Sunday 22nd December 2013
By Patrice Mongelard
Farnborough gift-wrap six goals for the opposition or Senior Vets get stuffed for Christmas
I know it is Christmas and all that, and it is better to give than to receive, so my family tell me, but what we did today was taking the Christmas spirit too far.
Apart from being the first day when the days start to get longer, today also saw that rare planetary alignment when both Farnborough Vets teams found themselves playing the same opposition away at the Beckenham Cricket Club in Foxgrove Road, Beckenham, BR3 5AS – and with contrasting fortunes. Farrow Fields was under water like most of the BR postcode, except for the exceptionally well-drained pitches at the Beckenham Cricket Club.
We had assembled fourteen turkeys for our last game before Christmas. Our starting XI were Darren Burkett in goal; Ian Coles, Steve Blanchard, Colin Brazier and Patrice Mongelard in defence; Sinisa Gracanin, Waine Hetherington, Nick Waller, and Robin Lipscomb in midfield; Andy Faulks and Colin Mant in attack. Paul Bell, Roger French and Graham Curry waited to bring the drinks on. Graham was Paul’s mate from the north-east, down for the Palace game yesterday. You could say that this was first time Paul Bell had brought a curry to a Farnborough game and it did not smell. Once again though we had no fans – the French kids having gone, we were assured, to Chessington even though there was a fire there yesterday.
What a game of two halves we served up. We were 1-0 up after only five minutes – a swift incisive move that saw us defending a corner one moment, followed by a quick ball to release Sinisa Gracanin down the right flank, who looked up and slid the ball invitingly behind the Wellcome defence for Andy Faulks to stroke home crisply first time, with Colin Brazier’s boot. Andy, singing Karaoke at Beavers until sunrise had left his football boots behind, not a very serious approach to the game you might think, but as this was Andy’s twenty-second goal in seventeen outings perhaps it did not matter. Still, Colin’s boot was glad to score.
What did matter though was the catalogue of missed chances that we served up in the first half hour. The referee confided in us later that had he been officiating at a boxing match he would have been tempted to stop the contest – though he did compel the Wellcome management to replace a recalcitrant player, the only false note of a game played in excellent spirit... Andy Faulks, Sinisa Gracanin, Nick Waller all had good chances to add to our score, as did Patrice Mongelard who muffed a close range header from a yard out from a Sinisa Gracanin corner. The most serious moment at the other end had come from a very powerful Nick Waller back pass, his best shot of the game, which Darren scuffed just past the post.
Our failure to pull further ahead had emboldened our opponents and they began to put pressure on us. On the half hour a Wellcome corner was spilt by Darren Burkett and the ball was hooked into our net from close range. Although pegged back we were still optimistic at that point even though we were still not converting the many chances we were creating. Paul Bell was the latest addition to the long catalogue of missed chances as he was clean through but the ball was not on his best foot and he screwed the shot wide.
We made a lot of changes as we do when we have such numbers. One can debate whether they help or hinder the team but they have to be made. I lost count of them. I am told it went like this today:
20 mins Paul and Graham for Patrice & Robin
HT Robin, Patrice & Roger on for Waine, Sinisa & Colin M
60 mins Waine, Sinisa & Colin M on for Ian, Nick & Andy
65 mins Ian on for Darren.
What this means is that the only two players who had a full game of eighty minutes today were Colin Brazier and Steve Blanchard. Moreover, Patrice Mongelard found himself experiencing five positions, more than he can remember in any weekend, at right back, centre midfield, left midfield, centre half and in goal.
The second half was a disaster for us. Words fail me. We were abysmal, amateurish, atrocious, awful, casual, catastrophic, diabolical, disgraceful, error-prone, inept, lethargic, shambolic, slow, and wasteful. Playing without co-ordination, hunger, intelligence, passion, pride, skill and solidarity - we got the stuffing we deserved. Wellcome rattled five goals without reply from Farnborough. We assisted them with at least four of those goals. We even injured our own keeper at 4-1 down when Steve Blanchard’s stud connected with the bridge of Darren Burkett’s nose and that is how I ended up with the keeper’s gloves and top, for a second consecutive game. At times it felt like I was playing against twenty-one players.
We had three or four half chances to score at the other end but messed them all up – mostly tame headers even though Colin Mant hit the bar. Our performance was summed up when Roger French and Robin Lipscomb jumped into each other as they contested a high ball between just the two of them like a pair of entertainers in a Christmas panto leaving Robin in a crumpled heap on the floor. At least things did not boil over – despite Roger’s nascent efforts, which would have been a pity because Wellcome play a clean and fair game, have wonderful facilities and are hospitable. Santa certainly came down their chimney today.
Our changing room was a glum place indeed with dark mutterings and despondent sighs – only lifted by the arrival of the Young Vets with a 5-3 win to their name. At least they had not disgraced the shirt.
Some of us stayed longer than than usual after the game – it was Christmas after all, and the hot chip butties were, you could say, Wellcome.
As the time of New Year resolutions approaches, it would be good after today, for everyone to take a long hard look at themselves and consider if we are doing our best for the team and the club. Our performance today, individually and collectively, left a great deal to be desired. Managers have been sacked and players dropped indefinitely for less.
Man of the match today – yes we must have one, whatever the result, was Colin Brazier.
Man of the match: Colin Brazier