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English Pub Team Crushed by Italians

June 7, 2001

LONDON (AP) _ An English pub soccer team staggered into more that it bargained for when it asked for a couple of casual games on its Italian end-of-season trip.

Instead of a playing soccer for fun, the 13 men from the Red Lion pub in Petersfield, southern England, found themselves billed as a FC Petersfield Lions of the English second division.

``It was only when we took a second look that we realized they meant us,″ team captain Richard Kates told The Daily Mail.

The Red Lions team finished third from bottom in the Meon Valley Sunday League in Hampshire. The Italians play in the equivalent to the English Conference, just short of the main pro league.

The first game, against Prosettimo Calcio on May 26, ended 16-0. The second a day later, AC Villafranca won 15-2.

``When the players arrived, they looked intimidating in their matching training kit,″ Kates said of Prosettimo Calcio. ``We didn’t even have matching socks. When fans started to fill the ground we lost our bottle (nerve) altogether and locked ourselves in the changing rooms.

``Our manager persuaded us to come out but refused to let us kick the ball about because there was no way we could compare with the way the Italians were knocking it around.″

The next game was even more daunting.

``We felt even worse because the posters were bigger, the ground more impressive and there were even more fans who had actually paid to see us,″ said Kates, 25.

The Italians said the confusion arose when Villafranca asked the Italian football association for a list of clubs wanting to play an end of season exhibition game. Somehow, the Lions got mentioned.

Villafranca club secretary Francesco Scalabri said it was obvious the Peterfield Lions were not second division standard.

``They were all so young and _ I don’t want to upset anyone _ but technically they were appalling,″ Scalabri told the Mail. ``They couldn’t really pass or trap very well and they were all over the place.″

``The first goal went in after a few minutes and from then on it was a goal fiesta. You have to remember, we had only scored 15 goals all season, so to get as many as we did was a surprise.

``Some of our players wanted to swap shirts. But Petersfield said they were the only shirts they had with them.″

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