Saturday 8th September 2007
By Colin Brazier
It is always difficult to criticise referees when you have lost; people will just assume it is sour grapes, and, let’s face it, they do have a difficult job. When an assessor is thrown in to boot (I wish!) their life gets even harder. So it was under those circumstances then, that our man in black (significant, that; more later) entered the dark domain that was the FOBG dressing room to announce that a straight red card would greet any swearing whatsoever. I glanced around the dressing room and the blood had drained completely out of the faces of Harrigan and Gardiner. We all knew we were in for a long afternoon and the bookies were taking plenty of spread bets on the number of Guild players still around to hear the final whistle.
Before kick-off we had an inspection of studs and jewellery, which to many players amounts to the same thing; I dread to think where this could lead, but thankfully on this occasion only fingers, ears and necks were inspected. Chairman Viner breathed a sigh of relief.
So, a brand new season; a brand new division…yes, in case you missed it, our glorious sixth position, gained with the help of at least two walkovers, got us promotion back to our spiritual home of SLA Div 3. One week, an end of season, meaningless mid table plod; the next, planning our open top bus ride through Farnborough. See how easy it is, Shaun mate?
We entered this new dawn with a side devoid of at least six players (including a goalkeeper) either away for the weekend or still on their summer break, yet bolstered by a number of players with season’s aspirations at higher levels than the Thirds, needing match practice. Rookie keeper Burford in goal; a back four of Small, Arnold, Davis and Brazier; midfield of Duffy (with shiny new boots), Viner (with his second borrowed pair of the season), Harrigan and Carpenter; and a strike force of Davies and Gardiner. Brackell took the flag (thanks Lee) and Seymour and Doughty were also subs. Never mind an unchanged team; I wonder how many identical line ups we put out over a 28 game season? Such is the way with a third eleven.
Anyway, where was I? Oh yeah. New season, new division; a time of joyous anticipation, hope, expectation even. One kick off, silly free kick (half cleared), 25-yard shot and unsighted keeper later, we were a goal down! D’Oh!
Understandably boosted by this, Roan proceeded to lay siege to our goal for the next 20 minutes interrupted only by a Carpenter long throw, flicked on at just over head height to the far post where Brazier’s experience told him the ball would go. Unfortunately Brazier still wears the lead boots he has all his career and the chance went begging.
Still, we gradually got into the game and despite their swaggering, outside-of-the-boot passes, the Roan back line did show signs of fallibility. It was indeed while we were piling on some pressure that the second goal came – for them. I have lost count of how many times I have described us conceding a goal from our own attacking positions, and this was another example. I think we may have to consider kicking corners straight out for goal kicks in case we get caught on the break.
2-0 then, and our plight was not helped by seemingly playing against twelve men. I’m sure it was the fact that Roan’s colours of black and navy stripes, black shorts and socks, and the ref’s aforementioned all black, were the reasons for this illusion, and not the number of free kicks awarded against us for seemingly innocuous challenges. Still, we did keep the swearing down to manageable levels and didn’t see any red cards. Good luck to the ref, I hope he goes a long way.
We fought manfully to get a foothold in the game, and created a few chances from well delivered free kicks and corners and, had we taken one, you never know… Paul Burford had relatively little to do himself, and there wouldn’t have been too many highlights to show if the BBC’s football budget had reduced them to covering the game. God forbid!!
A disappointing, but not disastrous, start to the season. One league game down, 27 to go! Optimism reigns!!!