Sunday 3rd April 2016
By Patrice Mongelard
Farnborough nick the points under Met noses
We assembled in the vast car park at the Warren in West Wickham, home of today’s opponents, the Metropolitan Police Super Vets, in what is arguably one of the finest settings we could possibly spend a lovely sunny spring Sunday morning playing football in. Malcolm Seymour, from Catford Wanderers Vets, who was helping us out after a private arrangement with Roger French, was the first there. Several of us arrived virtually at the same time, including Des Lindsay, back from lapping up the Florida sunshine, and what initially looked like an over-Brylcreemed Colin Mant until he informed us he had merely combed his hair for a trip to a caravan park in Christchurch (Dorset) later in the day. Why a police car followed Sinisa Gracanin and our South American (Simon Thomas) into the car park we’ll never know. There were thirteen of us in the end including Richard Paterson who was helping out in goal in an emergency as our goalkeeping service had broken down. We would have had fourteen but news filtered through that Andy Faulks had pulled something yesterday, and pulled out overnight. I expect he’ll be missing next week too for some reason – well actually it is a good reason – he is getting married. All the Farnborough Senior Vets send their best wishes to Andy and Jo. While Andy is away though, others are chipping away at his goal tally.
Patrice Mongelard, Ian Coles, Steve Blanchard, Colin Mant;
Des Lindsay, Obi Ugwumba, Rob Lipscomb, Sinisa Gracanin;
Waine Hetherington, Simon Thomas.
Strategist: Mick O’Flynn
Substitutes: Malcolm Seymour, Dave Green.
Supporters: Obi Ugwumba Jr (also linesman); Mia and Wendy Paterson.
We had the prospect of a good game against able opponents who allied experience with some slightly less experienced players with energy. Both teams were looking to play a composed brand of football. We had the best chances early on. The game was barely five minutes old when Rob Lipscomb put Simon Thomas through on goal unchallenged but the finish was not as Simon wished. Simon was to repeat the dose soon after, again in a one on one but the Met keeper saved smartly with his legs. For the first twenty minutes he was the busier keeper but the blue line held and coped with all the crosses we sent in from both flanks. Through balls for Waine Hetherington and Simon Thomas always seemed to run a bit too fast on a surface that was a still tad greasy from the early morning rain. Our first goal came after about twenty-five minutes – when Des Lindsay measured a cross to the far post where Waine Hetherington loitered with intent, and applied a calm finish to guide the ball low into the net with the minimum of fuss. Soon after, on the half hour we made two changes with Dave Green and Malcolm Seymour coming on for Steve Blanchard and Des Lindsay. I think Dave and Malcolm will be the first to admit that their introduction unsettled us, initially. The Met went on to have a purple patch of about ten minutes – first they carved us open on the right of the defence with a clever dummy. The cross was cushioned and controlled by their forward who showed surprising lightness of foot for a big unit, and he volleyed the ball home after an off-balance Ian Coles could not make the block. Richard Paterson got fingertips to the ball but the Met had a deserved equaliser. Five minutes later they nearly took the lead as a powerful shot from the edge of the box came through a crowd of players and was moving at great speed in an inexorable arc into our net until a flying Richard Paterson got his hand to it at the last minute to produce a stupendous save. I noted the Met Police player who had the shot sportingly shook Richard’s hand.
As the first half ended we had regained our ascendancy though still without getting a breakthrough. That was to come very early in the second half, in fact within two minutes of the restart. As a defender I always have sympathy with those who concede own goals because I know that is not what they intended, and such goals are not easily forgotten. Dave Green swung in a cross from the right which came off a Met Police forehead, going the wrong way for them, and the right way for us. The Met keeper could not retrieve the ball before it crossed the line. We deserved it if you take the first half into account but we were now in the second half and this was virtually our first serious attempt on the Met Police goal in that half. We then made heavy weather of getting a third goal. We had chances – the best one falling to Simon Thomas two yards out after a clever dummy from Waine Hetherington but Simon could not force the issue. The Mayan, Aztec and Inca gods were all displeased with Simon Thomas today. How else could I, or he, explain the chances he missed? On another more propitious day these gods would have bestowed at least a hat-trick on him.
On the hour we brought Steve Blanchard and Des Lindsay back for Ian Coles and Sinisa Gracanin. We created a series of chances – before it fell to Rob Lipscomb, assisted by a Steve Blanchard cushioned header, to give us a two goal margin with a smart diagonal lobbed finish from inside the box, with just under twenty minutes to go. We went looking for a fourth which never came. Obi Ugwumba delivered a howitzer from twenty yards which curled agonisingly close and drove the ball deep in the undergrowth. Waine Hetherington was taken roughly from behind again in the box and while the Met Police player involved was happy to concede the penalty the man that mattered, the referee, was unmoved. I should say how well and fairly the referee officiated today. He was dynamic, informative – for example telling us how long was left at regular intervals. That is how I knew the Met scored in the eighty-fifth minute with a great left foot shot that went in off the underside of the bar from twenty yards. It took a shot of that quality to beat Richard in our goal. Earlier he had made an acrobatic save to atone for the error of kicking the ball straight to a Met player with a clear sight of goal. The left foot hammer strike was delivered by a youngster they brought on for the final quarter of an hour. I mean youngster – I will wager that he has yet to shave. By then injuries had taken their toll on the Met – one of their players will be seeing the dentist in the morning after catching an inadvertent hand from Rob Lipscomb in the face. The Met pressed hard for an equaliser but we had the game management to preserve the three points.
The showers at the Warren are spacious, almost as much acreage as where we change, but that is not the most striking feature about them. I reckon they are used for water cannon training. After high velocity refreshing ablutions a few of us wandered through a warren of rooms to find the après-match space. When we did, the large platter of assorted sandwiches and the equally large tray of roast potatoes were a delight. Only a few cress sprouts were left at the end. Our Buffet T-Rex, Nick Waller, and that other big beast of the buffet area, Roger French, were absent. We did not miss them, as it meant more for us. I had the added pleasure of watching the Leicester goal with a pair of ardent Arsenal fans, whilst listening to Ian Coles explaining why he will never be fingered for eating scampi fries. We outstayed the Met Vets to record a 7-0 win in the bar.
I collected match subs in Roger French’s absence. He had left strict instructions concerning Des Lindsay, so I am happy to report that Des paid his £5 – now here is a bit of a brainteaser for our readers. Des paid in coins – eight coins in total. If there were two 5p coins out of the eight - what were the other coins? I’ll give you a clue - one was a £2 coin. First correct answer gets a beer from Des, perhaps. It was good to have Des back playing, bringing a unique muscular presence to our midfield, and kamikaze back-heels in our box, but providing a generous service to our forwards.
Man of the match: Richard Paterson an efficient, lithe and agile man who will always be remembered for that worldie in the first half – he will be telling brother-in-law Waine Hetherington about it for years, and rightly so.
Man of the match: Richard Paterson