Sunday 17th March 2019
By Patrice Mongelard
Farnborough taught a lesson by Glendale but will we ever learn?
I drove past the Farnborough ground for this game, on my way to Norman Park near Bromley, where, for £65 out of match subs, we could be sure of a game despite the heavy rains all week. Our opponents, Glendale Vets who, like us, think a game is better than no game, joined us there despite it meaning that we could not offer bar facilities, or food after the game. It looked like summer when we got to the ground, with two more seasons to be experienced during the game.
Our numbers dwindled to twelve overnight. We even managed to get a replacement goalkeeper though he is a familiar presence. One absentee, Sinisa Gracanin, had been expected to play but my text at 8:53 am brought the news that he had just arrived in Kuala Lumpur (cue Mick O’Flynn to remark that it was a bit early for a visit to a curry house even on St Patrick’s Day). Early arrivals Matt Angelo, Waine Hetherington, Patrice Mongelard and Simon Thomas put up the nets and staked the corner flags once Meryl Clarke had opened up. Late arrivals were Jay Hardy and Colin Mant who had gone to the wrong entrance to the park (probably not the first time for either of them, noted a resident of Bodiam, who was not blameless in the matter). This said, the referee was last to arrive having encountered heavy traffic in the Tunbridge Wells area. In a sense though we all lost our way today, more on that later.
Colin Mant, Michael Hills, Patrice Mongelard;
Peter Harvey, Simon Harvey, Waine Hetherington, Simon Thomas, Obi Ugwumba;
Jay Hardy, Kypros Michael.
Substitute: Gordon Thompson.
Referee: Paul “Play on” Parsons.
Linesman: Michael Ugwumba Jr.
Supporters: Michael Ugwumba (Jr), Tony Harvey, Mick O.Flynn.
Fleeting supporters (jogging by):Sophie Bailey, Ellie Tull, Isabelle Mongelard on a 17.13K run.
Chief Football Correspondent: Patrice Mongelard.
Director of Football: Mick O’Flynn.
I have been pondering how much of the football to convey in this report. What comes to mind is either insufficient or unpalatable. We made a marginally better start, carving out the initial chances but our finishing whether from distance or from close range, or our final ball, was always found wanting. The Glendale keeper was no mug. Glendale defended in numbers and relied on quick breaks by nimble forwards to trouble us. It was against the run of play when they scored after a quarter of an hour, and we were the architect of their goal. Colin Mant had played the ball back to Matt Angelo with ample time and space to hoof it upfield. This is what we thought, but Matt had other ideas. He likes to do his own thing. He tarried, overcome by the delusion that he was Brazilian, and tried to dribble his way out. You guessed it – he was robbed and there was not much we could do to stop Glendale walking the ball into the net. The second Glendale goal, a little over five minutes later, was more Farnborough seppuku. Michael Hills brought down the nippiest Glendale forward possessor of a wand of a left foot, unnecessarily in the box and the spot kick was converted with conviction. Gordon Thompson came on almost immediately to give us more attacking impetus with Obi Ugwumba making way as we rearranged the deck chairs on the Titanic by pushing Peter Harvey up front and dropping Jay Hardy a tad deeper.
In the midst of two hailstorms in the half, Kypros Michael and Simon Thomas had, and wasted, half decent opportunities in the Glendale box that added to our frustration. Waine Hetherington lashed a shot against the bar. Jay Hardy caught the eye (and nearly his marker’s eye too) with an overhead kick that was probably unwise in a crowded penalty area. The half-time team talk was not enjoyable. Waine Hetherington departed the scene and Obi Ugwumba was back on. We were down to the bare eleven and as we found out later any injuries would be a problem.
The first five minutes of the second half were a nadir for us. If Glendale had scored two or three times in that brief passage of time we could not have complained. Slowly though we began to take the play into the Glendale box. We forced a few corners – there were two episodes of pinball in their box, with Jay Hardy prominent where even Glendale players were asking “how did that not go in”. Midway through the half we fell behind further with gaps appearing or created in our defence which nippy Glendale forwards exploited, almost passing the ball into our net. Things were getting tetchy, and as often happens the perception was created that even the referee was on Glendale’s side (all untrue of course). Paul Parsons had to have words with a few Farnborough players. Simon Thomas was one of those, having felt the great injustice of being pulled up for a foul throw. Soon he pulled up altogether and could not continue having damaged his ankle (no – not a fractured quiff as some intimated). Down to ten men, 3-0 behind and not getting much change out of the Glendale defence things were looking bleak. Then one of the Glendale players, Paul, appeared in our midst on our right flank with a Farnborough shirt. Suddenly we were transformed, energised by Simon Thomas’ exit. We finished the game seemingly the better team. Jay Hardy provided a through ball for Peter Harvey to beat two defenders and the goalkeeper before rolling the ball into an empty net. We could even had narrowed the deficit further in the dying minutes but it would have been a travesty if we had snatched a draw out of the jaws of abject defeat. It was good to see different players involved in taking the nets down, including Gordon Thompson and the two Harveys one of whom knows a thing or two about ladders. The showers were better than I remembered.
The better team won today – period. Glendale played with a sense of purpose, organisation, composure, pride and solidarity that we could not match. They were compact where we were loose, had a big Farnborough helping hand with their first two goals, but you need more than luck to do the double over us this season. I cannot recall a single argument or cross word exchanged with each other between the Glendale players. The manner of our performance was, to me at least, deeply troubling. There was a torpor and lethargy about our game that was worrying and we could not blame the pitch for that, or older legs. More worrying, I think, was the poison of internal discord that ran through our performance. Michael Hills wanted to see Simon Thomas after the game – occasionally you say that to an opponent (but very rarely to a team mate though I must admit I have been tempted). I cannot help worry what will become of this lot after I am gone.
This game was a test of character and temperament for us. We did not do well at all on both counts. We also failed to show the referee the courtesy that he deserves. I defy anyone to argue this was an enjoyable way of spending a Sunday morning. It is perhaps a blessing a disguise that we could not have the usual post-mortem after the game as we all scattered fairly quickly and made our separate ways home, or to work or to another football match. I had not envisaged my 600th game for Farnborough Vets passing off like this (after my debut in November 1996 shortly after my 39th birthday) but it did. I was home early to Mrs M’s surprise and quickly rustled up a chorizo and closed cup chestnut mushroom fried rice to accompany an ice-cold San Miguel to cheer myself up whilst I waited for three more Liverpool points at Fulham.
Man of the match – votes had to be dragged out of the players today like impacted wisdom teeth. Some wanted to vote for the Glendale player, Paul, who sportingly came on for us when we were down to ten players. Peter Harvey with his goal, keeping the score respectable, and Gordon Thompson with his football intelligence and diligence - shared the award.
Man of the match: Peter Harvey and Gordon Thompson