Sunday 9th December 2018
By Patrice Mongelard
It is not often that I am stumped for a headline to sum the game up. Today I am. There is almost too much to fit in. Moreover, I have to start the report from the day before. Here are some of the key ingredients – fifty-five crusty bread rolls, kit that went walkabout, another triumph at the Farnborough Old Boys Guild Quiz for the Senior Vets Boot Room; a revenant, water everywhere but not quite in the showers, a penalty virgin, an anger management video, a tight squeeze on the pitch, a worldie of a goal. What more could you want for Christmas?
All week it rained and it was not possible to predict if our pitch would be playable. I was ready with Operation Meryl to switch the game to Norman Park if needed at short notice. In the end we got the all clear on Saturday. Nonetheless the heavy Sunday morning downpour shortly after 9 o’clock was unwelcome even if the heavy rain clouds moved on and we eventually had a bit of clear daylight for most of the game although some of our play today was not too bright. Before I knew if we would play the game the unseen pressures of management meant that I had to buy fifty-five crusty white rolls the day before. They were more like soft rolls a day later.
Sinisa Gracanin had one job, one relatively simple job, to do during the week and that was to get the kit washed from last Sunday. Imagine his surprise, and ours, when he turns up in the launderette on the afternoon before the game only to be told that a mystery man had already collected the kit. We have been playing without Kyp for weeks and now kit had gone walkabout. I cannot begin to explain how we got to that point but fortunately the man in question had links with Farnborough Old Boys Guild and after a phone call from Brighton to Mick O’Flynn from another man, I was summoned from afternoon tea in Fortnum and Mason, for Mrs M’s birthday, to collect the kit from Maureen from an Orpington address on a cold wet and dark evening.
By contrast it seemed more straightforward for the Harvey, Mongelard, O’Flynn and Paris ensemble, to win the Quiz at the club. It was in the balance until the final round but in the end, it felt more comfortable than the numerous previous occasions we had won it. I duly took the opportunity the next day to wear the t-shirt that tells people to forget about using GOOGLE because my wife knows everything.
Anyway, back to the football. We had sixteen players for the warm-up but fifteen for the game after Gordon Thompson had pulled something (no, I don’t know her name – joke). We had a bigger crowd than usual, including the welcome sight of Roger French, back on familiar turf after his triple coronary by-pass. Our opponents Old Tamponians Super Vets had given us a tough game fourteen days ago, and we expected no less again this time from their bare eleven. Their back four looked like the keynote speakers at a convention for large furniture.
Colin Mant, Michael Hills, Patrice Mongelard;
Sinisa Gracanin, Waine Hetherington, Ian Shoebridge, Simon Thomas, Obi Ugwumba;
Chisa Mkala, Jay Hardy.
Substitutes: Phil Anthony, Peter Harvey, Ian Lyons, Mick O’Flynn.
Supporters: Rob Faulkner and a not so hungry dog, Roger French, Tony Harvey, Danny Mullins and a hungry dog, Jim St John, Gordon Thompson.
Referee: Nick Kinnear (who waived his fee, in effect donating it to the club shower appeal).
Director of Football: Mick O’Flynn.
Chief Football Correspondent: Patrice Mongelard.
Compared to how we have been playing recently I have to be honest and say we could have made a better start. Of course, our opponents would not let us. Sometimes we did not let ourselves. Simon Thomas was clean through on goal after ten minutes and the Old Tamps' giant keeper mustered all his experience to thwart Simon. There was not much he could do though five minutes later when an incisive run from Chisa Mkala into the heart of the Old Tamps defence, lubricated with an exquisite through ball from Waine Hetherington enabled Chisa to produce a composed finish to give us the lead. We were not able to build on this. Jay Hardy, dapper today in a raffish light brown scarf which complemented his ginger coiffure rather well, was in fact sleep-deprived having watched long hours, so I understand as I do not know about such things, of female mud wrestling. He was jaded, not his usual effervescent self.
How Old Tamponians did not draw level before the half-hour was down to a stupendous save from Matt “Rainman” Angelo combined with an acrobatic last-ditch block from Michael “Mindfulness” Hills after a cross from the right had caused disarray in our box. Roy, the Old Tamps forward, was still shaking his head at the end of the game about that moment. The half-hour changes with Colin Mant, Chisa Mkala, Patrice Mongelard and Michael Ugwumba being replaced by Phil Anthony, Peter Harvey, Ian Lyons and Mick O’Flynn did not quite have the revitalising effect we were seeking. Peter Harvey did put a low shot against the base of the post but Old Tamps were making a contest of it, even though they were down to ten players as the half ended. Obi Ugwumba sportingly went across at half-time to squeeze into an Old Tamps shirt and went on to do his Farnborough team mates no favours.
Old Tamps started the second half better than we did – with more purpose, pace and in particular solidarity. Matt Angelo came to our rescue more than once but then again that is why he is on the pitch. There were far too many occasions today when our players were more exercised about their own team mates than the opposition. Michael Hills began hearing voices in his head as he berated Simon Thomas for his Moai impression in defending a corner. Picture the sight of Basil Fawlty thrashing a broken-down car with a small bush and you will begin to get the sense of Michael’s outburst. Simon must have felt like an extra in a video on anger management. The same player was to have a contretemps with Peter Harvey later. I suppose as a thespian Simon takes criticism to heart but he is bright enough to know how team spirit works.
This was all music to Old Tamps who went on to force a penalty as Ian Lyons brought down from behind a forward who had got round the back of our defence. I have seen more grace from lions bringing down wildebeest in the Serengeti and yet Lionel would have me believe that this was his first time ever. One of the big units from the Tamps defence struck the penalty very well, beyond Matt’s reach. The early re-introduction of Chisa Mkala replacing Mick O’Flynn restored some of our attacking impetus.
Just before the hour the game was blessed with a moment of exquisite skill. Peter Harvey and Waine Hetherington dovetailed in the middle of the park and Waine found himself in space thirty or so yards out with the ball on his wand of a left foot. The shot was clean, powerful and directed unerringly towards the top corner beyond the despairing reach of the assured Old Tamps keeper. Waine’s celebration was full of feeling. Imagine a Stuart Pearce moment after he struck a successful penalty for England, but with added raised middle digits.
Patrice Mongelard and Colin Mant were back on for the last half-hour to see the game out with Ian Shoebridge and Michael Hills making way. The neutral would say that we ought to have increased our lead with the front quartet of Jay Hardy, Peter Harvey, Chisa Mkala and Simon Thomas producing moments of interconnected play that we know they are capable of but Old Tamps held out. Peter Harvey had a good shout for a penalty waved away by referee Nick Kinnear. In the end the scoreline was a fair reflection of the game.
The state of our showers remains a puzzle, wrapped in an enigma inside a conundrum. A question about what it would take for the showers at Farnborough to work would have been a tough one at last night’s quiz. I suspect a lot of money is the answer.
The fifty-five bread rolls were joined by some sandwiches from the quiz night (which the Sunday Reserve XI,10-1 winners today, polished off). The Old Tamps contingent produced a splendid effort in the bar as a mountain of tuna, cheese and pickle and ham sandwiches was tackled along with mini pasties and mini sausage rolls. I made my own modest contribution of course.
Man of the match - with just over half of the fifteen votes cast, Waine Hetherington, with the wonder goal he wanted for Christmas and a celebration to remember. I understand that the element of irony was introduced for one vote which went to another player but I failed to pick up on that nuance. Voting is a serious matter that should not be trifled with, as our political leaders are finding out.
Man of the match: Waine Hetherington