Sunday 14th April 2013
By Patrice Mongelard
A very inglorious day for Senior Vets against Avery Hill Vets
The very heavy rains of the last twenty-four hours had left their mark on the pitch and there was real doubt about the game being played, before, during and after the event. As it happened we had to cede the top pitch to the Sunday team for their league match on their referee’s advice whilst we older players were left with the bigger and heavier pitch.
The fourteen Farnborough mudlarks were Toby Manchip in goal; Patrice Mongelard, Nick Waller, Mick O’Flynn and Ian Coles in defence; Ian Shoebridge, Chris Bourlet, Rob Lipscomb and Sinisa Gracanin in midfield; Andy Faulks and Andy Smith in attack. Roger French, Danny Winter and (our US import) Eric Johnson waited their turn to join the mud bath. Referee Mick Gearing would have been forgiven for getting his battle of the Somme medals out. I made this bit up but the pitch was not the surface we are used to and there would be few volunteers for the kit today. We’ll never know if Vic Farrow would have allowed the game to be played – probably not. There are other things he would not have allowed, more on that later.
This pitch suited big, tall players and Avery Hill certainly had a few of those with a sprinkling of youthful looking vets. We were left in no doubt that they would be a very tough hill to climb. The first twenty to twenty-five minutes belonged to the visitors with Farnborough doing more defending than attacking. But we got back in the game even after some early substitutions when Patrice Mongelard and Rob Lipscomb made way for Eric Johnson and and Danny Winter (playing his first game since the winter). In fact, the best scoring opportunity came when an intelligent through ball from Sinisa Gracanin played Andy Faulks in on goal six yards out but Andy put his shot wide. Andy was a shadow of his usual self today, the heavy pitch sapping whatever he had left after playing yesterday, and last night, and he had a second consecutive game where he failed to score. Still Andy Smith was doing the work of two players, putting in a big shift, against some big units and giving us hope.
That hope was extinguished about ten minutes from half time when Chris Bourlet failed to deal adequately with a not particularly tricky through ball and dropped us in it. Toby pulled off a great point blank save but the sprightly Avery Hill forward was quicker than those around him and got to the rebound and forced the ball home. That goal was against the run of play but on the showing of the full half, deserved.
More changes were made at half time with Patrice Mongelard, Rob Lipscomb returning, and Roger French joining the fray. Ian Shoebridge, Mick O’Flynn and Ian Coles took a breather. I do not think we started the second half particularly well but neither did our opponents although they brought on a new forward (known to us from previous encounters and still retaining a miraculously fresh youthful face) and he began causing us a fair bit of trouble. It was not until Avery Hill got their second goal that things started to get interesting. The goal itself was bizarre as Toby was seemingly lobbed when he was under the ball and under the crossbar from a shot that looked more like a mishit. That put a lot of people in a bad mood – including in particular Toby who began to mutter dark thoughts about this match which should never have been played given the state of the pitch. That was seventy odd minutes into the game and his stance was surprising as I did not think he cared that much about the state of the pitch even though he had helped water it once, one summer, from the Woodman pub. We were even more surprised when Toby started to walk off and at that point both he and Roger French descended into the twatosphere, that intemperate region full of red mists and pithy angry Anglo-Saxon words and to his credit Toby got back in goal to finish the game (and with a request to see Roger afterwards). We had a big gathering of supporters today – Mrs Johnson, Jane (Ian Coles’ partner), the Webbs, Toby Manchip’s brother, Steve Blanchard, the French enfants, some Young Vets whose game had been cancelled, and some former players come to sign Vic Farrow’s book of condolences. They would have been saddened by what was unfolding.
A third Avery Hill goal, courtesy of a delightful through ball from Chris Bourlet, did not help. Confusion over further substitutions added to our malaise but yet there were signs that we had our pride if nothing else. Eric Johnson carved out two great chances with his movement which nearly gave us the goal we deserved. In the end, we failed to score – a rare occurrence this season.
Back in the clubhouse Mick O’Flynn was in the shower when he was volunteered for the kit. Pam Shoebridge put out a very nice spread with the recent innovation of potato croquettes proving popular (and took an order for onion bhajis for our next home game). Toby and Roger French seemed to have made it up, until the next time. There was also the appearance of a dirty set of Farnborough football kit in a bag carrying the mark of the Farnborough Reserves (Second XI to you and me) which had festered overnight in a locked and dirty changing room after their game yesterday. It is only two weeks since Vic Farrow’s passing and this was a sorry state of affairs that he just would not have tolerated. We await news of the most important funeral in our club’s history. It looks like it will not be clashing with that other one this week.
In the clubhouse I experienced my second Manchip tantrum – this time from three and a half year-old Oliver Manchip. He has clearly inherited his mother’s looks (good) but on today’s showing, also his father’s temperament (bad). One Manchip threw his toys out because he wanted to come off the park, the other because he wanted to go to the park. I leave you to work out which one showed the greater maturity. Still there was atonement of sorts when Toby unplugged the boot washing sink, swept the showers, and took home the second team kit. He’s off to Norfolk with the Johnsons for a few days – at least he won’t be in the doghouse because he has been forgiven.
Man of the match – Andy Smith – who put players 5, 10, 15, years younger (20 if you count Avery Hill), to shame.
Man of the match: Andy Smith