Sunday 19th November 2017
By Mark Harrington
Supporters: Barry and Eden Grainger, Harrison Wright, Graham, Rich, Dean Murphy and Jason Miller for 10 minutes (obviously missing their mates!)
Football was not going to be the only battle on show this weekend. Both vets teams at home and so fights for the bottom pitch and the best buffet were on show. In truth, the pitch battle should never have surfaced as we had taken the slot vacated by Vince’s team. Anyway, the Senior Vets are a stubborn and some might say, lacking substance lot as the sight of poor Sini being sent out with the top goals' keys to be handed to yours truly was a sad sight and his look had a man to gallows feel about it. Anyway, we prefer to enter into dialogue in the younger vets; however the opportunity was lost as you have never seen our senior brothers change so quickly and reach the field for the longest warm up going! Anyway, no matter as the top goals seem to work a lot better and on the basis you don’t always give to receive, I had the longer walk/limp on slippery surface, no dugout to sit in and rest my recent ACL operation to ponder the moral high ground we hold and that we helped out our brothers by the loan of Dean Murphy, Jason Miller and Tom Naughton.
I’m afraid the lack of substance was again evident on the buffet battle. Whilst we preferred the home grown talents of the Tants, the Seniors opted for expensive foreign imports by way of Sainsbury platters. Surely the Seniors have all week during retirement to make some sarnies? No but like most old folk, they no doubt prefer to line up on a Saturday clogging up the aisles when the rest of us hard working folk are trying to get to the post office and through the tills as quickly as we can. All said with a smiling emoji boys, no need to contact Age Concern!
Tant did a great job with proper football grub, ham and cheese rolls whistled down with relish…er actually no he forgot the pickles but delicious all the same and accompanied with sausage rolls and those dippy crisps. I did hear one Senior Vet say in envy that we had “Doritos” on show only for his colleague to proudly say “so what? We have our own Greek player in George”. Well done Trigger! So with the moral high ground we were already 2-0 up on the day with the real battle against Toby to come.
We are fortunate this year to have a large squad and so with a few bodies returning from injury we had the luxury of making changes. The back line changed for the first time in a while and a new centre back pairing was to be on show in Robin Moody and Matti Wright. Both were excellent in the first half and looked like they had played together for some time. Toby have a young and committed front line, as Joe found out near the end of the match, more on that later. Matti Wright, captain for the day, was in outstanding form and you would not have thought he was making his first outfield start this season. Several last ditch tackles to impress the oppos' cameraman who seemed to be following Fireman Sam at every opportunity. He had the biggest lens you will ever see but judging by some of the distances of the shots he has sent over you would have thought he was taking them from the A21. We thank Toby for sending the pics over anyway. Robin was the ball player of the new pair and one pass out of the back line, which set up an attack, was one of the finest of the season. Good to have to back from injury Robin.
We had a very strong bench on Sunday, which was needed as the combined weight of Jon Gasson, Frank Pearce and top scorer Alan Fines would put any structure under pressure. Only joking lads and thanks for taking the bench and flag without fuss. No prima donnas here.
With Alan benched we went for the little and large front line of Simon Davies and Paul Tanton, supported on the wings by Steve Shippey and Damien Preston. Tant and Si had almost telepathic minds as Tant provided Si with two excellent passes to side-foot us into a 2-0 lead on 4 and 19 mins. Shippey always has an eye for goal and he toe-poked a Jez Mooney free kick past the keeper for 3-0 on 23 mins. The oppo appealed for offside; however whilst Damo was in an offside position, he was not interfering and Shipps bent his run perfectly. Big thanks to Marcus Allen who stood down from playing this week to referee and he gave a solid performance that a proper official would have found difficult to match. People commented afterwards that Shipps looks like a mini Marcus but I cannot see it myself although, when Shipps lifted his shirt in goal celebration and nearly ruined my appetite for the buffet I did see a resemblance to the big man.
It was all going so well until some berk decided to make changes on 30 mins. All three subs came on and from a long throw, which was headed on and tapped in at the far post we conceded for the first time in a long while. Toby are a good side and immediately won the ball back and from 25 yards their midfielder smacked the post and how it did not go it was astounding, the ball going across the other side of the goal before James cleared. Gary Rosslee then made a fine save before we cleared our heads and yes, true to form, Alan tapped in to give us a 4-1 lead, which if we are honest, was unjust on our visitors. We had four shots and scored on each occasion. Ruthless!
The second half started very much like some of the first in that Toby pressed and gained a second with the aid of a deflected shot in the 51st minute, which Gary could do little about..Gary then saved with his legs to keep us in the lead. 4-2 was probably still unfair on Toby but what was to follow was not. Our boys regrouped and the ruthless streak returned. The defence had time to clear their heads and get into the game and big Jon kept their vocal forward in check, Joe pushed forward supplying on the left and Jez and Dean took control of the midfield. Alan was sent through to outpace their back line to put us 5-1 up in the 60th minute and he completed his third hat-trick in a row in the 76th minute sending the keeper the wrong way from 6 yards out. An amazing achievement, no not the hat-trick that Alan outpaced their back line, Alan was clearly fired up by the comments of the Toby defender regarding physique and Alan responded in the best way possible by letting the goals do the talking, well not after a few verbals anyway, Referee Marcus did well to control again.
Apart from Al’s hat-trick, my moment goes to Dean ‘’Rhino" Wyatt. Rhino is usually more renowned for his work rate however, going down the right he performed a ‘Cruyff’ and left the Toby defender running in completely the opposite direction. Apparently he is still going and may have joined his cameraman colleague somewhere on the A21. If anyone finds him send him back to Toby Vets. A super turn and Dean looked up to square to Damo at the far post to slide in for what is his third goal in as many and four for the season. We thought the scoring was complete but up popped Steve Shippey in the 90th minute to score our 8th for the second week on the trot. Thankfully no shirt lifting so close to the buffet being served. Well done Shipps and to have three people who could have bagged a treble is amazing. Thanks for deputising on the right, I know you want to be closer to Al up top.
Plenty of standout performers and MOM was going to be difficult this week. Si Davies again had a super game and but for the outstretched leg of the keeper, he would have also got a hat-trick. Hat-tricks are hard to come by and so Alan’s achievement is historic. In all levels of football I cannot remember anyone matching Al’s three in a row. Well done Al and it was right you won MOM on a day when so many players had good games. Jez and Deano conquered a good oppo midfield and James and Frank matched the sometimes physical side that Toby wanted to enter into. We are fortunate to have at least five players with a left foot although, Joe stepping in at right back nearly lost his when the frustrated forward jumped, leaving the ground with a two-footer. Thankfully he did not catch Joe, otherwise there would have been a serious injury.
It was no surprise the Toby guys left frustrated as they were much better than the scoreline suggests. Gary made more saves than in any other game this season it was just a case that we took all our chances and any re-match will be a difficult affair.
Thanks to Tant for the food, for all you players who stood down, played out of position, played for the Seniors, carried stuff, put the goals away. Appreciated in my current limping state.
No game next week as we have our Xmas bash of beer, watching footy and curry on Saturday.
Man of the match: Alan Fines