Sunday 9th May 2010
By Statler (or Waldorf???)
Farnborough Vets all winners as youth prevails over experience in 5-0 win for Young Vets against Older Vets
This could have been a meaningless game between two injury-ravaged sides, after a long season, with nothing to play for, but instead it turned out to be quite a good game as both Farnborough vets sides managed to muster 23 players for an end of season curtain call.
Rumours of a coalition between the two vets sides to mix and match their players to make for an even game were just that – although one older vet Steve Viner did cross the floor, to allow both teams to start with eleven players. When we started we were still expecting Chris Bourlet to arrive on the scene for the Older Vets – which he did midway through the first half. Andy Faulks was expected but there was a ring at some point to say he was otherwise engaged.
Mark Edwards – a trainee referee, got the game going in overcast but not unpleasant conditions. The pitch was on the firm side but could take a stud with a bit of vaseline. The Older Vets line-up consisted of Steve Palmer in goal; Patrice Mongelard, Steve Blanchard, Colin Brazier and Rod Loe in defence; Sinisa Gracanin, Chris Webb, Mark Perry and Paul Storkey in midfield; Gary Magnus and Toby Manchip were the front pairing.
I could name the Young Vets side but I shall leave that to their own scribe, Gary Rosslee, who might well be tempted to give his varnished account of the game, for reasons which will become obvious shortly.
I do not think anybody would disagree with the view that the first twenty minutes or so were quite even. Of course, there was more menace, energy and movement amongst the young ones but the old ones just about coped. And yes, Steve Palmer was the busier keeper – in fact I do not recall Gary Roslee making a single save in that first half – different matter in the second half though.
The first goal was a bit scrappy. The ball had come in from the Young Vets left wing where Neil Connelly was being quite effective (against a defender old enough to be the father of an older vet). Paul Storkey was less effective in clearing it, and the ball found its way to foxy George Kleanthous in the six-yard box who scuffed his shot and got the ball to scuttle past Steve Palmer. It may have been the manner of the goal, or the discomfort of scoring against Farnborough but George’s celebration was muted. A second goal followed soon after but not before Steve Palmer pulled off an outstanding point blank save to keep Neil Connelly out. But Neil was not to be denied, as he latched on to a clever diagonal through pass from Peter Harvey to cross the ball, rather delicately, into the net over Steve's head.
Our chances of getting back into the game suffered a massive blow when Toby Manchip pulled a muscle (not a mussel at the seafood disco as he pointed out later), chasing a killer ball from Sinisa Gracanin which he claims was halfway down the hill to the dressing room when he produced that ill-fated and rare burst of pace. Colin Brazier was drafted into the attack as Chris Bourlet joined the defence (with the same instructions as Colin it seemed).
2-0 at half-time was a fair reflection but not without hope we felt. We had, however, forgotten though just how good a keeper Gary Rosslee could be as he was to remind us several times in that second half – as Colin Brazier, Gary Magnus, Paul Storkey, and in the latter stages Chris Bourlet twice, were to find Gary impossible to beat from close range.
Although the Young Vets scored three more times in that second half – they could have had more as we were stretched down the flanks with alarming regularity, but we deserved at least one goal, if not two. Neil Connelly was to get a second goal, again with an exquisite left foot chip that merely looked like a cross but was not. His hat-trick came late with a jug-avoiding toe poke. In between those two goals we were able to admire the coolness of Gary Rosslee scoring a penalty after the pace of Peter Harvey had drawn a clear, but not malicious foul, in the box from the covering Chris Webb. We had thought the referee’s training had not yet covered penalties when he failed to give us one, after Paul Storkey was felled in the box, but maybe Paul just fell as he ran out of oxygen.
There were some other memorable moments in that second half. Rod Loe putting a last-ditch clearance against our crossbar; Toby Manchip pacing our technical area and asking the referee if he had completed his training; Patrice Mongelard stopping Peter Harvey dead on the edge of the box with a well-timed tackle, and later foiling George in the six-yard box; young Joe Storkey, whose father is an Older Vet, and who had come on for the injured Young Vets right back – beating the old man down the left.
Our man of the match today was Chris Webb. The poll had failed to produce an outright winner but after some late voting, Chris had a clear majority.
The mood in the clubhouse was a bit subdued after this family affair, and in some ways too there was a realisation that, sadly, the season was coming to an end. We also wondered whether French would get his hands on a trophy – that’s Thomas French by putting the ball through the glass of the trophy cabinet. The last word, as often, belonged to Toby Manchip, the clown prince of Farnborough, who rather amusingly, and some may think rather perceptively, compared the French-Mongelard management team to Statler and Waldorf. I know we have played like muppets at times this season but today was certainly not the case.
Man of the match: Chris Webb