Sunday 3rd March 2019
By Neil Pearce
Toby Vets ended a run of clean sheets for the Guild with a 1-0 victory at the John Roan Playing Fields.
In a fairly forgettable game, their lad broke the deadlock in the 60th minute, finishing neatly after an annoying run around 22 FOBG defenders all pathetically wiggling their feet in fear of bringing him down inside the box (including yours truly).
FOBG Vets striker Alan Fines – fresh from his winning goal against John Roan Vets last week – missed from the spot late on after Barry Grainger was felled like a Canadian Redwood in the Toby box. Matthew Kerby, fresh from Soft Play, collected the Players’ Man of the Match award.
A number of questions played on the minds of FOBG prior to the start of the game – a case of managing the mindset – how would the “Cat” Matthew Wright take to being replaced by Gary Rosslee? Could ex player/manager Paul Tanton execute the absent Markus Allen’s plan? Had Mrs Shipps recovered from the Norovirus (~hangover) and would I have to write this damn report if Mark still had bubonic plague? With all this playing on the minds of the away team, and conditions being moist, it looked like a dirty encounter would ensue with the post-game showers set to be awash with liquid mud.
With both teams changed and occupying the pitch FOBG had a change to the normal warm-up routine – opting this week for a meander, half-arsed stretch followed by blasting the ball at their No.1 – a change then from last week that saw a focus on blasting the ball, meander then half-arsed stretch. A post mortem suggests this change may have contributed to the loss although Jon Gasson focused solely on the blasting as per his pre-match ritual.
Both sides looked to start with solid looking elevens - a good mix of overweight, obese and morbidly obese could be witnessed glancing across the pitch along with the obligatory thin blokes that probably eat and drink like b@stards but never put on any weight – mentioning no names.
The silver haired fox Damien Preston started on the left. Kick-off pending saw some mind games from one of the Toby forwards – cries of “We’ve all got work in the morning” suggested this was to be a clean and well contested affair played in good spirits - ironic then that he would be one of a select few Toby Vets that decided the morning should be spent cleaning their studs with FOBG calves and offering free facial alterations via clenched fists.
With whistle blown, a slow start by both teams saw the FOBG back four contesting with windy conditions and struggling to get the ball to feet for their midfield and front men. Some early activity for the returning Gary Rosslee found him on the bobby and distributing his balls out nicely as those who know him personally have come to expect. Unlike the previous week the Guild were struggling to get it down and play. Toby were having the rub of it (literally down our calves) with a number of attacks although none amounting to anything significant on goal.
Whilst the waves were definitely coming from the home team on to the away side the back four, whilst playing a little deep, were coping. Centre-halves Jon Gasson © and Neil Pearce were dealing with two units up front – one with some suggestion of skill, the other no idea. With Pearce quickly moving to mark the useless one it would be Gasson to commence a fiercely contested 90 minutes with his man. With a young and fairly skilful midfielder on the Toby team starting to pull some strings – giving the guild a headache - it fell to Si Davies to deliver some well-timed tackles and much needed tracking back, working hard to break down the play alongside Matthew Kerby in the middle of the park.
As with last week the home side were favouring their left side, working the channel and a number of overlaps that saw both Frank Pearce and Neil Pearce working hard to stay in-line and hold them off. An introduction at this early stage of the game then for what would become a growing trend. With the ball rolling off the pitch and no sign of keeping it in play, queue the Toby hoodie and a blatantly late shoulder to the back of Frank Pearce. Early indications suggested Frank was about to write him a strongly worded letter, but to the credit of the veteran full back he chose instead to breathe, smile and give it the benefit of the doubt. A shame then that less than 5 minutes later Gasson would win a header and a fall to the floor that would be accompanied by a suspected stamp from their striker – Gasson also choosing to put the feather and ink away on this occasion.
A hammy injury saw Preston’s work done for the day, being replaced by the returning king of the burrito, Justin “knackered ankle” Blundell. Straight in to the thick of it like a korma sauce over rice, Blundell would be the drive behind a conscious effort between him and Kerby to get the ball down and play. The occasional switch saw the Guild’s left having some defending action with the ever consistent Matthew Wright, fresh from goalie bootcamp, dealing with most things coming his way.
Frustration from the experienced full back was clear to see. A few “come on fellas” followed by “why are we going long all the time” saw a man motivated to win highlighting what we were all thinking. Momentum for all was for some reason proving elusive in comparison to last week’s play.
A fairly inconspicuous 45’ for the Guild back four – nothing a major bother other than the attempted motivational garbo being shouted in their ears from the Toby centre forwards – both clearly well-educated chaps and borderline wordsmiths with a real command of the Queen’s vocabulary - “Come on” followed by “For f@@@s sake”, “That’s B@llsh@t Geoff”, “F@@king play yeah innit”, “Why though bruv” and his favourite call being that of “F@@k off” screamed at full volume, seemingly said in self-deprecation at his wayward passing – lyrical mastery comparable only to that of the late, great Keith Flint and his enjoyment of starting fires – RIP my son.
There would be one event of notoriety before half-time. A free kick on the Guild’s 20yrd would see Toby waste the chance to smash a ball straight in to cupped heart of four nervous looking FOBG players. A lack of communication saw Toby play it backwards before smashing it off the side of the pitch for a throw-in. An interesting strategy then, probably not worth studying, instead placing in the “What the f@ck was that” category of room 101.
Half-time then and the return of the jelly babies. A clear lack of width and service to both our wingers and front men was the talk of the stoppage, with the agreement to work the channels more. Second half would see Barry Grainger come on for Fines, Joe Champ come on for Neil Pearce with Wright shifting in to the middle of defence with Champ on the left. The exiting Pearce would do the linesman’s duties and once again demonstrate flag command that could yet land him a job bringing in Harrier Jump Jets on an aircraft carrier.
On 60 minutes Tanton and Frank Pearce would swap again with Fines and Neil Pearce coming back on. Second half would see better possession and hold up play. Dean Murphy on the right was starting to get service from Kerby and Blundell, whipping in crosses that proved so effective last week. Barry Grainger would bring a much needed “ball down” mentality and some nice orchestration and one-twos, giving rise to a period of control from the Guild without any major goal scoring opportunities.
Cue another blatant attempt to break the momentum. A late tap of Grainger’s heel for no other reason than to slow and provoke. Early concerns then for Grainger given his body is a strong as balsa wood, 85% coffee and he has a membership card to the PRU H. Rising slowly he would endure but the provocation count was rising.
A goal on 70 minutes for Toby would be the beginning of what was to be a miserable Sunday morning for the Guild. Some back and forth play from the home side shifted the Guild around. A quick shift from left akin to England moving Australia in the 2003 Rugby World Cup saw their best player collect the ball on the edge of the box. With quick feet he danced round everyone in his way like a professional from Strictly before slotting home calmly. Candidly a clever finish from a player that drove up the sales of migraine tablets across Farnborough come Sunday afternoon.
What followed was an unnecessary demise of the game. Having kept the match under control through luck more than judgement, the lacklustre and seemingly hopeful words from the referee inevitably failed. A stupidly late jump at Joe Champ by their striker resulted in some lip service to the referee followed by delivery of another body bag and dead leg for Murphy some 5 minutes later. A cheating hoodie continued to provoke, covering the keeper’s kicks, kicking balls away before finally being on the end of some treatment himself as Fines administered his WWE finishing body check, placing the annoying hoodie firmly on the ground. Comically, and as testament to the refereeing mentality, Fines went unpunished, cementing the now understood rules of engagement – like scenes from Anchorman, they were here to fight and we were getting bullied.
Further gesticulation almost went ignored as the Guild managed to put a move together and open Toby up. Barry Grainer, taking the ball in close, moved round the oncoming Toby keeper getting chopped to the ground. A clear penalty – or was it? Referee, in conversation with Frank Pearce had missed everything. Corner, goal kick, players debating, their linesman checking if he’d taken his tablets today and called in with his location…carnage. And so after hours of debate, it fell to the referee’s son-in-law (a mere onlooker) to bring some honesty to a degenerating game. Penalty awarded…penalty missed although I have no idea how as this reporter never watches penalties.
Assuming a well-placed Rabona was brilliantly saved it would remain 1-0. A final 5 minutes of pain, the highlight of which being one final threat. A shirt grab and the offer of a clean bunch of fives from one of the Toby defenders to our left back. Champ had chased down a ball to the corner and attempted the old slide round the flagpole trick to hook it back in play. This obviously is an offence in Kidbrooke and was to be disciplined under Toby rules.
Final whistle finally blown and not a minute too soon with Grainger and Pearce arguing with the left back, and local scaffolder, before Preston getting involved only to be offered a present - Christ knows what that was but a voucher for some anger management evening classes at Adult Education might land well for Toby come Christmas.
1-0 to Toby then, and an unfortunately marred game in which Kerby shone without any reward for his effort picking up the majority of votes. A post-mortem now in-progress and proposals to bin this fixture going forward. Candidly, unlikely as a Vets team is nearly always different at next sight, but previous with Toby suggests it’s always on the cards – very few obligatory “cheers mate” this week – a case of engines on and away.
As ever the players were appreciative of their stand in player/manager and fixture king Paul Tanton. No word on Mrs Shipps, concern really growing there. On a positive, Kerby proved Soft Play doesn’t always end careers and news on the recovery of last season’s boss Mark Harrington was “progressive” – speedy recovery to Mark and an enquiring phone call to Mrs Shipps I think.
What’s next? No game this week – good chance to work on fitness…or get totally mortal this weekend. In the immortal words of Matthew Wright…Cheers fellas.
Line up: Rosslee, F. Pearce (N. Pearce 60), N. Pearce (Champ 45), Gasson ©, Wright, Murphy, Kerby, Davies, Preston (Blundell 35), Fines (Grainger 45), Tanton (Fines 58)
Substitutes Davies, Grainger, Champ.
Man of the match: Matt Kerby