Sunday 7th July 2019
By Patrice Mongelard
Farnborough Old Boys Guild supports Sands
Today’s game was in support of Sands – the UK Stillbirth and Neonatal death charity – organised by Farnborough stalwart Jordan Glen. The club and the Senior Vets were honoured to support this charity and also to say thank you to Jordan for all he does for Sands and for Farnborough.
Fifteen players answered the Farnborough call under the managerial eye of Mick O’Flynn. Sands United had good numbers too, on and off the pitch.
FOBG Squad: Phil Anthony, Rob Faulkner, Mark Friend, Jon Gasson, Sinisa Gracanin, Barry Grainger, Jim Grimley, Jay Hardy, Michael Hills, Gary Mason, Chisa Mkala, Patrice Mongelard, Danny Mullins, Joe Skinner and Simon Thomas.
Referee: Jim St John
Supporters: A decent crowd of around thirty-five people – and at least one enthusiastic dog.
Director of Football: Mick O’Flynn
Chief Football Correspondent: Patrice Mongelard
The overnight rain had freshened the air and tempered the pitch. Although overcast it was a good day for football on a pitch that was in very good condition. The start of the match was preceded by a minute of applause from both teams clustered around the centre circle in remembrance of babies lost.
I spent my time on the subs' bench picking up rubbish around the two dugouts. I was doing such a good job that one of the Sands United players asked if I was part of the ground maintenance team rather than a playing member. He will have changed his mind after my stint in midfield, where I was glad to find my right knee held up, and in the words of one player I rolled back the year (note use of singular).
A neutral watching this game would have predicted only one winner after fifteen minutes, and it would not have been Farnborough. The quality of our opponents’ football took us by surprise and it was only the excellence of Rob Faulkner in our goal that kept us in it. Last time I saw Rob he was injured. I would love to know what he has been on since. We could all do with some of it. He pulled off a string of saves with hands and feet, from close range and distance. There was not much he could do with the Sands opening goal. Their youngest and most dangerous forward, Archie Hobbs-Moore, broke through on the right after twenty minutes or so to lash a low shot past Rob.
Arguably Sands scored the best two goals today although a certain Mr Thomas might beg to differ, more on that later. We drew level ten minutes before half-time after a crowd scene in the Sands box. Their keeper fumbled a free kick from Chisa Mkala and Michael Hills was in the right place at the right time to mop up and turn the ball in.
By the time the first half ended we had begun to test the Sands goal a bit more but their new keeper was proving difficult to beat and the score remained at 1-1. The second half was more challenging for Sands. It was not long after the restart when Joe Skinner tried a speculative shot from distance. The second Sands keeper inexplicably failed to gather the ball and our fox in the box, Jay “Tree Whisperer” Hardy, nipped in to tap the ball in. To their enormous credit Sands fashioned an exquisite equaliser after an incursion into our box, a smart one-two and an even smarter finish by Jim Matthews. Barry Grainger nearly restored our lead with a twenty-yard scorcher that the Sands keeper miraculously got his fingertips to.
We then had the Simon Thomas audition for the role of main striker for the Senior Vets next season. Quick feet, balance, peripheral vision and spatial awareness were allied to provide two identical finishes a yard out, in a net emptied of defenders and keeper, for goals three and five. Goal four was a penalty stroked in imperiously after Danny Mullins had been interfered with in the Sands box. Simon even added the flourish of challenging for a header, a bold move which a surprised Steve Blanchard registered in the crowd. Simon does not usually put his quiff in harm’s way like that. In the midst of all this Mark Friend put a header against the Sands bar and Danny Mullins had a goal disallowed.
In the end it did not really matter. We won with superior fitness and game management but really it was football that won. With such a big number of players to juggle and being a bit out of clipboard practice Mick O’Flynn was not his usual smooth operator with the substitutions. For a short period in the second half we had twelve players on the pitch and no linesman. In recompense for his hat-trick Simon Thomas was tasked with half of changing room sweeping duties. The consummate actor that Simon is could not quite hide the dismay on his face when he appeared with only half a dozen mini sausage rolls left, and asked where all the food was. Leanne’s goodies had been a great hit. I do not do this often, in fact never, but on this rare occasion I offered Simon my tuna and Branston roll. He declined but helped himself to my mini meat pasty when I was getting a round of drinks.
The game was played in excellent spirit. Referee Jim St John – who had no hesitation in accepting the game, got no trouble from any of the players despite his near tantric moments. In fact, Jim had more trouble from a grey-haired shaggy beast (wolfhound?) that sauntered onto the pitch oblivious to the calls of his master for a good minute in the second half.
All match subscriptions, including donations from squad members who did not play, went to Sands – after deduction for the cost of the food – £143 (and no I am not going to explain where the £3 came from – it all went to a good home).
Man of the Match – All the players from both teams. Hypothetically speaking, had we gathered Man of the Match votes today Rob “Monkey Glands” Faulkner might well have edged it over Simon “Twinkle Toes” Thomas.