Sunday 9th April 2017
By Patrice Mongelard
All fair and square under the sun
As I waited, fourth in a long hot queue of cars to get into the club car park, it felt like such a long time ago since we had played at home. In fact it was only our fourth game at home in 2017. The other thoughts I had were what a lovely day for football, and less positively perhaps it crossed my mind that in Vic Farrow’s days there was none of that waiting in front of locked gates as phone texts and calls crossed the ether to find the nearest set of keys. In this case the shortest straw and distance belonged to a slightly grumpy Paul Tanton despite his three hundred and ninety-eight goals for the club. Paul had been poised to take his lad Rory to the swimming pool when the call to take one for the club came. He’ll be making up for it with Mrs T all week. It was just over four years ago on 6 April that Vic left us to run another football club in the sky. The club survives but we miss the old boy.
Another old boy whom we missed was back today, though not from the other side, in the larger than life shape of Des Lindsay, the prodigal son resurrected a week before Easter, with the best pair of shades to be seen today, returning to the fold. The good weather had brought out some distinctive clobber, including a magnificent pair of sandals, last worn by a Roman legionnaire, adorning the feet of Phil Anthony who came without Caesar today.
Ian Coles, Ian Lyons, Colin Mant, Patrice Mongelard;
Sinisa Gracanin, Kypros Michael, Mick O’Flynn, Obi Ugwumba;
Peter Harvey, Des Lindsay.
Substitutes: Phil Anthony, Ian Shoebridge, Nick Waller.
Referee: Mick Gearing.
Supporters: Andy and Millie Cobham (still showing the old man a few tricks with the ball), Tony Harvey, Jackie Salako, three from the Ugwumba family including two other Michaels and one Emmanuel.
The football was excellent today from both sides. Avery Hill – a team of PE teachers mostly still I think, have been playing the same brand of football for eons – composed, organised, athletic, tall, muscular but fair. I have never known them to field a weak team and so it proved today. There was a lot of effort from both sides but really not a lot to show for it because there were few clear chances to score being created and both teams defended well. Des Lindsay looked like he had not been away at all and settled well in the hole. He hit the side netting after a Patrice Mongelard throw into the box and fashioned a good half chance for Mick O’Flynn.
The pitch was a bit of a leveller though not level – it is the time of year when pitches start to dry and harden and unless rolled frequently with something heavy (no Waller jokes please) make you wish for rain (and then you would not have the sunshine we enjoyed today).
The first goal of the game was controversial – a penalty awarded to Avery Hill in the twenty-fifth minute after a fierce cross hit from two yards away hit the intersection of Patrice Mongelard’s midriff and left arm (in a natural position). Mick Gearing assured me it was nothing personal and I assured him that no one could ever accuse him of being a homer, even if the concept of ball to hand had completely passed him by.
Despite this setback we continued to match our opponents. Kypros Michael was up to his old tricks but today it was more a case of a jet-lagged Kypros rather than a jet-heeled one. I understand he had got back very recently from giving it large in California all last week. Peter Harvey, full of effort and heart as always, had played a full game yesterday and we were missing the mercurial Simon Thomas.
On the half-hour Patrice Mongelard, Des Lindsay and Mick O’Flynn made way for Ian Shoebridge, Phil Anthony and Nick Waller. Nick’s brief was to add weight to our attack and he came closest to dragging us back into the game. He latched on to a loose clearance in the box and seemed favourite to get to the ball first but his attempt to roll the ball into an empty net was thwarted by the agile Avery Hill keeper. It was good to see Ian Shoebridge back to his energetic self covering a lot of ground and taking care of the ball.
We had the better start to the second half. We equalised about ten minutes in. The Paphos Express was released with a clear run on goal. His shot was saved but Peter Harvey – like the top predator that he is was in the right place at the right time to power the rebound with his head into an empty net from ten yards out. On the hour Patrice Mongelard and Des Lindsay were back on for Obi Ugwumba and Ian Lyons. Michael was to return for the last ten minutes after Phil Anthony went lame.
The last twenty minutes were frantic with both sides looking for a winner. Avery Hill kept Dave Salako very busy and gave him the opportunity to shine. He pulled off several gravity-defying saves, and when he was beaten the post rescued him. In the end neither team could find the breakthrough.
And so it ended in a draw – we had to wait twenty-six games before we could register our first draw this season. As Mrs M noted astutely it is either conquest or calamity with the Farnborough Senior Vets. The secret though is to take it all in our stride, and to treat all results in the same way. As we sat in the clubhouse with the sunlight streaming in – taking in cold beverages for dehydration and sustenance from Shoebridge Catering Solutions, and much banter (sample from Peter Harvey to a white-shorted Des Lindsay “Des – Are you off to do a Wham Video?”) – bodies and souls were content. Mick O’Flynn had left early because of trouble in the bedroom department, furniture that is, following a recent house move and he had shopping to do. And on Palm Sunday we witnessed a miracle as Des Lindsay paid his match subs. Getting him to take the kit will require special prayers from the Pope himself I feel. There was a belated offer to take the kit from Dave Salako but Ian Shoebridge had beaten him to it. That was the only thing that slipped through Dave’s fingers today
Next week we look forward to our last away game of the season - to the Eynsford Bowl to take on Riverside Wanderers. It is always tricky to get players for Easter Sunday and we know we will be missing a few. Kypros Michael is off to Cyprus to do interesting things with olive oil, and pick up his sizeable cut from the Paphos taxi drivers betting syndicate. Obi Ugwumba is off to Nigeria on Med View and Nick Waller has promised to personally handle Michael’s baggage at the airport despite the anticipated strain.
Man of the match: Dave Salako, clearly out to impress Mrs Salako which we all thought he managed handsomely. Note to co-manager Mick O’Flynn – check if Mrs Salako can come to more games.
Man of the match: Dave Salako