Sunday 19th November 2017
By Patrice Mongelard
Farnborough climax late
A rare alignment of planets resulted in both Farnborough Vets teams playing at home today – a sort of back to the future experience for our younger Vets. The bright sunshine on a dry, clear, relatively mild, still and sunny morning brought our supporters out in large numbers. Last week I introduced a new word to you – “finkled”. There is a variant of it, with two ks as in “finkkled”. This adds the knee to the parts affected by injury and that covers me. Today I write the match report purely as an observer (my best game for weeks according to Wit Hetherington). This means I am not dazzled by my own brilliance and I should see things more clearly. Who knows, we might even have a whine-free week. Injuries and other impediments meant several new faces today as the extended Farnborough family rallied round. This included debutant Martin Zapico – the last piece in our alphabet puzzle for surnames that have played for the Farnborough Vets. Zs are rare – compared to Ws.
Ian Lyons, Colin Mant, Martin Zapico;
Simon Harvey, Waine Hetherington, Jason Miller, Dean Murphy, Obi Ugwumba;
Peter Harvey, George Kleanthous.
Substitutes: Danny Mullins, Tom Naughton, Mick O’Flynn.
Referee: Paul Parsons
Supporters: Leanne Bennett, Steve Blanchard, Grant Gable, Sinisa and Jodie Gracanin, Jay Hardy, Max Harvey, Tony Harvey, Mark Hawkins, Michael Hills, Des Lindsay, Patrice Mongelard, Michael Ugwumba.
Director of Football: Mick O’Flynn
Chief Football Correspondent: Patrice Mongelard
This was not an easy game. In fact Peter Harvey opined that “if we had played our normal team we would have lost this game”. Reigate always give us a tough game and today was no exception. They had sprinkled experience with innocence and had several individual performers who stood out to add to their collective quality. It took us a long time to score, when it came the relief was palpable.
It is fair to say that we had the greater possession in both halves and created more chances but also that there were not many clear chances at either end and that the longer the game went on the greater the likelihood of a draw. Dean Murphy drew the first meaningful save out of the pony-tailed Reigate keeper early in the game with a trademark burst into the box. The Reigate keeper was partial to an acrobatic save even though there were no cameras there. Both sets of defences were playing well and most of the game was taking place in the middle third of the pitch (which was excellent by the way after yesterday’s heavy rains).
Reigate have players that asked questions including the tallest forward we have had to face. Rob Faulkner pulled off a great one-handed save on the one occasion when our defence was breached and revealed afterwards that he had injured his calf again. In his own words he was the “Darren Anderton of the Farnborough Senior Vets” but the fact is he can claim to have had all the answers when quizzed by the opposition and he kept our first and only clean sheet of the season to date. A number of players stood out for various reasons in the first half-hour: the defensive solidity of Martin Zapico and the energy and pace of Jason Miller caught the eye. Of course, there were some things that did not always come off, credit must be given to our opponents for this, and we had players still trying to learn each other’s names. Mick O’Flynn, Tom Naughton and Danny Mullins came on after half an hour for Jason Miller, Obi Ugwumba and Simon Harvey. This did not change the pattern of play. The physical presence of Danny Mullins was a useful addition to our game and his tireless running and long stride was a useful outlet and for a while probably represented our best chance of a breakthrough.
Reigate made some changes at half-time, the most significant one being to swap their keeper. The pony-tailed one was replaced by a slightly shorter player (5ft 4in by my reckoning but very springy according to Colin Mant for reasons that will become obvious later). The pony-tail, equally if not more useful in the outfield, was to sustain an accidental bloody nose from Peter Harvey’s trailing arm and we wish him well and hope no serious damage was done.
We applied the pressure in much the same way as in the first period and we still could not breach the Reigate goal line. We also had to be wary of being caught on the break because they had good players (at least two with better than average left feet) that could create something out of not very much if we let them. For both teams it looked like corners might yield their best chance of scoring. We made final changes on the hour with Dean Murphy, Martin Zapico and Ian Lyons making way for Jason Miller, Obi Ugwumba and Simon Harvey. For a moment we had twelve players on the pitch as Waine Hetherington was struck by a hearing impairment which meant he did not hear his name called out to come off. Ian Lyons took one for the team and came off instead.
With five minutes left I was beginning to think of a headline for a draw. We earned a free kick thirty-five yards out in a central position and a committee comprising Jason Miller, Peter Harvey and Michael Ugwumba held an emergency session to decide who would take it. In the end age won and Peter was trusted with the job. What followed was an exquisite floated cross on to the forehead of Colin Mant who had crept up stealthily to cause havoc in the box. Colin craned his neck and whipped his head across to produce a meaty contact that sent the ball looping over the vertically-challenged Reigate keeper with the DNA of a salmon, in an arc of deadly inevitability and intent into the bottom corner at the far post. The deadlock was broken. Colin’s fey celebration would have delighted daughter Isabella as a “Mr Tumnus moment”. One could see the class and craft of a former Farnborough Vets Golden Boot Winner crystallised in that cameo. That goal broke Reigate and two minutes later George Kleanthous (a tad leggy perhaps after playing yesterday) slipped the ball to Peter Harvey for a crisp low finish from just inside the box (much to the delight of dad Tony, brother Simon and nephew Max) to give us a scoreline that the neutral would not begrudge Farnborough.
As our usual caterers were having a day off, I procured sandwiches from Sainsbury’s – three platters per team. It would appear this indulgence was positively extravagant and decadent. I was informed the entire first team, no less, manage with one single platter. This raised interesting issues. Do hungry teams perform better? Could sandwiches be a key element of an eat-as-you-play rewards policy? One Senior Vet who will have to remain anonymous said “This is a red line for me. One platter per team – I walk”. I should have walked (with the platters) when Des Lindsay appeared, in a tweed cap straight from the cast of Peaky Blinders. I cannot be sure when his last meal was but he would be certainly cast out of the first team for his intake.
Lastly, a political observation in these interesting times: events in Zimbabwe this week have led me to reflect on the nature of dictatorship. By analogy, you might think that it is not healthy to have the same individual writing reports of our matches for nearly a decade. I agree. If any of our players wish to produce reports of any of our games, at any time, from their perspective, perhaps to do justice to their massive talent, they are most welcome to do so. I am sure that our webmaster Colin Brazier would appreciate the additional content for our club website www.fobgfc.org.
Man of the match: Martin Zapico, for a solid, no nonsense performance, of no little finesse, who forfeited a night out in London to make his debut for the Farnborough Senior Vets.
Man of the match: Martin Zapico