Sunday 20th May 2012
By Patrice Mongelard
Honours even as Senior Vets and Young Vets award themselves a 2-2 draw
This is the one game we all look forward to, a celebration of the Farnborough family and a clear sign that this is a club that values and supports Vets football. It came at the end of a long season though and both squads were down to a bare 12 players. The two teams had contrasting records before today: Senior Vets P36, W13, D8, L15, GF 84 and GA 89; Young Vets P27, W13, D7, L7, GF 89 and GA 47. On average the Young Vets were younger by about 5 years but the statistic that stuck in my mind was that they had scored as many goals as we had let in. We had lost the corresponding fixture quite heavily in the last two seasons and had failed to score against them.
The Senior Vets XI were: Darren Burkett in goal; Ian Coles, Mick O’Flynn, Steve Blanchard and Colin Brazier in defence; Patrice Mongelard, Simon Harvey, Rob Lipscomb and Ian Shoebridge in midfield; Andy Smith and Jerry Cogotti in attack. Roger French was the 12th man.
The Young Vets lined up thus: Gary Rosslee in goal; Simon Hunt (subbed early by Mark Friend), Rowan Foggitt, Andy Cobham, and Danny Saines in defence; Jason Miller, Neil Connelly, Paul Bailey and Matty Wright in midfield; Paul Tanton and Pete Harvey up front.
We had a good number of spectators for this family affair as the game got underway. It became clear very soon that it would be a well contested affair even though we were playing more on the break. We were equal to everything the Young Vets threw at us in this first half. Darren Burkett in goal was a natural – his positioning and handling were excellent. He commanded his area and generally inspired great confidence. We had to defend more than attack but when we did put pressure on the Young Vets defence we did so with some good passing moves. Jerry Cogotti and Andy Smith could hold the ball well and receive passes with their backs to goal. Ian Shoebridge and Rob Lipscomb were willing runners down the flanks and Simon Harvey and Patrice Mongelard shielded the defence which remained compact and alert – particularly with Paul Tanton and Peter Harvey looking to get behind us.
Ian Shoebridge rang the first wake up bell as he crashed a shot against the bar from distance. That may well have inserted some hesitancy in Gary Rosslee’s mind in the Young Vets goal. Hesitancy was certainly there when Andy Smith rose like a salmon in the Yemen (yes I have used this image in a previous match report but Roger French, whose employer insured the making of the film, did not get it the first time) to head home Ian Shoebridge’s corner after twenty minutes or so. Things got better for us about ten minutes later when Gary Rosslee put a disappointing clearance (from his point of view) straight to Simon Harvey who squared unselfishly for Andy Smith to apply an unerring finish to put the ball over Gary’s outstretched arms into the net. There was a murmur of surprise that rippled through the crowd. Surely there could not be another football miracle on the cards this weekend - if a German team can lose a cup final on penalties - what next?
What came next was not unexpected really as the Young Vets reorganised themselves and came at us after half time. An injured Mick O’Flynn came off for Roger French and we set out to defend this rather unexpected but most welcome lead. I cannot say we sat back – the Young Vets shifted gears and we lost the shape and composure we had in the first half. It was taken away from us. Fifteen minutes into the half the deadly left foot of Peter Harvey did the job from twenty-five yards out. The ball swerved in mid-air and Darren’s body was not positioned quite right at the moment of contact and the ball squirted into the net. Fifteen minutes later we did not defend a free kick from the left too well and Matt Wright got ahead of the defence to nod the ball past Darren low into the bottom corner. You could say Matt had put out our fire.
We could have buckled then but did not. We managed to put some pressure on the Young Vets defence and the game could have gone either way at that point. Patrice Mongelard hit a 30 yarder that Gary gathered under the bar. There were tired legs in the end and I think both teams would have been happy with the final result. The game was played in excellent spirit bar one ugly moment and the quality of the football from both sides was a very good advert for the club.
It was Roger French’s birthday on Friday and I hope he got what he deserved from the family. A little oiseau told me that he got a bear called Rog (from Build-A-Bear). If you want the same just ask for the one with the sore head. That thought crossed my mind as Roger sparked off the one unsavoury moment of the game as he had a contretemps with a feisty Jason Miller. Thankfully wiser heads calmed things down. The FOBG Vets are one big happy family but family gatherings can bring out such tense moments. Still the family feel was very much in evidence with several partners and young children in attendance.
Both teams took the opportunity to give out certain awards today (ahead of our main club awards evening on 26 May). You could say Roger French shows the nicer and more thoughtful and considerate part of his character with these much appreciated awards, presented today by himself, ably supported by his two assistants Isabelle and Thomas. First Pam Shoebridge was presented with a huge bunch of flowers to thank her for the wonderful grub that we and our guests have enjoyed all season – and today was no exception - I can report the brief presence of chicken legs and thighs today. Then there was a special award of a brandy glass for today’s referee Mick Gearing (not glasses so that he could read up on the offside rule – he’ll have to go to Specsavers for these, and he said he hoped to bump into me down there). I did not see the engraving on it but I think it said “with sincere apologies from Roger French” - well not really, I made that up. We congratulated Rob Lipscomb for deservedly winning the Managers’ Player of the Year Award. We saw Andy Faulks bag both the Paul Smith Golden Boot Award and the goal of the season Award. This was followed by Paul Bell winning the Gruffalo Award for Surplus Greenhouse Gas Emissions (sponsored by a leading air freshener manufacturer if you catch Paul’s drift). There was also the best Pingu impression Award won by Toby Manchip. And finally the crowning glory – the Dot Cotton Award won by yours truly. Now I am not one to gossip but there were many envious eyes cast in my direction as I displayed it – won for a 17% ratio of kit taken (6) to games played this season (35) to date. I can expect some starchy competition next season for this coveted prize.
Our season is not quite over – we have one more game, our 38th, left on 27 May to complete our 4-match test series against Riverside Wanderers. They’ll have home advantage and will want to win to square the series. We’ll go into that game with some confidence from today’s display.
Man of the match: Andy Smith – for bagging a brace and reminding us what it is like to play with a proper centre forward.
Man of the match: Andy Smith