Sunday 3rd March 2019
By Patrice Mongelard
Last Sunday seemed like two meteorological seasons ago compared to today. Breakfast was punctuated with the news first that the game was off due to a waterlogged pitch, then I was disappointed to hear that the potential opening I had at Norman Park was no longer there, only to be reprieved by the news that a forking party might make the Farnborough pitch playable – all within a space of ten frantic minutes. I lost count of the phone calls, text messages and WhatsApp notifications. Out of the confusion (comedy gold according to Peter Harvey) emerged a will to play the game and our opponents must be given credit for coming from Dartford to our village on a filthy morning - wet, blustery and overcast, with what looked like a weakened team. Credit is due also to the players who turned up for a bit of forking on a Sunday – including in particular Colin Mant, Simon Thomas and Sinisa Gracanin. Even referee Paul “Play On” Parsons joined in. Additional moisture suction was provided by a device procured by Gary Cochet Willison which Simon Thomas handled like a pro, I am told.
Colin Mant, Michael Hills, Patrice Mongelard;
Simon Harvey, Sinisa Gracanin, Kypros Michael, Simon Thomas, Obi Ugwumba;
Peter Harvey, Jay Hardy.
Substitutes: Phil Anthony, Colin Brazier.
Referee: Paul Parsons.
Linesman: Michael Ugwumba Jr.
Supporters: Steve Blanchard, Max and Tony Harvey, David Orji, Michael Ugwumba Jr, Kayleigh Walsh.
Chief Football Correspondent: Patrice Mongelard.
The surface was not the greatest but it did not hinder passing even if the going was heavy. Lads of the Village started better I felt and had won their first corner before their keeper had touched the ball. We established a measure of control after the initial ten minutes and it felt like only a matter of time before we would score. We were experiencing joy down both flanks. After a quarter of an hour Simon Harvey recycled a ball out of midfield to Simon Thomas out and deep on the right. Simon eschewed the usual multiple touches and sent in a cross which demanded a finish. I was not the only one to be surprised to see Kypros Michael move into a position from where he proceeded to apply a deft header which guided the ball low into the bottom corner against the base of the post and into the net. It had been looking like it would require something special to beat the Lads of the Village keeper. “Just like Zlatan” noted a delirious Kypros. I let this one pass, perhaps feeling a pang of guilt after maligning him in my last match report, unfairly.
We huffed and puffed for the rest of the half but the Lads of the Village keeper was immense. The greasy surface was making some tackles look worse than they were intended to be. Peter Harvey went down and stayed down after impact with the keeper. I could not help noticing that Colin Brazier was the only one who stirred to take water to Peter. From a personal point of view, I was pleased to see Peter get up, with no damage done, as I did not fancy finding a new badminton partner for tomorrow at such short notice. In fact, Peter’s powers of recovery were remarkable given the way last Sunday’s game ended for him, with his groin in dire need of a sabbatical.
On the half-hour Patrice Mongelard and Obi Ugwumba made way for the introduction of Phil Anthony and Colin Brazier. Kypros Michael drifted into a more central position where he seemed to acquire an extra yard of inertia. We had reason to thank Rob Faulkner for his quick feet as he saved a low shot which threatened to bring Lads of the Village level shortly before half-time. The biggest unit in the Village had caught the ball well on the edge of the box in a central position but a largely underemployed Rob was alert when he needed to be. 1-0 at half-time did not flatter our opponents but we thought they would tire (not least because we play 90 minutes rather than the 80 they are accustomed to).
Our opponents started the second half better than we did. They won two early corners to put us on the back foot. The next goal was going to be crucial. Ten minutes into the second period it came from an unexpected source as the Lads of the Village keeper fluffed a clearance. The contact with the ball was not what he wanted and all he contrived was to roll the ball tamely to an unmarked Sinisa Gracanin on the edge of the box who promptly volleyed it back with interest into the net. Sinisa made it look it easy because of who he is. Our third goal followed quickly as Jay Hardy cut the ball back for Peter Harvey who swivelled and went for finesse by placing the ball low into the bottom corner beyond the reach of the keeper at full stretch. The quality of the strike would have beaten most keepers we come across. Kypros Michael was the next to shine as a bustling Jay Hardy (who thinks he might have busted his hand again) slipped the ball across in front of an empty net for Kypros to finish emphatically. Kypros will no doubt concur that passing to a better placed team mate pays dividends.
On the hour Michael Hills came off for Obi Ugwumba and it had been my intention that Colin “Kepa” Mant would come off too but his hearing hardened and Sinisa Gracanin came off so I could return to the game. To be fair to Colin, his enthusiastic forking had delayed his arrival on the pitch and he missed the very brief team talk I gave before kick-off. The last quarter of an hour saw a dominant Farnborough register two more goals – both by Jay Hardy from close range after good work by Simon Thomas and Kypros Michael respectively. For his second, our sixth goal, Jay Hardy wanted me to point out that he had his back to goal when the ball came to him. There was time for Colin Brazier, on fire down the left, to connect with a ball that had travelled from right to left and which could have led to the goal of the season, potentially. That is all he will allow me to say about it.
The conditions had got progressively worse as the game went on and it was a bit of a relief for us, and even more so for Lads of the Village, when referee Paul Parsons brought proceedings to an end. Post-match pitch duties were completed as quickly as possible – it was not easy to wheel the goal back on the greasy and yielding pitch. Cold wet fingers and padlocks clashed. Colin Mant and Simon Thomas were prominent for these duties as they were before the game. Colin also went on to sweep both changing rooms.
Unfortunately, on this occasion, we could not reciprocate the hospitality that Lads of the Village always extend to us at their place. Our catering arrangements had failed once again. We have a crisis on our hands. Something must be done about it.
As we tallied the Man of the Match votes Jay said he voted for Simon, adding quickly “Harvey that is” (with Simon Thomas sat next to him). We spent some time talking about how much we would like to tour Tongeren again.
Man of the match – a superb Harvey, Simon, not Peter, for a muscular and perceptive performance in midfield which Dad Tony and son Max, and brother Peter, enjoyed enormously I am sure, despite the inclement weather.
Man of the match: Simon Harvey