Sunday 13th November 2011
By Patrice Mongelard
Not Much to Remember as Senior Vets and Belvedere Battle it out to a Scoreless Draw
On a glorious November Sunday morning with only vapour trails in the azure, and warm sunshine we all observed two minutes’ silence before kick-off – called by referee “Commander” Mick Gearing, with only the sound of a bugle to be heard in the distance.
Our Remembrance Sunday parade was Steve Palmer in goal; Ian Coles, John Tallis, Colin Brazier and Patrice Mongelard in defence; Rob Lipscomb, Sinisa Gracanin, Toby Manchip and Mehmet Bozyigit in midfield; Ian Shoebridge and Paul Smith in attack. Our reservists were Roger French, Paul Bell and new recruit Mick O’Flynn to whom we offer a warm welcome.
The unseasonal and very pleasant weather for November (15+ degrees centigrade) brought out a good crowd of supporters – Jane (Ian Coles’ partner), Karen (Steve Palmer’s partner), Helen and Oliver Manchip, Mrs Bell and baby Olivia (to whom the fresh air will have been very welcome), and a little later, Chris and Alex Webb and Nick Kinnear. The sunshine had also, I noticed, brought out ladybirds in some numbers – with their red and black neatly matching that of the poppies.
In the changing room Paul Bell had brought a remembrance of the stench of the trenches and the risk of gas attacks. Two of our players had dropped out that morning but with newcomer Mick O’Flynn, we mustered fourteen players – about as many as Belvedere I thought, possibly fewer.
The Belvedere side was if anything stronger than the one that beat us 4-2 at their ground a few weeks ago. There were a few new, and perhaps younger, faces. We knew we’d have to defend very well to keep them out. Whether our offensive play, in their box in particular, would be good enough to break through their lines – was a concern; and so it turned out to be – a lot of effort, but with defences on top, and two midfields cancelling each other out even if Belvedere’s play had more fluency and they seemed stronger in the air in midfield in particular, and their forward play had a sharper cutting edge than ours.
Yet, in that first half we had marginally the better chances but neither keeper was really extended. Corners were shared too almost equally, though Belvedere created more danger from theirs, owing to the presence of a couple of big units. We had more shots on their goal – Paul Smith curled one that came close to breaking the deadlock. A good run and cross from Colin Brazier nearly created a goal-scoring opportunity for Ian Shoebridge at the far post. At the other end an Ian Coles back pass caused Steve Palmer some difficulty but he was just able to get his toe to the ball and Patrice Mongelard was on hand to tidy things up. Toby Manchip had come off midway through the half – injured we thought, but it turned out he had left the field of play to remove some sort of ankle protector, and found he could not get back on until half time as Roger drafted in Mick O’Flynn to take his place.
At half time Mehmet Bozyigit and Ian Coles made way for Paul Bell and the return of Toby Manchip. But the pattern of play remained the same – with Belvedere slightly more in control. Toby livened up proceedings with his impression of Pingu shoved brusquely from behind and doing a belly flop, which would have amused young Oliver though he may have dozed off in the midday sun. There was no dozing in our defence with John Tallis showing great stickability, and he was even able to stick two fingers up without getting into trouble – by this I mean he had to have two fingers taped together to protect what looked like a dislocated part of a digit. I hope the hospital confirms there is nothing broken, and that all is well too for Paul Smith who gets the results of his brain scan tomorrow. We wish him well. Paul came closest to getting a goal today as he attempted a thirty-yarder, like the Smithy of old playing from memory, only to see the ball cannon back off the bar.
Midway through the second half Mehmet Bozyigit and Ian Coles came back on for Patrice Mongelard and Mick O’Flynn. With a quarter of an hour left Roger French came on for Paul Smith – and quickly put himself about in the usual way. He created some space for himself by shoving a Belvedere defender out of the way, and then dragged his shot wide, after the (rare) whistle had gone. At the other end we had to defend stoutly as Belvedere pressed for a winner. Steve Palmer pulled off a smart save to palm a shot onto the bar. Now “running” the line in lieu of Roger French, I failed to keep up with play and did not flag a Belvedere offside (to Colin’s irritation) – having been detained near the halfway line discussing the artistic merit of a Toby Manchip dive with Chris Webb (a Greg Louganis moment he called it).
In the end after all this effort from both teams - there were really only two goal chances of note in this game – one for each side, and to complete the symmetry, both hitting the bar. There was to be no eleventh hour winner for either side today as we recorded our first draw against Belvedere, and indeed our first 0-0 draw since 21 September 2008 (only 3 of us played in that game against Cudham – Patrice Mongelard, Roger French and Paul Smith).
Back in the clubhouse the mood was relaxed – with family, friends and the return of our victorious Young Vets (5-1 against Toby Vets) adding to the après-match atmosphere - helped by Vic’s tea, and especially Pam Shoebridge’s excellent post-match grub. She was kind enough to hide a few sausages and two pizza slices from Roger French, for me to have with my three egg and cress sandwiches.
Man of the match today – John Tallis edged out Colin Brazier (by virtue of a late telephone vote by proxy) in a game that saw 11 eleven out of 13 votes cast today chalked up for the back 5.
Next week we welcome the Met Police Supervets to Farrow Fields. We have had some trouble with the law before – not in that sense – and I hope we do not end up playing out another dour 0-0 draw. After 93 games without a 0-0, we do not really want another to come along like that big poppy-coloured double decker thing which runs from North Cheam to Putney Bridge.
Man of the match: John Tallis