness and persistent unavailability.
Next Saturday, a squad of 15 completes a half hour pre-game warm-up. We lose 6-0. The following weekend, Gratton is late as we start with 9 men. We lose 4-2. The Lord giveth, and the Lord taketh away.
So as they enter the London League Winter BreakTM, with a record reading P13, W2, L Lots, Escaped Swans FC’s future status in London League Saturday AM Division One hangs in the balance. A tough few months lie ahead. But as any keen ornithologist will tell you, “Swans are known to aggressively protect their nests.”
Expect to hear imminent stories of Clapham Common’s transformation from garden fence to fortress.