Sunday 20th September 2020
By Mark Harrington
Capacity crowd smells success…
Opposition: Chelsham Vets nee Farleigh
Manager: Damien Preston
Team: Gary Rosslee, Neil Pearce, Jon Gasson (Capt), Robin Moody, Joe Champ, Dean Murphy, Paul Tanton, Matt Kerby, Mark Fisher, Sean Blackwell, Alan Fines.
Subs: Mark Harrington, Si Davies, Dean Wyatt, Matti Wright.
Ref: Paul Parsons.
Supporters: Marcus Allen, The Redmans, Jay Gasson and Pug, Jr and Snr McQueens, the rest of South East London.
On arrival we were greeted at the gate by Paul Parsons who on this occasion only took registration details not names, which as it turned out to be one of the features of our game. More on that later as after a second check by the clipboard holding Jordan Glen we were directed to our own parking space. I thought this is how the real pro’s feel although, once I realised the bloke who sells the sea food getting the same treatment I didn’t feel any different to the old winkle seller, no not Gary Rosslee! Have to say the organisation on a day when this YouTube lot were descending on the Guild was excellent and perfectly in line with government guidelines.
It was a special occasion and just in case the cameras caught us warming up, Alan Fines generously sponsored three new warm-up balls although, courtesy of Alan’s warm-up technique, that is now two! I don’t think the camera lens was good enough to catch such distances and height so your modesty is safe Al. Thankfully you got the bad ones out of the way in the warm-up. Talking of warm, it was really a day for cricket rather than footy and the heat made use of all the subs, Neil Pearce the smartest with applying sun cream although his face was a bit red so perhaps he mistook the Ralgex for the factor 50 or he was just blowing out of his rear end? Who knows but another good performance from the Guild's very own Philip Schofield ‘doppelganger’ at right back this time out.
The dog-walking crowd, who I’m sure just happened to just be passing in their SE Dons shirts without a pooch in sight, were treated to a real feast of goals when using the public footpath between the pitches. Well they would have been if they turned around as they all had their backs to us, Man City supporters style, watching SE Dons doing battle with the Sunday Firsts. Anyway, the true Young Vets hardcore fanatics were ‘high’ on the emotion of the game. The memory of being done by a last kick of the game goal in the away fixture last year was still raw and we knew we had a hard task in front of us. The pitch looked good, the weather amazing and a strong 15 on duty. Again we had to ask five players to stand down and this was a first run out for Matti Wright and yours truly. I can tell you at 50, against good opposition you do not need that sun!
I’ve previously mentioned new boy Mark Fisher's tackling prowess but this time it was his shooting/speculative shot that helped us take the lead. The early exchanges had been very even and both sides were well matched but Mark’s shot should have been held but Jon Gasson’s decision to turn ends after wining the toss was a master stroke as former Guild player Al, in goal for our visitors, looked up at the bright morning sun and could only parry the shot into the path of Alan Fines and from no more than 3 yards out was presented with a simple tap-in and as usual, made no mistake. Where was Tant at this distance? It remained a tough contest all throughout the game but our job was made easier when the excellent Matt Kerby unleashed a daisy cutter from midfield that crept inside the bottom left hand post. Our tails were up and we began to take control and we could have extended our lead before Alan notched his second of the match and our third with a cool finish from a Matt Kerby pass.
With 30 mins gone it was the usual changes with Robin being replaced by yours truly, Matti Wright for Tant, Si Davies for Alan and Dean Wyatt for Mark Fisher. Very much like for like…well almost. The look on Joe’s face at being pushed forward to left wing was a picture and I can only guess he was being punished for some off field behaviour by Manager Damo. Perhaps he didn’t get Damo a beer last week but we’ll never know. Anyway, Matti looked like he had never been away and gave his best performance in 6 months. Joe hugged the white lines (don’t do it) almost as much as the crowd and Dean Murphy did the same on the other flank with another brilliant wing play performance. Dean is not a typical winger but he is making this position his own with now three outstanding performances.
Whilst 3-0 at half-time was harsh on our visitors, us being in the lead was definitely no fluke, even if the opposition keeper had inadvertently helped our cause and this was the half-time chat. We were on a high, a roll and could smell victory. Well certainly smell something, I think the farmers were fertilising their nearby fields or something like that! We had sensed their game plan was to pass long and try to release their nippy forward line. Robin, Jon Gasson, Neil and Joe were equal to almost every attack and Gary had not fallen for the sun trick and came prepared with baseball cap as the sun was really strong at this point. One long pass gave Chelsham what turned out to be their consolation goal. A long punt forward and from 25 yards the ball was lobbed forward and right into the top bin. There was nothing we could have done as it was just as speculative as our first goal but the ball sailed over Gary’s reach and into the top corner. A good goal but if their midfielder meant it then fair play! Nothing Gary could have done as it was one of those that had the perfect trajectory and the player took it early on the bounce.
We had been a bit quiet all match but perhaps the aroma had dulled even the loudest of voices or we were letting the football do the talking, who knows? Tant came back on for the hard working Dean Murphy which meant Matt Kerby could go back to midfield with Si Davies making us revert to 4-5-1 but it was this duo that notched the last and best goal of the game. Matt played a hard low cross and Si exquisitely back-heeled into the corner for an excellent goal that Si fully deserved as he had only just narrowly missed by smashing one into the side netting. Gary kept the goal intact with a couple of saves, one with his face as the hard ground and new ball reared up like some sort of googly. No one wants a googly in the face, not even Gary but it was a happy ending as it went for a corner, which was cleared and that was the final action of a good contest.
Matt Kerby starred and deservedly won the MOM vote with 11, Jon Gasson with 3 and votes for Dean Murphy and Sean. The watching Vets ex-manager and Kerbs colleague; Marcus Allen commented on his ex player. “Good player and should be mobile with his women’s legs and birds ankles”. All those football coaching badges and that’s the summary of a good performance. A hard man to please! Current manager Damo was delighted with the unbeaten start and also commented on Al scoring two and not getting a vote. A tough crowd this lot and by comparison Harry Kane had just taken the MOM after scoring only one and Son scored 4. Damo referenced this and said “Al is our Son”. A very touching fatherly comment.
So more momentum building and this was a good win against a good side who never let their heads drop. These are no dopes and after a bit of rehab we will face a tough away fixture although I’m certain their pitch will be fully fertilised before our arrival and the tempo will not be as ‘high’. Our apologies to our oppo as we could not provide them with food or the bar but that’s the guidelines, which will hopefully not ruin the rest of the season, as I write this we await the government's response to the scientific advice. Let’s keep our fingers crossed!
A word on our referee. Paul ‘Play on’ Parsons had an excellent game both in the car park and on the pitch. I cannot remember a single decision being challenged and we hardly noticed the ref being there he was that good. A standard of referreeing we do not usually see in the vets when we are away.
Thanks to the bar staff especially Chairman Danny who was moonlighting to supply us and also Gary Willison, for helping with the nets etc…one particular moment caught the eye. Gary pulling the nets bin with a high-vis jacket on and our own Gary Rosslee saying “it’s not Monday you are a bit early, I have not put out the recycling”. Gary looked every inch the Guild's very own Eddie Yates.
So another tough fixture next week at home to Charlton Rangers. Some classics in the past and so we will need to be on our game. 22 have already declared their availability for this weekend so the inevitable cull awaits. Apologies for those having to sit out.
A safe week all.
Man of the match: Matt Kerby