Thursday 17th May 2018
By Patrice Mongelard
Farnborough teamwork shines through on Vic Farrow Cup Day
We were not playing for the Vic Farrow Cup today. We were playing Baltic Vets in our first and last evening game of a season which saw too many games lost to the weather. There were two games at the club – our game on the top pitch, at 6:30, using the smaller changing rooms (one of which had to be cleared for use) and the Vic Farrow Cup Final between Meridian Sports (2) and Crayford Arrows Red (1), on the big pitch, at 7:00, using the two biggest changing rooms. It was an honour to host this final, and to be associated with this cup which was established a couple of years ago by the Bromley and South London Football League to honour the late Vic Farrow. I am not sure how many of the big crowd today of around seventy-five would have known who Vic Farrow was. But the Farnborough family certainly do. Farnborough is Vic’s spiritual home. He rests a few football pitches away in St Giles the Abbot churchyard in Farnborough. He left us on April 6th 2013, after an association of five decades with our club as a player and including as club secretary for thirty-four years.
There were some logistics to sort out and I am glad to say that the players responded very well. Waine Hetherington, Jay Hardy and Colin Mant were putting the nets up before most of the squad turned up. But the shift of the day belonged to club Chairman Steve Viner, more on that later. It was not until 6:00 that we could access the fourth changing room to remove all the clubhouse chairs and tables but many hands made light of the task. The opposition had turned up in good time and were waiting for us on the top pitch in very good light for the time of year. The Baltic manager had tipped me off that he had had to draft a couple of young players to make the numbers up. As usually happens such extras tend to be rather good players and one sinuous midfielder and a robust centre half certainly caught the eye.
Colin Brazier, Ian Coles, Colin Mant, Patrice Mongelard;
Jay Hardy, Michael Hills, Danny Mullins, Simon Thomas;
Waine Hetherington, George Kleanthous.
Substitutes: Steve Blanchard, Peter Harvey, Ian Shoebridge.
Supporters: Louie (I am only here for the pizzas) Dwight-Thomas, Mick O’Flynn, Richard Mitchell, Steve Viner and many others who kept an eye on both games
Referee: Paul “Play On” Parsons who waived his match fee again, this time on the grounds that the game was on the way home.
Director of Football: Mick(aldinho) O’Flynn.
Chief Football Correspondent: Patrice Mongelard.
Both teams started well with plenty of passing. The first clear scoring opportunity fell our way after Danny Mullins played Simon Thomas in on goal for a one on one with the Baltic keeper; however, the ball was on Simon’s left foot, the contact was sub-optimal and the opportunity was missed. Ten minutes in though we got our reward from a corner. Colin Mant had gone up to cause chaos and confusion in the Baltic box and found himself with an opportunity to shoot on goal after the ball found its way to him six yards out. The Baltic keeper saved the initial shot but the ball fell to Jay Hardy who guided it into an empty net. Colin Brazier later offered the view that had Jay Hardy not been there he, Colin, would have scored as he was the next player nearest to the ball. We had a good spell then though without necessarily threatening to score again. Rob Faulkner in our goal was comfortable and alert and his long kicks were proving quite an asset. There was though a lot of quality in the Baltic ranks – a pass out of our defence was intercepted a little against the run of play, an intelligent through pass bisected our defence and a good low finish brought Baltic level.
On the half-hour George Kleanthous, Michael Hills and Colin Brazier made way for Peter Harvey, Ian Shoebridge and Steve Blanchard. Steve was playing his first game in weeks after hamstring trouble and was not sure if he would last the pace. He did and played with his usual muscularity and at one point nearly took out some studs on my moulded boots. Talking of studs, Jay Hardy took a ball in the unmentionables in the centre circle and it took him a while to regain his composure and rearrange himself. There was nothing to separate the teams at half-time.
Mick O’Flynn’s half-time masterclass about concentrating, not conceding early, being compact, tucking in etc. went out of the window within five minutes of the restart. We failed to react to a quick throw-in (pleading in vain for a foul throw), misjudged the flight of the incoming cross, were outnumbered and out of position at the back and an unmarked Baltic player finished emphatically from close range. We could have buckled then but we did not. Just before the hour we were on level terms after a splendid piece of individual flair and perseverance from Peter Harvey. He chased down a defender, robbed him in a dangerous area and despite a tight angle managed to squeeze the ball home high into the net.
Waine Hetherington, Patrice Mongelard and Steve Blanchard made way on the hour for the return of Michael Hills, Colin Brazier and George Kleanthous. The pairing of George and Peter up front gave us an edge and a menace that brought us sustained dominance. Peter Harvey hit the same post twice in ten minutes, we forced several corners and at that point Farnborough looked the most likely team to score. There was one sublime moment when the indefatigable George Kleanthous slipped through on the left before lifting a cross to the far post. Simon Thomas entered the stage, and for Louie Dwight-Thomas’ benefit, attacked the ball in a very butch manner, to produce an exquisite first-time volley that flew twelve inches over the bar. If we had an award for the goal that would have been goal of the season if it had gone in that would have been it.
My former Defra colleague Richard Mitchell was watching the game with me by that time, and he agreed with my assessment that Farnborough had the upper hand. However, Richard is a Crystal Palace fan and as Baltic play in Palace colours he had added that a Farnborough mistake could let Baltic in; and so it came to pass as with barely ten minutes left we lost possession of the ball on the wing. An incisive pass was delivered and another smart finish much like the Baltic first goal delivered, in fact the same player could have been involved, and Baltic could almost grasp victory. There was one final twist as experience got the better of youth. Peter Harvey chased a ball in the box, indeed he was moving away from the goal, with the 18-year old Baltic centre-half hot on his heels – too hot in fact as he deployed his tackle prematurely from behind. The award of a penalty was uncontested and Peter Harvey did the rest. That was almost the last kick of the game. 3-3 was a fair result in the end for a most enjoyable game played in very good spirit.
The pizzas from Ollie’s in Farnborough High Street arrived on time at 8:30, an assortment of ten 15-inch pizzas, and five smaller boxes of garlic bread. Louie Dwight-Thomas acted as lookout and helped bring them in. I think they went down well with both teams. The clubhouse was busy and got even more so when the Vic Farrow Cup final ended. There was a sudden rush to the bar where barmaid Leanne was busy pulling jugs and Jay Hardy, Steve Blanchard and Jordan Glen were quickly on hand to help. The place seemed to empty equally quickly. In the end officials from the Bromley and South London Football League and the usual suspects from the Senior Vets were left. We put the furniture away before we left and club Chairman Steve Viner was still at it after some five hours at the club. You will not find many club Chairmen stacking chairs and hoovering at half past ten at night. Vic Farrow could be rightly proud of the way things were done. Four of us adjourned to the Woodman next door. The place was packed and got even more congested when Meridian Sports players and entourage arrived. A fifth Senior Vet, Steve Blanchard arrived too, but too late and as Ian Coles reported the landlady would not let him in because she had already called last orders. I do not think Ian meant any innuendo. I don’t myself, as I have promised Mrs M that I will ease up on innuendo and eat less pizza. Progress is slow though.
Man of the match – Peter Harvey, by a long chalk, who gave an 18-year old centre-half something to think about, and put some clear blue water between himself and George Kleanthous in the sizzling race for the golden boot.
Man of the match: Peter Harvey