Sunday 13th November 2016
By Patrice Mongelard
A game to remember
The two Farnborough Vets teams, both severely depleted by injuries, managed to field 15 players between them for this traditional mid-November fixture against the Met Police Super Vets. Our opponents had dipped into the fountain of relative youth also, and this made for an engrossing contest with both teams well matched in years. Kick-off was delayed to 11:02 so we could observe the traditional two-minute silence, led in the centre circle by a veteran of the Korean War, or maybe Mick Gearing just looks like one. No players were late though we had a job to get things ready in time. This was partly because there is a serious key management issue at the club. Match day spreadsheets do not cover this scenario, nor do they provide for a lapse of memory on Remembrance Sunday by Sinisa Gracanin who had forgotten to pick up the kit from the launderette, and this had led to some frantic text messages at breakfast from an out-of-the-loop Roger French. I can honestly say that after today’s senior moment, Sinisa’s chances of lifting the prestigious Dot Cotton trophy at the end of the season are not good. You cannot expect to get your hands on this trophy if you do not wash the hallowed kit in your own home. The Met Police kit too was delayed but they were out on the beat before we could wheel the goal posts into place. When the keys had been found to liberate the goal posts, and the game got under way we were facing the police lines like this:
Patrice Mongelard, Colin Mant, Jim St John, Phil Anthony
Sinisa Gracanin, Simon Thomas, Obi Ugwumba, Jon Redman
Pete Harvey, Andy Faulks
Substitutes: Paul Tanton, Mick O’Flynn, Dean Wyatt, Matt Ellis
Supporters: Freya, Kathleen and Thea Anthony and dog Caesar, Jo Faulks, Roger French, Tony Harvey (who was also there last Sunday but I forgot to mention him), Chloe Mongelard, Ian and Pam Shoebridge, Jacob Ward, Cameron Williams
Strategist with special instructions for full backs: Mick O’Flynn
Referee: Mick Gearing (who always adds gravitas and military bearing to our 2-minute silence on Remembrance Sunday)
Five goals were scored in the first half, with the lead changing hands three times. There were quite a few misses too. The first of these fell to Pete Harvey after barely a minute when he found himself free in the centre of the box, three yards out, and with only the keeper to beat but he screwed his shot wide. Let me get two things out of the way early doors: Pete scored one goal, made another and missed two or three – the fact is that people who miss goals tend to score them too. I’ll let you know in a future match report how many hundreds of goals Pete has notched for Farnborough. The other point to register is that I think the Met would be guilty of a miscarriage of justice if they failed to vote their keeper man of the Match today. The fact that we did not reach double figures today is down to him and he frustrated several of our players today, including of course Pete Harvey. Matt Ellis missed quite a few too later, much to Harvey père & fils’ amusement on the touch line.
It came as a surprise when the Met took the lead, against the run of play. One of their players was allowed far too much room and time to loft a shot from twenty-five yards and although Dave got a hand to the ball, it looked almost as if he had a hand in the goal. Thankfully we drew level five minutes later when Jon Redman finished smartly from an assist by Pete Harvey. We kept creating chances and missing them and paid the price when the Met edged ahead again, courtesy of a hand from Dave. There was a moment’s alarm when Simon Thomas took a ball in the unmentionables. Footballers, I find, are unable to sympathise with their stricken mates in such moments, even though they understand their pain. “He won’t be needing them again” and ”He does not need them for his acting career” were heard.
However, the confidence in the side was good, the passing crisp and we kept the Met kettled in their half. It was a matter of waiting for, and taking, the chances. Pete Harvey’s whipped corners allied with Jim St John’s aerial menace were causing trouble in the Met’s massed ranks. Our fortunes turned even more on the half hour when Matt Ellis, Dean Wyatt, Paul Tanton and Mick O’Flynn came on for Jon Redman, Phil Anthony, Obi Ugwumba and Andy Faulks. We drew level soon after, when a delightful reverse pass from Matt Ellis opened the way for Pete Harvey to race clear of the thin blue line and this time Pete was deadly. Less deadly was Matt Ellis who made a hash of a penalty earned by Pete Harvey. Dean Wyatt put a close range header against the post and Paul Tanton put the follow-up in the arable field beyond the footpath behind the goal. At the other end we just had to be careful because the Met had willing and able runners, and were not out of it by any means.
It was fitting that we took the lead shortly before half time when Jim St John dominated a corner situation to set up Sinisa Gracanin for an emphatic finish from close range. Even the most ardent Met Police fan would have to agree this was a fair reflection of the game at that point. The second half was not as one-sided as the final score suggests but the fact is we could have scored twice as many goals.
We made more changes on the hour, taking off Jim St John, Mick O’Flynn, Simon Thomas and Pete Harvey – for the return of Obi Ugwumba, Phil Anthony, John Redmond and Andy Faulks. Paul Tanton increased our lead from close range almost immediately – incidentally chalking up his 389th goal for Farnborough Old Boys Guild. Matt Ellis made it 5-2 with a smart finish from a Dean Wyatt pass. Matt could have made it 6-2, 7-2 or 8-2 but missed a string of chances until he was able to produce a sweet volley to transform Andy Faulks’ pass into our sixth and final goal. Mick O’Flynn, Patrice Mongelard and Simon Thomas swapped places in the last quarter of an hour.
Everyone remembered their duties after the game, and many hands made light of what had to be done. Sinisa Gracanin went off again to find keys for the goal posts and for the container. Colin Mant did a great job sweeping up our changing room, and clearing the overspill from the showers where once again he had over-lathered.
Buffet Veteran Nick “Bernard” Waller missed the copious buffet served up by Shoebridge Catering Solutions. If you are wondering where the “Berrnard” comes from you, it is a thought I had on the Paris Metro where earlier this week I saw posters of a major exhibition by artist Bernard Buffet. Anyway, hot dogs, sausages, onion bhajis, samosas, sausage rolls, cheese chunks became a memory in no time at all – much to Roger French’s chagrin when he re-appeared towards the end of the après-match with son Thomas.
Man of the match: Sinisa Gracanin, (Sino, to add to Jumbo (Jim St John) and Rhino (Dean Wyatt and a Deano to boot)), whose day did not start too well, but who now has a fond memory of a day to remember.
Man of the match: Sinisa Gracanin