Sunday 15th May 2011
By Patrice Mongelard
Youth Triumphs 4-0 over Experience, as Farnborough Vets Football Festival Finishes Vintage Season
And so it ends – a long season of 31 games for the Senior Vets which started on 5 September, paused during December, ventured on Astroturf in the new year, and finished with five games in a fortnight. The end of year report makes encouraging reading – twenty one wins, one draw, nine defeats, 102 goals for and fifty against.
For our final game this season Farnborough Senior Vets lined up with Gary Fentiman (43) in goal; Ian Coles (48), Steve Blanchard snr (45), Patrice Mongelard (53) and Roger French (49) in defence; Mehmet Bozyigit (41), Mark Perry (38), Sinisa Gracanin (42) and John Tallis (47) in midfield; Colin Brazier (52) and Ian Shoebridge (43) up front. Nick Kinnear (49) arrived late for a second consecutive game, and rather unexpectedly Paul Smith (late 40s), who had not played for us in over a year, appeared during the first half. Paul may have sensed we were missing quite a number of forwards today – Andy Faulks, Leo Maccioni, Jerry Cogotti and Andy Smith. In the end that proved quite telling. The Young Vets were certainly not at full strength themselves, and had called upon three players, all under twenty years of age, from the club.
The first twenty minutes of this game were very even, with hardly any clear chances created by both sides. The younger vets carried the greater menace up front but possession was equally shared, as it was throughout the game. As expected the younger vets + their even younger players – had the proverbial yard of pace, but we remained compact and with covering midfielders, kept them out. The deadlock was broken in a controversial moment – Pete Harvey, was not given offside by the linesman (nor the referee) as he latched to a ball over the top, rounded Gary Fentiman, and slotted the ball home. The linesman should have been Nick Kinnear, but as he was late arriving George Kleanthous took on the job. George would himself have been playing for the younger vets but for injury – but at least he was able to contribute to the occasion.
We rallied after the goal and enjoyed our best passages of play in the first half and we carved out some half-chances and won some corners. The next goal was going to be crucial and so it proved – as Pete Harvey skirting the edge of our defence and pushing at the boundary of the offside rule, cut in from the left of our defence, and saw his shot or cross blocked – only for it to rebound kindly to his feet and he lobbed Gary Fentiman from a central position with about ten minutes of the first half remaining. The neutrals amongst the crowd may well have felt this was against the run of play - but it showed the crucial difference between the two teams in the final third – and that was the presence and absence of a cutting edge in the opposition box.
We made one surprising change at half-time and that was to put Paul Smith up front, after he assured Roger French there was no medical reason why he could not play. Call it sentiment if you like, given Paul’s many years of service as our top goal scorer. Colin Brazier made way to go and capture some of the second half on film – more on that later. The second half followed the same pattern really – except that there were more goalmouth incidents. The very young players in the younger vets team came more to the fore, and scored their two goals in the second half. We had some good shots from the edge of the box particularly from Sinisa Gracanin. With the score still at 2-0 Mehmet Bozyigit broke clear of the younger vets defence to create a one-to-one which gave Gary Rosslee in their goal the opportunity to show how invariably good he is in such situations – and our best goal opportunity was lost.
The third goal for the younger vets, about 15 minutes into the second half, was scored by young Steve Blanchard, who brushed Mark Perry aside a little brusquely from behind, but as there was no whistle, advanced into our half and let fly from twenty five yards. It looked like a cross that lobbed the keeper but we were to have a second view of it later. With twenty minutes left - Roger French made way for Nick Kinnear; and Mark Perry also retired to allow Colin Brazier to return. However, the Young Vets got a fourth goal with about ten minutes left as youthful exuberance and running was rewarded, when a shot from the edge of the box crept in low past Gary Fentiman.
Other incidents in that half included a muscular clearance from Gary Fentiman from a corner which almost required a taxi for Paul Bailey. We also had a “Roger French moment” when Colin Brazier was tripped and trampled on by Steve Blanchard junior – but the referee let play go on. Colin walked off in disgust, muttering darkly and gesticulating furiously, but as this was en famille so to speak, was persuaded to pick up his toys and resume play. Mark Perry was to come back for the last five minutes to replace Mehmet Bozyigit who had taken yet another knock and will be glad of the rest before we resume training in July. The mood in the dressing room was positive despite what would be seen as a heavy defeat.
For our final game Shirley pushed the luxury cruise liner out – and there was a cornucopia of goodies on offer – crusty rolls with breaded ham, crusty rolls with grated cheddar, cocktail sausages, mini sausage rolls, egg mayonnaise rolls, cheese straws, honey-glazed chicken drumsticks, sliced onion and even the Branston was out. And Shirley also produced the après-match teas – despite some urn issues. It was good to see Vic Farrow, perkier than on Wednesday, and having almost as many drumsticks as I did.
It was particularly pleasing to see the growing Farnborough vets family after the game, all gathered in the clubhouse and outside, enjoying a very nice social as well as a sporting occasion played in extremely good spirit, as you would expect for a family affair. An old member of this family, of course is today’s referee Mick Gearing (74) – who was presented in the clubhouse with a rather good bottle of brandy, to thank him for his (free and fair) services to the Senior Vets team. We’ll be getting him some glasses to go with that – so he can read up on the offside rule, and on tackling from behind.
Now – there is a lot of debate about whether video technology should be introduced in football. We had our own video technology today – as we were able to view images from the match captured by Colin Brazier during part of the second half. This provided endless amusement of course, but helped clear up whether Steve Blanchard junior had meant his goal, or whether it was a mishit cross. Well, the evidence was pretty clear that he meant to shoot on goal. What was also revealed though was that Roger French turned away at the crucial moment and the opportunity to block the shot was lost. Obviously Colin was not able to film the foul that was perpetrated on him – but if he had – that evidence, plus the pictures of his bruising may well have stood in court.
Man of the match today – Roger French – (no voting irregularities to report, though votes were taken prior to aforementioned video evidence), an early 50th birthday present – and a reminder that many of us will be back at the club next Saturday evening, from 7:30, to celebrate Roger’s half-century – and perhaps reflect on whether people mellow with age, or not.
Man of the match: Roger French