Saturday 8th April 2006
By Colin Brazier
All this season I have been meaning to - no, not retire - dispel a few myths about the Thirds, a.k.a. FOBG''s Saturday Vets. And now''s the time! It''s long been held by many people within the club that the 3rds are a team of old has beens and never wases. Less of the "old" please!
Armed with a few relevant statistics from the Hon. Sec., I can reveal a few facts:
1. The average age of our 18-man squad is exactly 29.
2. Without just 4 KEY PLAYERS (ahem!) this drops to a mere 24.21, and as we all know, You Win Nothing With Kids!
So having justified Steve''s place in the side, on to Saturday''s game. We were up against high flying Zampa Valley. If that name conjured up images of an exotic desert landscape somewhere in Africa, these impressions can only have been enhanced when a few of us, having had last week''s game rained off, went to inspect the pitch and found a grassless expanse of hard-as-concrete, rutted dried mud. All it needed to complete the picture were a few skeletons and Lawrence of Arabia on his camel. Can''t help you with Lawrence - or his camel - but there was a dead rat in one of the penalty areas. Obviously this had to be dealt with - Ivor gets very hungry during a game - and our resident refuse-disposal-operative-turned-landscaper Todd put it out of sight (and temptation).
This brings me nicely onto the team Ed selected, and Todd was dropped. Mmmm, I''ll just say that again, Todd was dropped. Yeesss, finally the manager has seen the light! But our Mr Angry got the last laugh, because he wasn''t risking life and limb, or more importantly being made to look a complete tw*t, by playing on this moonscape of a surface! Oh, and just to put the record straight, he wasn''t dropped because he''s crap after all, but as a consequence of our strong squad and the manager''s rotation policy. Oh well...(just kidding mate!).
So we ventured out, Ivor in goal, a back four of Joe Lipton, Steve Viner, Jack Harding (21 next week!!) and myself (rather older); a midfield 4 of Joe Oatley on the right, Pete Morton on the left and Richard Coyne and Ant. Dine (birthday last week!!) in the middle, and a strike force of Paul Burford and Ben Tomkins. Alex Thrall, returning from injury, and Ben Duffy (another birthday boy) kept Todd company on the bench. In case you''re wondering (and I know you are!) Lee Shep was injured and Paul Parsons was on holiday.
With Todd not playing, a vacancy was left in the "vocals" department that Ivor, bless him, did his best to cover but Zampa made even those two seem like the picture of softly spoken encouragement. Even after they had won the game, Zampa continued to argue with each other. Maybe it brings out the best in them, I don''t know. They are second in the table after all. The chief irony was the fact that the Hon. Chairman got the first of several yellow cards for dissent. Boy, I can''t wait for the next committee meeting!!!
We went behind as the result of a bizarre interpretation of the passback rule. Coaching tip...if there is the slightest remote chance that the opposition will seriously appeal for a free kick for a pass back, KICK THE BALL INTO TOUCH!!!! and defend the throw, corner, whatever! Zampa broke very quickly and had the better of the chances but we slowly edged our way back and scored a great goal just before the interval, when Ant. Dine''s scorching low 20-yard shot finished off MoM Joe Oatley''s mazy run. Half time, 1-1.
We began the second half with the advantage of the slope and were soon to have a more tangible one when the law of averages finally told and a Zampa player shown the yellow card had already received one, reducing them to ten. Sorry to say, we did not capitalise and conceded two poor goals (I know there are no good goals to concede, but I choose my words carefully).
No, we never really came to grips with the conditions, but we didn''t do the basics either, like close the opposition down, pass the ball, and, most of all, COMMUNICATE. Oh well, we''re going to have days like this I s''pose, one of the consequences of having such a young side!
Let''s finish the season on a high, we have two more chances to beat a team above us in the table this season, but before we play Long Lane we need to put right that home defeat against Beaverwood on Saturday.
NB. Don''t forget your fiver deposits (tenner if you''re bringing a partner) for the end of season bash at Frankie & Benny''s on Saturday 22nd April.