Sunday 16th December 2018
By Patrice Mongelard
Farnborough come from behind to win 10-goal thriller, with a bit of panto at the end
Despite the heavy rain yesterday there was really no doubt that this game would go ahead at the Beckenham Cricket Club. By happy coincidence both Farnborough Vets teams were playing at the same venue which meant we had to play on the smaller pitch. The two sets of identical Farnborough colours on adjacent pitches were a rare sight.
Toby Manchip’s account of his previous night at the Ally Pally darts had to be heard to be disbelieved. It was not far short of a miracle that he was almost ready for his pick-up at 9:15. Talking of pick-ups his tale got more fantastical as the journey to the ground progressed. I promised not to reveal more, mostly on grounds of taste and decorum.
Colin Mant, Michael Hills, Patrice Mongelard;
Sinisa Gracanin, Waine Hetherington, Chisa Mkala, Danny Mullins, Simon Thomas;
Peter Harvey, Jay Hardy.
Substitutes: Phil Anthony, Ian Lyons, Ian Shoebridge.
Supporters: Mick O’Flynn.
Director of Football: Mick O’Flynn
Chief Football Correspondent: Patrice Mongelard
The weather was dry, sunny and relatively mild compared to other parts of the country. Before kick-off Wellcome informed us that they had drafted a couple of youngsters to make up the numbers. I gather that the Farnborough Young Vets team had even younger players. The pitch had been played on the day before but it was hard to tell. The surface was slick.
Not so slick though was our start. It was hard to put a finger on the reason. The consensus later was that the size of the pitch was inhibiting, depriving our offensive players like Peter Harvey of the usual room. The first clear chance was ours none the less as Chisa Mkala put a close range shot against the base of the post after he was quickest to a rebound in the six-yard box. We thought we had scored after Jay Hardy rounded the keeper and squared the ball for two Farnborough players on the line but the Wellcome linesman had flagged for offside, “a couple of moves earlier”. There was no doubt though when the first Wellcome attack of any note yielded a goal for them. Manchip was chipped from twenty yards out by the touchline, against the run of play.
We were still trailing when we made our first raft of changes. Waine Hetherington, Colin Mant and Patrice Mongelard made way for Phil Anthony, Ian Lyons and Ian Shoebridge. In a golden five minutes we scored two quick goals – first Peter Harvey was set up by Chisa Mkala for a rasping close range drive. Peter Harvey returned the service for a belter from Chisa Mkala, after the tackle of the match from our smallest player, Jay Hardy, on the biggest Wellcome player – a midfield heavy that was not slow to put himself about. A good night’s sleep makes a lot of difference, Jay agreed.
Ian Lyons’ involvement was cut short with a calf strain after ten minutes during which time he had the impression that he had been involved in creating our two goals. Patrice Mongelard was back on, in time to see Jay Hardy return to scoring form with a smart finish after one of the many headers won by Danny Mullins in the Wellcome box (some of which inexplicably not finding the back of the net).
3-1 at half-time felt deserved. Chisa Mkala stretched our lead early in the second half with a self-made goal that looked bizarre against the new, and arguably better, keeper that Wellcome brought on towards the end of the first half. Our own keeper Toby Manchip at the other end must have had a flashback of the darts as he juggled with the ball and appeared to throw it at our post but he was able to cover it before too late.
At 4-1, probably believing the game was won, Mick O’Flynn made further changes. Patrice Mongelard came back on to replace Phil Anthony. Patrice set up Jay Hardy for our fifth with a heavily disguised pass. More changes were made as Michael Hills and Simon Thomas made way for the return of Waine Hetherington and Phil Anthony. Phil will not look upon his second stint with fondness. An unwise pass out of our defence was not executed as well as Phil hoped. The ball went straight to an unmarked Wellcome forward who produced an exquisite twenty yarder for the top corner. There was still no need to panic as our chances kept coming. Danny Mullins put a header against the crossbar. Peter Harvey had a low drive well saved by the Wellcome keeper. Peter did not have to wait long to notch another goal as Chisa Mkala delivered a cross to the far post on a plate for our sixth goal.
Things then got a bit spicy – like mulled wine, after Peter Harvey and Waine Hetherington were both taken roughly from behind. Words were exchanged, there was a bit of shoving and pulling but nothing more serious than that although the Wellcome midfield heavy took himself off – I suppose to avoid doing anything serious. In the midst of this display of handbags I had not noticed that Toby Manchip had darted off the pitch with a calf strain and Michael Hills was now in goal. Phil Anthony might well have found that confusing and that could explain what happened next. A long ball out of the Wellcome defence was on its way to the edge of the box when Michael called for it and came off his line. He was behind Phil but Phil thought oh no he isn’t. I don’t think Phil is hard of hearing yet but somehow decided to apply his head to the ball, producing a change of direction for the ball which wrong-footed Michael and rolled into the bottom corner of our net. I have seen worse finishes win goal of the season. This was not to be the last goal. Wellcome contrived another finish in the top corner that had Michael flummoxed.
The Christmas spirit almost ran dry after some heavy tackling from Wellcome. The mild-mannered referee just about kept a lid on it. One of the Wellcome players, the midfield heavy, got a bit worked up on the touchline and offered to re-arrange Simon Thomas’ features, again, to make him more suited for butch roles. Simon politely declined the offer from the not very nice chap.
We limped home, you could say. There were a few players with knocks. But that did not explain why Mick O’Flynn started looking in the bar for a keeper for next week straightway. Perhaps he knew that Toby Manchip would not be available.
A much-needed touch of glamour was introduced in the proceedings in the bar as the members of the Beckenham Tennis Club gathered for their Christmas lunch, after we had polished off sandwiches and chips. There were a lot of sparkly tops on display. I left Colin Mant, Ian Lyons, Jay Hardy, Peter Harvey and Mick O’Flynn behind, with a silent Christmas wish that they would behave, before bracing myself for the journey home, for more tales from Ally Pally involving men in tight black dresses, a black Snow White in the urinals and £80 worth of unused drinks tokens.
Christmas Jumper of the day – there were a few on display. My Scandinavian Runes jumper was too subtle for the lads – with “not a single reindeer in sight”. Subtlety was not going to win the day which is why Simon Thomas’ jumper edged it over Toby Manchip’s.
Man of the match – Chisa Mkala with the biggest bag of votes from Santa, despite some dodgy boots.
Man of the match: Chisa Mkala