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Match Report

Sunday 13th December 2020


Wellcome Super Vets
6 - 3
Senior Vets
Simon Thomas, Kypros Michael, Gordon Thompson


Carry On Scoring as Farnborough Turkeys get Stuffed

This used to be our favourite fixture of the season. Why? The friendliness of our hosts, the quality of the pitch, the setting (imagine tree-lined pitch, cricket scoreboard, mock Tudor wooden clubhouse with cricket, football and tennis memorabilia in the leafy suburbs of Beckenham). It is also our Christmas jumper fixture. Once again my Icelandic Runes motif proved too sophisticated – “Where’s the f****** reindeer Pat?  Did you eat it?”.  Who can forget the occasion when Colesy had his carrot revived by his favourite elf?  We are, of course, still talking snowman jumper here. Then there was the happy conjunction with the Beckenham Ladies Tennis Club Christmas party where Manty had his gluteus maximus palpated after he casually mentioned his early career as a ballroom dancer on cruise ships in the 1970s.  No such fun today in the age of Covid but we had a marquee to ourselves.

Today we made more memories. 

It started to go awry when Toby Manchip persuaded the opposition and the referee that we should have a minute's silence before kick-off as a tribute to Barbara Windsor. It would not be an exaggeration to say that was Toby’s finest contribution to the game.   

FOBG Squad: Phil Anthony, Ian Coles, Giles Foister, Sinisa Gracanin, Peter Harvey, Waine Hetherington, George Kleanthous, Toby Manchip, Colin Mant, Kypros Michael, Patrice Mongelard, Andy Osborne, Stuart Ross, Joe Skinner, Simon Thomas, Gordon Thompson

Kit sponsor: The Dog and Duck, Outwood.

Supporters:  Ian Lyons, Claire Mills-Skinner and Lorna Stewart.

Director of Football:  Mick O’Flynn. 

Chief Football Correspondent:  Patrice Mongelard.

Boot Room:  Phil Anthony.

Barely five minutes in, Waine Hetherington made an unnecessary twenty-yard back pass to Toby – bellowing “keeper” for the avoidance of doubt. Toby – who could not tell you when the rules governing back passes were changed, picked the ball up. The resulting free kick was lashed into the top corner with most of the Farnborough players on the goal line. We could have put our five subs and Mick O’Flynn on the line as well but it would not have made a difference. Toby might have picked the ball up unintentionally – a sort of Priti Patel manoeuvre, but on this occasion, there was a price to pay.

Things did not get better after that. Not long after, Sinisa Gracanin found himself unmarked at the far post near the Wellcome goal to connect with a Joe Skinner cross. In my mind I had started walking back for the restart but the Wellcome keeper pulled off the first of many point-blank saves to thwart us. The ball rebounded back to Sinisa for a second bite but he put the ball over the bar from two yards out. Of all our players I would not have expected him, our most technical player, to miss from there. 

Worse followed as Wellcome ran amok, aided and abetted by Farnborough ineptitude. There was no desire, no bite, no pride, no pace, no discipline, no tactical intelligence as we were torn apart by two new players we had not come across before. The Welcome manager later described them as “late thirties” and they had apparently just contacted his club to offer their services. 1-0 became 4-0 in not much time; and we could have scored two own goals in that period as we sliced clearances the wrong way defending corners. 

We pulled one back before half-time after Simon Thomas had found himself in the right place to tap home after a crowd scene in the Wellcome box. The referee rightly dismissed Wellcome claims of offside; but they were to add a fifth goal before the half-time bell tolled. The rallying talk from manager Mick O’Flynn was not easy. A Churchillian moment was called for but Ian Lyons was the one with the cigar, and a reference to that South American rodent – the chinchilla. Toby Manchip said he felt like going home. It could have been worse – his family could have been watching. It was hard for us to see a normally effervescent and sunny man reduced in this way.

It was 6-1 very early in the second half as the Wellcome Express in his “late thirties” in the distinctive tight shorts helped himself to his hat-trick. There were still forty minutes to play and I am glad that we could say at the end of these minutes that we won the second half. Kypros Michael made a meal of the penalty won by Peter Harvey. The Wellcome keeper, an excellent shot stopper, parried the first shot, straight at him, just the right height, but Kypros was able to get to the rebound for a ferocious drive to reduce the deficit. I will not tell you what Kypros’ cousin, a Wellcome player, said about that as we watched together from the touchline.

Gordon Thompson then drew an unwelcome double save from the Wellcome keeper again from close range.  Footballers know when it is not going to be their day and this brought it home very clearly.  First Sinisa, now deadly Gordon had missed. Kypitis was catching. There was no denying Gordon fifteen minutes from the end when he beat Joe Skinner to the ball to prod home after the Wellcome keeper had made yet another stupendous block. At 6-3 we had hopes of getting even closer to the Wellcome score and they were the ones asking the referee how long was left as the game tailed off. There was time for Peter Harvey to be clattered and acquire another “love bite” on his ankle. I have said it before but it takes a particular courage to absorb that kind of punishment in your fifties after two serious fractures. We needed more of that kind of spirit across the whole team today. 

As we ruminated in our marquee with some brought-in beer and Phil’s home-made rolls there was a sense of disappointment but not despondency. We had rallied well and had been undone by two very good younger players. There were plenty of memories and anecdotes to lighten the mood as the drizzle enveloped the marquee and I faced up to the prospect of another half-hour of Toby Manchip on the drive home. Talk about taking one for the team. 

It was not the result we wanted but it is some relief from the stress of Brexit. Am I the only one to have been flummoxed by the report in The Times this week of a senior government lawyer who blamed the pressures of Brexit work for his conviction of “upskirting” on the London Underground?  I don’t recall this coming up in the referendum campaign.

Man of the match: It was a job to drag Man of the Match votes out of the players today but in the end, after all President Trump’s appeals were rejected, Santa’s favourite elf today, and the winner of a Barbara Windsor autographed brassiere, was found to be Sinisa Gracanin.

Man of the match: Sinisa Gracanin