Sunday 27th May 2012
By Patrice Mongelard
Two teams unite in tribute to Peter Harvey who breaks ankle in freak accident after scoring twice in a game abandoned after 70 minutes
There was a feeling this was a game too far, coming a day after the club’s end of season awards evening, in the last week of May, and in a sad sense so it turned out to be.
Yet the weekend had got off to a good start with Senior Vets winning several club awards: Robin Lipscomb won the Stan Cole Trophy for the club’s most enthusiastic player; Gary Fentiman won the Vic Goddard Trophy for having amassed the highest number of man of the match votes in the club and Patrice Mongelard and Roger French had won the Robert Taylor Trophy for services to the club, primarily for their contributions to the first team match programmes (though Colin Brazier does most of the work!). (Editor\'s note: also for the work put in to running the Senior Vets side). Unfortunately, three of the four winners were not present but Toby Manchip collected Gary Fentiman’s Player’ Player of the Year award, a little disrespectfully perhaps as he tossed it outside. (Toby thought he was collecting the Eurovision trophy as his eyes turned green).
I should mention that the award ceremony passed quickly without the presence of Roger French. I cannot confirm the rumour that after his lengthy peroration at last year’s corresponding event, the club had arranged for him to win a family weekend away at Centre Parcs. A few of today’s team had also had more than a few beers the night before (both for the Awards evening and for Paul Eddleston’s 50th birthday party at the club) but on paper we had a good team out, to give our opponents the respect they have certainly earned this season. They did more to earn our respect today. More on that later.
We mustered 12 players for today’s closing chapter to our 38-game long season: Steve Palmer in goal; Ian Coles, Mick O’Flynn, Steve Blanchard and Colin Brazier in defence; Patrice Mongelard, John Tallis, Rob Lipscomb and Chris Webb in midfield; Pete Harvey and Jerry Cogotti in attack. On a day ideal for willow and leather, and with several drinks intervals, Nick Waller was our 12th man. Andy Faulks was our water carrier and half-time analyst whilst Jane (Ian Coles’ partner) and Karen (Steve Palmer’s partner) made the most of the rays, and Jane was to play a part in the day’s events later.
These were without doubt the warmest conditions we have played in this season and it was very sensible of the referee to introduce breaks for cooling down and taking water. We also appreciated the Riverside entourage making water bottles available in various places around the pitch. As ever the Riverside team looked very polished in their pre-match preparations – I could not help notice their two forwards who’d caused us much trouble in previous games were absent but they still mustered at least 14 players, and a large number of young and old supporters, and as expected we had a contest on our hands.
I won the toss and decided to kick uphill. Riverside came at us but we weathered their initial thrusts and Pete Harvey and Jerry Cogotti had the legs and cunning to keep them on their toes. We won more corners than they did even though we were against the gradient but our corners were mostly under-hit by the usually very assured dead ball kicker Chris Webb. Pete Harvey had the first clear chance as he latched on to a through ball and tested the keeper who did well to parry the shot and gather the loose ball. Pete also took a bloody knock on the nose in a coming together in the Riverside box which seemed to double his resolve. Our defence was tested, particularly down our left, but Colin Brazier was equal to it and we posed more of a threat down that side. Still it was Riverside who took the lead about twenty minutes into the game – we failed to deal with a free kick, were suddenly outnumbered in the box and the ball was lashed into our net from three yards out. Whilst not quite against the run of play we had not sensed that kind of incision would be produced by our opponents.
We were though playing well enough to believe that we would draw level and we did though our equaliser owed much to a Riverside defensive mistake but we had the quality to profit from it. Jerry Cogotti put his twinkle toes to work and threaded a delightful ball into the path of the ever alert Pete Harvey on the shoulder of the last defender. Pete had anticipated the move and was clean through and curled the ball beyond the keeper into the top corner. Five minutes later Pete caused havoc in the Riverside box from a throw-in, got to the corner of the six-yard box before cutting the ball back to Jerry Cogotti whose shot from three yards out beat the keeper before being stopped by the use of an arm by the Riverside left back. This red-card offence (in a normal game) was punished with an excellent penalty from Pete Harvey that left the Riverside keeper with no chance. Soon after Pete was to have a delightful left foot curler from just inside the box that brushed against the far post as all stood to admire the execution of the shot. We did not have to wait long to make our period of ascendancy count. Patrice Mongelard drew a defender before putting a superb angled and weighted pass in the path of the overlapping Mick O’Flynn who advanced and crossed low into the box from the right. The Riverside defender could not clear the ball as Jerry’s quicksilver feet darted in and poked the ball beyond the keeper. 3-1 was a well-deserved lead at half-time as we rehydrated furiously.
Nick Waller came on for Rob Lipscomb on the left side of midfield and Riverside made numerous changes which gave them a fresh impetus and the first fifteen minutes of the second half belonged to them as we dug deep and had a stroke of luck as they hit the bar and post and failed to convert at least one close range header. We did not panic as we knew we had the slope with us and could use the pace of Jerry and Pete to stretch the play but we did not really carve any good chances in that period. Chris Webb dropped a bit deep and we defended more than attacked.
The referee was not far from calling a drinks break – about 20-25 minutes into the half when it happened. The ball had gone out of play and in trying to retrieve it Pete Harvey, on his own, with no player within three yards, appeared to tread on the ball, lose his footing and fall awkwardly causing the fracture of his left ankle. Those nearer to the incident say they heard a crack and Pete’s obvious pain and distress and immobility quickly led to calls for an ambulance. This was such a freak incident and so out of place in the lovely weather, and lovely setting, and the spirit of the game, and the sequence of play. Children were ushered away as players from both teams clustered to give shade and whatever comfort and assistance they could. The paramedic came within ten minutes and the ambulance seven minutes later once the driver had negotiated the narrow entrance. Gas and air made way for a stronger intravenous pain killer and a splint. Pete was in great pain but conscious to make arrangements and call his father Tony. Despite his promise to the lady ambulance driver to be her best friend if she took him to Farnborough hospital he was taken to the Darent Valley Hospital in Dartford as the nearest A&E. Pete even found time for some gallows humour to say to a little boy who asked which leg had been broken that it was his right leg which he proceeded to bang vigorously into the ground.
It was sad indeed to end the game like this. There was no need to say anything about the game being abandoned. Ian Coles rode Pete’s motorcycle back to his parents\' place in Orpington and Jane followed to bring Ian back to Eynsford and I am glad there were some of us still there, when they returned, to appreciate this kind act from both of them.
Our last game, like our first on 28 August, was marred by serious injury and if we look for further symmetry Pete Harvey scored twice in that game too. I would have gladly lost today’s game if it meant all twelve players walked away uninjured at the end of it. At times like this as one waits for the ambulance and is confronted by a team mate’s pain - one wonders what would happen if oneself got seriously injured – who would comfort us, help us through the pain, keep our spirits up, look after our things, attempt jokes, tell the family. The answer is of course our teammates and the other team. Riverside were excellent in their reactions today, acting promptly, giving comfort and practical help, and treating the whole incident with the seriousness and dignity it deserved.
We had been promised lavish hospitality and so it turned out to be with a cornucopia of stuff available: chicken and pork skewers, chicken wings, sausage rolls, sausages, pork pies, crackers with pate, onion rings, crisps, spring rolls, spicy chicken balls, onion bhajis, scotch eggs and more. Of course I, my team and our hosts, would have preferred to have enjoyed this in different circumstances and if it looked to some of my teammates like I was doing it justice – I am less sure, there was some comfort eating going on I feel.
Man of the match: no contest really – voted by both squads – Pete Harvey, a great striker and above all a man of great heart and spirit, and lover of football, to whom we all wish a speedy recovery. Will a 45-year old man, suffering his third serious fracture come back to the game? Anyone else probably not – but Pete Harvey will.
Man of the match: Pete Harvey