Sunday 3rd November 2019
By Patrice Mongelard
Never mind the result, the performance was great
The Vets football grapevine had already warned us that today’s opponents would be unrecognisable from the team we beat 9-3 at their place in April. The manner of today’s defeat too will linger long in the memory. There were probably no more than two or three Sanatogen players from that match – the rest really stretched the definition of Senior Vets (more Farley’s rusks than Sanatogen tonic quipped Colin Mant). We heard at least one player was on Barnsley’s books very recently. One of them was built like he played rugby in the World Cup final in Japan yesterday. With three defenders over the age of sixty in our ranks we had cause to be apprehensive.
After the recent deluge which had caused the cancellation of all matches at Farnborough yesterday it was a relief to be able to play today, in conditions that were relatively good, even if the pitch was a little too moist. Another consequence of yesterday’s rain was that we got to eat food that had been destined for our First XI match yesterday. How the other half eats.
On a day when we could have done with sixteen players, we could muster only thirteen. Plus, we were short of defenders. I was myself looking forward to writing a match report entirely from the perspective of a spectator (even though some of my team mates would argue all my match reports are cast in that way).
FOBG Squad: Jordan Glen, Phil Anthony, Colin Brazier, Sinisa Gracanin, Jay Hardy, Waine Hetherington, Louis Hussey, Colin Mant, Kypros Michael, Mick O’Flynn, Joe Skinner, Simon Thomas and Gordon Thompson.
Referee: Paul “Play on” Parsons
Supporters: Gary Newnham, Patrice Mongelard, Miss Claire Skinner, Gary “moist” Willison
Director of Football: Mick O’Flynn
Chief Football Correspondent: Patrice Mongelard
The game was twelve minutes old before the Sanatogen keeper touched the ball. By then Jordan Glen in our goal had already made two or tree excellent saves. Sanatogen must have felt they could walk the ball into our net. They strolled about with one-twos, flicks and feints without finding the finish which their dominant display foreshadowed. They even caused Waine Hetherington to discard his gloves after ten minutes. Jay Hardy nearly surprised them by breaking through to put the ball against the bar, against the run of play. On the quarter hour the inevitable happened despite an excellent save from Jordan Glen who could only parry the shot into the path of another forward arriving in languid and splendid isolation to tap the ball into an empty net.
What followed was a sort of triumph of experience over innocence as we rallied, steadied our shape and had the temerity to take the lead. First Jay Hardy lashed an acrobatic left foot volley (following a lay off from Gordon Thompson) against the post but was quickest to rise to meet the rebound and steer the ball home from close range despite the attentions of keeper and defender. Ten minutes later we had another gem of a goal. This time Simon Thomas cushioned a ball back to the edge of the box for Gordon Thompson to produce a sumptuous 20-yard half volley to nose us ahead against all odds. The crisp clean strike left the Sanatogen keeper grasping thin air.
The half-time talk was very positive, and rightly so. We had given an excellent account of ourselves. Throats were a little parched, however, from the absence of our water bottles – three weeks now in the possession of Steve Blanchard, and no one seemingly bothered to do something about it. And they say football is about details.
The second half was barely two minutes old when we deployed what was to become our weapon of choice for the rest of the game – a long punt forward from the boot of Jordan Glen. Kypros Michael got to the ball ahead of the Sanatogen defence but could only divert the ball against the post. We’ll never know what might have happened if the ball had gone in. Ten minutes later we were 3-2 down. For the Sanatogen equaliser we were too slow to close the ball down on the edge of the area and a well-struck shot left Jordan Glen powerless for once. They regained the lead courtesy of a penalty awarded by Paul Parsons. We have honest referees at Farnborough and none of us argued with the decision. It was 4-2 with a quarter of an hour left after intricate and unchallenged Sanatogen passing in our box.
With only two substitutes and several players carrying knocks it was difficult to keep pace with the changes. We were not out of it – there were at least three occasions when Kypros Michael got behind the Sanatogen defence following a route one punt from Jordan Glen. However, a somnolent Kypros could not find the final shot or the pass across the box to an always willing and available Simon Thomas. Another time Kypros got through, was about to pull the trigger but then was interfered with from behind, with the ball running on to Gordon Thompson (advantage played by the referee) whose instant shot was acrobatically saved by the Sanatogen keeper (best save of the game probably). Minutes later, another swift break against tired and sore Farnborough legs resulted in a fifth goal being walked in by Sanatogen. They went on to crash the ball against our bar in the dying minutes.
The last goal of the match was ours, however. Kypros “lino” Michael had been on the ground a lot in the half but he stayed on his feet despite the muscular attentions of the Sanatogen prop forward – and pulled the ball back for Waine Hetherington to poke home from close range. Referee Paul Parsons heard long, loud and unseemly protestations from Sanatogen about the ball going out as the bout of Greco-Roman wrestling was being enacted - but the goal stood. We deserved at least one goal from our second half showing.
The mood in the bar was good. The First XI sandwiches were great. Fillings for extra rolls arrived courtesy of Sara and Steve Viner. An ex-Farnborough player from the 70s dropped by and put on a French accent. We even had a Frank Spencer moment as Steve Viner, Ian Couchman and, yes in a supervisory role, Colin Brazier, attempted to assemble some bar furniture. Fortunately, a young lady – Miss Saines, I think, was reading the instructions.
Our opponents certainly had a lot of skill and athleticism on show - but their style left something to be desired. If you are that good, and playing against genuine Senior Vets, do you really need to argue so much with officials and challenge decisions constantly. A bit of advice - that sort of thing creates a bit of an atmosphere and before you know it nobody wants to play you.
Next week – it is Remembrance Sunday, with an 11:05 kick off for our home game against Wellcome Vets. Hoping for a firm pitch instead of the Somme. We’ll be missing a few casualties from today and the rest of the squad will have to rally round. Sini Gracanin is off to Bangkok – Mick O’Flynn is hoping he does not come back as Sindy.
Man of the Match – Jay Hardy, little man, ginger terrier, marzipan monster, but such a big heart and a huge presence on and off the pitch.
Man of the match: Jay Hardy