Sunday 9th December 2012
By Patrice Mongelard
Senior Vets win Beckenham wacky races, and “local” derby 2-1
“Don’t be late for my birthday lunch” said Mrs M as I left for what I thought would be a straightforward outing in well-known surroundings but against new opponents even though you could say they were our closest geographical rivals. Geographically it turned to be an interesting day.
I suppose we should have sensed something was not quite right when we had a clubhouse and dressing rooms at an away ground (the Beckenham Cricket Club in Foxgrove Road) all to ourselves. Still eleven of us were there at 10:15 and decided we would descend to the changing rooms and get changed for our 10:30 kickoff. I had filled two and a half water bottles when someone appeared who looked like he was in charge and said – “there is no football here today”. He proceeded to tell us that Orpington Vets played at another ground not far from where we were, in Worsley Bridge Road. All we had to do was to go down to the bottom of Foxgrove Road, turn right, then do a left at the mini roundabout, then do a right at the second exit, carry on ahead, look for a big white building and somehow we’d be there – or words to that effect which went in eleven ears and came out of another eleven as there was a mad uncoordinated scramble to gather our things and head for our motors. We could have been listening to a Croatian sat nav except that Sinisa Gracanin had cried off with flu. So we had 13 players in 12 vehicles and the next half hour was like something created by that other French bloke – Jacques Tati, as cars got lost, separated, retraced their steps (that should be wheels surely) stopped, phone calls were made and the illuminating message came through the ether from Vic Farrow to tell us that we had gone to the wrong ground. The trouble was that other traffic got in the way (how inconsiderate) and Worsley Bridge Road was not only very long but has a very high density of football pitches (probably higher than Hackney Marshes). By then we were well past 10:30 and Mrs M’s words were beginning to weigh mighty heavy on my mind and the thought of going back home was starting to acquire some merit except that I had somehow grabbed the kit on the way out. However, it was as if some sort of homing instinct took us back by our separate ways to the original Foxgrove premises. Our calmest, coolest, most placid and even-tempered representative Roger French went in to get fresh instructions from the oracle that had spoken earlier.
Yes – you must have guessed by now we somehow made it. I was told that our opponents had been out on the road by the entrance to the ground flagging down all cars with people who looked like they might be Vets looking for a game of football. I cannot be sure what time we started the match. It must have been around 11:00 and there was no time to warm up on a heavy pitch.
The Farnborough team that eventually and hurriedly took the field comprised Gary Fentiman in goal; Patrice Mongelard, Ian Coles, Steve Blanchard and Mick O’Flynn in defence; Ian Shoebridge, Mehmet Bozyigit, John Tallis and Nick Waller in midfield; Andy Faulks and Andy Smith in attack. Roger French and Paul Bell would join the game later.
After his little contre-temps with a referee in our game against Inter Vyagra Super Vets a few weeks ago, Roger French now operates a stopwatch on the sidelines and that told us that the first half lasted 37 minutes. In that time we had a very good game between two evenly matched sides playing a passing game and with defences generally on top. Even though we were playing up the hill the momentum was more with us than our opponents and the early scoring chances came and went for us. Ian Shoebridge opened the scoring after twenty minutes after a good pass from Mick O’Flynn had anticipated Ian’s well-timed run into space. Ian had beaten the Orpington offside trap and had time to control the ball, steady himself and pick his spot as he floated a delicate chip over the keeper’s head into an empty net. The game had barely restarted after Ian’s goal when he was substituted with Paul Bell taking his place. By then in fact both substitutes had been on as Roger French had already made a cameo appearance up front as Andy Smith went for some emergency repairs before coming back on.
Ten minutes later we forced a corner and Patrice Mongelard went to take it with his right foot. There was a fairly helpful breeze blowing across the field and the Orpington keeper was not as tall as our Gary. What followed took everyone by surprise as Patrice Mongelard curled the ball in with the right amount of elevation and pace inside the top corner at the near post with the Orpington keeper unable to adjust his position and cover that small window of opportunity. My celebrations left Orpington in no doubt that I do not score often and I was very pleased to give my team a two-goal cushion. Equally pleasing, if not more so, was to put a bit of daylight between myself and Roger French still waiting for his first goal this season after several fruitless attempts up front.
We had something to defend after half time as John Tallis made way for Roger French now playing at left back while Patrice Mongelard moved into midfield to tighten things up. What followed was 40 minutes of lively football as Orpington made valiant efforts to get back into the game. They scored a good goal with a well-placed shot from the edge of the box that eluded the outstretched arms of our six foot three keeper midway through that half. They nearly equalised but for a diving save on the line by Gary to clutch a looping ball that fell behind him with three Orpington players closing in to apply the final touch.
At the other end Paul Bell had a couple of good half chances in one to ones with the keeper. He also fashioned an acrobatic half volley that would have brought greater reward but for the positioning of the Orpington keeper following another corner from Patrice Mongelard that unsettled the Orpington defence. Andy Faulks and Mehmet Bozyigit nearly broke free to finish intelligent through balls from Andy Smith. John Tallis and Ian Shoebridge came back on (for Steve Blanchard and Nick Waller) and gave us fresh wind as we defended with conviction and desire and in the end Orpington ran out of time (you could say time started running on them earlier in the day). It was pleasing to see a collective effort as our forwards and wide midfielders rolled their sleeves up to protect our three points. We just edged it and look forward to playing Orpington again.
I left immediately after the game for reasons I have explained and missed the opportunity to take my team mates through my goal but it will keep for next week – by which time there’ll be some extra yardage gained. The kit too can wait even though I had intended to take it home today to begin my defence of the Dot Cotton Award. I did take some kit home after all as I travelled home in my kit – no time to waste. I cannot say if there was any après-match hospitality but I was able to celebrate my belter of a goal with a surf & turf platter and a nice cold beer in a local establishment that I had no trouble finding. I will also have no trouble finding the pitch for next Sunday’s game as we welcome Old Tamponians at Farrow Fields.
Man of the match – Ian Coles for a turbo-charged performance at the back.
Man of the match: Ian Coles