Of all the recent winners of the prestigious MGBSFL Player of the Year crown, I’d describe Ari Last as the most complete – the best all-rounder.
It’s hard to compare Last to the recent recipients - Dan Howard, Josh Lipman, Daran Bern and Louis Basger – three centre halves and a wing wizard. But the Hendon skipper simply has no weaknesses on the football pitch. Simple as that.
Hendon had things all their own way between September and May in domestic football. Last forged an invincible partnership with Yoav Lebens in the middle of the park – winning headers and tackles he had no right to, chipping in with some important goals. He literally ran through bricks wall for the cause.
He led from the front – whenever one of his teammates got into a spot of bother, he was always first on to the scene to back him up. The comparison with Patrick Viera is most apt.
But spare a thought too for his teammate, Greg Corin – arguably the unluckiest man in Jewish football. Two seasons ago, when Lipman was named no. 1 player in the London league, Corin was the other leading contender.
Once again, he has maintained high standards and when not scoring, contributed to a high number of goals of the highest order.
It’s also no surprise that goalkeeper Russell Corin was recognised as a top performer by his teammates at the club’s internal awards. He may have missed out of the Safe Hands award on Monday night, just 24 hours after the heartbreaking EMFT final defeat against France, but he is clearly a key factor behind Hendon’s success over the past few seasons.
* I’m glad common sense prevailed in the aforementioned EMFT final. Having seen video evidence, the decision to penalise the French keeper for coming off his line in the shootout was the correct one by the letter of the law. But the right decision was also made when Team Maccabi GB passed up their chance to retake it, avoiding what referee Martin Fox told me would’ve been “an international incident”.
If ever one needed proof of the Rachmanus spirit – that was it.
And it was great to see a GB Women’s futsal team in action for the first time. Up against experienced opposition, the girls did us proud.
* The opening week of the World Cup has done nothing for my Maccabi GB Community Fun Run preparations. I’ve stuck to my 6am training regime like a trooper for the past few months, but over the past few days, I’ve been going through the motions like a zombie. It’s just not in my blood to miss the 11pm kick-offs.
Sunday is race day. I’m hoping to conquer the 10k, 5k and 1k, back-to-back, and I wish my fellow runners the best of luck.
* The last few years at Wimbledon have been quite depressing for fans following the Jewish stars. Andy Ram and Jonathan Erlich have got us into week two several times, but there is real hope that Camila Giorgi and Julia Glushko are not just going to make up the numbers this time.