Sunday 1st November 2009
By Roger French with a second report by Patrice Mongelard
Farnborough Senior Vets Splash Down As Smithy Fires On All Four Cylinders
This is what football is all about, turning up in atrocious conditions and playing despite gale force winds and torrential rain resulting in a football pitch that resembled a boating lake in places. This did add a certain Benny Hill quality to the game any time the ball was played through the middle of the park.
After the usual week of begging, cajoling and endless appeals for additional players we managed to put out a very good side including 3 subs. Thanks this week are extended to Mark Edwards for solving our goalkeeping crisis for this week, Nick Frost who last played for us two seasons ago, Nick Kinnear having just flown back from sunny Spain, Colin Brazier who managed to misplace his alarm clock and Colin Ebdon who had been tempted out of early retirement again with tales of not enough players to field a team. It was a bit of a surprise to Colin E. (and Colin B. come to that!) that we actually had 3 subs then but as I pointed out to him we didn’t at the time I spoke to him on Thursday and in this team you can’t take anything for granted. A mention must also go to Steve Blanchard who sportingly agreed to rest his leg but was quite happy to come along and support…I somehow think he changed his mind about watching for some reason.
This week we welcomed newish opposition in Welsh Tavern Super Vets and with Colin Brazier still on his way to the ground we lined up as follows:
GK Mark Edwards
RB Toby Manchip
CH Nick Frost
CH Nick Kinnear
LB Roger French
RM Paul Bell
CM Pat Mongelard
CM Chris Webb
LM Colin Ebdon
CF Paul Smith
CF Andy Faulks
Subs: Colin Brazier, Rod Loe, Mick Ingram
As Micky Gearing started the game it seemed like a great tap in the sky had been turned on full and with the wind gusting up to 43mph (according to the Met Office website when I checked late on Saturday night) it became impossible to see and hear too well. However, with the ball going down the wings we managed to create some nice flowing football; the problem came when we tried to pass it across to the middle where it would land in the ever expanding lake that was forming resulting in play that was more appropriate for water polo that football.
Paul Bell was soon to open the scoring when he managed to get the ball ahead of the keeper and slide the ball just inside the post. Andy Faulks aggravated an ankle injury and was replaced by Colin Brazier as a straight swap up front. With the wind behind them Welsh Tavern had their share of attacks and it took one superb tackle from Nick Kinnear in our penalty box to prevent Tavern from pulling one back. As it was Paul Bell got another and Smithy got two – one being a trademark lob and the other nicely rifled into the top left hand corner from a tight angle. Rod Loe came on for the last ten minutes of the half and we were 4-0 up at the break.
The rain did not stop once so half-time was kept to a minimum. Mick Ingram came on to play in his preferred position (we should have found this out earlier in the season I think) of right back and the game continued.
We carried on where we left off with attacks going down both wings and Smithy lobbing in another early on. Manchip feigned deafness to avoid being substituted but eventually allowed “Dave” the acting manager to rejoin the fray after some frantic semaphore with the linesman’s flag (flag semaphore is a system for conveying information at a distance by means of visual signals with hand-held flags, rods, disks, paddles, or occasionally bare or gloved hands – according to wikipedia. I think we can safely say that bare hand signals were involved).
As the half progressed more chances were created for a number of players but it was down to Smithy to show us how it should be done as he bagged his fourth and our sixth of the game which more than confirmed his share of the votes for Man of the Match.
Our second successive victory for the season and we have now scored 11 goals in the last 2 games and only conceded 1 which has greatly improved our goal difference. A very good team performance from everybody under extreme conditions. Another home game next week against Baltic Exchange so let’s keep the momentum going.
Vintage Paul Smith performance downs Welsh Tavern to give Farnborough old vets their biggest and wettest win of the season (6-0)
Last Sunday’s autumn sunshine was a very distant memory as we gathered for this game. What looked like mist on the dressing room window was in fact a true reflection of what was beyond the glass. We came in one by one as if joining a Noah’s Ark for men only. Welsh Tavern arrived a little late and for a moment there we feared the elements had got the better of this fixture. It is fair to say that in times past this game (and the one on the big pitch) would not have been played – and it is a tribute to the work done on both pitches in drier times that these games went ahead.
Whilst the conditions were atrocious there was never any thought in our minds and Welsh Tavern’s that the game would not be played – at times we were like children having fun in puddles and paradoxically there was also something manly about facing up to the elements. When we have all packed it in, some sooner than others, it is games like this that we will remember in our hinterland.
“Warming up” was soggy, brisk and amidst expanding puddles of surface water. Two of our players warmed up in the dry, in the overcrowded stand by the big pitch.
In the heavy rain, wind and under dark skies Farnborough lined up with: Mark Edwards in goal; Nick Frost, Nick Kinnear, Toby Manchip and Roger French in defence; Patrice Mongelard, Chris Webb, Colin Ebdon and Paul Bell in midfield; Paul Smith and Andy “snake hips” Faulks up front. Mick Ingram, Rod Loe and a late arriving Colin Brazier were our three subs in a boat.
The rain gods watching this game today would have seen some great goals and some good passing movements in spite of the difficult conditions. We dominated the game throughout and Mark Edwards had little to do in goal. We brought a lot of pressure to bear on the Welsh Tavern defence and broke the dam four times in that first half. Twice Paul Bell found the knack to be in the right place to score from close range (though these were not tap-ins). Paul Smith too found the net twice in that first half. Our second goal, Paul’s first, was a screamer into the top corner from the edge of the box. There were numerous attempts by others to get on the score sheet – from Chris Webb, Colin Ebdon and Patrice Mongelard.
Clearly 4-0 up at half time – there was no danger of losing or drawing this game and in fact the only concern we had was that we might not be able to complete the game (and the score would not stand). But there were signs that the rain was beginning to ease as the weather forecast had promised. In many ways we put even more pressure on the Welsh Tavern goal in the second half. In the feeding frenzy that ensued we lost our shape a bit as most of us fancied our chances to score. Patrice Mongelard nearly deceived the Welsh Tavern keeper who had to re-adjust his position to cope with a cunningly disguised 30-yard free kick that to the untrained eye looked like a cross. But we managed only another two goals in that half – both scored by Paul Smith with some crisp, classy and cool finishing.
In keeping with the conditions our formation today was very fluid. Several players played in several positions. We made full use of the substitutes – not least because there were injuries. Andy Faulks was the first to go with a recurrence of an ankle injury – we hope this does not mean the only salsa he is getting next Tuesday night will be coming out of a jar. Nick Frost and Chris Webb also came off in the second half. Paul Bell, Roger French and Toby Manchip also made way part of the time for the substitutes to come on and off. Indeed there was even one memorable instance when Roger and Toby swapped positions and words as substitutes – from one end of the pitch to another, with the sound of the wind and rain drowning out the instructions. Rod Loe and Mick Ingram took to the full back positions like ducks to water. In Mick’s case it was only today, after four or five games, that he disclosed to the management that full back was his natural position!
It was later confirmed that the Welsh Tavern team we played today were a super vets team. It is to their enormous credit that they played this game and in the spirit that they did. The temptation of sliding tackles was always there on this surface and the ball did get stuck a fair bit but there was not a bad tackle or any ill feeling in that game. It cannot have been easy – not only as a result of the conditions but the game was one sided. In fairness, we were not exactly far from the super vets target of 501 years ourselves with five players Mongelard, French, Brazier, Ebdon and Loe making up a grand total of 267 years between them.
Man of the match was Paul Smith for his four goals. I was not in the clubhouse after the game but I am informed neither the name of our opponents, nor his deluge of goals inspired Smith to add to the flow of liquid. I blame the postal strike.
Man of the match: Paul Smith