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Match Report

Sunday 26th August 2018


Senior Vets
Peter Harvey 4, Simon Thomas 2, Danny Mullins, Chisa Mkala
8 - 2
Orpington Vets

By Patrice Mongelard

Farnborough delight fans with thumping derby win

This is a match report I thought I would never get to write, such have been our travails against Orpington Vets, and our nemesis Kevin “Lord of the Rings” who was quite gracious and sporting at the end, like his team mates. We chose a wet, blustery and not warm day to produce a sizzling performance that warmed the heart. The team’s WhatsApp feed is buzzing as I write this report. It is nice to see that, for a change, it is not about the true, real, genuine fans berating so-called plastic fans for their inferior support – more on that later.

Fifteen players on paper became thirteen on the pitch as Jay Hardy did not recover from last Sunday’s knocks, and Jim Grimley went missing. But we had a plan – Operation Kevin. I am not going to reveal our plan, in case the information is of value to future opponents. Careless talk costs points.

Starting XI:

Mark Harrington;
Michael Hills, Colin Mant, Patrice Mongelard;
Sinisa Gracanin, Waine Hetherington, Danny Mullins, Simon Thomas, Gordon Thompson;
Peter Harvey, George Kleanthous.

Substitutes: Obi Ugwumba, Chisa Mkala.

Supporters: Jay Hardy, Tony Harvey, Mick O’Flynn, Michael Ugwumba Jr.
Refereee: Paul “Play On” Parsons.
Director of Football: Mick(aldinho) O’Flynn.
Chief Football Correspondent: Patrice Mongelard.

We started well and kept going well right until the end. We were 2-0 up within seven minutes. Peter Harvey had produced two crisp flashing drives within minutes of each other which had found the net and settled the whole team. The first was curled in from the edge of the box while the second followed a ball over the top from Simon Thomas which Peter drove into the box before producing a ferocious close-range shot. Peter completed his hat-trick by the quarter hour after a lay-off from Danny Mullins inside the box invited another quality finish with a cultured left foot.

At the other end Mark Harrington’s performance between the sticks was hugely reassuring for us. Our three-man defence ably marshalled by Michael Hills, with additional protection from midfield anchor Waine Hetherington and hard-running wide players Gordon Thompson and Simon Thomas was coping more than well. Orpington marksman Kevin pulled one back after some pinball in our box from a corner with his instant control, turn and shot which evaded several Farnborough bodies in a crowd scene. Any nascent feelings of doubt in our midst were quietened by Croatian maestro Sinisa Gracanin who played Danny Mullins in on goal to restore our three-goal advantage. Danny was immense today – after being kept up until half past four in the morning by son Ethan. He had some huge players to contend with – imagine two large refrigerators with French doors, to which was added a triple wardrobe later in the game. Our own big unit, Obi Ugwumba, came on after half an hour with Chisa Mkala, no pushover himself and a man of impeccable football judgement, to replace Gordon Thompson and Sinisa Gracanin.

A feeling of mild euphoria came upon us as Simon Thomas arrived at the far post to quiff the ball into the net after a sublime cross from Peter Harvey. Even without the benefit of VAR, referee Paul Parsons made the right decision to let the goal stand such had been the trajectory of the cross. At the other end Orpington produced a cross of similar quality for Kevin to nod the ball into our net to remind us at half-time that even at 5-2 this game was not over by a long chalk.

We braced ourselves for a second half Orpington revival but in truth it never came. Sinisa Gracanin was back on for a resting Waine Hetherington to take up the midfield anchor role. We continued to defend with composure and solidarity. Our line was holding and Orpington incursions into our box were rare. On the hour Patrice Mongelard and Simon Thomas made way for the return of Waine Hetherington and Gordon Thompson; and the scoring opportunities started to come again. A cross from Chisa Mkala produced that rare item – a headed goal from Peter Harvey, which dad Tony was able to see in its full technicolor glory. More Farnborough goals followed from Chisa Mkala and Simon Thomas after excellent approach work by Danny Mullins and Gordon Thompson respectively as we overwhelmed the Orpington back line. In the last quarter hour Peter Harvey made way for Simon Thomas but Peter was back on for the final five minutes or so after George suffered a knee injury which meant he had to be carried back to the changing room. We all hope George’s injury is not too serious. He was due to miss some games with an ankle operation in any case and we hope he can return as quickly as possible. He is an important piece of our jigsaw.

George’s injury notwithstanding, the mood in the bar was good after arguably our best team performance for quite some time. Everyone pulled together today. The system worked. The players that came in today added greatly to the team.

Referee Paul Parsons did not have a difficult game to deal with such was the spirit in which it was played.

The catering arrangements went well, although we are thinking of increasing the number of bread rolls in coming weeks.

Jay Hardy helped with the pre- and post-match arrangements, retrieved two balls from the undergrowth behind our goal to add to the feeling of a day that had gone well. He also helped George back to the clubhouse, and offered to drive George home.

My own mood was now lighter. I had started the day ruminating morosely on the tribal nature of football and the aspersions that had been cast in my, and others’, direction by so-called real or true or genuine fans at the lesser species of so-called plastic fans. The latter often have no discernible link with the club they support, i.e. they were not born with shouting distance of a particular ground, lacked any cultural or emotional connection with a club, did not know any of the songs sung by fans etc. – you get the picture. Somehow plastic fans are deemed to lack the heightened emotions, superior sensitivity, deeper joys and darker despair of organic fans. It raises issues about the nature of reality and identity despite the connective tissue of moving images and the written word. It juxtaposes the insular and the global at the same time, a bit like Brexit, but is more complicated. In the end the shared love of football, respect for our opponents and admiration for team mates trumped all of that. The big win helped.

Man of the match – Peter Harvey with a huge haul of votes, back to his deadly best, who still found time to chide his old man Tony for turning up late and missing his hat-trick. I am sure there will be other hat-tricks. Peter would not be Peter if he had not asked me to mention that the players who put the nets up were the same ones who took them down. So, there is some room for improvement after all.

Man of the match: Peter Harvey