CAMDEN Labour has a history of squeezing the rules in charity football matches. Just look at the photographic evidence of local member Alastair Campbell handing out a big shove HERE.
On Saturday, the branch put their team back together for an expansive tournament organised by the children’s charity Just For Kids Law, a hard-working operation providing support and advice – and representation – to young people in London. Read about all about the charity HERE.
It was a tough old competition under the arches in Old Street, full of lawyers. Twenty teams. Group stages. Refs. All exhausting. And Camden Labour somehow made it all the way to the final. So, who was in the team? Theo? Katzy? Jonathan Simpson? Abdul Quadir? No, no, no and no…
Watch the video above and see how many councillors you can recognise on the pitch. In fact, their captain Councillor Awale Olad wisely dropped himself for most of the action and acts as a sort of doorman ushering subs on and off by the gate on the far side. London Assembly member Murad Qureshi was kept on the sidelines for too long. Surely the young chaps – I will not resort to word ringer, you can do that – who did play for the majority of the matches now deserve safe seats when they inevitably move up the group’s ranks ahead of the next local elections.
That all said, there was a quite a preposterous scene during the semi-finals. At one stage, there was an almighty chant of ‘Lay-ba, Lay-ba’ ringing around the pitches from the supporters area. It was quite a din. Shocking in a way. Somebody quipped: ‘We’ve never been so popular, can we have a snap general election’. In truth, it was not the love for the red roses that had conjured up this spectacle, nor Councillor Thomas Gardiner’s cultured passing game or the sight of Councillor Nash Ali’s son in an Arsenal shirt.
Instead, it turned out to be an ‘anyone but the team in blue t-shirts’ alliance behind the chants. A little silly secret: it was felt on the sidelines that the team in blue had taken some of the previous matches all a little too seriously. Up front they had a Mr Macho, too brilliant for everybody else, charging around as if the brick walls around us were the terraces at Wembley and this was the Champions League final. Hey, everybody knows a bloke who forgets where they are once they are wearing football socks – lost in a misty world where they could’ve made it, really made it as a soccer player had it not been for the shinsplints they suffered in their late teens.
The spectators screaming ‘Lay-ba, Lay-ba’ on the sidelines – and it was a racket – claimed Camden Labour’s victory had been a win for the modest, but that could not be extended to supporting them in the final.
And in that final, they lost to the skilled lawyers from Bedford Row, who went on to be presented with the JFK trophy at the Euston offices of Hodge, Jones and Allen. Richly deserved.
Someone tell Cllr Olad he can come away from the gate now.