Sunday 11th October 2020
By Mark Harrington
When the Cat's Away…
Venue: Old Colfeians Sport Ground, Lee, SE12
Team: Mark Harrington, Neil Pearce, Jon Gasson (Capt), Robin Moody, James Rutter, Chris Morris, Si Davies, Matt Kerby, Dean Murphy, Alan Fines, Steve Shippey
Subs: Sean Blackwell, Damien Preston, Joe Champ, Mark Fisher
Supporters: Mr McQueen, deck chair and son Gary, who is injured.
You really don’t want to play around with your defence when it has been so sound but with Gary’s sister visiting he was not available and so a change was enforced. Apparently his sister has a great goal kick and good on crosses so I’d definitely recommend a DNA test but in all seriousness, some serious issues arose. Who was going to provide the half-time Jelly Babies? Thankfully, manager Damo knows not to trust any of us with any responsibility, after all he watches us every week, and he duly provide the half-time sugar rush.
So with Gary away, it usually falls to the tallest person to go in goal but whilst Jon Gasson is usually so good with nets, that is reserved for taking them down and not protecting them so it fell to yours truly to deputise, which I think was on the basis that I have a pair of gloves and a cap for the autumn sun and next in height to Jon, a man we all look up to. In fact, decades ago I did play in a midweek bank league as a keeper. I was renowned for being the best banker between the sticks. Never worked for a bank but I took the compliment regardless.
I’ve always thought that keeping goal in a good team is easy and on occasions it’s a bit like being a Catholic school teacher in that all you have to do is stop a lad from scoring. Clean sheets are achieved through communication, team work and not buggering it up! I thought if I could do all three then the boys will do as the government has asked in shielding a vulnerable old man. It was not a pleasant sight in walking up to what is normally a good pitch to see it was not its usual standard. It looked like all the 4x4 rugby mums had driven straight across it. Old Colfs is mainly an egg chucking venue and it was packed with overflow car parks in operation and Tarquins, Berties and Sebastians all over the place. The look on their faces when the spherical ball came anywhere near them was hilarious. They almost ran for the anti-bacterial and could not understand what the nets in the goal were for. At least Si Davies was on hand to act as translator and speak in their language. I was going to send over our other sort of posh bloke but then I heard he went to Charles Darwin with Chris Morris and thought he just puts on an act, unlike Chris.
Whilst we have generally got results against this opposition we did know they had strengthened and recently triumphed against the Guild Seniors 6-2. We never really seem to play well at this venue despite getting results and the early exchanges today did not suggest anything different. Our passing was not crisp, we were a bit lethargic and generally second best in the tackle; however there was no need to panic and we would shortly find our groove. This was the case and a cross-field ball out of defence by Robin found Chris Morris on the left and with a drop of the shoulder, Chris fired in a left foot cross shot that gave the keeper no chance, no minor here. Not long after our first goal, our hosts nearly drew level on two occasions. Firstly, a corner which nearly caught us out by going straight in but was tipped over and then a breakaway and one-on-one with their winger, I managed to block and win this particular duel. I always fancy myself one-on-one and if only Mrs H would agree. My reasoning is always that the pressure is on the attacker and as they had hardly any pickings today then the pressure mounts to take any chance.
Shortly after this brief spell of host possession, we scored the goal of the game. Nimble passing at the back and the ball was fed to the right where Neil, Deano and Kerbs quick passing fed Sean and he laid a ball back to Si Davies and from 20 yards Simon buried into the centre of the goal with the keeper getting a hand to it. Good reward for Si who again played the half with intelligent passing and also with a sniffle, which he assures us was nothing more than a little chill. He could still smell the skinny lattes the proud rugby mums on the sidelines had purchased and his temperature only raised when he was taken off at half time so no C19 issue.
So we got to the break two up, not being really fluid but deservedly in the lead and in control. The back four limited the chances and the forwards of Shipps, Al and Sean were a match for the defence who were a robust bunch. One particular defender kept shouting “Bomboclaat” which, I can only assume is a local coffee that the rugger mums enjoyed? Who knows but he didn’t manage to get his half-time tipple and we stuck to the good old Jelly Babies. The message was clear, keep a clean sheet and we’ve won the game. Mark Fisher replaced Simon and immediately demonstrated to the opposition that we could fight fire with fire in terms of tackling and a few bone shudders later and they realised they were not going to get that side of the game their own way.
The defence stood firm and really the clean sheet was never really in doubt and through our wing play we could and should have scored more but when we did it was also a well worked goal. Dean’s low cross from the corner found Mark Fisher and whilst timing of tackles is normally his strength, his timing of the strike was equally good and he half volleyed beyond the keeper to make it 0-3. So it was unusual that none of our strikers scored today but there had been opportunities although, this was a strange game in that shots from distance won the contest and each of the strikers had to be content to play a supporting role this time. In fairness, the opposition keeper was very busy and did his job well.
So we did not add to the 0-3 scoreline but it was more important that we did not concede and all played their part in completing this objective. So that is 6 wins on the bounce with only three conceded and over 30 goals scored. A fabulous start to the season and the interest is high in playing so bodes well for the future of the Young Vets. We even had the luxury of providing the seniors with three players and all good clubs should have a system where players can get a game even if it’s not their first choice side.
Mark Fisher was man of the match with seven votes, which only playing a half is a great achievement and a testament to what a good find he has been. four for Kerbs and a vote each for Dean, Jon Gasson and Robin who were all excellent today.
So as long as Boris doesn’t ruin it tomorrow then we will host new visitors to Farrow Fields next week in Mayfair Vets. A new opposition so we will need to be at our best against an unknown quantity.
Good week all.
Man of the match: Mark Fisher