Saturday 20th August 2005
A starter for 10 as they say in all good quiz shows, and certainly the onion bhaji after the game was a good indication of what to expect in the coming season for the Third team. We managed to get it ‘in the onion bag’ a couple of times and the taste was sweet. That was without adding the lemon. We started our campaign in the curry house and that is where we intend to finish it too.
High drama ensued in the lead up to the game as we were all aware of the comeback kid''s return and the knowledge he had shed a couple of stone. Perhaps Darren meant he had a couple of sheds made of stone but I’m not sure... (if so, please donate to the club as I am having real difficulty sorting another container, but that’s a different story...)
The start of the game was action packed and I felt that on balance we were the slightly better footballing side, we lined up in an attacking formation of three at the back, which seemed to work well with Mark Friend and Rob Weekly doing the marking and Colin Brazier directing and cutting out the killer passes. Steve Viner was just sitting in front of them, mopping his brow. However the Fourths had three goalkeepers so I knew it would not be easy to score!
Alex Thrall rampaged down the left and Joe Lipton foraged down the right, both accepting defending duties as well. Terry Edwards for the Fourths was keen in the tackle and thwarted a number of attempts to get the shot away. Alex Hill was there in the first half to try to spread the ball around for the Fourths and create something out of nothing (sometimes it was nothing out of nothing!). The new two of Neil Barnes and Richard Coyne doing an admirable job of attacking, defending and jumping and running, which is what was lacking in the 3rds last season! Chris Viner was like a terrier all day and Darren was always looking for the opportunity of a shot on goal. It was for Darren to break the deadlock half way in to the first half, from a firm low cross by Alex, past the onrushing Joe and neatly side footed in by Darren, he doesn’t miss those!
Darren was unlucky on a couple of other occasions as we grew in confidence and took the game to the opposition. Ivor was left relatively untroubled with good distribution to ease the pressure from the defence. Alex made it 2-0 after spotting Jez slightly off his line and drilling the ball from 20 yards over his head and in off the bar, a little lucky but at least we made our own luck and profited from it, more of the same needed in the league.
The Fourths were not put off and came out strongly for the second half, with Simon Ricci roughing things up upfront and Dan Head sprinting forward down the flanks. Joe Oatley coming close as did Charlie, and Stuart, which led to Ivor pulling off a very good couple of saves to keep us in control. The older guys in the 3rd team were tiring (well the over 45’s amongst us!) but with footballing expertise at least it showed that the mind was agile and we intercepted most of what the Fourths had to offer, Chris Viner having the best opportunity for us in the half with a powerful header onto the post whipped in by Joe.
The 4ths were getting the upper hand by the last ten minutes and the corners were starting to rain in with Mark Edwards looking dangerous and Chris and the other Dan wanting a piece of the action too. It was from one of these that the Fourths got a glimmer of hope with a curling cross spectacularly bicycle kicked in from 5 yards out by Dan. 2-1 and a spirited game came to a close, but only the Thirds stayed for the spirits afterwards which was disappointing.
The fairytale email from Paul Parsons went like this:
"Hello Chalks, hope you''re well. Since you retired the 3rds have really gone to pot. Your enthusiasm, natural ability, sense of humour and stamps have been much missed by the club. On behalf of Vic, Ed and all players, would you possibly reconsider your decison and give it one more go??? On Saturday we''re playing the 4ths, who, for the past 4 or 5 years, have insisted they would beat the 3rds, and we really can''t hope to win without you in the side, and let''s face it, we were relegated becuase you weren''t here driving us on".
In reality the email was
"Hello you fat bastard, we''re really short on Saturday and a few of us need a laugh so do you fancy attempting to play football just once more??? It won''t be a long term thing, we''re not that desperate. Regards, Paul Parsons".
Seeing as I''ve lost enough weight for my heart attack risk assessment to have gone from "don''t stand up too quickly" to "blimey I can see my willy" I decided to give it a go.
Pre game was spent watching the 1st team with a few of the lads, and when Jez Allen turned up I thought "what a result, Ivor''s retired". Alas Jez was playing for the 4ths and the gutbucket was in the changing room trying to stretch his goalkeeper''s top over his mouth.
The game was played initially in a friendly way, which is to be expected considering both teams play for the same club, but after about 20 minutes a few silly challenges and comments started flying around from people who should know better, and who have played for the club for a few years. I won''t name names as you know who you are.
The 3rds took the lead when I finished a good low cross from Chris Viner, beating Jez ha ha. I then scored again about 5 minutes later, but for whatever reason the lino decided to disallow a perfectly good goal.
A flowing move involving myself, Joe and Chris Viner ended with Chris hitting the inside of the post with a header, but it wasn''t to be long before we claimed a deserved second, Alex crashing a long range effort off the bar and in off the forehead of a certain Jez Allen. It has been an intention of Jez''s to score for the 3rds for about 15 years now, so well done Mr Allen!!
2-0 at half time and to be honest we were cruising and probably worth more than a 2 goal lead.
More chances went begging in the second half and it wouldn''t be like the 3rds to see a game out or indeed increase a lead, so with 7 minutes to go we gifted a goal, finished well by Dan Head.
So all in all a win for the 3rds at the start of what is hoped to be a good season, and after tasting Shirley''s cheese and onion rolls after the game I can confirm that I will be available for selection.
So I''ll see you all next March.