Sunday 6th May 2018
By Patrice Mongelard
Farnborough wins as family affair shows plenty of life in the old dogs
This annual match is a great family occasion for the vibrant Vets scene at Farnborough to showcase its breath, depth and quality. Occasionally, the weather puts on a show too as it did today as the mercury hovered around the 25-degree C mark under cloudless skies. I like to think of this game as one where we give our younger siblings a glimpse of their future, and they give us one of our past. Both teams were missing players for various reasons – defenders for us, forwards for the youngsters but between us we mustered twenty-seven players.
Colin Brazier, Mark Friend, Franco Petrozzi, Patrice Mongelard;
Sinisa Gracanin, Jay Hardy, Ian Shoebridge, Simon Thomas;
George Kleanthous, Kypros Michael.
Substitutes: Peter Harvey, Waine Hetherington, Mick O’Flynn, Danny Mullins.
Supporters: Steve Blanchard, Mark Harrington, Tony Harvey, Dean Murphy, Danny Saines, Jim St John and many others – a big crowd.
Referee: Paul Parsons who kindly waived his fee for this club game.
Director of Football: Mick(aldinho) O’Flynn.
Chief Football Correspondent: Patrice Mongelard.
It would be fair to say we made the better start. Kypros Michael and George Kleanthous, our Hellenic pairing, caught the eye early doors. Ten minutes in, Simon Thomas arrowed a cross-field ball behind the Vets' defence for Kypros Michael to move on to – despite the muscular attentions of Frank Pearce. Kyp won the 50:50 against the keeper before volleying the ball into the net from a tight angle. I have seen Kyp miss many of those before but today there was a hunger and sharpness about him despite his double teapot stance, that bodes well for the tour (I look forward to him ordering the quiche in Lille). Ten minutes later the same combination produced a delight – Kypros bamboozled his marker and from almost the corner flag spot lifted a peach of a cross to the far post where Simon Thomas steaming in volleyed the ball into the top corner from a yard out. It was crisp, refreshing, zesty like a glass of chilled Colombard Chardonnay on a hot summer’s day. The Youngsters' linesman’s flag stayed down throughout both episodes. It was, of course, too soon to be popping corks.
Our youngsters are a resilient lot and sooner or later their big units would, we knew, come into it, despite the strong showing from our new central defenders – Franco Petrozzi and Mark Friend, and the diligence of our midfield enforcers Jay Hardy and Sinisa Gracanin. So it proved just before the half-hour when Dean Wyatt (Rhino to his friends and enemies) intercepted a pass and broke through showing good feet for a big man to tuck the ball away. The half-hour bell had tolled for Patrice Mongelard, Kypros Michael, Mark Friend and Ian Shoebridge as Mick O’Flynn, Peter Harvey, Danny Mullins and Waine Hetherington joined the fray. It would also be fair to say that we had a bit of a wobble then and by the time the half-time whistle went we were trailing 3-2 as Dean Wyatt and Simon Davies had scored to edge the youngsters ahead. I would not say they were scrappy goals – they were timely physical moments of power.
We had managed to scrape together some spare water bottles (and some balls) as our usual supplier was absent. We could not match the iced peach water from LIDL that the youngsters enjoyed during the break – a classy caring touch from manager Mark Harrington, which you are not going to get from the O’Flynn/Mongelard dictatorship. You try telling young people that this sort of thing is luxury and they won’t believe you.
Lucky for us the youngsters did not quite pick up from where they left off. Matt Ellis thought he had extended their lead early in the second period but that was after Dave Salako had been bundled to the ground. Referee Paul Parsons, excellent today, rightly ruled this out and there was no protest from our opponents. In the main the game was played in excellent spirit, notwithstanding Frank Pearce’s occasional over-exuberance and lack of finesse. As the second half unfolded there was a great tussle between our Danny Mullins and the youngsters’ Jon Gasson – two giants, giving no quarter. Mullins had played 90 minutes yesterday, and been up half the night with baby Ethan but it barely showed.
Franco Petrozzi must have wished he had a couple more inches to play with as he nearly got to the ball ahead of the goalkeeper from a Peter Harvey corner. The tide, we felt, was on the turn. With half an hour to go Colin Brazier, George Kleanthous, Franco Petrozzi and Simon Thomas made way for the return of Patrice Mongelard, Kypros Michael, Mark Friend and Ian Shoebridge. The third period of the game was good for us – several corners, Kypros up to his old tricks, Peter Harvey more than a handful under his appreciative dad Tony’s eye. Tony’s eye will have moistened as his boy picked up a loose ball just inside the Youngsters’ box before blasting it through a crowd scene high into the net. The excellent Gary Rosslee was beaten. Composure, class and not a little feeling went into this exultant moment from Peter, our saviour today.
Could we have gone on to win the game? I’d like to think so but I am not exactly neutral. The facts though are that we had a worldie of a save from Gary Rosslee to tip a top corner-bound shot round the post. Jon Gasson made two goal-saving clearances on the line, one from a vicious snarling free kick by Peter Harvey. At the other end Tom Naughton could have punished us and one very good “on the money” corner from Paul Tanton was wasted. In the end the teams could not be separated. A fair result. I nearly forgot – in the final five minutes there was another Mick O’Flynn moment, this time positive, as he hit a shot from twenty-five yards (I think it was a shot) that drew gasps as it swerved not far from the post. Had that gone in we would have had a hundred years of having to hear about it. Mick says it was forty-five yards – always exaggerates his measurements.
The mood in the bar was very good – aided by copious supplies of food from Leanne. Peter Harvey – our Goodwill Ambassador for our forthcoming tour of Lille, would not allow himself to be unsettled by banter from his former team mates (who of course have forgotten all the goals he used to score for them). We watched Jay Hardy’s desperate efforts to get a tan as good as Pat’s – but all he did was work up a thirst. My tan, incidentally, was on full view courtesy of a moment of perversion from Mick O’Flynn who used his phone in the showers. The photos went on the Group WhatsApp and my phone has not stopped pinging since. Mrs M has taken a very dim view of such puerile behaviour.
I am writing this report having had the benefit of reading about the game first – confused? By this I mean that I saw Mark Harrington’s report. He is the only person I know that is able to write match reports quicker than I can. I hope he continues to write them even though I see a valedictory note in his report. It was not only the Youngsters’ last game of the season today but Mark is stepping down as Manager. No such luck for the Seniors – not only do we have three more games, two Sundays and a Wednesday (I must stress the latter it seems) before our three-games-in-three-days Tour of Lille – but the O’Flynn/Mongelard dictatorship have won a secret ballot by 100% to carry on next season.
Man of the match – Sinisa Gracanin who played in two positions seamlessly, and edged the voting over six others in a fine all round team performance.
Man of the match: Sinisa Gracanin