Sunday 24th April 2016
By Patrice Mongelard
An eventful six-hour day at Farrow Fields: where’s Waine, where’s Des Lindsay’s wallet, a birthday celebration in the buffet room, a challenge.
Honesty is the best policy. I had not played in three weeks and it showed as my first touch was very poor, I then fluffed a corner and later on missed a sitter of a header from a corner but I had three splendid samosas. So now I have got that out in the open I can tell you about an eventful day.
The weather was overcast and the match day logistics and practical arrangements were a shambles but everyone was in a good mood, with the feel good factor from the Riverside Wanderers après-match events in Eynsford still rippling and putting a smile on faces. The seventeen players we had overnight dwindled to thirteen as Roger French could not work out where Waine Hetherington was, Rob had a bereavement in the family (sadly), Stephane Anelli overdid it in the gym, and Kypros Michael went to offer his services, at Roger French’s request, to Metrogas who were short of players for their match against our Young Vets on the adjoining pitch. The keys to the bar could not be found, the dressing room we used could only be accessed from the rear (no jokes please) via our clubhouse lounge, as the key for that too was missing. At first we could not find the keys to the container to retrieve the nets for the goals but in the end all was well and referee Mick Gearing got us underway against opponents who outnumbered us with eighteen players, and more supporters (including one blessed with extraordinary eyesight who was ensconced in one of the dugouts).
Patrice Mongelard, Ian Coles, Colin Brazier, Colin Mant;
Des Lindsay, Obi Ugwumba, Ian Shoebridge, Sinisa Gracanin;
George Kleanthous, Simon Thomas.
Strategist: Mick O’Flynn.
Substitutes: Roger French, Nick Waller.
Supporters: Hannah Kleanthous, Obi Ugwumba Jr (also linesman).
It was not easy to separate the two sides in the first quarter of an hour as two evenly matched teams sussed each other out and probed in various places. There was a hint of greater cohesion and forward menace from our opponents whilst our final ball was not optimal. Wellcome took the lead after about fifteen minutes with a shot that was deflected past a wrong-footed Gary Fentiman. The Wellcome forward had done well to create the space but his low shot could not be fully blocked by Sinisa Gracanin. We felt this was a bit harsh and went looking for an equaliser and we did not have long to wait. Ian Shoebridge had picked up a loose ball in the centre of midfield in David Beckham territory and fired his shot but the ball came off a Wellcome player and sat nicely in front of him for a half volley which Shoey duly administered about twenty-five yards out. The Wellcome keeper, not the tallest, had had one or two fumbles but he was not given the opportunity for another, as the ball sailed into the top corner hit the stanchion and came back out across the goal. For a moment, and I am guessing here, Wellcome must have thought they could pretend the ball had not crossed the line. But the referee was decisive, and to give Wellcome credit there were no complaints when he pointed to the centre circle.
There followed a period where both teams pressed for an advantage and corners were won and defended by both sides. Patrice Mongelard could only produce a disappointing glancing header from a Simon Thomas corner that dropped from a great height into a crowd scene at the back post and the moment was gone. In my defence I would say I was distracted by a row going on between a Wellcome defender and another of their entourage who made the mistake of being honest by not flagging our player for offside.
On the half hour Roger French and Nick Waller came on for Sinisa Gracanin and Obi Ugwumba. We had to work hard to prevent this reshuffle from unsettling our rhythm too greatly and we just about managed it. Des Lindsay saw a shot from the edge of the box come off the post and the threat we carried was rewarded when the Wellcome keeper spilled a cross from Des and George Kleanthous was in the right place to profit as he rounded the keeper and steered the ball into the net. 2-1 at half time felt right on the balance of play, but Wellcome will have been wondering how they had ended up in that unwelcome position.
It is fair to say that Wellcome had a better second half than we did, at least in the early stages. The changes they made at half-time had given them fresh menace up front, and at times we looked like we were hanging on in there, with last ditch tackles, and Gary Fentiman in our goal had to pull off some great saves. They won corners that put us under pressure with their big units. I recall one passage of pinball play in our box, a yard from our goal line where it was just a matter of putting bodies in the way, including Roger French’s whose propinquity was crucial, and Gary Fentiman’s huge frame came in handy. We were playing on the break.
With half an hour left master strategist Mick O’Flynn took off a fired up Colin Brazier, and an even more reluctant Des Lindsay, for the return of Sinisa Gracanin and Obi Ugwumba. As Des has trouble with arithmetic he stayed on briefly to give us twelve players. Mick’s tactical genius was rewarded about a quarter of an hour from the end when Sinisa Gracanin and George Kleanthous combined down the left as Mick had foreseen, and George slipped the ball unselfishly to Simon Thomas unmarked and alone in front of the Wellcome goal. Simon took two touches, steadied himself, waved at the crowd, fluffed his quiff, paid his own thespian’s homage to Shakespeare with a couple of lines from Hamlet’s soliloquy, and then decided to shoot low and gently into the Wellcome net from eight yards out. We now had the cushion of a two-goal lead and that gave us great heart. We needed it as with five minutes to go Wellcome narrowed the deficit with a smart goal. We managed to hold on. A draw would probably have been the fairer result but we had more luck and I was delighted with a win, as everyone in Farnborough and neighbouring Orpington heard as the final whistle went.
In keeping with the general unpreparedness around the place we had a bit of a struggle with the padlocks and the tethering posts for the goals, and the opening of the bar was also delayed, I could see, as several of us paraded with our towels on the way back from the showers.
Nick Waller’s 54th birthday wish came true as he was put in charge of the bar. The other 53 wishes were probably the same - see what I did there. To mark the occasion we used a changing room with a red sign on it that said Buffet, quite fitting we thought as the Buffet Dream Catcher was in fine fettle. He nabbed the last piece of cheddar whilst pondering the location of the tattoo that could pave the way for a free Sky Sports subscription via Eynsford (another birthday wish perhaps).
The catering firm of Shoebridge and Co. put on a great show as always. There was still a lot to do around the clubhouse. Roger French visited the ladies' toilets to switch the boiler off but seemed to be doing more than that in there, as he was gone for a while with the photo of his little red tractor. We were still discussing the game when two cleaners came to prepare the clubhouse for the next day’s Montessori lessons, put furniture away, hoover the floors, wipe the tables etc. I shudder to think what the janitory challenge was in the ladies.
The usual banter had added Eynsford spice this week, and there was a bit of a breakthrough when Des Lindsay promised in front of witnesses to settle his annual and match subs arrears next week (just as he had in previous weeks) but this time Roger French made a note as five players affixed their seals to the document recording the oath. I could not help thinking that the Paris Climate Change Agreement ratified only two days ago on Earth Day in New York had been a doddle compared to this. There will be global cooling if we do not resolve the matter.
I think I just got away with it when I got home just under six hours after I left, but I told Mrs M her hair looked nice after a visit to her stylist earlier today (Colin Mant - note and learn !).
Man of the match: George Kleanthous, for a poacher’s goal, an assist, a triathlon athlete of a daughter selected for Kent, a tireless performance and almost sincere best wishes to Crystal Palace for their cup game. Lastly, I should add that Kypros Michael also scored today, for victorious Metrogas, against our Young Vets.
Man of the match: George Kleanthous