Sunday 1st September 2013
By Patrice Mongelard
A most encouraging start for the Senior Vets, as the digital age reaches the boot room and an old face makes a surprise apparition
And so it begins – the first of what we hope will be a maximum of thirty-eight games this season, weather and Farrow Fields geology permitting. It would be too much to expect every one of these games to play out as today’s but there was a sense that all the training put in by the Senior Vets over the summer had paid off. So too we hope will be the Google Nexus 7 Tablet unveiled by Roger French as a sort of electronic clipboard, soon to bristle with apps for managing our business on and off the field (when Master Thomas French is not playing online poker on it).
It was no game of chance for us today though as we unveiled a performance of great efficiency and no little panache and style in front of our fans, albeit after a sluggish start. It felt odd and sad to begin a season without Vic Farrow and the clubhouse was a hive of activity before the game to sort out various little bits for ourselves – not least the kit, WiFi connection, match balls, container and dressing room keys etc. You could say that Vic was in some way present, as his sister Doreen appeared later in the clubhouse. It was a good omen as all three matches played by Guild teams today were won: 8-0 for us, 10-5 for the Young Vets and 3-2 for the Sunday team.
When the game started we lined up like this: Gary Fentiman in goal; Patrice Mongelard, Steve Blanchard, Mick O’Flynn and Ian Coles in defence; Rob Lipscomb, Mehmet Bozyigit, Chris Webb and Sinisa Gracanin in midfield; Andy Faulks and Ian Shoebridge in attack. Roger French, Colin Mant and Obinna (Michael) Ugwumba waited to play in what you could say was a derby game. Isabelle and Thomas French + tent, the two Webb enfants +hammock, Jane and Miss Coles provided the home support – to be joined later by the numerous Michael fan club.
Looking back now it seems inconceivable that we were only one goal to the good at half time. Andy Faulks had opened his account with a very crisp half volley after Rob Lipscomb had put him through with a diving header. But that had taken about twenty minutes to manifest itself. Before then Ian Shoebridge had missed a relatively simple tap-in as he casually rolled the ball against the base of the post with the Orpington keeper stranded.
We were creating chances but not finishing them: Andy Faulks crashed a twenty-yarder against the underside of the bar; Chris Webb agreed he should have done better with an excellent cross delivered into the six yard box by Mehmet Bozyigit. The two changes we made midway through the half to bring on Colin Mant and Michael (in lieu of Ian Shoebridge and Sinisa Gracanin) did not disturb our rhythm, or the flow of the game, but we kept missing chances, for example when Colin Mant put a header wide from two yards, from an exquisite Patrice Mongelard cross to the far post.
At the other end Orpington were doing enough in bursts to remind us that teams which do not finish chances they create can pay dearly, and Gary had to be alert to palm away a close range shot which bobbled.
Patrice Mongelard made way for Roger French after the half time oranges. The second half was a one sided-affair but even then we took about ten minutes to blow away the cobwebs as Michael played a delightful through ball for Andy Faulks to round the keeper and slot the ball home with his left foot. On the hour Patrice Mongelard, Sinisa Gracanin and Ian Shoebridge returned as Steve Blanchard, Mehmet Bozyigit and Andy Faulks left the stage, the latter temporarily.
After that the floodgates opened. We scored a further six goals in half an hour. Rob Lipscomb got our third with a powerful twenty-yarder in the proverbial postage stamp; he followed that up with our fourth after electing to shoot rather than set up a team mate. Ian Shoebridge glided in from the right to convert a Colin Mant lay-off with a crisp early shot which beat the keeper on his near post. At that point our chief artificer Andy Faulks must have felt a pang of envy and he was to be handed the opportunity to add to his tally when Michael had reached the limits of his fitness and came off. Andy jumped at the chance and was to add a further brace, including a headed goal from a foot out which he put against the post first before it crossed the line, which gave him what in football parlance is called a perfect hat-trick: right foot, left foot and header. Rob Lipscomb was to add an eighth in the dying moments.
In the midst of this scoring frenzy there was a frisson that went through the Guild ranks as Toby Harlow, aka Lord Lucan, the architect of our 38-game fixtures list, former Vets player-manager, and Guild legend extraordinaire (he’d won everything going he told me), had materialised on the touchline, after an absence of several years. I’d like to think Toby was impressed with our display, but not too worried about getting into the side as he promised to be back to resume playing in six weeks once his six-pack was restored. He drinks Diet Coke now. Toby’s presence added to the general feel good factor around the club, and it was evident how much his presence was appreciated by many (and himself). He pinched a ham sandwich on his way out. I almost forgot to mention that another football celeb, Mick McCarthy, was spotted watching the Sunday team game between the Guild Sunday team and a team called FC Wasps which features McCarthy Junior in its ranks.
Pam Shoebridge, resplendent in a Guild polo shirt, aided by Jane, served a real treat much to Nosher French’s appreciation: chicken legs (whatever yours truly left for the others), sausages, potato croquettes, scotch eggs, crisps, special rolls for the management, ham/egg/cheese and pickle sandwiches.
Roger French sold some match programmes for the First XI’s match on 24 August, which included a longish piece by Patrice Mongelard, and accompanying photos by Colin Brazier, on the 2012-13 Senior Vets end of season awards. Colin Mant appreciated the poetry of the description of Andy Faulks’ goal of the season; Mick O’Flynn commented on the photo of Ian Coles and Jane in the Premier Pensions advert; and Mrs Fentiman commented on the quality of the paper on which the programme was printed. Roger also sold key rings in Senior Vets colours and Village Cuisine logo, and other merchandise, and collected match subs and some annual subs and appeared to add it all up without difficulty, or recourse to the Google Nexus 7 Tablet, which could not really be prised from Thomas’ fingers.
Lastly – an apology – I forgot to sweep the dressing rooms today – I blame the chicken legs. I promise to do better next week – with the broom that is, not the chicken legs (which is not really possible!).
Man of the match – Rob Lipscomb for a performance of great energy, verve and selfishness in front of goal, for whom there was to be more joy in another derby later in the day – sorry Colin.
Man of the match: Rob Lipscomb