Sunday 8th February 2015
By Colin Mant
Senior Vets celebrate victory over Sanco, despite the whacks and Waine.
With Roger waxing lyrical for a game on the “Green, Green Grass of Home”, this was our first visit to Farrow Fields, unbelievably, since the 16th November. Such is the rarity of our appearances at home that it seemed nobody had been informed to expect us. A locked gate and a queue of cars greeted us and it was thanks to Paul Tanton, dashing off to get keys, who ensured we didn’t have to change in the High Street.
A dry, crisp, bright day greeted us at kick-off time and it certainly did not possess the freshness of last weekend’s Arctic wind. Games against Sanco are usually an even, well contested game, in keeping with the spirit of Vets football, with both sides willing to let their football do the talking. This game was an exception to the rule and an unusually tetchy affair ensued. Our usual scribe, absent today, informed his readership to expect a ‘bit of rough’. This statement was more prophetic than he could have imagined.
The starting XI consisted of Gary Fentiman in goal, a back four of the returning O’Filth, Closey, Steve and Colin B. Simon, Michael, Shoey and Waine were given the midfield duties with Compo and George tasked up front. On the bench were Roger, Paul, Colin M, Sini and Des Lindsay.
Spectating were: Isabelle French, Obi Ugwumba Jnr, Jo Colyer to be joined later by Jane Martin, Vicky Tanner, Darren Burkett, Ray Martin and Lionel, nursing a sore calf from his game the previous day although this did not inhibit him from getting in everyone’s ears. Thomas French came along later once he had fulfilled his Cub duties.
Mickey Gearing gave a shrill blast on the whistle and we were away.
The Green Green Grass had a swathe of beach intermingled. We started at a decent tempo and, when we did lose the ball, we won it back speedily with some good pressing. Sanco’s passes were more adrift than ours and our midfield was dominating proceedings. An early breakthrough came within five minutes when Waine fed the ball to Compo at the edge of the area to fizz the ball into the bottom corner for his 16th goal of the season.
We were knocking the ball about at will and Simon was being fed the ball regularly, exploiting the space, along with Mick O’Flynn, although their final delivery was not as pinpoint as they would have liked. We had chances, mainly from distance, and Michael forced the Sanco keeper to touch the ball wide. Waine, Compo and George also loosed off shots, one being finger-tipped over the bar, and it was one-way traffic. Shoey tested the keeper with a stinger and George was afforded a free header from the corner that looped over.
Mickey then missed what one Sanco player – and their manager – believed to be a nailed-on handball decision and the aggrieved Sanco player protested at length, with some fairly rudimentary language aimed at Mickey. With the game continuing, Mick tried to send the player to cool off for 10 minutes, who initially refused to leave, but he did leave the pitch eventually grumbling all the way. This seemed to rattle Sanco and things started to unravel. At this point their manager's ire then turned to Simon, and much was made of us fielding a 35-year-old for a senior vets game. With verbal exchanges being made on the touchline, Roger made his case for a Nobel Peace prize – only after asking if they’d like to find another fixture next year – by removing Simon from the fray to even up the numbers. After a couple of minutes on the touchline our resident thespian discovered that arithmetic wasn’t Rog’s strong point - they had replaced their Mr Angry with another player to make an eleven – and Simon returned to the field to much protest. They needn’t have fussed. Those of us who are affectionately familiar with Simon know that he has the speed and physical ability of somebody at least twice his age…(winkey pokey-tongue smiley thing). Not that their manager dwelt on it for too long(!).
We made changes on 30 minutes with Simon (leaving the field a second time), Compo and Michael being replaced by Paul, Sini and Colin M. This always tends to unsettle us and we lost a bit of momentum in the run up to half-time, although Sanco’s threat had been minimal to that point.
It’s the little things you miss and we seemed to be lacking of citrus refreshment at half-time, although I could not make out why? How do those oranges appear each week?
We changed ends and personnel, with Shoey and Waine giving way for Des and Rog. Des was known to a couple of our long-standing Guildsmen, Colesy and Colin B, and had played for the firsts in the ‘90’s. Talking to him before kick-off it had been a good while since he had pulled on a pair of boots, but his debut was worth note. He had a sure touch, a bit of trickery and a desire for a shot – even if his early effort had threatened the corner flag more than the goal. He looks a useful addition to the ranks.
More changes on 60 minutes saw George, Steve B and Simon (again) move aside for Shoey, Waine and Michael – although I’m sure Simon had replaced Mick O’Flynn after he went lame again early in the 2nd half? It would be unfair not to give credit to our opponents as they toiled manfully, but got little change out of our defence when they did foray forward. We pressed on seeking to increase our lead and put pressure on the Sanco goal. Sini busied himself with keeping the ball moving forwards and Rog had a decent chance when Colin M clipped the ball into the box, but the ball squirmed away, frustratingly for the gaffer.
Although tensions earlier in the game had not spilt over, an element of niggle had permeated Sanco. They were, in fairness, more frustrated at their own players and game. But a seemingly innocuous tussle between Paul Scotter and one of their forwards escalated rapidly, as their man forearm-smashed Paul across the nose. What happened next was slightly surreal from my view.
I’ve seen TV programmes where people ride a mechanical bull in a bar; very popular in the Costas I’m informed. Not the sort of place I’d frequent of course, but I’ve often thought it would be quite fun to do. Today, I found out what that experience would be like. With players grabbing the Sanco player to hold him back, I had seen that look in Paul’s face before. With a bellow Paul charged and I jumped on his back and pulled as hard as I could (keep it clean, readers), taking him roughly from behind you might say, but with a man’s life at stake I had to take one for the team. The ride was a rough and bumpy one, I was almost thrown, but with the help of two or three others we managed to prevent a thumping and Rog wasn’t even in sight.
For the second time in the game a Sanco player was asked to cool off and the game resumed for us to continue our dominance. Finally, the cushion of a two-goal lead came when Waine picked up the ball on the edge of the area and his shot, on target, took a wicked deviation off of a Sanco player. The dubious goals panel sat, but were unable to deny Waine his moment. If only I were on the panel…
Colin B was subbed on 70 minutes for Simon, who returned to the field for a third or fourth time…I doubt if Simon has been pulled off more times in one day. Five minutes later Compo took over from Roger for a final change. Sanco looked tired and could not clear their lines. We worked the ball out wide. Shoey’s whipped cross was met by Des’ smart volley, the Sanco keeper did well to keep the effort out, but when you’re on fire, well, you’re on fire, and Waine gobbled up the rebound, firing in off the post.
Although we did make some sloppy passes today, overall this was as comfortable as we have been all season and everyone contributed to this win. Gary paid his ten pounds after the game and remarked that it had probably cost him a pound a touch. That statement may not have been that far off the mark. We’re grateful to Pam and Jane again feeding the masses with a splendid spread of baguettes with various fillings, pretzels, roast potatoes, sausages and crisps, along with some salad bits and bobs. Not a bit went to waste despite the absence of the buffet twins.
Paul Scotter has asked me, through this medium, to issue a heartfelt apology to everyone for his reaction today. I’m sure we’ll all move on and hope that football is the main talking point for the next few games.
Man of the match was a close run affair with Waine’s assist and brace of goals just pipped by Shoey’s all-round performance. He played in three positions that I counted today, and looked the part in all of them.
Man of the match: Ian Shoebridge