Sunday 28th October 2012
By Patrice Mongelard
Senior Vets come away with a well-made point
When the clocks go back footballers do not mind – they get an extra hour in bed, softer pitches that take a stud, and cold wet weather all suited to the winter game that is football.
Today we made the trip to the well-appointed suburbs of Park Langley in BR3 to play CUACO Vets at the Old Dunstonians Sports Ground – home not just of football but also rugby and, a tad alarmingly, archery. Both sports were being played on adjacent pitches as we took the field. This trip comes only six weeks after we beat CUACO 5-1 at Farrow Fields. We were expecting a much closer game today. In the end the teams could not be separated though separation was just what was needed at one point.
We had some absentees and injuries but mustered the following: Gary Fentiman in goal; John Tallis, Mick O’Flynn, Patrice Mongelard and Nick Waller in defence; Sinisa Gracanin, Mehmet Bozyigit, Ian Shoebridge and Rob Lipscomb in midfield; Andy Faulks and Andy Smith in attack. Roger French and Danny Winter (making his first appearance this season as the clocks went back). Isabelle and Thomas French were our only two supporters – and would have a special memory to treasure from the game – more on that later.
We felt comfortable on a very good playing surface right from the start. CUACO were better used to the width of the pitch and filled space better than us initially but both teams sought to pass the ball and build from the back. Yet it was a piece of direct football – that is a long ball over the top that yielded the CUACO goal after about ten minutes. John Tallis thought he had cleared the ball but it rebounded off the big CUACO forward who barrelled his way into the box, was tackled by the onrushing Gary Fentiman and the ball looped out of the heap, trickled towards the base of the post and over the line. This was a wake-up call and from then on to the end of the game I think it is fair to say that we enjoyed about 60% of the possession. We forced several corners in that half – five to CUACO’s one – and began testing the keeper. Ian Shoebridge played Andy Faulks in for a close range shot which the CUACO keeper saved very well with his feet. Our approach play was good but the cutting edge was not there as Ian Shoebridge, Andy Smith and Rob Lipscomb all had shots that failed to restore parity. Danny Winter came on for Mick O’Flynn on the half hour. We were more dangerous from set pieces and from a corner, about thirty five minutes into the game, came one of the best goals I have seen scored by a Farnborough or any other player.
A corner on the right was swung in by Mehmet Bozyigit with great accuracy and purpose. He had picked out Andy Faulks who had drifted unmarked to the edge of the box and signalled where he wanted the ball. The volley that followed was pure, clinical, technically perfect as Andy connected with the ball in one fluid moment, generating enormous power to propel the ball into the bottom corner through a forest of players with the CUACO keeper transfixed on his line by the terrible beauty of the shot. Last season Andy had scored the goal of the season in the corresponding fixture (on 30 October) and here again he had turned the clocks back. Sadly Andy’s match ended about five minutes before half time when he collapsed after feeling faint. This was a very worrying moment but he was able to come round and walk off the pitch. The biological clock waits for no man and at the age of 43 there is a toll to be paid for playing two games a weekend with a heavy night in between always, and fuelled by a breakfast of red bull and nicotine. If Andy wants to carry on scoring goals like today my advice to him, as someone who has played more Vets games than he has had early nights in, is to get himself checked out – blood sugar, blood pressure that sort of thing. Roger French replaced Andy.
The second half followed the pattern of the first. We had more possession, forced more corners than our opponents who were playing on the break, without breaking through. Sinisa Gracanin had a superb shot from twenty-five yards that still looked very good even though it came off the bar on the rugby goal behind the football pitch. One of the most promising moves we had came late in the second half when Andy Smith played Mehmet in behind the CUACO defence and all Mehmet had to do was to arrow in towards goal. Nobody can explain what happened next as Mehmet managed to trip himself up with much artistic merit and sprawled to the ground with no other player within two yards of him. For a moment I feared one of the archers had got him. I thought it oddly amusing that whilst Andy Faulks scores memorable goals at this ground, a sort of poetry in motion, Mehmet has accidents of motion – I still see him hurled into a ditch last time we played at this ground.
Mick O’Flynn came back on for Nick Waller to see out the last twenty minutes or so but the stalemate could not be broken in this well, and fairly, contested game. Tackles went in but where they got more man than ball it was more out of clumsiness than out of malice but temperatures rose and the pressure cooker that is Roger French erupted when another volatile presence with a Scots accent in the CUACO side had a touch of the William Wallace. The referee sent them both off clutching their handbags. Isabelle and Thomas French will probably not have realised why papa joined them on the touchlines. It was not out of concern for their health. In years to come maybe they will realise and marvel at why this was not a more frequent occurrence. Today was my 400th game for Farnborough Old Boys Guild – all of them played for the Vets team. I have a feeling this is a club record. I hope to add to this number and whoever beats my record will be very old and tired. I have played about half of these games with Roger French and it is one of life’s great mysteries that I had to wait until today to see him sent off. Still I shall have the memory of a really special goal to treasure as well.
Nick Waller took the kit home – as did Mick O’Flynn last week to my subsequent relief – but I expect it will be washed this time.
The referee today was one of the best I have come across. He was fair, firm, approachable and good-humoured. He even had a drink with the away team. He kept the game moving, playing advantage whenever he could. He also handled the recalcitrant players very well including when voices were raised – for example when Robin Lipscomb remonstrated with Patrice Mongelard who had pointed out, for the umpteenth time to Robin that he should release the ball more quickly and play the simple pass.
The clocks went back last night but we all got there on time. After last week I had my eye on the clock for other reasons but I had omitted to change the clock in my car. On the way back as we drove into our club car park at Farrow Fields I noticed with some alarm that the digital display showed 14:28. For a split second I feared Mrs M would be asking me the same question as last week. However, Ian Shoebridge pointed out that the correct time was in fact 13:28 – and that allowed me to have a swift half to toast a very good win for our Young Vets 6-1 winners against a usually good Ditton Vets side. We did not win today but the draw we secured was just as satisfying to us after last week’s dark place.
Man of the match – Ian Shoebridge whose hour came on the day the clocks went back.
Man of the match: Ian Shoebridge