Sunday 9th May 2021
Twenty-goal a season Kypros on fire, as Senior Vets win, at last
This week’s report is understandably a more pleasant task but I must start with a grievance about last week’s reportage. A complaint was lodged that the writer had utterly failed to give salience to a “superb shot” by Joe Skinner which the keeper tipped over the bar. Not a mention, to great consternation in the Skinner household. What can I say? In the absence of replay images, I cannot do justice to every manifestation of football genius. Omission is not a sign of malice, more a sign of age. But there was a memorable shot by Joe Skinner in today’s game, more on that later.
There was a very big crowd at Farrow Fields today, home of Farnborough Old Boys Guild. A team with a big following was playing, and then there were the Senior Vets. The crowd, and Farnborough Old Boys Guild Official Photographer Colin Brazier, facing the other pitch should have had eyes for our game – a copious 8-2 win surely is a better spectacle than a paltry 1-1 draw.
FOBG Squad: Matt Angelo, Phil Anthony, Steve Blanchard, Giles Foster, Sinisa Gracanin, Jay Hardy, Waine Hetherington, Michael Hills, Luke Johnson, Colin Mant, Kypros Michael, Patrice Mongelard, Andy Osborne, Joe Skinner, Simon Thomas, Gordon Thompson.
Kit sponsor: The Dog and Duck, Outwood.
Referee: Paul “Play On” Parsons.
Supporters (socially-distanced and on the public footpath): Peter Harvey, Ian Lyons, Claire and Tracey Mills-Skinner, Lorna Stewart.
Director of Football: Mick O’Flynn.
Chief Football Correspondent: Patrice Mongelard.
Chief Impact Officer: Phil Anthony.
On a bright sunny day with a light breeze, we mustered 16 players, with the most anticipated return of Jay Hardy and Gordon Thompson. Luke Johnson had added his silky muscular presence and smooth head to our squad. After the usual game of yellow kit roulette (still some missing) we occupied our top pitch while the big game was being played on our big pitch.
The highlight of the warm-up was a stunning volley by Jay Hardy into the back of the net from a cross by Gordon Thompson. I was hoping none of the opposition had seen this manifestation of football genius. We did not have to wait long to see another – two minutes into the game when Kypros Michael latched on to a headed ball from Joe Skinner to lob the Ashburnham keeper, unwisely lured off his line, to give us a blistering start. Within a few minutes, however, Ashburnham had equalised with a scuffed shot that bobbled, stopped, started again, spun this way and that way, making Matt Angelo’s attempted intervention as he went down in instalments completely useless.
The next ten minutes or so were quite even as Ashburnham fought back but we edged ahead after our big man up front, Andy Osborne, held the ball and laid it off to Simon Thomas flying down the wing, to glide towards goal before finishing with aplomb. Soon after, Ashburnham unwisely conceded a free kick on the edge of their box. Andy Osborne tapped the ball back to Kypros Michael and the cultured left foot powered a crisp shot into the bottom corner, losing a fraction of its impetus as it brushed against a defending limb.
Before the half-hour was up, we had the fifth goal of the game as the big Ashburnham central defender got his head to a free kick to leave Matt Angelo grasping thin air. There was to be another goal before half-time as Luke Johnson got his head to a Farnborough corner to power the ball across the box for Jay Hardy to drive home. The half-time talk was easier this week. Some of the players attributed my relative silence to the unaccustomed feeling of being in the lead at half-time. Mick O’Flynn was delighted that Jay Hardy and Luke Johnson were passing the ball to each other.
We were, if anything, more dominant in the second half. Gordon Thompson underlined his class early after the restart with a peach of a cross that Luke Johnson’s meaty forehead propelled into the net. Jay Hardy was to bag his second from an assist by Kypros Michael. Gordon Thompson, the Assist Meister, was at it again making it possible for Kypros to get another brace – his four goals today taking him to the 20-goal mark (in sixteen games), not a bad return for a truncated season. For his fourth – and the final goal of the game, Kypros twisted and bamboozled as only he can, putting three players on the floor before stroking the ball ever so gently over the line.
Kypros had put himself on the floor, tripping up on a vicious blade of grass as he controlled a ball in an earlier move, much to Peter Harvey’s amusement on the touchline. Peter had himself generated much mirth when he had fallen out of his chair (one of those angler’s folding jobs you see on river banks). You could say any ambition Peter harboured to become our new Director of Football had taken a tumble in that moment.
We could have had more goals. Kypros Michael and Luke Johnson hit the woodwork (well, the metal work really). Luke Johnson crowned a superb run from midfield with a right-foot shot that was a whisker away from the postage stamp. Joe Skinner had a powerful shot that looked very easy on the eye but I could not tell from the angle how close it was. Imagine if that had gone in, I would have been expected to write a full page on it.
The pints flowed after the game. Kypros Michael, having failed in his jug avoidance, got one in – a Greek bearing gifts. Colin Mant, 58 in the week, was determined to buy a round or two. There was a convivial atmosphere with players from our Sunday teams, some of our Young Vets, opposition, club officials spread out in our vast beer garden. It was a reminder, if we needed it, of the social balm that football can provide in these difficult times, at all times really, and that despite all the moaning and disappointments on the pitch we all seem to like each other’s company. This said, a third game was being played on our ground and emotions in that were running high and several people rushed up to the pitch to see if it was all kicking off (it wasn't). Things can get tense at the business end of the season.
Other highlights of the post-match analysis and conversation: there was speculation about how many times Simon Thomas had put his quiff in harm’s way, that is, headed the ball, during the game; Jay Hardy offered to breed dogs with lovely red hair (and he had not had that many, yet), there was talk of joining our Young Vets for their Strength, Conditioning and Agility Master Classes. Jay Hardy eschewed the offer of a lift home, seemingly intent on a long session in his Alice Band. I could only hope that he would get home safely. I left him in Joe Skinner’s hands, another one sporting an Alice Band, surely all would be well in that Wonderland.
The Ashburnham Manager, Baz, conceded that today was their heaviest defeat of their season. Their results in recent weeks had been decent but we caught them on a bad day. Baz went to school with Mick O’Flynn, but this does not seem to have done him any harm. He had kept his composure and grace under pressure and several of our players commented on his spirit of fair play. We have had tougher games against them and the loss of their key striker for the second half will not have helped. We had the numbers to refresh our side at periodic intervals. They did not. The game was played in excellent spirit – bar only one brief misunderstanding involving Joe Skinner and one of their tough Mediterranean-looking defenders. Jay Hardy went to calm things down, I think that helped.
Next week – a toughie – our Young Vets, a family affair and you know what families are like.
Man-of-the-Match: Gordon Thompson. Our King of Assists, by a long chalk.