Sunday 11th April 2021
Senior Vets in Serious Disarray
The sun was out again, mostly, and that was just about the best thing about today’s game. As for the football it was one of those days when loud siren voices ask: What is the point? Is it not time to give up? Are you not past it? Should you not play against people your own age? Did you enjoy this? How do you like being abused by your team-mates? Enough about me. Seriously - this was as poor a Farnborough Senior Vets performance as I can remember in hundreds of games. Yes, our opponents were very good, but we were diabolical.
FOBG Squad: Matt Angelo, Phil Anthony, Ian Coles, Giles Foister, Jay Hardy, Waine Hetherington, George Kleanthous, Colin Mant, Chisa Mkala, Kypros Michael, Patrice Mongelard, Andy Osborne, Joe Skinner, Simon Thomas
Kit sponsor: The Dog and Duck, Outwood.
Supporters: Michael Hills and Ethel, Claire Mills-Skinner, Kayleigh Richards, Lorna Stewart.
Director of Football: Mick O’Flynn.
Chief Football Correspondent: Patrice Mongelard.
Chief Impact Officer: Phil Anthony.
Over the years, the Riverside Wanderers ground in Eynsford has, generally, not been a happy hunting place for us. The après-match hospitality in the nearest local public house has been more of a highlight but today even that was unattainable. The pitch was not great - agricultural, bobbly, lumpy, unpredictable – and it seemed to affect our game more than Riverside’s. And then there is the famous Eynsford Slope.
The referee – a first for us in that he sported a beaded goatee, warned us before the game that he would punish vociferous dissent. He was not kidding as we were to find out. The start of the game was preceded by a minute's silence to mark the passing of the Duke of Edinburgh. Our own Phil missed that scene as he was still finding his way to the pitch. I could not help wondering, if, at the end of the game, he wished he had never found the place.
We did not start well. Matt Angelo injured his back in the warm-up and for a moment it looked like he was going to have to pay his match subs without playing a single minute. The discomfort must have been on his mind when barely two minutes into the game, he cleared a back pass straight to a Riverside player just outside our box who calmly volleyed the ball into an empty net. We were playing against the slope and knew that traffic would flow in one direction mostly, but this was way too soon. It did not get better. I cannot recall a single Farnborough effort on the Riverside goal in that first half. Instead, we shipped three more goals by half-time. They followed the same pattern, ball over the top for the Riverside forwards to lift over Matt into our net, usually after we had given the ball away.
Our play was disjointed, our passing approximate or hopeful (hospital balls aplenty), we were clueless and timorous in possession, laboured, slow to the first and second and third balls. We seem to suffer from the illusion, or misapprehension, that we can play three at the back and five in midfield. In truth, we do not have the players with the touch or pace, or energy, or football intelligence, or collective spirit to carry this system off. We rely on the offside rule which itself depends on a quality of refereeing or lineman play that will never be available at our level but that does not stop the constant whingeing.
The feeling at half-time was that a deficit of four goals was not insurmountable now that we would have the slope. Indeed, with a degree of uncanny symmetry, Kypros Michael intercepted a stray clearance from the Riverside keeper two minutes into the second half but he was to lash his shot wide, from a yard out. Today, Kypros was wearing Gordon Thompson’s kit in the hope that it would help him hit the target but clearly that kit knows its master, and Kyp it is not. But one that knows its master is Ethel, the new love in Michael Hills’ life, with lustrous dark eyes, soft furry chest and natty leather gear. Michael was to desert Ethel, his French Bulldog, later to bring his bulldog spirit to our game for the last ten minutes – an unexpected but welcome reappearance on the pitch but by then it was far too late.
We had a twenty-minute spell where we competed with Riverside, but we could not create the clear chances to narrow the score despite the favourable slope. Andy Osborne and Simon Thomas had close-range chances that, on another day, would have yielded more. Chisa Mkala bulldozed his way through on goal but twice his shooting was wayward. An unmarked Joe Skinner at the far post managed to put a shot from two yards out, over the crest of the leylandii behind the Riverside goal, not an easy thing to do. He must have been ruminating about this when, incensed at yet another over-physical Riverside challenge, he decided to associate the referee with a part of the female anatomy and was promptly sin-binned for ten minutes. The unintended consequences were that we conceded two goals in that period and Jay Hardy injured himself whilst putting in a tackle in our box.
Michael Hills had seen enough and decided he would step into the fray and he was on for the last ten minutes. Whilst he made a few telling interventions he could not stop Riverside getting the seventh of their magnificent goals with virtually the last kick of the game. I cannot think it was worth the match subs but I could be wrong in that Michael valued solidarity in defeat, more.
By the end of the game, we were a ragbag of walking wounded with sore heads and bruised egos. 7-0 is a thrashing and yet, had it not been for the four or five saves that Matt Angelo made, point blank and in one-on-ones, we would have been staring at double figures. We all sloped off quietly after the game, leaving the twenty or so Riverside players to savour the satisfaction of a job well done on a soft touch. As one of our players who will remain nameless said, “We were lucky to get 0”.
The omens for next week are not good. Matt Angelo must be a doubt (oh good we can have fun finding a keeper again), Jay Hardy might not even be fit to watch the game. It would be surprising if Peter Harvey, or Sinisa Gracanin or Gordon Thompson are fit enough to play. Yet, the show must go on.
I must confess that on a day like today, the thought of dragging myself through another season, and all that comes with it, seems to have lost its appeal, temporarily at least.
Man-of-the-Match: Our Prince among men today was our own Greek, George Kleanthous, who did the shirt proud with his indefatigable and indomitable spirit while it all fell apart around him. Matt Angelo was not far behind in the polls.
Man of the match: George Kleanthous