Thursday 18th May 2017
By Patrice Mongelard
Farnborough manage to come through heavy soaking
Before I start my report of our only midweek match this season I would like to thank the members of the Senior Vets squad who attended Tuesday’s fund-raising curry at Village Cuisine in Farnborough which I organised. That is all eight of them – Steve Blanchard, Colin Brazier, Ian Coles, Peter Harvey, Colin Mant, Patrice Mongelard, Mick O’Flynn and Simon Thomas – that is one person for every team in the club. We have four Saturday teams, two Sunday teams and two Vets Teams. Add to this number of players the team managers, club officials, old boys, other followers and well wishers and you have, by a conservative estimate, at least 150 individuals. Yet, all we could muster on a Tuesday evening in Farnborough for a local club founded in 1929 was a turnout of fourteen. The other six individuals present were (from the Third XI) James Cheshire, Nick Stannard and Ben Tomkins; old boys Glyn Farrell and Des Fallon, and Danny Saines (Young Vets Co-Manager). To cut a long story short the club raised a total of £60 once I paid for 20 covers. You might think it would have been easier if I had just given £60 to the club out of my own pocket but I could not possibly comment.
While I am in rant mode I ought to mention an observation which was put to me as I tucked into my sixth papadum before I was deliberately boxed in so I could not reach the buffet trays containing the meat curries and pilau rice, and it was this: Why was it that the reports I write of the Senior Vets games never criticise the management. It seemed a fair point at the time. After my fourth Cobra beer I thought different. My reports do not praise the management enough. So I’d like to put things right for the record, and pay tribute to the management of all Farnborough teams, past, present and future.
As our late Club Secretary Vic Farrow once said to me - management is a thankless task. Of course, as in most things, there are exceptions but generally individual footballers just want to turn up and play football. They do not want to be bothered with ‘administration’. They have no interest in, or idea of, the arrangements that have to be made to ensure games are played, fixtures are scheduled, referees are found, match and annual subs paid, essential statistics collected. And do not get me going on the vexation of substitutions – most players feel their prodigious talent deserves a full 90 minutes, and they can usually also think of at least two of their team mates who do not deserve 90 minutes, or any minutes on the pitch. It is a huge personal favour to the management when a player carries one corner flag back to the clubhouse, and as for finding volunteers to sweep the changing rooms, or take the kit you get better odds on finding a molar in an Orpington Buff. But we manage.
What about today’s game I hear you pant?
Well – first of all we owe a huge thank you to Jordan Glen for opening up and doing the goal nets and putting out the corner flags, and just being there throughout the evening, a great support, Also present was Club President Ian Couchman who was the last to leave. This is all part of the management of the club. The weather was more than a bit of a dampener with leaden skies and a heavy flow of rain seeping through in both periods but the light held and I think both teams enjoyed playing on what turned out to be a rather good surface, lush, moist but firm, true with a bit of zip. We had assembled a fairly strong squad and so had Old Tamps (strengthened with a face or two from Avery Hill).
My Tenerife tan paled in comparison to the burnished presence of Des Lindsay, freshly returned from roasting in the Yucatan peninsula in his designer shades. All this melanin was ridiculously incongruous in the Farnborough monsoon lashing down.
Ian Coles, Colin ‘YaYa’ Mant, Patrice Mongelard, Sinisa Gracanin;
Danny Mullins, Ian Shoebridge, Simon Thomas, Obi Ugwumba;
Barry Grainger, Des ‘the Tan’ Lindsay.
Substitutes: Andy Faulks, Peter Harvey, George Kleanthous.
Supporters: Louie Dwight-Thomas, Guillaume and Pierre Yves Mongelard, Dave O’Flynn, Obi Ugwumba Jr (also linesman).
Co-Manager, DJ, Strategist: Mick O’Flynn.
Referee: Nick Kinnear.
The early stages were even and Old Tamps could have taken the lead in the first ten minutes but we held firm and a rare occasional appearance from our former keeper, Gary Fentiman, his first in Farnborough colours this season, was proving an inspired stroke by the management. As a defender I am not too proud to say I missed Gary’s abuse. In terms of chances created we took the upper hand as the first half unfolded. Barry Grainger was flabbergasted when referee Nick Kinnear failed to award us a penalty when his cross could not complete its arc because of an Old Tamps hand. The better chances started to be fashioned by Farnborough. Danny Mullins and Barry Grainger had good close range headers that on another day would have troubled the net. Danny blasted over from inside the box after chesting the ball down and turning his marker. Simon Thomas kept a steady supply of mostly accurate crosses coming into the box.
Old Tamps defended well, using their big units to good effect and were threatening on the break. On the half-hour we brought on Andy Faulks, Peter Harvey and George Kleanthous for Ian Shoebridge, Obi Ugwumba and Des Lindsay. This gave us a greater attacking edge whilst we hoped the midfield would not all rush off in search of a goal. Neither team could find a breakthrough before half-time.
The first goal of the game was as they say going to be important. Aren’t they always, at the precise moment of occurrence? You know what I mean though in tight games. Good interplay on the right, ten minutes into the second half, with Simon Thomas and Peter Harvey involved, found Barry Grainger free in the box with a low cross evading the Tamps defence – a quick glance up, a shake of the snake hips which put the nearest defender out of the equation, and the ball was guided silkily into the bottom corner from close range. Our second goal was even better five minutes later as Barry got behind the Tamps defence chasing a ball from George Kleanthous which had been lifted above the last defender. Barry’s eye for goal combined with his cultured left foot and predator’s instinct to produce a crisp, powerful and deadly half volley which shook the rain off the goal nets, from inside. Soon after, Barry started to limp and Des Lindsay was back on to add weight to our attack. We nearly got a third from a powerful solo run by Danny Mullins but he screwed his excited shot wide. That was Danny’s last contribution as the ruthless management brought Obi Ugwumba and Ian Shoebridge back on for Danny and Simon Thomas for the last twenty minutes or so to make the game safe. Peter Harvey, still looking to add to his tally of twenty-seven goals this season, produced a rasping shot which the Tamps keeper saved well. We thought we would get a third when Peter Harvey and Andy Faulks broke through the Tamps defensive line but their football interpretation of the chuckle brothers meant the moment passed. A third goal would have been harsh given the quality of our opponents. We held on to register a rare clean sheet and that was it for this season though for many of us there is a European adventure next weekend when no doubt there will be much talk of next season. There could be quite a shake-up (by the management).
Fourteen 14” pizzas were despatched with aplomb in the bar, in the absence of Buffet Stuffed Crust Nick Waller, washed down in part by a jug procured by a delighted Peter Harvey who enjoyed a second football game this evening thanks to the North London origins of his parents. My nephew Guillaume visiting from Perth (Australia) appeared to have had a slice from each pizza, (it runs in the family) though it could have been an optical illusion.
As the evening wore on an appalled Colin Mant noted the management had a list of birthdays of all the squad but had failed to mark the occasion of his recent birthday with a cake. No doubt his roommates will hear more about this on our forthcoming Toure of Belgium (see what I did there?). Louie Dwight-Thomas joined in the après-match banter sharing his views on the Van Gaal v Mourinho debate, with ears twitching and separated by beaming smiles as sounds of adult humour reached him.
I had the final slice of pizza. This was a fitting end to a long domestic season of thirty-two games, the whole game I mean, not the pizza. We had worthy opponents who gave us quite an examination. And they matched us in the bar, pizza slice for pizza slice, and pint for pint. There were no injuries bar Barry Grainger’s knock but the therapeutic glow of two goals will hasten his recovery.
Man of the match: Sinisa Gracanin who filled in at centre half with great poise and savoir-faire, another inspired decision by the management.
Man of the match: Sinisa Gracanin