Sunday 5th October 2008
By Vince Wray
The start of the day was not a good one for us. There were mutterings in the dressing room about late nights and players who supposedly weren’t going to make it. I hasten to add nobody apart from Billy Webb even had the decency to call Darren or myself. So, there we were, 15 in the squad on Saturday night and 5 no-shows on the Sunday morning. The manager had to get kitted out to make it 11 for us. That situation is an absolute disgrace and the players who never turned up, without explanation, can be thoroughly ashamed of themselves.
Juggling the squad to make sure everybody gets a bit of chance is hard enough, for a collection of players to not even turn up, after we’ve delivered disappointing news during the week, to other conscientious players, is far too disappointing for me to put into real context. You’re skating on thin ice with me and Darren lads. That’s a polite description.
We started quite well in abysmal conditions but fell away after the first 15-20 minutes and they took the lead after 30 minutes with a sweetly struck angled volley from a left wing cross. We didn’t really show too much enterprise and chances were limited. Valley definitely had the better of the 1st half. We went in 1-0 down.
It was almost as if the players lacked belief in their own ability and with a decent half time chat we took to the field again. Our initial enthusiasm was diminishing quickly as Valley had us back defending once more and scored a second after some dubious defending by ourselves. There was still half hour to go and I was constantly reminding the players of this from the touchline.
Little seemed to change initially. We were trying but not seeing a lot of action or purpose in their penalty box. We switched Fryer to midfield and put Stevens into attack with the ‘Guvnor’. Wray was seeing a bit more of the ball down the right and we suddenly looked a threat. I was checking my watch all the time, 10 mins to go, Guvnor exchanges passes with Wray who strikes a swerving, dipping volley from just outside the box, keeper – no chance!! 1-2 down but we woke up and Valley looked nervous. It was all us now and we took over. Wray cut in from the right again and set up Stevens whose effort was blocked, the ball found Hardway who struck a lovely finish from the edge of the box. 2-2. I checked time again and we were into time added on. We could have settled for a draw but we didn’t, Stevens had a penalty claim refused. Hardway headed on from a free kick and caused mayhem in the Valley box. It was cleared for a corner. Stevens delivered it and the ball found the ‘Guvnor’ in poaching position on the goal line, sweetly nodded home 3-2. Mass brawl of a celebration and that’s how it stayed. A truly brilliant fightback by the players when everything looked dead and buried.
Probably the cleverest Australian cricketer the game’s history has ever seen, namely Shane Warne, has a motto which he used to abide his cricketing life by; ‘Never give up! Just, never, ever, give up!’ Simple isn’t it? It served the genius well, still turning the ball at near-right angles on unhelpful wickets but still he managed to help bowl sides out. Yeah I know he’s an Aussie but Aussies have a winning mentality, I wonder why? We will be well served to remember Warne’s words (read his autobiography) AND remember our tremendous fightback.
The Guvnor made such a fuss of his effort, we made him buy a jug back at the club, but I’m sure we haven’t heard the last of it. Well played lads, looking forward to next week.
Man of the match: George Burkett tied with the ‘Guvnor’