You pitch up at the five-a-side court on a drizzly evening after work. You take a look across the halfway line and size up the opposition. Craig Fowler of the Terrace Scottish Football Podcast describes the typical characters you come up against and matches them up with equivalents from the Ladbrokes Premiership!
The tall, skinny guy who's strangely good
You turn up and see the other team. There's a great big tall guy, built well, with long flowing hair. Immediately he's pencilled in as the other side's centre-back. Then the game starts and he charges right through the centre. Bodies just bounce off him. He's absolutely running the show and there's no way to stop him. You're 5-0 down before you even know what's happened.
Ladbrokes Premiership player - Jackson Irvine (Ross County)
The veteran Keeper
The beauty of fives is that you can keep playing well beyond your peak. However, sometimes it gets to the stage where the cramp, strains or the two years rehabilitating from a broken leg no longer seem worth it. That's not a problem for the silver fox in nets, though. Keepers naturally play longer in the real game, but in fives their shelf life is even longer as the cordoned off penalty area means little chance of physical contact with anything other than the ground.
Ladbrokes Premiership player - Neil Alexander
The unit with the subtle touch
The pass goes into your marker's feet. You've got him covered, though. He's going nowhere. He's going to have to give it up and move on. Then he starts backing in. There's too much muscle leaning into your scrawny frame, it's pushing you towards your own goal. Help comes over from another team-mate but he spots it, shifts the ball in lightning motion with those oddly nimble feet and in a flash the shot is away. A nightmare to defend against.
Ladbrokes Premiership player - Christian Nade
The midfield general
Constantly talking, constantly pointing, constantly running the show. The guy clearly has the talent and the intelligence to play at the highest level and it just doesn't seem fair that he's inflicting these skills on your ramshackle mob. There doesn't seem to be anything he can't do well. He's also got that edge to him which makes him unable to be intimidated or bullied out of the match.
Ladbrokes Premiership player - Scott Brown
The will shoot from anywhere guy (and probably score)
The ball has just been rolled out from the goalkeeper to your boy. He looks up, the other side have afforded him space to dribble the ball upfield, but he's got other ideas. A shot looks ridiculous within the confines of the pitch, but, after all, he is only about 25 yards out, and he needs no second invitation to have a shot. Like a low flying jet it travels at near supersonic speed and makes that familiar "ping" noise as it finds the back of the net after hitting the metal stanchion inside the goal.
Ladbrokes Premiership player - Kris Commons
The child prodigy
As you do before every match, you have a look over to the other side of the pitch to size up the opposition. There's one guy there, well, guy would be a stretch, he still looks like he's in school. Good stuff, you think, someone who can be easily intimidated and shoved off the ball. And while that may be something you are capable of doing, you just can't seem to get near him, even in the confines of a five-a-side pitch. His got incredible skill, quickness and that annoying youthful exuberance which used to exist in us all before the world dragged us down.
Ladbrokes Premiership player - Ryan Christie
The limitless energy guy
It's late in the game. Your legs feel about ready to fall off. The score is about 23-4 in favour of the opposition side, and yet this guy won't stop pressing every time you get the ball. He never seems to get tired, doesn't require to be subbed off at any point. He's always there, making your own existence in this match a massive chore. What's your problem, pal? Just let me do something!
Ladbrokes Premiership player - Willo Flood
The ultra competitive guy
It's only a game, isn't it? Ten guys wanting to indulge in the sport they love, while keeping fit at the same time. And yet there's only one (actually, usually two or three) who would rather die than lose. Throwing their body on the line, shouting at opponents, arguing with the ref, shouting at team-mates, barging into the hoardings at any opportunity, there is nothing they won't stop at doing to get the utterly needless three points.
Ladbrokes Premiership player - James McPake
On such a tight pitch, pace is not usually a skill that's required. Instead, it's the burst of acceleration that beats you. So many times he's flying past before you've even sorted your feet out to turn. And forget about catching him on any sort of counter-attack. It's better to stand back and watch. (Though, when you do this, the keeper invariably pulls off two terrific saves before being beaten at the third attempt, at which point you feel kinda bad for giving up the ghost.)
Ladbrokes Premiership player - Michael O'Halloran
The rock defender
Space opens up, right down the middle. The chance is there and you take it, running through the centre. The keeper is there. The goal is there. Suddenly there is a movement. A huge form of mass coming in from the side. Thankfully you see it, otherwise you'd be in hospital. He goes in for the shoulder to shoulder, a term which belies some sort of even contest, but there's only one way this is ending up: you on the turf and the ball in the arms of the keeper. A rock hard arm lifts you up. "Sorry about that, mate," he says. "Erm... aye... eh, don't worry about it," you stammer back before he releases your tiny paw from his vice-like grip of a handshake. Even his jaw line looks like it could beat you up.
Ladbrokes Premiership player - Gary Warren
There are those that stay up front the whole game and those who remain at the back. Defending is their passion, plain and simple. Who needs to score goals? As long as the other team don't score you cannot lose. Then, every now and then, they unleash an effort from deep which flies into the goal. You would think it would encourage them to venture forward more often, but this is never the case.
Ladbrokes Premiership player - Sean Dillon
Constantly remonstrating with the official - who is usually leaning back on the hoardings, barely paying attention - about any decision that may or may not have been made. He's also the first to tell you what you did wrong when it's quite obvious the no-look back pass which just sent their best player straight through on goal was probably not a good idea. Also has a habit of being very good, which is how he gets away with the incessant chatter and is still invited back.
Ladbrokes Premiership player - Scott McDonald
This lad's game is scoring goals and he is terrific at it. Every team needs a good goalie, a solid defender, at least two guys who work hard, and someone who turns every half chance around the opposition penalty area into a goal. At the end of the season you've played something like 18 games, scored over 200 goals and he's netted about 70% of them.
Ladbrokes Premiership player - Kris Boyd
The undersized keeper
In professional football bigger is better when it comes to the goalkeeping position. In fives, having a smaller frame is an advantage, since the goals only come up to your midriff. It means those low shots are much easier to save, and boy does this guy pull off some absolute stunners. Swearing in frustration becomes a common characteristic of opponents when he is between the sticks.
Ladbrokes Premiership player - Scott Bain
For more fantastic insight into Scottish football, make sure you download the Terrace Scottish Football Podcast HERE.