Sunday 5th April 2015
By Patrice Mongelard
Farnborough win Eagles’ Dare
When the Met Police Vets pulled out earlier in the week it meant that the Farnborough Senior bunnies would not be going to the Warren on Easter Sunday, but thankfully the eagles landed at Farrow Fields and we had a game on the sunniest day of this weekend so far. Before loads of twitchers turn up at Farrow Fields, I should point out that the eagles were Eagles Fitter Fans, aka Crystal Palace fans who would like to recover the fitness of their youth. We loaned them two players – one an ardent Palace fan, Waine Hetherington, who said wearing the Palace shirt was a dream come true, and another - an equally ardent Charlton fan, Nick Waller, who said wearing a Palace shirt would be a nightmare come true, and as he could not find a Palace shirt “big enough for him”, made do with a blue and red shirt from the club’s vaults.
Patrice Mongelard, Steve Palmer, Steve Blanchard, Roger French;
Paul Scotter, Sinisa Gracanin, Obi Ugwumba, Ian Shoebridge;
George Kleanthous, Andy Faulks.
Substitute: Colin Brazier (who resisted the lure of the Bodiam Castle Easter egg hunt).
Supporters: Jo Colyer, Isabelle and Thomas French, Vicky Tanner and Obi Ugwumba Jr.
I will not mention the juvenile taunts that I and Thomas French had to endure from fans of clubs with smaller trophy cabinets, as we got changed.
When referee Mick Gearing (who got married 53 years ago, and during his National Service when the Berlin Wall went up) blew his whistle to get the game under way we were not sure what to expect. One of the Eagle Fitter players had softened us up a bit by saying that having watched us play before he felt his team was only fit to play our 5th or 6th Vets team. This was a prime example of the kidology that football fans go in for. We did not fall for it – they were better than that, but we made hard work of it.
To the neutral this was a one sided-affair but the half-time score of 1-0 to Farnborough reflected the effort which the Eagles put in defending their eyrie. We had most of the play, passed the ball well and dominated over most areas of the field except the Eagles' 6-yard box where it mattered most and where their keeper (who as they say had clearly played at a good level before) caught the eye. I think we had five or six corners in that half, against none for the Eagles.
However, for all our dominance the clear cut chances were not coming as the Eagles parked the proverbial bus, and mini-bus, in front of goal. We created many opportunities but none came to anything. That is until the twenty-fifth minute or so when Paul Scotter, a keen student of the game who had spotted that that the Eagles keeper coped with everything we had thrown at him, except for the high ball, decided to loft one from twenty-five yards after a pass from Sinisa Gracanin, and we had our breakthrough.
I could not help think that this was probably the sort of analysis that Paul’s mate – absent today, but who will remain nameless, can’t do. I hesitate to leave the first half without mentioning other incidents but in truth nothing really sticks in the mind’s eye except for (ahem) a couple of my shots and corners. The Eagles mounted a couple of forays in our half which led to long range shots from Waine Hetherington which did not really trouble Gary Fentiman in our goal. So relaxed was Gary that he swapped shirts with Steve Palmer in the second half.
The second half brought more to the spectator – five goals no less and it could have been more. Roger French made way for Colin Brazier. We went two up after Andy squared the ball for George to tap home from close range. I will resist another Wham! analogy. At 2-0 we felt we could kick on and grow the score but we were surprised when the Eagles swooped to pull one back – with a bit of help from the Farnborough keeper and centre back Steve B (they have previous!), after the ball came back from the post and sat nicely for the Eagles forward who told me later he could have been at home watching telly instead but I pointed out you can’t hit the back of the net from the sofa.
2-1 became 3-1 after Ian Shoebridge bustled his way into the Eagles box before squaring the ball for George to convert at short range. That did not stop Ian being taken off soon after for Roger French who by then must have fancied his chances of scoring. We were very dominant at that point. We forced a string of corners and created many chances. Paul Scotter lashed the ball against George’s forehead for our fourth goal, and George’s hat-trick. Roger French had a goal-bound flick that looked close from a certain angle. Andy Faulks did not make the most of a one-on-one but with ten minutes left Sinisa Gracanin teed up Andy for a trademark finish into the top corner from fifteen yards to give us a 5-1 score line that was a better reflection of the overall game, played in excellent spirit and even good humour throughout.
The last scoring opportunity of note fell to the Eagles when Nick Waller had a shot that almost crept over the outstretched hand of Steve Palmer in goal until he palmed it off for a corner. Scoring against Farnborough would not have been a novelty for Nick this season, but for more reasons than one he would have been relieved not to score for the Eagles.
The Easter special buffet from Pam Shoebridge was sumptuous. I could only nibble at the edges – just two samosas and a sausage this time, leaving untouched the potato croquettes, pizzas, egg mayonnaise rolls, cheese, crisps, and tomatoes because an Easter Sunday roast had my name on it with a 2003 Medoc and a 2013 Bordeaux Supérieur, back at Chateau Mongelard. It was only a leg of Taste the Difference organic lamb (not a whole sheep as Nick Waller would have you believe).
Before I left though, there was time for Colin Brazier and me to toast the memory of Vic Farrow (who passed away on 6 April two years ago). His framed shirt and photo were straight in front of us on the clubhouse wall. Vic is gone, but certainly not forgotten, and much missed. As we sat there looking out on a sunlit Farrow Fields I got the wisdom of the Andy Faulks’ views on marriage – my 33rd anniversary celebrated only yesterday was a “life sentence” – “you get less for murder”; whilst Mick Gearing’s 53 years was the tariff for “a triple murder”. Andy’s sense of humour is rather special as you will have realised.
Man of the match – West Ham fan George Kleanthous, who confessed to being extra motivated to get a hat-trick against Palace, but who was just humble enough to acknowledge that it was all about the service, and he got a jug (but not of Bishop’s Finger to Waller’s chagrin). Talking of ale, we were so desperate to get a game today that we were even prepared to put Nick Waller behind the bar if Vicky Tanner was unavailable.
Next week a stiff end of term exam awaits in the form of Avery Hill and some of Farnborough’s star pupils (naming no names) will be missing. Before then, happy birthday to Thomas French, a wizard with a dust pan and brush, 9 next week, who now knows what being given the bumps means, and who will get over yesterday’s disappointment because he'll never walk alone.
Man of the match: George Kleanthous