Saturday 2nd September 2017
By Patrice Mongelard
Farnborough contribute to great family occasion with no losers
This match report is a collector’s item: a Senior Vets game on a Saturday afternoon; a charity and friendly game in the fullest sense; a match report without any inane innuendo (more on that in the report of tomorrow’s game); two sexy sexagenarians playing for Farnborough; the first of two games for the Farnborough Senior Vets this weekend, well at least for those of us who can take it.
In glorious late summer sunshine eight of Farnborough’s finest Senior Vets made the trip to the leafy setting of the Pavilion Sports Club in Footscray Road, in the Eltham environs to play Phil Anthony’s Saturday Vets side. The Farnborough party consisted of Phil Anthony, Ian Coles, Sinisa Gracanin, Des Lindsay, Patrice Mongelard, Mick O’Flynn, Simon Thomas and Obi Ugwumba.
We were joined by Andy Faulks – who like Phil Anthony and Chris Webb (the CENTRAL YMCA Manager) play/have played for Farnborough Senior Vets. In fact Phil Anthony played a half for both teams while Andy Faulks – with Farnborough in his heart – showed glimpses of his old magic for us in front of wife Jo. Andy was not the only addition to our numbers today: Paul James, Stuart, Keith James, Raoul, Dave, Vijay, Cliff, another Andy and Dan came over from the YMCA squad. It meant we could rotate at will on a hot day and everyone got a fair shake – which is the Farnborough way. The opposition included Danny Mullins (the Farnborough Man of the Match last Sunday) and arguably the character from our Belgian Tour - Barry Summers, who looked the part with his tan, shades and permanent smile. Our team did not have a recognised goalkeeper unlike the opposition – so Obi Ugwumba went between the sticks (“this will not go well” advised Michael Jr) in the first half, and Patrice Mongelard did the second half. Only one of us could lay claim to a clean sheet – more on that later.
This was a really enjoyable game played in excellent spirit between two sides that were evenly matched for most of the time. Even if I say so myself, Farnborough had the lion’s share of possession and the greater attacking thrust. Simon Thomas and Des Lindsay formed a dangerous pairing with plenty of penetration. In midfield (guest) Keith and Sinisa Gracanin caught the eye with their poise and craft. Were it not for the excellence of the YMCA keeper we would have been out of sight by half time. He pulled off several great saves, with feet, hands and his distribution and positioning were those of someone who knew his métier. In fact so good was he that Mick O’Flynn signed him up – a nifty bit of business after the transfer window had closed and I, for one and more than most, cannot wait to see him solve a big problem for us, particularly now that, sadly, we have lost the services of Jim St John to injury.
At the other end Obi Ugwumba was sound when called upon. I cannot really recall a clear scoring opportunity for YMCA in the first half. Ian Coles took care of the tall YMCA forward who was a handful all game.
Goals came in the second half. We scored first on the hour, with a superb Des Lindsay effort with the outside of the right foot from twenty yards which finally eluded the YMCA keeper. YMCA pressed hard for an equaliser and we had to defend well, with Sinisa Gracanin dropping back often, whilst trying to keep Danny Mullins from doing any damage. Patrice Mongelard played a high line, mopping up through balls and occasionally booting them well away – they are still looking for one clearance which flew in the direction of Eltham High Street. We were hanging on a bit and YMCA were gifted an equaliser with about five minutes left. We had started messing about at the back and Mick O’Flynn took a throw in and instead of going down the line, fed a hospital ball to Patrice Mongelard with the tall rangy YMCA forward bearing down on goal. Many of the Farnborough players will tell you that the offside law escapes my comprehension. Well it seems that another piece of football law passed me by in 1932 (?) when the law allowing keepers to handle the ball from a throw-in by their own side changed. Yes, dear reader, in one careless moment I undid 85 minutes of hard work by handling the ball. The resulting free-kick from five yards out was lashed high into the net.
However, there was still more excitement to come. An acrobatic volley from Andy Faulks will live in the memory along with the keeper’s save. Most of all I will remember that in the last minute of the game Des Lindsay muscled his way past the last YMCA defender, and from the edge of the box, struck a low shot into the bottom corner. That was no more than we deserved but to our charitable consternation the referee adjudged that Des had handled the ball when he shrugged off the YMCA defender. So the game ended all square at 1-1, and both of Phil Anthony’s teams were unbeaten.
There was a good crowd for the game, with families enjoying the weather, bouncy castles, giant velcro football dartboard, and barbecue which were part of the experience. Another Vets game was being played at the same time on the adjoining pitch, and the sound of leather on willow could be heard from another part of the Sports Club.
To my chagrin other commitments meant I could not tarry and I could not exercise my (rusty) buffet skills at the lavish barbecue Phil had generously laid on for the multitude of friends and family who were there. I also had to get home to do the kit for tomorrow’s game as Des Lindsay did not offer to do it. I will not repeat Mrs M’s comment when I said this was the last time I’d be taking the kit home in 2017.
We suspended match subs today – with donations instead going to the charity supported by Phil Anthony – the British Heart Foundation.
Man of the moment: Phil Anthony, with a fantastic following, despite, or perhaps because of, his jokes.
Man of the match: Phil Anthony