Sunday 8th March 2015
By Colin Mant
Seniors made to look a dog’s dinner by hungry Rangers
The sound of a nearby woodpecker confirmed that spring had definitely sprung as we arrived at leafy Beckenham, to once again enjoy the hospitality afforded to us at Foxgrove Road. We play John Pearce’s Wellcome Vets on the 26th April and, to show our appreciation to them, perhaps a jug of beer should be offered as a thank you for keeping our season ticking.
Further north, Birmingham to be exact, the world famous dog show, Crufts, was coming to its conclusion. Fifteen pedigree chums made their way to Beckenham Cricket Club to take on Charlton Rangers Vets, a team that have brought grief to our Young Vets in the past. Would we be best in show, or would we be nothing but a hound dog?
Rog unleashed this pack to take on Rangers, with dog breeds in brackets that these players should own, ‘loosely’ based on looks/hairdo’s: Steve (Anatolian Shepherd Dog) Palmer in goal, Phil (Tibetan Mastif) Anthony, Steve (Komondor) Blanchard, Ian (Curly Coated Retriever) Coles and Colin (Cockapoo) Brazier our back four-legged friends, Ian (Rat Terrier) Shoebridge, Colin (Mutt) Mant, Des (Boykin Spaniel) Lindsay and Mick (Bichon Frise) O’Flynn providing the midfield bite with Waine (Norwegian Buhund) Hetherington and Andy (German Pinscher) Faulks on the scent of the goal trail.
Straining on the leash were Nick (Bullmastiff) Waller, Simon (Saluki) Thomas, George (Miniature Pinscher) Kleanthous and Roger (Rottweiller) French. The last one is not based on looks...
Tethered outside the shop whimpering were Isabelle and Thomas French and Jo Colyer. They were joined later by Amanda and Daisy to see Simon officially christen himself as an old git…our wishes to Simon on his birthday. We thank Micky Gearing, as always, for refereeing and bringing his dog-whistle with him….this explains a lot.
We kicked off and it was clear from the start that Charlton were not going to be a walk in the park, possessing some tall players and no shortage of quality all over the pitch. They looked to quickly take command and forced us onto the back foot, exerting pressure on our goal and pressing quickly when we had the ball. That is not to say that we did not have some say in the first half, but the ball spent a lot of time in the air, which suited Charlton more than us, and we struggled for any fluency. Our back four were the busiest unit on the pitch and hitting them on the break looked the way to go. We did fashion a couple of chances mid-half and Compo made the Rangers defence aware of what he was capable of by having a shot deflected wide. From the resulting corner the ball was cleared as far as yours truly, and my volley from the edge of the box was sweetly struck, but just wide of the mark. Colin B remarked in the warm-up that the goals were in the wrong place, I can only concur.
Changes on the half-hour mark saw Waine, Colin M, Shoey and Phil kennelled for Nick, Rog, Simon and George. A tactical masterstroke to bring on our king of the nodded goal Mr Waller, although it was not to bring us a dividend today. Competing hard was the only way to play, and Roger could not resist introducing himself with a love-bite of a challenge, by his standards, on a Charlton player. With half-time approaching a good delivery into our box was met by Nick’s nut, but he could only divert the ball past Steve P to give Charlton the lead (no pun intended). “Look at his face, just look at his face”, I thought…yes, like a bulldog chewing a wasp.
However, we did lift ourselves following this and were soon level – twice. A probing ball towards Simon saw the Rangers full-back struggle to cut it out, and our baby faced assassin sent over a pearl of a cross, with George pulling off his marker (that’s the only double entendre you’re getting O’Filth) to head into the bottom right corner. But NO…a late flag…and play was called back for a throw, the goal ruled out. From the resulting throw George laid it into Des’ path who unleashed a screamer that hit the bar, bounced down and was followed up by Compo to net the ‘rebound’. Much debate ensued in the bar and, with the latest technology employed (we sent someone to ask their keeper!) the goal was credited to Des despite Andy’s claims.
We went in level at half-time after a determined rather than silky display, although, disaster of disasters, Waine had forgotten to bring the Jaffa Cakes out of the changing room. This is the only way to explain our second half ‘performance’, in which we completely capitulated. A half so painful I cannot recall a single effort on goal, or even a corner to us, and Roger’s scything tackle on the corner spot provided our only moment of remark. Yes, it was that bad. This is not to take anything away from our opponents who played well and to their strengths, utilising their height advantage to carve opening after opening. We made changes on 60 minutes, with Colesy, Colin B, Mick and Compo being muzzled for Shoey, Phil, Waine, Colin M, but we were never in it and second best to everything.
We had to thank wasteful finishing, certainly from one of their forwards, for it not turning into a double figure embarrassment, and a tip of the cap to Steve P for bravely gathering the ball at the feet of their striker in a one-on-one. Des made way for Compo late on, but by then the deckchairs needed no rearranging on the Titanic. Six, count them, six unanswered goals, is not good enough and there were some hang-dog looks by the end. Charlton deserved the win, but for us it was a day, certainly a half, to forget. To be scooped up, bagged up and disposed of in the doggy-doo bin. We retired to the bar to lick our wounds, defeated in the dog fight and we'll need to be better next week as Reigate Priory pose no lesser challenge.
The après match banter had more sparkle than our display and the sausage, chips and bread, when they finally arrived, were munched on with glee. One half of the ‘Buffet Solutions’ firm, a phrase Pat had wittily coined, was unable to enjoy this feast, instead heading off to celebrate his twelfth wedding anniversary with a late lunch in Petts Wood – our congratulations to Mr and Mrs French. Pat would have enjoyed the texts I was receiving and I was lured home with the promise of fresh sausage rolls and undescribed ‘treats’ – being the good doggy I am, I headed home expectantly. Thank goodness I didn’t undress in the porch in preparation as my sister-in-law was sitting on the sofa. I am still yet to score this season.
Steve Blanchard was top dog today, by some distance, with a determined display that we could all have emulated. He'll be sunning himself on a palm-lined beach next week, in palm pictured trunks. Sounds like the doggies’ doo-dahs to me…
For those of you wondering which ‘dog’ Pat would be, there is only one choice…the Pug. A tenacious little fella, but a cause of irritation as he yaps constantly and plays everyone onside by dry-humping the corner flag.
Right to reply: comment from the Pug on reading the report - "Most of the dogs on show were probably neutered and a few should have been put down after the game.”
Man of the match: Steve Blanchard