Sunday 24th November 2019
By Patrice Mongelard
Old Tamponians brush aside anaemic Farnborough
To think I gave up a visit to Pizza Express in Woking to watch this game. A week is a long time in football. This time last week we had special ones as our new managers, the team was at ease with itself, our football brand was vibrant. Today was a shocking experience. On paper we had such a strong squad. That might have been part of the problem. Old Tamponians looked old, and commented enviously about our young players. In the end, however, vast experience, a settled system, team unity, a no-nonsense approach and a bit of luck won the day. It is not unusual for reports of games between our two sides to talk of Old Tamps soaking up Farnborough pressure but that would not be fair or accurate today. We created pressure, certainly, but for ourselves and we are the ones who did not cope too well.
FOBG Squad: Matt Angelo, Phil Anthony, Ian Coles, Sinisa Gracanin, Jay Hardy, Simon Harvey, Waine Hetherington, Michael Hills, Louis Hussey, Colin Mant, Chisa Mkala, Danny Mullins, Joe Skinner, Simon Thomas, Gordon Thompson.
Supporters: Steve Blanchard and granddaughter Georgina Stanford (favourite food: marshmallows), Steve and Sarah Hills, Patrice Mongelard, Mick O’Flynn, Claire Skinner.
Director of Football: Mick O’Flynn.
Chief Football Correspondent: Patrice Mongelard.
We were directed to the “Quaggy” for our game, the pitch furthest from the clubhouse. I discovered that the origin of the name was not quagmire but the River Quaggy, a 17km long river passing through the south-east London boroughs of Bromley, Greenwich and Lewisham. In its upper reaches, furthest from London, it is known as the Kyd Brook. Whenever we play on the Quaggy we wonder who will be the first player to put the ball over the fence into the traffic on the A2213 (Kidbrooke Park Road). We won that contest.
I think we were complacent. The first opening quarter of an hour was too encouraging for us and we must have thought we would walk the ball into the net. The first incursion of note came after five minutes when Danny Mullins and Chisa Mkala bustled their way into the box with the ball falling to Simon Thomas fifteen yards out, inviting a right foot curler into the top corner. Instead Simon produced neither shot nor cross and the ball eluded a lunging Chisa Mkala by inches at the far post. Ten minutes later Gordon Thompson crowned a mazy run on the edge of the box with a shot that was agonisingly wide.
The biggest smile on Farnborough faces in the first half was when I fell over on the slippery embankment by the pitch. This was not ideal for my injured knee. A caring Jay Hardy washed my hands and got me a towel (just like in a care home he muttered) and offered to get me a Zimmer frame for our next game.
We chose to ignore the warning signs. Old Tamps forward Roy found himself in splendid isolation two yards out to meet a cross which he put over. Set pieces were always likely to prove a potent weapon for Old Tamps and on the half-hour we went limp again in the centre of our defence and the ball was in our net despite Matt Angelo getting a hand to it. As the first half ticked away we kept missing chances. Simon Thomas quiffed a cross from Danny Mullins over the bar. Then Danny Mullins, himself a yard out from a tight angle, lashed the ball onto the A2213. That summed up our first half. Old Tamps had had a fraction of the chances we had yet had the lead.
The second period was to prove even more frustrating for us. Ten minutes in Danny Mullins put a first time cross from Waine Hetherington over from about the same position as Roy had earlier – except that Mullins is much taller and younger. A pattern set in quite early – we began to go long. The individual became more important than the collective. Connectivity was lost. Our short game had vanished as the midfield was by-passed. Individual athletes like Danny Mullins and Michael Hills were trying to do too much. Surely it is not right that a centre half should have more shots on goal than any other player and yet that is what Michael Hills did.
Midway through the second half we fell further behind as Chisa Mkala diverted a ball past Matt Angelo. Quite what Chisa was doing in our six-yard box was not clear but by then we had lost shape, method, discipline. We now had a mountain to climb. Ten minutes later it became Everest as Old Tamps carved out a third – Matt Angelo had done well to save the initial shot but although we had the numbers – three to one – we could not retrieve the situation and the same forward bundled the ball through several pairs of outstretched limbs. The last quarter of an hour was not a great watch to be honest. Old Tamps sat back, compact, organised and in numbers, waiting for a quick break, and we kept putting shots wide or finding the keeper.
Frustration grew of course and normally placid players like Sinisa Gracanin began to lose their cool as Old Tamps defended what they had fiercely and disrupted our play and ran the clock down. The referee made several interventions to speak to players from both sides. The atmosphere got more niggly than many of us could remember in this fixture. Both teams played in red today, Old Tamponians in a darker red than ours but I did think there would be a few passes going astray, well more than usual. The referee – an ex Old Tamps player did his best to steer a neutral course but at times it was not easy, and right at the end had to send off one of his own as physicality outweighed skill.
I am glad I did not have to sit in the Farnborough dressing room. It cannot have been a barrel of laughs.
After he left, Chisa’s own goal was described in the bar as a lovely deft touch, instinctive, his best finish of the game which wrong-footed the keeper. It certainly was a decisive moment in the game. But to be honest there were many decisive moments in the game, many before then, and Old Tamponians got the rub of more of them. Jay Hardy went over to watch the girls' football match on the pitch opposite the bar, and claimed he had seen a great finish. I think he meant the football. Jay “I go past a lot of old people on the motorway” Hardy had trouble getting past old people on the pitch today. To be fair he was not the only one.
Colin Mant used his influence to get us into the Executive Lounge. The initial tray of roast potatoes and cocktail sausages was followed by a bigger tray of samosas, onion bhajis, pakoras and chicken nuggets, topped off by slices of pizza (and luckily half the team had left by then). We enjoyed this so much that we did not mind Old Tamps player Roy coming over to talk us through the headed goal he did not score. We’d still be hearing about it if he had scored.
Man of the Match – our first petulant instinct had been not to record any man of the match votes today, presumably after such a poor performance. But the show must go on. After votes were counted, including the two protest votes for the old Management Team of O’Flynn and Mongelard, Gordon Thompson emerged from the wreckage.
Man of the match: Gordon Thompson