Sunday 21st September 2014
By Patrice Mongelard
Farnborough put on a show in Dulwich with clown, American and Jack Russell and more
The signs were not good at the beginning of the week – a run of three straight defeats, more injuries and absences but, in our hour of need, our overseas player Eric Johnson flew over from the US, and Toby Manchip, aka the Clown, dug out his boots.
Moreover, for the first time in my seventeen seasons as a Farnborough Vet we had a real mascot in the canine form of Caesar, a Jack Russell there to watch the artistry of his master Phil Anthony. You could say today Caesar came and saw us conquer. Once Caesar realised that Patrice Mongelard was not going to eat his dog biscuits, as one or two of the lads had tittered – he settled down to enjoy the lovely Dulwich sunshine which bathed the excellent playing surface at the Griffin Sports Club in SE21 7AL. If Caesar could talk, I mused to myself, his tactical analysis would probably be sharper than Toby’s. The three Farnborough Ss were configured like this:
Phil Anthony Ian Lyons Steve Blanchard Patrice Mongelard
Simon Thomas Ian Shoebridge Paul Scotter Waine Hetherington
Andy Faulks Colin Mant
Substitutes: Roger French, Jim Grimley, Eric Johnson, Toby Manchip.
Supporters: Sinisa Gracanin and Caesar.
Sanco Super vets play an attractive brand of football, a measured and passing game, without a hint of malice or rough edge and this suited us too. We set the pattern of play quite early on with defensive solidity, short passes, good movement, and probing the Sanco defence particularly down the right.
Simon Thomas was having a field day and giving his marker a torrid time. In the first twenty minutes alone he had two or three shots on target, and twice as many crosses which failed to find an unmarked Farnborough player in the Sanco box which we were getting to know fairly well. Waine Hetherington came close with a cunningly disguised shot which faded just past the top corner.
The lack of an end result to cap our dominance was mildly troubling for us. The Sanco keeper had a quiet confidence, and competent air, about him and he was equal to all our efforts – in particular a shot from Paul Scotter which he dived low to divert past the post. At the other end Gary Fentiman had a relatively quiet time. In fact, unless my memory fails me, I do not recall a single Sanco corner in the first half, or the second.
Midway through the first half Roger French brought on Jim Grimley and Eric Johnson in lieu of Andy Faulks and Waine Hetherington. The pattern of our play was undisturbed. In fact we were to achieve a breakthrough soon after. Patrice Mongelard took a corner which kept low and was cleverly dummied by our soccer player Eric at the near post. The ball travelled undisturbed through a forest of legs before connecting with Ian Shoebridge’ boot and we had a 1-0 lead.
We perked up and tried hard to pull further ahead. Eric Johnson had a shot which would have been good in American football, and Ian Lyons got his mane to yet another cross from Simon but his header was just over. A deep free kick from Patrice Mongelard found Ian Shoebridge at the far post but his header back across the goal was prevented from reaching unmarked Farnborough players by the well-positioned and unflustered Sanco keeper. We were not able though to increase our lead before the half time oranges; and, a pleasant surprise, a cup of tea and Jaffa cakes from our hosts.
Paul Scotter, Colin Mant and Ian Shoebridge took a breather at half time; Andy Faulks and Waine Hetherington returned to the fray and we also unleashed Toby Manchip, or if you prefer, we brought on the clown.
As often happens our opponents seemed to sense some uncertainty in our game as the second half got under way and they were to draw level. A ball over the top put a burly Sanco forward the wrong side of Steve Blanchard and with a clear run on goal unless Steve could catch him. The chase seemed to happen in slow motion, over thirty yards or so, and did not go our way as the ball was rolled past Gary, with just enough on it to dribble over the line.
Here we go again – we must all have thought. Thankfully we were to restore our advantage fairly quickly as Simon Thomas harried a dithering and unwise Sanco defender in a dangerous place, dispossessed him and stroked the ball past the keeper. That moment lifted a weight off our shoulders, I thought I heard Caesar bark, and we began to play with greater confidence and purpose.
What followed was mostly one-way traffic as we lay siege to the Sanco goal. Final changes were made with twenty minutes left as Patrice Mongelard, Phil Anthony, Steve Blanchard and Simon Thomas made way for Paul Scotter, Ian Shoebridge, Colin Mant and Roger French.
We had two goals – from Eric Johnson and Andy Faulks, disallowed for off-side in a five-minute period. Toby Manchip met an Eric Johnson cross with an acrobatic – yes I’ll repeat that acrobatic, volley from twelve yards out which crashed against the post with the Sanco keeper beaten (just like Gareth Bale I thought but with a tenth of the pace). Andy Faulks, Waine Hetherington, Ian Lyons, Eric Johnson all went close before Andy Faulks wrong-footed the Sanco keeper from close range – to score our third goal a few minutes from the end, and give us a well-deserved first victory this season.
For the spectators this was an attractive game of football in warm autumn sunshine, in a great setting, played in excellent spirit by both sides – a great advert for Vets football on Sunday mornings.
I cannot report first hand on the après-match hospitality in the picturesque club house. Family business took priority in the form of my mother-in-law’s 85th birthday lunch. To celebrate this, and our victory, today I tackled the challenge of the Ultimate Mixed Grill at the Queen’s Head in Green St Green. This was no Caesar salad and it took the biscuit. Ever mindful of my “David Gandy” diet, however, I did not clear my plate – I left the mushroom.
Man of the match: our show was so good we had two of them - Ian ‘Lionel’ Lyons and Eric ‘Magic’ Johnson.
Co-manager Statler’s view on his 250th appearance for FOBG.
As this was my 250th appearance for the Guild I thought I would add a small addendum following our first win of the season. To coin a phrase frequently used by regular match reporter and co-manager Waldorf the first half was very easy on the eye and it was at times like watching Brazil (when they used to be good). The passing was crisp and neat and reflected the good work put in at midweek summer training but until now not really put into action. It was pleasing to see that we were actually taking shots and involving the opposition keeper and actually giving him work to do. It was slightly disappointing to be only one up at halftime but the signs were good.
Same old story for the start of the second half though we just didn’t get going and the inevitable equaliser came after five minutes or so. Still we had time to sort things out and we pulled things around in short time. The final set of substitutions mid-way through the half seemed to settle us for a change and we put a lot of pressure on Sanco to run out convincing winners.
It has taken me something like 14 years to accumulate 250 appearances so it would appear I would have to be approaching retirement and still be playing if I want to join the coveted FOBG 500 Club. Onwards and upwards.
Man of the match: Ian Lyons and Eric Johnson