Sunday 15th February 2015
By Patrice Mongelard and Valentines Special by Colin Mant
Farnborough tied up in knots by Catford Wanderers
After last week’s ersatz match report from Colin Mant - this week you get the genuine article, after what many deemed the shortest retirement in Farnborough Old Boys Guild history. Rumours of my retirement are grossly exaggerated although the knee injury I picked up soon after coming on is telling me something perhaps. First, a brief half-term report on my talented apprentice: “Nobody complained about Colin’s match report; he shows much promise but needs a bit more grooming”.
Roger French’s weather forecasts (no – they are not from the red planet) had pointed to the wisdom of switching this home game away from Farrow Fields. So we wandered off to Catford, where our opponents had kindly agreed to host this fixture, leaving behind the locked gates of Water World at Farrow Fields. There were sixteen of us, on the morning after Valentine’s Day, and after that film which everyone is talking about, under a sky which had several shades of grey. Simon Thomas had pulled out last night, after being pulled off three times last Sunday; George Kleanthous was still enjoying the white powder, and in his absence there was no binding tape to be seen in the changing room. Barry Grainger joined our number from the waterlogged Young vets, and at 45 was our youngest player today.
Paul Scotter, Steve Blanchard, Ian Coles, Colin Brazier;
Des Lindsay, Obi Ugwumba, Ian Shoebridge, Waine Hetherington;
Andy Faulks, Barry Grainger.
Substitutes: Roger French, Sinisa Gracanin, Patrice Mongelard, Colin Mant, Nick Waller.
Supporters: Thomas French, Obi Ugwumba Jr,, Rebecca Coles, Jane Martin, Mick O’Flynn, Ian Lyons.
Referee Mick Gearing – a sprightly seventy-seven years of age (a milestone celebrated during the week – must be the DIY that keeps him young), had wandered to Catford too, to take charge of the game.
To say we did not start well would be an astronomical understatement. We had to wait twenty-eight minutes before Obi Ugwumba forced the Catford keeper to make a save, and even that was from a long range shot. To the neutral only one team was going to score in that opening phase and it was not Farnborough. We were fortunate not to concede in that period, and seemed determined to help our opponents do so. We had never seen so many misplaced Farnborough passes in such a short period of time, as we struggled to connect in all areas of the pitch. The normally effervescent Paul Scotter was struggling with his breathing and kept asking for a pump (was that in the film I wondered?). There were more moans and groans from the Farnborough contingent in that half hour than from Anastasia Steele in the whole of that film. Catford had only twelve players against our sixteen, and they surprised us – quality not quantity as Christian Grey might say. They had added some Italian flair and steel to their outfit and we had great trouble throughout the game dealing with the long ball behind our defence.
Slowly Waine Hetherington, Andy Faulks and Barry Grainger began to put pressure on the Catford goal. Andy created space on the edge of the box only to blast his shot deep into the tennis courts behind the pitch. Barry’s whipped corners to the far post were proving to be our most potent weapon. On the half hour Ian Shoebridge, Paul Scotter, Andy Faulks and Steve Blanchard made way for Patrice Mongelard, Colin Mant, Sinisa Gracanin and Nick Waller. Five minutes later Waine Hetherington put Barry Grainger through and Barry’s trusty left foot was unerring and we were 1-0 up. Our lead did not last long – as a long ball over the top had Gary caught in two minds and the Catford Italian forward’s finish was assured, giving them a deserved a equaliser on the stroke of half-time.
This week the citrus supply line was restored although I noted the Jaffa cakes were going quicker than the Jaffa oranges. Roger French came on at half time for Des Lindsay. We dominated the early stages of the first half without really creating much. Once again corners were our best chance of scoring but several good balls into the box came to nothing. We took the lead midway through the second half with a bullet header from Nick Waller. The ball into the box was in fact a deflected cross from Colin Mant. We decided to deny Colin the assist as it would have been unintended. Nick was tickled many shades of pink with his first goal of the season. Soon after we made our final set of changes as Barry Grainger, Ian Coles, Waine Hetherington and Colin Brazier came off for the returning Steve Blanchard, Paul Scotter, Ian Shoebridge and Andy Faulks.
We failed to build on this lead – partly as we now had less of a cutting edge up front. Ian Shoebridge missed a gilt-edged chance as he chose to shoot with the wrong foot with an open goal at his mercy. Roger French was shoved in the back as he was looking to turn a loose ball into the net but referee Mick Gearing’s eyes had wandered off elsewhere and no penalty was forthcoming. Andy Faulks produced a dangerous dipping volley from the edge of the box which just dropped the other side of the bar, his best effort of the day. Gary Fentiman had to pull off two or three point blank saves in one-on-ones to keep us ahead. With five minutes left there was not much he could do as a splendid left foot free kick from the Catford left back, from twenty yards, nestled into the top corner via Gary’s hand. We survived a late scare from a Catford corner to take a point from the game.
As we trudged off the pitch Andy Faulks confided in me that he was having trouble getting going this season. He also could not remember where he had left his car, but he was quite sure it was his birthday next Wednesday – so many happy returns to Andy. If you are thinking of getting him a present I would suggest some nice shower gel.
In the end a draw was a fair result. I think it was a draw too for the number of bread rolls eaten (cheese and ham and unlimited Branston). Each side had sixteen – leaving four rolls uneaten despite the attentions of the Buffet Solutions firm of Waller & French. These made the journey back to Pam Shoebridge’s bird table in Orpington, along with a large green cucumber that had appeared mysteriously (a film prop?) in Colin Mant’s vicinity.
Man of the match: bound together so to speak, Gary Fentiman and Obi Ugwumba, both sporting stylish headwear today. Michael also won Thomas French’s admiration for his calm, unflustered manner under pressure, something which Thomas found refreshing and mature.
Farnborough’s valentine hearts broken by love-Cats by Colin Mant
After last week’s attempt at following in the footsteps of a master scribe, who returned this week after the shortest sabbatical in history, it would be a travesty to deny the good denizens of this website a second portion – so to speak. Without further ado, here is the awkward second album, the death knell of many artistes, as music aficionados will testify.
Roger’s frantic storm-chasing throughout the week saw us switch venues to Catford Wanderers’ ground. A good move as it turns out with Farrow Fields resembling Paddy Fields (no Mick, he’s not our new Irish player). Our manager’s calculations were rewarded with a game, albeit on a rather soggy pitch, and the previous day’s rain had given way to brighter conditions. The rumour mill suggested that Simon Thomas, a graduate of FOBG’s Young C**ts Youth Training Scheme, had pulled out (pulled out…on Valentine’s Day…there just has to be a pun there somewhere), after landing a part in a popular hospital drama shown on BBC1 (No, not that drama, that one’s really popular, the other, less popular one). With Paul and Roger on-hand to provide a string of “football related injury victims” he should be suitably rehearsed each week.
Our starting Love Machines were: Gary Fentiman in goal, protected by Paul Scotter, Steve Blanchard, Closey and Colin Brazier; across the middle were Des Lindsay, Obi Ugwumba, Ian Shoebridge and Waine Hetherington with Andy Faulks and Barry Grainger, again on loan from the Young Vets, forming the front-line.
The Love-struck stargazers waiting for their chance were: Roger French, Sinisa Gracanin, Patrice Mongelard, Colin Mant and Nick Waller.
The FOBG fans were also out in force with Thomas French, Obi Ugwumba Jnr, Rebecca Coles, Jane Martin and Ian Lyons in attendance, soon to be joined by the Archbishop of Banterbury himself, Mick O’Flynn.
Mickey Gearing, who celebrated his seventy-seventh birthday in the week, provided us the strict officialdom we required.
Catford, if I could be forgiven for being Sanco manager-esque in my observations, had a youthful look about them and started with much vigour. They started like a train, not the love variety, and penetrated our defence at will (enough innuendo Mick?) with us being the main culprits in setting up some of their attacks. Several times, a combination of desperate last-ditch defending, and wayward finishing on their part were the fine line in keeping parity – thanks also to Colesy’s block with his gonads, quite literally taking one for the team. Aside from Compo’s sky-bound effort, Michael had our only shot on target in 28 painfully long minutes. It must have been a relief for Paul, breathing as if he’d blown out all the candles on Mick’s cake, for their young buck on the left to pick up an injury. He’d been instrumental in most of their attacks. This unsettled them slightly and we began to get a foothold in the game.
Half an hour in Rog reshuffled the pack with Shoey, Paul, Compo and Steve being replaced by Colin M, Pat, Sini and Nick. Speaking personally, entering the fray was a blessed relief. I had been discussing a range of topics with Lionel on the touchline. Amongst them were former girlfriends of our diminutive stud-muffin, more ten shades of brown than fifty shades of grey, and the merits of social inclusion in football for the disabled (you had to be there, believe me). Ian and Waine would later continue this discussion, citing me as a testimony to FOBG’s social inclusion policy. Make of that what you will. Rather than the mass changes affecting our balance, they worked to our advantage for once, if only briefly. Colin M earned a semi-assist by breaking up play, feeding the ball to Waine Hetherington and his through pass was smartly hit by Barry Grainger to give us the lead. Catford were soon back in it as their striker equalised moments before the half-time whistle blew. Normal service was resumed with fresh Jaffa’s for those preferring a juicier half-time treat, rather than the cake-based snack.
With Roger slotting into Des’ spot as our only change we started much brighter than we did in the first-half. We dominated for large periods but could not quite play that killer ball or make our pressing forward count, Catford were dangerous on the break and showed no intention of losing. We at last got the goal we desired; Colin M crossed the ball which was only parried as far as Nick, who applied his meaty head to the ball to open his account for the season. Barry Davies’ voice echoed in my head for some reason, a ghostly sound – “look at his face, just look at his face” - can’t think why? While I wasn’t credited for the assist, I did ask that it be noted as a semi-assist after the game…my second semi of the game (can I stop now Mick?). Obi Ugwumba Jnr then tried to re-enact his father’s silky skills…with little success. Not the sort of thing you want to do on a muddy pitch, wearing a white tracksuit. Lessons were learned.
With time ticking down we made further changes with Barry, Ian, Waine and Colin B departing for Steve, a less wheezy Paul, Ian and Andy. With Catford far from out of the game we went in search of a killer goal, but Shoey’s brain failed to compute with his feet and an open goal went begging. Roger was taken roughly from behind but was denied a penalty by the distracted Mickey Gearing, who was focussing on a tangle between the prone Compo, their keeper and a defender. The gift of a whistle was not on Mick’s birthday wish-list clearly. Compo narrowly fired over, displaying no shortage of technique with a fine volley. However, Wanderers were not to be denied with a well-placed free kick from their left-back evading Gary’s grasping mitt. A harsh blow for Gary who had pulled off a string of fantastic one-on-one saves, but a draw was a fair result in the end. The post-match handshakes were genuinely received, and we look forward to returning to Wanderers' ground in a few weeks time.
Although a cold shower was not the tonic one needed, the Cheese and Ham rolls, ferried in from Farnborough, along with a jar of Branston, certainly hit the mark. These were joined, bizarrely, by a large cucumber, appearing from nowhere. This caused much mirth amongst the team’s smutmeisters. I know not what happened to the said green monster, there were suggestions I had smuggled it off the premises. I can assure you dear readers that this was not the case, and the bulge in the jeans is indeed the Construction of Destruction ™.
Gary Fentiman, for a string of fine saves, and Obi Ugwumba, for his high quality midfield moves and rock-like defensive cameo were inseparable, both earning the MOM badge for this week.
Man of the match: Michael Ugwumba and Gary Fentiman