Sunday 7th February 2016
By Patrice Mongelard
Farnborough Home Guard do not know their onions
We were looking forward to playing on the beaches of Farnborough-on-Sea but made a tactical retreat to Catford Heights to get this game played. The “success” of this flanking manoeuvre earned a stripe for R. French (Co-Manager) making his return, after a lot of time on his hands, following a brush with the laws of the game. It also meant that it was thirteen weeks since our club bar had seen our money. We had been worried that things would go bump in the night again with the heavy rains, but after an anxious wait you could say it was a case of ring dem bells in the Sunday morning sunlight. We had a few absent friends, including our latest recruit but lined up for our big parade with a platoon of fifteen to resist our aggressors from Dulwich. We welcomed back big gun and man of action, George Kleanthous, we hoped, to cure our shooting pains. Alas it was not to be as we were thoroughly thrashed, failed to score, and had many fallen idols in our midst today.
Colin Mant, Ian Coles, Patrice Mongelard, Phil Anthony
Nick Waller, Colin Brazier, Obi Ugwumba, Simon Thomas
Waine Hetherington, Andy Faulks
Substitutes: Steve Blanchard, Roger French, Rob Lipscomb, George Kleanthous
Supporter: Obi Ugwumba Jr
Referee ‘Commander’ Mick Gearing who would be a natural in the Dad’s Army film currently showing on the big screen, showed you are never too old and had brought his museum piece of a whistle along. Mick is seventy-eight next weekend and we wish him many happy returns. After today he might even be tempted to resume playing, so woeful was our display.
Things were not looking good early doors. We could not establish a presence in the Sanco half. They took hold of the midfield, looked dangerous up front and were a fortress at the back with quite a few big units sprinkled across the side. This was not the team we had played before – they had reinforcements, schooled in the art of battle, ready for their war dance, not a floral dance like we were. They had the ball in our net after about fifteen minutes but it was ruled out for a brave offside decision. Five minutes later their menace from the deep paid off and a through ball and smart finish found our net from inside our box despite a desperate dive from Gary Fentiman.
On the half hour the first of the command decisions to make changes was executed as George Kleanthous, Steve Blanchard, Roger French and Rob Lipscomb came on for Colin Mant, Obi Ugwumba, Patrice Mongelard and Colin Brazier. We had a glorious opportunity to equalise when George Kleanthous slipped through the Sanco man hunt like an uninvited guest and found himself five yards out with only the keeper to beat. But his bullet was not for firing and the keeper saved smartly. That was to be our last real scoring opportunity of the game. Five minutes before half time we were carved up like a turkey dinner at the back and we were 2-0 down.
At half time the love of oranges took the edge off but it was hard to see how we could get back in the game despite cries of Wake Up Farnborough. We now had the slope and the wind against us and to add to our predicament Gary Fentiman had made his soldier’s farewell after forty-five minutes and Waine Hetherington bit the bullet and went in goal. Obi Ugwumba returned to the heat of battle in the centre of our midfield. Simon Thomas, asleep in the deep to keep young and beautiful, was to see more of the ball in the second half but we struggled to get anything out of the misers in Sanco’s defence hoarding their clean sheet.
We went 3-0 down not long into the second half, from, you guessed it, a corner. The ball pinged about a bit in our box but in the end a Sanco foot soldier was in the right place to poke the ball home. Soon after in his first game back Roger French drew blood, his own, after inserting his head in a bush. It could have been worse. Roger’s vision was blurred for a bit after some savoury exchanges with a Sanco supporter but the moment, and a test of character, passed.
With half an hour left there were new orders, and for Nick Waller, Phil Anthony and Ian Coles it was come in your time is up and you‘ve got to go. Patrice Mongelard, Colin Mant and Colin Brazier came back on to see Sanco put the Farnborough lights out with two further goals. I cannot say we came close to getting a consolation goal. The Sanco keeper, one of the new faces, was too good and never looked troubled, least of all by the wild shot from Obi Ugwumba which cleared all available netting behind the pitch and left us a ball short – the loneliness of the long distance shot, I thought. If I wanted to lower the tone I would say we had collectively lost both balls in that game long ago.
The mood in the changing room afterwards was not great but Roger’s adventure in the bush, and talk of Mick Gearing’s birthday present, lightened the gloom. It was just like old times as Roger, like a bank manager, was back in his counting house making sure all monies were safely gathered in. It was not high finance but once again money drained away from the Farnborough coffers, unlike a home pitch that will not drain. The same could happen next Sunday.
Buffet Gorilla Nick Waller will have had a feast today as I was not there. I cannot tell you what would have been available for a spot of comfort eating but I am sure it was not wartime rations.
From time to time in Vets football a game is played where the losers are thoroughly showed up, branded in a way, and left wondering if it is time to give up because they have lost their hunger, desire, fitness, pace, everything in fact. This was D-day for us, under fire from the enemy within the gates, we failed the test. We cannot even pretend that it is a matter of brain over brawn – we have three Co-Managers in the boot room, a case of boots, boots, boots, if you like, but we still cannot get it right. We play without energy, technique, cohesion, movement, we have luxury players – they know who they are, the cap fits. We’ll get the bird at every game we have left to play this season unless things change and we’ll be heading for room at the bottom. I reckon that if Captain Mainwaring’s platoon played a football game against German prisoners, the spectacle would not be too unlike what we served up today.
Man of the match: not many were mentioned in dispatches but the man of the hour, in this broadcast to the empire, was Steve Blanchard.
Lastly – I have a test, and a bit of fun, for my readers. To celebrate the release of the new Dad’s Army film – I have sprinkled through this report references to the titles of Dad’s Army episodes. The person who identifies the highest number by close of play next Saturday evening and emails the answers to the Farnborough Old Boys Guild website gets a Spitfire from me.
Man of the match: Steve Blanchard