Sunday 20th November 2011
By Patrice Mongelard
Senior Vets Feel Long Arm of the Law as Met Police Nick 1-1 Draw
A case of mistaken identity delayed the start of this game as a police vehicle carrying four passengers had gone to the wrong ground. Still we did not mind waiting on a pleasant, crisp, sunny and still morning as we watched the Sunday XI game on the other pitch.
Our identity parade today was Gary Fentiman in goal; Ian Coles, Steve Blanchard, Colin Brazier and Patrice Mongelard in defence; Rob Lipscomb, Sinisa Gracanin, Toby Manchip and John Tallis in midfield; Ian Shoebridge and Andy Faulks in attack. Roger French, Paul Bell and Chris Bourlet were held back in reserve waiting to be called into action. Danny Winter, wife and two kids and Chris Webb with son and daughter, joined Isabelle and Thomas French a little later to swell our ranks.
For the most part the Met Police Super Vets were just that, though we noted a couple of younger players – one up front, partnering a man mountain, and in particular one in goal with the longest kick I have ever seen. That kick became their weapon of choice as their midfield and defence was bypassed and the keeper ended up having more shots on our goal that all the other Met Police players put together, as his goal kicks went from box to box. Gary Fentiman was equal to all of them even with the sun in his eyes.
Possession was mostly ours in both halves – not quite nine tenths, but nearer seven; and it is a fair cop to say that we failed to make the most of this. Chances were few in the first half. The Met had the first good chance that was put wide from three yards out as Gary spilled a low shot. That was the only scary moment for us early doors – after that we enjoyed a fair degree of control. It took us a good ten minutes to draw the first save out of the Met Police keeper but we knew by then he would be difficult to beat with the police van parked in front of their goal.
The most memorable save of the half was from a shot by Andy Faulks, about ten yards out that the Met Police keeper saved brilliantly with his foot. His quality was not in doubt – his proud dad - the man mountain leading the line up front, informed me that the lad in goal was his boy, and played for Faversham FC (as his jersey proclaimed, I noted, later). He clearly was not a vet and I was left to infer his services were not free either. We had a number of shots from distance that failed to trouble him. At the other end Gary Fentiman was busy collecting goal kicks that bounced in his box and had rushed to the edge of his box, and a Met Police forward (thankfully not built to constabulary requirements and not the other forward) had bounced off Gary and become disorientated temporarily. Despite all our pressure the blue line held.
There was no half time team talk as Roger French was busy administering an ASBO to tent dweller and daughter Isabelle, but a few of us noted that we had gone 135 minutes without conceding a goal, and that possibly another 0-0 draw was coming round the corner. Patrice Mongelard and Toby Manchip made way for Chris Bourlet and Paul Bell at half time.
More changes were to follow later in the second half. First Robin Lipscomb, a little black and blue, like the Met Police kit, from some tackling came off after fifteen minutes or so and Patrice Mongelard went to right midfield. Robin came off and offered apologies to the Met Police linesman and the Winter family for some industrial language. Paul Bell came off after half an hour, also injured from some robust tackling (from his employers). Toby Manchip actually came back on for a 90-second cameo (for Paul Bell), before also declaring an injury, and Roger French replaced them both.
It was very clear to all of us that we were going to have to get pretty close to the keeper to get the ball past him; and so it happened after about fifteen minutes into the second half when a short fee kick was played to John Tallis by Colin Brazier; John looked up and saw that Andy Faulks had peeled off his marker on the edge of the box and he converted the pass from six yards out by placing a low shot into the bottom corner. John had a good chance a little later to give us a two-goal advantage but put the ball wide from two yards out. We created more chances in that second half but could never convert them. Patrice Mongelard had a couple of storming runs that resulted in a close range shot, and a low cross that led to nothing. Roger French side-footed a low cross from an Andy Faulks cross towards goal from inside the six-yard box which the keeper saved comfortably.
Just when we were beginning to think that a 1-0 win would do us – we got casual in midfield, failed repeatedly to clear a ball, the referee Mick Gearing, we thought, failed to spot a blatant handball by a Met Police player, there was a resulting corner from the move...and yes – you have guessed it, Gary Fentiman, called, and came, for the ball, was not challenged by anyone, but then dropped it like some piece of incriminating evidence. The ball fell to a black and blue jersey in a sea of yellow and red and four players on the line could not keep the shot out. We felt like we’d been robbed in full view of the police. With only about five minutes left we ran out of time and the Met Police would have been the happier of the two teams on the walk back to the dressing rooms.
Whilst disappointed with conceding a late, avoidable goal, and helping police with their enquiries so to speak, we were not too disheartened in the dressing room. Our minds turned to the tea bag that had been used to make all our teas, to whether Colin Brazier would get the coffee he had brazenly ordered from Vic Farrow; to Patrice Mongelard breaking the dressing room code by not taking his boots off outside – a fact unnoticed until Colin Brazier put his toe under one of his studs. We even shared the team deodorant with John Tallis who wanted something to “keep the flies away” having run out of sticky paper. We also found time to discuss a recent “calendar” photograph of our former manager Toby Harlow, which could possibly be of interest to our visitors today under the Obscene Publications Act.
The mood in the club house was eerie as CCTV footage of previous matches was studied; there was a bit of a crime scene atmosphere following a situation that I cannot go into as I was not there (your honour) but the police were already on the scene, and a citizens’ arrest was nearly made. Toby Manchip was pensive wondering how to break the news to son Oliver of the announcement allegedly made by Roger French (to his misbehaving kids) that Santa was dead. Roger himself was having trouble counting today’s loot but there was no money laundering going on, as match subs, annual subs and curry night subs, and monies owed for Pam Shoebridge’s excellent spread, stretched Roger’s numeracy severely.
Man of the match: Ian Coles was picked out by several witnesses though there were a couple of other suspects.
Man of the match: Ian Coles