In what was always going to be a day filled with excitement and drama, a brand new club took to the field in their new floating stadium and gave their new fans a lot to cheer about.
The Marauders started out slowly, but eventually built a two goal lead just before halftime to send the crowd into a frenzy of appreciation. The opening goal was a dramatic event as team captain Jack Hoffman managed to get by the goalie, but made the extra pass to former Mayflower Pilgrims player Josh Holden in what was a symbolic gesture to the predecessor club of MonoTown FC.
“I wouldn’t say I went into the game planning to setup a former Pilgrims player, but when the opportunity presented itself it just felt right. I’m glad it worked out,” said Hoffman.
It was almost not to be – the first goal in the game could have come from Blocks County striker Rex Jordan who managed an early breakaway and unleashed wicked shot that hit the right post. The shaky defense continued for much of the first half until Holden found the back of the net. Offensively, budding star Jared Savage managed a hard on target strike but was foiled by the Blocks County keeper in a save worthy of a highlight film.
The game was a physical affair, which isn’t unusual for fourth division Buildersliga games, and as tension built up towards the first goal, Jared Savage was booked for a scuffle and some words exchanged with Rex Jordan.
Savage would not be denied a second attempt on goal however, and he headed the ball home just before halftime at the 41 minute mark from a corner kick delivered by Jackson Lee. It was an example of just how athletic the young striker is as he vaulted over the defense and put the ball into the near post, just out of reach from the keeper.
After halftime both managers made adjustments and the game settled into a steadier rhythm that saw the Marauders controller possession while also making several good but unsuccessful attacks towards the goal. The sellout crowd of more than 35,000 MonoTowners was given to one last treat in injury time when Hoffman fired a long strike from outside of the box that curved into the goal at the top right corner. The resulting dogpile saw reserves and even manager Scott Perry joining in! The final whistle followed shortly after and as the team collectively applauded their new fans they received a standing ovation in return.
Manager Scott Perry said he was “pleased with the performance” but also noted that “we have a lot of work to do to get to where we want to go. It’s a challenge but one that everyone is up for.”
New Stadium Met With Acclaim
Built in record time, the game was the first time fans and media were able to access MonoTown City Stadium, but the reactions were overwhelmingly positive. Having been constructed in almost total secrecy, the 2 Billion NMT arena provides fans with an intimate experience with seats being the closest to the pitch of any stadium in Buildersliga. Constructed with a heavy emphasis on “Caribbean” architectural elements in keeping with the pirate theming for the team, the stadium is mainly built with masonry elements that include splashes of red. A replica of a full scale pirate ship positioned at the North End of the field is a stunning backdrop for games and sets the stadium apart.
While opening day on the whole proceeded smoothly, there were some teething problems. The kickoff for the game needed to be delayed by thirty minutes in order to safely accommodate the influx of fans arriving for the match. Stadium officials pledged to run more monorail services both before and after games, and to double the ferry service from the city in order to alleviate future problems.
Heavy security also introduced some bottlenecks, and the city is exploring moving security checkpoints to before fans embark on public transport, but in the meantime, additional checkpoints will be added for future games.
Healthcare Professionals Honored and Traditions are Born
Prior to kickoff, MonoTown Mayor Emily Chapman, MonoTown FC Chairman Colin Kinsman, and Monotown FC Manager Scott Perry paid tribute to healthcare professionals with a group of doctors, nurses, and EMTs. Recognizing the critical role played by the entire healthcare profession during the COVID-19 pandemic, Mayor Chapman called their contributions “truly extraordinary” and they received a standing ovation from the crowd. The large contingent posed for photographs on the field, and enjoyed taking in the game from prime seating that will be reserved for healthcare professionals and other first responders throughout the season. Chairman Kinsman said that “it was the least we could do for these brave folk who have kept us safe throughout the last year.”
Another tradition started by the club is rooted in another nod to the Mayflower Pilgrims – a rock transported from Mayflower, England, has been installed at the team entrance to the stadium and each Marauder rubs it on their way out onto the pitch for good luck.