Tuesday 5th May 2015
By Patrice Mongelard
Eagle Fitter Fans Vets see Farnborough history in the making
In years to come this match report will be known as the Colin Mant special edition for the 2014-15 season. Colin is Paul Scotter’s mate though Paul denies it. The Eagles landed at Farrow Fields for a second time this season, and for the second of our mid-week games. Gale force winds came too, and made for interesting playing conditions but thankfully the heavy rains had abated after softening the pitch.
This was our 35th game of the season, and Colin Mant’s 34th. It was the first game of the season for Chris Bourlet. There was a first also for Gary Fentiman who played at right back after arriving as if dressed for Wembley, an incongruous sight playing in an outfield position, a cross between Lurch and Uncle Fester. Another first was a clean sheet at Farrow Fields for Steve Palmer, as was the sight of the Eagle Fitter Fans holding their AGM in our clubhouse to discuss their forthcoming European Tour. But these firsts paled into insignificance in Colin Mant’s world.
Paul Scotter, Ian Coles, Steve Blanchard, Ian Lyons
Simon Thomas, Sinisa Gracanin, Patrice Mongelard, Obi Ugwumba
Colin Mant, Andy Faulks
Substitutes: Chris Bourlet, Gary Fentiman and Roger French.
Supporters: Mick O’Flynn, Vicky Tanner and Obi Ugwumba Jr.
We decided to play with the gale in the first half – the reasoning being that the wind would drop as the evening lengthened. So we expected to put a lot of pressure on the Eagles goal and to build a healthy lead. But only half of that came to pass. We had probably 60-70% possession but not many clear cut chances in the first half. The problem I think is that we rushed it with long balls whilst the Eagles waited, shortened the game and set about frustrating us.
It took us almost twenty minutes to break the deadlock when Sinisa Gracanin carved out a shooting opportunity in the box and his shot was deflected into his own net by an unfortunate Eagles defender. Chances came and went – Patrice Mongelard crashed a 25-yarder against the bar and had one or two other worthy efforts; Simon Thomas drew a good save from the keeper in a one-on-one; Andy Faulks and Obi Ugwumba too went close but we lacked real penetration in the Eagles box. Andy Faulks and Obi Ugwumba were having difficulty reading each other’s mind on the left. At the other end the Eagles could still scare us with breaks and saw a shot come off the base of one post. We needed a second goal and about five minutes before half-time Andy Faulks delivered.
It was uncertain whether two goals would be enough when we made changes at half-time with Obi Ugwumba and Sinisa Gracanin coming off for Chris Bourlet and Roger French. Sini actually nipped off home to set up a webinar (according to Mick O’Flynn). Eagles expected to do better with the gusts and so it proved in the first quarter of an hour or so as they fashioned one or two good opportunities. They might have sensed some rustiness in one of our players in particular whose first touch was that of someone who had not played for a long time, or else cunningly disguised his skill – no, not Roger French who made a last ditch interception at one point to deny a good Eagles opportunity.
The telling blow we felt was our third goal on the hour – fashioned against the run of play, on the break, against the wind which showed we could score at both ends. A Chris Bourlet clearance released Andy Faulks who outpaced the Eagles defence before slotting the ball home. We made further changes at that point with Patrice Mongelard and Paul Scotter making way for Sinisa Gracanin and Gary Fentiman.
In his last match before he goes into a casualty department, for real, to restore his looks Simon Thomas used the fluorescent monogrammed lime green espadrilles which he calls boots to lay on a copper-bottomed cross for Chris Bourlet to nod home for our fourth goal. At that point Ian Lyons left the field and Obi Ugwumba was back on marauding down the left where he finally achieved an understanding with Andy Faulks to play Andy in for his hat-trick with about a quarter of an hour left. At 5-0 down, Eagles did not give up and we would not have begrudged them a goal when one of their more skilful players was clean through on our goal only to see Steve Palmer make a point blank save.
But we had saved the best until last. With five minutes left Colin Mant’s season eventually came to a climax as he scored his first goal and our 91st goal this season to date. Put it another way a pent-up Colin, the Farnborough Old Boys Guild top goal scorer in the 2005-06 season, had watched his mates get plenty, 90 goals, until it was finally his turn. No wonder he’d been a bit grumpy.
Andy Faulks was the provider as he burst through on the left wing entered the box and squared the ball for Colin who contrived to make the finish look difficult. The Farnborough crowd erupted and all three of them had respectfully to explain to the Eagles Fitter Fans fans why. Colin Mant had taken forty-two hours and 39 minutes to do what Chris Bourlet achieved in twenty-five minutes.
Colin was elated and dishevelled in the showers when a bloke came in asking for money. This was for the food, and in case you are wondering sausages were not on the menu but chips, pitta bread and allegedly kebab meat were. I regret to say the après-match food was a disappointment for me - only chips and pitta bread. An anorexic baby lamb had furnished the kebab meat for twenty five hungry blokes and all the protein had gone by the time I turned up. As a protest I eschewed the food, a first for the Buffet Barracuda you might think, safe in the knowledge that a chicken Korma handcrafted by Mrs M was waiting for me at home. And I did not have to explain to her why it took five hours to play a football game because by the time I got home it had been five and a half hours (and past her bedtime). I had my defence ready if called to account: I was going to blame a couple of Italian blokes called Peroni and Moretti.
I cannot complete this report without praising our plucky opponents who played some good stuff, had more than a little craft on show, allied with much experience, and who played the game the right way, with a smile even when letting in goal after goal. There was not a single bad tackle in the game – there was not much whistle action for referee Mick Gearing. In fact his only excitement came when a stray pass nearly blew his whistle, out of his mouth.
Man of the match: the voting gave a working majority to Andy Faulks for another hat-trick on a second consecutive Tuesday (like buses they are). This puts him only one strike away from the 30-goal a season benchmark (and you’d be right to think he could look a bit happier about that). There was some odd voting going on – better now than on Thursday I thought.
As we sat late in the club house there was a nostalgic, end of season feel pervading the atmosphere. Yet another season was drawing to an end, and some of us were closer to milestones, including our own final whistles. There was sympathy too for the few returnees from our first team who had that evening lost a cup final 2-0. They say nobody remembers losing finalists. That is not the Farnborough way – so well done lads for getting there. To mark the occasion the club brought out two special edition scarves in Farnborough colours – and I promptly added the classic design version to my collection of club merchandise. Also out of the trophy cabinet for the occasion was Vic Farrow’s original vintage scarf sported by Club Chairman Steve Viner. Indeed the heartbeat of the Farnborough management were in the clubhouse chewing the carbohydrate (all the meat was long gone) – President Ian Couchman, Chairman as mentioned, Treasurer Steve Blanchard, IT Officer and Photographer Colin Brazier, Fixtures Secretary Paul Parsons. I understand most of them got home well after midnight, like Roger French, because of those two Italians who wanted to celebrate Colin Mant’s historic goal.
Man of the match: Andy Faulks