Sunday 19th May 2013
By Patrice Mongelard
Family affair goes well with honours even, and awards galore
And so it ends – a season that began on 2 September last year, struggled through the snows and floods of winter, to emerge in the sunlight of May with the traditional fixture of youth versus experience as the Senior Vets pitted the wisdom of age against the exuberance of youth. There was scant respect shown for the elderly as the Young Vets nabbed the bigger dressing room, and kept their Farnborough kit. A maroon and black number was dredged up from the vaults to contrast with the Guild’s bacon and egg livery.
The final twelve Senior Vets were Gary Fentiman in goal; Patrice Mongelard, Mick O’Flynn, Ian Coles and Steve Blanchard in defence; Sinisa Gracanin, Rob Lipscomb, Colin Brazier, Graham Donnelly (our own youth policy) and Mehmet Bozyigit in midfield; and Andy Faulks as the lone ranger up front. Roger French ran the line after a fashion. In fact Roger played the first five minutes as Colin was doing his bit as the Guild’s official photographer on the other pitch. I counted fifteen players for the Young Vets despite notable absentees.
I would be lying if I said we were confident of winning this one – even with one or two regulars missing the Young Vets remained a potent force. We just wanted to feel at the end that we gave a good account of ourselves. It did not look that way in the opening quarter of an hour. The Young Vets mastered the ball more quickly than we did, and their play had more shape and attacking intent than ours as we struggled to maintain a presence in their half. They had the ball players and speed merchants down the flanks in particular, and some big units in the centre of the park and upfront and they also had the wind in their favour. That wind was to disappear in the second half when the sun came out but it did us no favours while it was there, particularly as the Young Vets proved to be at their most dangerous in set pieces.
They had scored through Mark Friend after only ten minutes from a corner. Quietly we feared the worst at that point but somehow we restricted them to that solitary goal. Gary Fentiman was having an inspired match in goal and pulled off a number of saves, coming for crosses, commanding his 6-yard box and getting good distance on his goal kicks (the latter destined mostly for Young Vets’ heads). Colin Brazier cleared another set piece off the line, Mick O’Flynn cleared the ball against the base of the post after Gary had got his hand to a low shot and diverted the ball against the same post. An acrobatic point blank save from Jim St John was the pick of our Gary’s display.
At the other end their Gary – Rosslee, in the Young Vets\' goal, was having a more relaxed morning but had to save smartly from Andy Faulks. We were making inroads into the Young Vets’ half but the final ball or cross was never produced and in the main Andy was isolated whilst our defence played too deep. But there was only one goal between the teams at half time and all who know football know this is often not enough. We made no changes at half time whilst the Young Vets made several and that seemed to affect their play. On balance even they would agree that they had fewer chances to score in the second half whilst we had more, relative to the first half. Paul Tanton drew a good diving save from Gary Fentiman and Gary was equal to all the crosses and corners that were put in. Roger French came on after twenty minutes or so for Mick O’Flynn. By then we were making a better fist of it. Graham Donnelly carved out a great opportunity as he intercepted an attempted flick over his head by the last defender and was clean through on goal only to fire over the bar from ten yards out. With ten minutes left on the clock we got a deserved equaliser as Robin Lipscomb attempted a shot from twenty yards out – the dubious goals committee was not entirely certain about this one. Gary Rosslee may have had it covered, or it may even have been bound for the giant holly behind the goal – but the diversion off Jason Miller wrong-footed Gary Rosslee and we had scored our 100th goal this season. Mick O’Flynn came back on to replace Colin Brazier and preserve our draw. Five minutes from the end Andy Faulks produced a long range shot cum cross that had Gary Rosslee scrambling back on his line to palm the ball onto the bar. And that was the end of the excitement, and the season, as the final whistle was heard soon after for what was a fair 1-1 result.
The records of both Farnborough Vets teams stood thus at the end of it.
Young Vets: P26 W15 D7 L5 GF105 GA47 GD58 Pts52
Senior Vets: P31 W17 D6 L8 GF100 GA68 GD32 Pts57
Referee Andy Gable kept a close eye and firm hand on things – to the extent of booking Rob Lipscomb for unsuitable language for a family gathering, but had nothing to trouble him as all, even Roger French, were on their best behaviour.
The après-match today was enlivened by a sparkling presentation of various Senior Vets awards for the season by the French family:
The Referees Award of a hip flask (well a photo of it anyway in a brown envelope - it is in the post honest) was made to Mick Gearing for the 13 games he did for the Senior Vets free of charge.
The Catering Award of a little red robin plant (photinia x fraseri) was made to Pam Shoebridge for taking good care of us and our visitors (with special thanks from Nosher French).
Andy Faulks bagged the Golden Boot Trophy (with 39 goals), the Goal of the Season Trophy for a superb edge of the box volley (which Paul Scholes will have dreamt about) against CUACO on 28 October, and a Thundered-t-shirt which showed twenty-four verbs which could be used to describe the manner of Andy’s goals.
Ian Coles was a deserved winner of the Managers’ Player of the Season – with 29 games played, 31 MoM votes, three kit washes and two ambulance and rescue missions.
Ian’s partner Jane won the Supporter of the Season Award – a stylish yet functional thermos flask for touchline vigils next winter.
The Dot Cotton award for the highest number of kit washes was finally relinquished by Patrice Mongelard and was shared by Ian Coles and Ian Shoebridge with a magnificent total of three apiece. Andy Faulks also notched a trio of efforts in this competition but did not want his washes to count as this would spoil his carefully nurtured image.
Lastly – the Clown Award – a hereditary award made to Toby Manchip, was presented in the form of a dodgy keeper t-shirt. True to his name Toby reciprocated with a Tin Tack Award for the management duo of Patrice Mongelard and Roger French (and a kind card probably written by Helen). He was either talking out of his Khyber Pass or having a Sherman. You choose.
Pam Shoebridge’s copious fare was rounded off with vast amounts of cake (from Jane) which Nosher French did his best to put away, it appears already in serious training for that ultimate mixed grill he has got his eye on for our end of season munch, pushing his body to its limits like a true sportsman.
Man of the match by a long chalk Gary Fentiman who, you could say, saved his best for last.
Roll on next season – all thoughts of retirement banished, although we must announce an important retirement this week – no, not the minor celebrity playing for Paris St Germain, but of Farnborough icon Colin Brazier giving up Saturday football to concentrate on Vets football. A thought to sustain us through the next few months until it all starts again, as it must. Au revoir.
Man of the match: Gary Fentiman (Senior Vets); Mark F