Clipper Race Crew 2 - 1 Qingdao Media Team

In a hotly contested battle at the Tian Tin Stadium in Qingdao, the Clipper Race crew took on the Qingdao media in a soccer match, in which the sailors came from behind to snatch victory in the final stages.

Before kick-off at 0930, the crew were given brand new football boots by the Qingdao Organizing Committee, and the teams exchanged flags to mark the occasion named “England Style Rocks Football Friendly”.

Five crew members took part from LMAX Exchange, Derry~Londonderry~Doire and Garmin: Junior Hoorelbeke, Mark Tunney, Adrian Roberts, Tony Milsom and Muchi Lukhezo.

Having held the hosts to a 0-0 draw at half-time, the Clipper Race crew were buoyant at the break, although there were plenty of jokes about burning lungs and sore legs after the 30 minute workout.

“That was knackering!” Mark said afterwards. “It was quite frustrating in the first half because it was quite obvious that none of us were used to using our legs. But it came together in the second half and it was good fun. My thighs hurt but apart from that I’m okay.”

The opposition started the second half the stronger and the crew went 1-0 down around the 40 minute mark. An injury to Muchi shortly afterwards meant he had to be substituted and watched the reminder of the game from the sideline. He says: “It was good fun, I enjoyed it. I’m a bit annoyed that I couldn’t continue to play but that is sport and things like this happen. It was really generous of the Qingdao Organizing Committee to give us boots to play so I will have these as a souvenir.

“Part of the reason why I took part is because I usually do much more sport than I’ve done recently given I was sailing Leg 5, so I took part in the kayaking in Da Nang too. I wanted to meet the locals and get some exercise. Sport is always good fun.”

Spurred on by the misfortune of going behind and a man down, the Clipper Race crew went on the attack. With ten minutes to go, Junior found the back of the net for the equaliser.

“For the goal, I was given a perfect pass from one of our Chinese team mates between two of the opposition and I kicked it towards the goal. The keeper didn’t get his hands on it properly and I was able to easily push it back into goal.

“I think we were lucky in the end. Some of the players were very, very good and we weren’t as prepared as they were, but we had a great time and it was fun to do some running outside of the 70 feet of the boat.”

The team then doubled their tally when Tony Milsom, who is about to turn 59 years old while crossing the Pacific Ocean, added a second. In a very honest account of the goal, Tony reported: “My score came at the end of a period of pressure where we had hit the post and come close a couple of times. Then the ball was at my feet in the goal area about one yard out and I actually fell over it and it rolled into the net. It was a Gary Lineker special!

“I think they were a little surprised that we would beat them given that we were just a motley crew. It was fantastic, I loved it, seeing how sport brings together people with a shared passion.”

A couple of minutes later the referee blew the full time whistle and the Clipper Race crew celebrated victory.

“For my first international football match, I’m delighted to have won,” said circumnavigator Adrian Roberts. “It was a wonderful experience and to have done some cardio exercise and use my legs for the first time in six months was quite tough. We have won a few races on LMAX Exchange but that was one of our hardest wins physically.”

Afterwards the Qingdao media team presented the crew with vests which will prove useful for the upcoming Pacific Ocean crossing and the crew reciprocated by giving their competitors ‘Race of Your Life’ t-shirts.

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