Sunday 18th May 2014
By Patrice Mongelard
Farnborough birthday boy signs off with a handsome win
Club Langley, 2 Hawksbrook Lane, Beckenham BR3 3SR was the place to be for football today, on a gloriously sunny day under the bluest skies we’d had for a while. We thought it odd to be asked, at the entrance, if we were there to play football. Of course we were, and with some style, but we were some forty to fifty years older than the 200 or so kids, who were there for a massive tournament. I was hoping (a) that the parents would behave, (b) that our own players would show more maturity than on the adjoining pitches, and (c) that we might teach the youngsters how the granddads do it. All three boxes were ticked.
Our opponents Lloyds TSB Super Vets were unknown territory but not the ground as we recorded a 2-0 win there against Orpington Vets in December. We are certainly glad to have added them to our fixture list late in the season and I am not saying that because we won – it was the whole atmosphere in which the game was played and we look forward to playing them again, including we hope back at our place.
We were down to the bare 12 although at some point the day before we had a potential 16 but those who failed to turn up will remain nameless. They can read this report and weep. The 12 happy few were Gary Fentiman in goal; Patrice Mongelard, Ian Lyons, Steve Blanchard and Mick O’Flynn in defence; Colin Mant, Robin Lipscomb and Waine Hetherington in midfield, George Kleanthous in the corridor of uncertainty between midfield and attack; and the heavy artillery of Barry Grainger and Andy Faulks up front with 59 goals between them for Farnborough Vets this season before today’s match. Roger French ran the line, keeping an eye on our two fans Isabelle and Thomas French, blending in the background, for once heavily outnumbered by their peer group.
What an agreeable game of football we had. Both sides aspired to a passing game, played fairly, without malice and the excellent referee kept things moving with calm authority and good humour. I cannot recall a single bad tackle or controversial incident during the whole game. The first quarter of an hour was quite an even affair even if we had marginally more possession and the heavier traffic was towards the Lloyds TSB goal. They had several players who could play a bit as they say and they defended in numbers, as Barry, George and Andy buzzed round their box aided and abetted by Robin and Waine. Our first goal was not unexpected but the manner of it was. After twenty minutes or so Waine Hetherington produced an in-swinger of a corner which was headed into his own goal by the biggest Lloyds player on the pitch. Ten minutes later Andy Faulks shot low into the net from five yards after making room for himself. At 2-0 up we were comfortable but there were reminders towards the end of the half of what Lloyds could do as Gary Fentiman used all of his six foot three frame, and corpulence to pull off a stupendous point blank save to parry a close range shot at his near post.
The half-time oranges were more welcome than usual as was the eau de Orpington in seven large bottles. Patrice Mongelard made way for Roger French and went to run the line with his shirt off. Our parts were certainly refreshed as the second half was barely five minutes old when George Kleanthous outpaced his marker to master a through ball from Andy Faulks, advance on goal, and prod the ball home. Ten minutes later Waine Hetherington produced an exquisite finish to lob the Lloyds keeper after good approach play from George in the box. At 4-0 up we were at our most dominant. Mick O’Flynn came off to be replaced by Patrice Mongelard, and five minutes later Mick was the only Farnborough player with a clean sheet today. Steve Blanchard lost his footing at a crucial moment in a dangerous area, as we overplayed it at the back and Lloyds capitalised to narrow the deficit.
We then produced the best goal of the game, as our three attacking players combined to great effect. Barry Grainger produced not one but two successive nutmegs in the middle of the park to send Andy Faulks through on the right; Andy crossed low and George applied the gloss finish. It was sweet as a nut, clinical, and if I may be forgiven the analogy – it was like watching Brazil.
There were two more goals in the game but I am not sure of their order although both were easy on the eye. Our six foot three keeper was chipped from twenty-five yards. Andy Faulks provided yet another assist as he crossed the ball low to the far post where supreme predator Barry Grainger was lurking with deadly intent to add to his tally for the season.
It was a long walk back to the changing room through the throng of impromptu games and all the cars parked on the grass but we did not mind it such was our feeling of wellbeing. Roger French was even happier as he revealed at the end of the game that it was his birthday today but he had kept it quiet as he did not want to put us under any pressure. Silly boy! We are under pressure every game he plays but he was glad to mark the day with a win. In fact if you add the figures in today’s score, 6-2, you get the same number as you would adding the figures in Roger’s age. I’ll give you a clue – it is not 44 and it is not 71 either.
The buffet was excellent: a vast tray of round chips, ribs, chicken legs and wings, sausages and what tasted like a thousand island dressing as a condiment which earned compliments for the chef. There was nothing left on the tray when I left – in fact I had the last bit of sausage. Had buffetmeister Nick Waller been there I could not have done that.
Man of the match: Colin Mant, cool as a mint in the middle of the park on a hot day, whose Managers' Player of the Year award seems to have brought out a new dimension in him.
Next week it is our last fixture of 2013-14, and without Roger French, as we catch the last bus home after a 32-game season – despite the waterlogged pitches of January and February, a very distant memory in today’s blazing sunshine which saw several players have ice creams after the game – but no one bought the management one, not even from Colin, and not even for birthday boy.
Man of the match: Colin Mant