Spelthorne Vets 4 - 6 RPVFC Vets
Team: Blackman, Nathan, Ross, Kent, Brenen D. Bennett, ODonaghey, Thomas, Mott, Harrison Wilson.Subs: Armour, Harkness, Brenen A.
Whilst it seemed early doors for the sequel to the 6-2 drubbing handed out to Spelthorne on 15 September in our opening game of the season the set for this epic was not like the previous gladitorial arena, more like the Mummy with the vast amounts of bandages being applied by the younger elements of the side, a sight not seen since the days of Lindsay "Lord Lucan" Curtis.
The subs were chosen on the basis of non appearance in the previous game compounded by Andy turning up particularly late which was unfortunate as his action double was more double than action!
For those who have been to Spelthorne fond remembrances of the pikey caravans situated on top of the waterworks bring a surreal backdrop to the playing area with the unanswered question, "how did they get them up there" for those who havent been to Spelthorne you wont have a scoobie what the hell Im on about.
Vale were unlikely to open with a high tempo start as the sore heads nursed after "Beers" party and the marking out of territory by a boffing Grant suggested a quiet beginning and so it proved.
Vale nonetheless had a greater share of possession but always managed to concede it by a poor final ball or unnecessary blind flick instead of playing the way you face.
Every time a move broke down Spelthorne broke quickly and the lessons went unheeded as several times they finished with potentially good opportunities to break the deadlock and either had bad luck or Blackie / Barry came to our rescue.
It was obviously too good to last and so it proved with a poorly defended corner, only one out on a short one and even then rather too late, saw a drive from the edge of the box deflected by DB wrong footing Blackie, finishing over the line sportingly acknowledged by Peter Allen, up with play, running the line
Although man for man we were probably quicker they more than made up by attacking the ball and like Oliver Twist were first up for "seconds".
Ricki Ross made some surging runs from the back to no avail until he belted a ball chest high to Grant who controlled instantly, turned, deftly chipped over the keeper as he came out at his feet. 1-1.
Spelthorne continued to break quickly as Vale moves broke down and only a couple of correct offside decisions kept us in contention, or so we thought.
This proved to be entirely fallacious as first a diagonal cross into the box evaded Blackie at the near post and although distracted by a forward in an offside position was flagged, the ref gave the goal as he neither moved or made contact with the ball. 2-1 down and worse to follow when Spelthorne broke yet again and a one on one with Blackie resulted in the scoreline reading 3-1.
So it was at half time with Spelthorne well on the way to exacting revenge for the reverse previously, that according to Beers, Vale only had a dogs chance, after his Wimbledon greyhound experience the previous evening, of turning the game round. Changes had to be made and all three subs joined the fray replacing DB, Pat, and Ossie Thomas in a new formation with Andy and Paul upfront with Grant and Emil in midfield, Paul in at right back and Monty switched to the left.
Vale and Andy in particular were "quick away" from the "traps " and it was fitting that Andy got us back in the game with a shot into the far corner. 3-2 and looking better balanced already.
A blatant push on Andys back as he was about to head home, although we were not too sure how much he fancied it, prevented him scoring and the ref immediately pointed to the spot, easily converted by Grant hard and low into the corner past the keepers right hand. 3-3.
Not to be outdone their flying winger eventually received the ball he had been waiting all match for to first outpace the defenders then sidestep a challenge to curl a shot into the corner with Blackie helpless. 4-3.
Emil who brought a measure of control to midfield, never seen in the first half, was linking well with the right side and Andy upfront and was on hand to bring down and hook home a fierce cross from Andy,
Andy then put Vale in the lead with a ferocious left foot volley which was so powerfully struck that it dismantled the staunchion supporting the net, 4-5.
Spelthorne continued to rely on the quick break and a square ball to an onrushing forward was struck beautifully, looking altogether an equalizer until Blackie brilliantly fingertipped away for a corner.
It was left to Andy to complete the Vale comeback and his hat trick with another shot into the bottom corner.
Paul Wilson, injured, was replaced like for like by Ossie, quick, no control, inability to score etc.
Pat more involved on the line watching had obviously spent the first half worrying about fines and a diminishing bank balance as his first comment after the game was he had no fines to pay this week!
Rattle of the day was Ossie spitting out his dummy, telling all and sundry to "f" off when he failed to control the ball, pointed out to him loudly by everyone on every occasion, take your pick (a Michael Miles) of any of the several instances when this occurred.
Monty spurned the opportunity to score in 3 consecutive games with a lob from the edge of the area suggesting that he may just have been lucky on the two previous occasions going uphill and leaning back on the Vale slope.
Although barely mentioned in the report and also to prove there is no nepotism in the club Andy failed to win the MOM which was instead awarded to Barry Kent for his controlled defending whilst all around him were at 6s & 7s.
The few replacements, management and spectators had thoroughly enjoyed an open exciting 10 goal thriller and even their contingent agreed with the game played in great spirit by both sides as they took time out to congratulate us on our contribution later in the clubhouse. Andy was presented with the "Golden Boot" in the bar, fittingly it was a left one as he hasnt and wont score another like that one today, shame he had to return it to the shelf!!
Regret the delay in posting the report for all those interested readers but I left from Spelthorne for Ross on Wye immediately after the bar closed and I didnt take my laptop so only completed the report at 13.40 today.
RPVFC Vets Vs Hook Venturers Vets
13 October 2002
Team: Blackman, Potton, Bennett, Kent, Hunter, Wilson, Thomas, Pat McDonaghue, Mott, Harrison, Brenen A. Subs: Brenen D. Armour. Nathan, Mayer, Higginson, Ross. Richards
The teamsheet is almost as extensive as the report, the management unaware of the impending arrival of Higgi and Ricki to complete the cast of thousands for a Twentieth Century Fox production akin to Spartacus rather than Escape to Victory.
Pat ? from last week started but had already left the set before your scribe had arrived to be replaced by Jack "square ball" Richards so called not for the obvious passing of a Ray Wilkins more because his control makes the ball look square, still it was his first outing of the season.
Monty, running the line for some kind of penance could not understand how a proven goalscorer could be left on the bench, particularly when Ossie had made it into the office this week, a turn and weak shot surely sufficient contribution to warrant an early exit stage left.
Martin was combining well with Beers and Motty until someone suggested he should control the ball gently rolling towards him, but anticipating the Vale bobble, which was eradicated pre season, lifted his foot only to see the ball glide over the perfectly flat surface out for a throw in.
Vale eventually got into their stride but failed to trouble the gnome in the oppos goal until Andy suddenly recognised the clear 4 feet above his head and delightfully chipped him, 1 0.
Paul Wilson decided to get in on the goalscoring act and when a shot rebounded from the foot of the post 18 inches from the line taking a prone position on his back succeeded in scooping the ball via an opponent over the bar!
It was not all one way traffic and the usually solid Vale defence was having a few shaky moments as they continually gave the ball away and it was just as well Blackie started off as he left off last week with a series of fine saves.
All this came to a sudden and dramatic end when he called for the ball from a deep cross, missed by a considerable distance and saw the ball nestling in the net, unsure whether Beckham had scored directly or Owen had got a touch.
Vale with the overall edge in possession made it count when Paul Wilson superbly scuffed a shot into an opponents legs in order for it to loop tantalisingly over their keeper.
Not to be outdone Hook replied when their centre forward having demonstrated his stepover on several occasions gave further illustrations to our defenders before shooting home.
2-2 Half Time
No blistering speeches from the management for this had been a much better performance than last week and they needed the fifteen minute break in order to introduce all the subs, virtually all change. Tony having had a conversation with Hayden which went along the following lines, Q why dont you play, A Im too old, retort, youre not as old as my grandad, well Im too fat, my grandads fat, OK he can play the second half.
Both sides were playing attractive football and it was unfortunate that Vale took the lead after a good passing movement with a deflection which evaded the keeper and trickled into the net though it was greeted by the goalscorer Grant with such jubilation you would have thought he hit a Scholes screamer from halfway into the roof of the net, although either way it only counts as one goal.
Vale continued in command and Monty repeated his chip from the edge of the box, 25 metres according to him now weve gone metric, to consolidate the lead.
Hook replied immediately with a ball inside DB whose outstretched toe only directed it into the path of their centre forward who showed the new members of defence his stepover when waltzing past to reduce the arrears.
Not to be outdone Vale, with the best move of the match, after several passes saw a delightful lay off with a backheel by Higgi into Grants path and without breaking stride passed the ball into the net.
Neither Nick nor Hook were finished as he decided to bring them back into the game and called for another cross into the box and with only Ricki in attendance who allowed the ball to run through missed it completely and to his despair saw their centre forward fail to execute his stepover as he knocked into the vacant net.
Vale playing some of their best possession football of the season saw the clock run down with only one final scare when Al flagged for a goal kick and everybody stopped but because he took his flag down they played on and netted and it took a conference and a small bribe for the referee to confirm the goal kick and blow for time.
Vale thereby retained their 100% record with a display of winning soccer in a high scoring game which will surely attract the crowds, other than Micky Cox and Lee Dobinson out in the fresh air trying to disperse hangovers from the excesses of the previous evening.
MOM Other than going for man of half the match, their goalkeeper, from an otherwise restricted list probably Motty deserves the accolade for maintaining an element of doubt about our ability to stay ahead by testing Blackie with spinning attempted clearances towards rather than away from our goal.
P.S. For any new Vets some rules need to be stated, fines are applicable for late arrival ie after 10.00 a.m. e.g. Higgi and Ricki at 10.30. and no Sven / Ulrikas in the 24 hours before the game even if inadvertently admitted by a new member that he was longer on his missus than on the pitch! Confessions still cost a £1.
RPVFC Vets Vs Village Vets
6 October 2002
Team: Blackman, Nathan, Bennett, Kent, Mott, Mayer, Thomas, Pat ?,Verrills, Harrison, Wilson Subs: Brenen D. Harkness Armour.
The Vale with a fairly young Vets starting XI against an old, overweight out of condition team were expected to win easily.
So here we go, once upon a time, no surely thats a fairytale beginning which it was not, more like a nightmare in this particular case. When your correspondent joined the spectators on the line having had a broom surgically removed and a new one implanted he was to learn that we had already had two glorious chances neither converted due to the brilliance of the goalkeeper, so said one of the culprits, take your choice of Grant or Paul Wilson, although he was an outfield player in our previous encounters.
Having degenerated from this fine start we were going downhill actually and metaphorically faster than Franz Klammer and the management team subs and spectators were willing the whistle to go early but Jamie showing no thought for the assembled throng allowed it to progress to the full 45 minute half!
The newly painted dugout suffered scorching from the Managers tirade summing up the worse half he had ever seen from the vets.
He obviously had in mind changes after such an abject showing and introduced the three subs, DB for Phil, Paul for Monty and Emil for Ossie.
The plan for the ball players to control the game bore immediate fruit when we went two down quicker than the first pint. We offered them a further two one on ones with Blackie but they failed both times due to the keeper timing his dives to perfection and making two excellent saves.
It was then decided as they had not put the game beyond recall we should start passing the ball and attack in depth which gained us the ascendancy without particularly testing the keeper but we did maintain possession and pressure on their beleagured defence when a substitution brought Monty and Phil back into the fray with immediate results.
A good passing move saw Phil sent in unchallenged on the left of the box and he did the unexpected and toepoked home, now the Vale tails were well and truly up.
Monty not to be outdone controlled the ball well and hit a dipping shot over the keeper from 20 yards to put the Vale back on level terms.
There was only going to be one winner now and so it proved with Paul Wilson finishing off a move with a powerful shot across the keeper high into the net. (mind you we will continuously remind him of the umpteen he missed)
Grant just back from injury was so anonymous I didnt realise he had played until I saw him in the bar after the game and he claimed to have taken part apparently corroborated by others who were also watching!
After all the moaning and groaning, which we always attributed to Robin, was stopped and we concentrated on the game we looked an infinitely better outfit, perhaps we may have learned something and we can continue in the same vein next week hopefully without the elder players in the team suffering Altzeimers and forgetting the benefits of playing as a team. We nonetheless maintained our 100% start to the season.
Croydon Postal Vs RPVFC Vets
29 September 2002
Team: Blackman, Ross, Bennett, Kent, Brenen D, Mayer, Thomas, Mott, Verrills, Brenen A. Higginson Subs: Bowling, Palmer
We were fortunate to see the return of Ricki Ross and Paul Higginson and later Tony Palmer from last years successful Surrey County Cup side as well as Nicky Bowling for his first run out of the year although he started on the bench because of a potential bad back.
In beautiful sunshine the Vale opened up the slope and were soon on the attack with Andy and Higgi immediately striking up a partnership up front.
Vale had all the play and Al Mayers who arrived early must have cleared the cobwebs before kick off as he put in his most impressive performance to date using his pace to support the forwards, even getting a few shots on target though without any real threat other than when their keeper reminiscent of last year almost spilt one into his own net.
Andy in particular was a constant threat to the Postal goal although his efforts were not in the same post code as their goal creating a hat trick jug avoidance in the first 15 minutes.
Other culprits were numerous with Phil and Higgi guilty of missing chances although Higgi did pass on the responsibility with neat flicks and lay offs for Andy to take on and miss. He at least added variety to how not to score, round the goalkeeper stretch and miss with the left foot, round the keeper and slide past an empty net with the right foot then as the keeper advanced aim at his feet and miss both of them and the goal, needless to say he didnt miss any with his head.
I cant remember playing in a more one sided game than the first half when we were encamped in their half for virtually 45 minutes striving to conjure ways to let them off the hook. Higgi remembered such a game, apparently under 14s when they won 32-0 and whilst not of those proportions we should have been 5 ahead at the break.
The second half started with Bowling on for DB in defence and Palmer on for Thomas in midfield.
Phil Verrills looked slightly out of it at the start of the second half, presumably as he is not used to being still on the park.
Vale continued to control the game and dominate proceedings without creating as many chances as in the first half although this was hardly surprising after the number missed then.
It is difficult to remember how many corners Warren delivered with pace and accuracy without Beers, Higgi or Ricki Ross getting on the end of them.
The occasional breakaway by Postal tended to be mopped up pretty easily by Nick Bowling and Barry Kent who smoked the proverbial cigar throughout the game.
Tony tweaked a ligament in his foot and was replaced by Thomas. Rosss surging runs came to nothing and interplay between Andy and Higgi became too elaborate on occasions but they nonetheless kept the ball fairly well.
After the possession and opportunities squandered by the Vale it was looking like a first ever goalless draw or potentially a smash and grab victory for Postal when Phil urged on to close down their defender blocked an attempted clearance which the defender passed back to his keeper which Andy read beautifully to nip in and round him to slot home from the narrowest of angles to score with probably the most difficult chance of the day.
Postal came back in the few remaining minutes but looked unlikely to score other than from one opportunity from a corner which was scrambled clear.
Another clean sheet, Blackie now has a pair although he was rarely tested on this occasion.
MOM Andy Brenen who when asked by Tony to get the match ball thought it had been awarded for a virtual hat trick but was only asked to collect it as it was ours.
Fire Brigade Vets Vs RPVFC Vets
22 September 2002
Team: Blackman, Nathan, Kent, Armour, Brenen D. Harkness, Bennett, Mott, Verrills, Brenen A. Mayer, Subs: Potton, Spence.
Whilst the team sheet indicated the unlucky 13 it was in effect the bare XI with Spence injured and unable to play and Potton still watching his son play little league.
Harrison injured yesterday assumed the role of manager in the absence of Tony, Peter & Guy.
Early poor communication, (Vets talk, not communion) left the Vale defence in disarray with no clear talking and a succession of hospital balls which was punished by a goal to the home team which was clearly offside, so much so that they disallowed their goal, which was just as well as Barry was set to leave the field if you could not play offside.
It would be pleasing to report that the Vale picked up the pace and settled down to play possession football but it remained a game of hot potato.
The Vale father & son was probably more prominent than the Fire Brigades where the 18 year old kept asking, "dad pass me the ball" whereas Andy and Dave completely ignored each other.
It has to be said that regular players to this fixture from the Vale struggled to recognise any of their regular opponents apart from Pat and the goalkeeper.
Whilst Vale had most of the possession and chances the half finished goal less and Paul Armour had to leave for the Cavern or somewhere similar, although this was not a problem for the ten men and true left to soldier on.
A fire sale of Boots dummies at half time soothed the nerves of particularly Verrills who was still complaining about being hauled down by a defender, an action which we knew was totally unnecessary, although he rightly claimed that some more positive point may have been raised, but it was equally obvious that, meant nicely, Grant had not completely grasped the art of man management.
The second half commenced with the Vale uphill, in all respects but with slight crosswind in favour but with only ten men. Andy was left up top on his own and Al dropped back to right side wing back with Monty in the middle with Barry. We should be thankful that this was the worst ever Fire Brigade side I can ever remember facing which not only kept us in the game but looking the more likely winners.
As legs became more tired an additional errors crept in it was super to hear the bugle call of the cavalry in the form of Dave Potton arriving on the scene with Louis. Instead of Grant giving him the key to the changing room he limped down with it further delaying his introduction.
His immediate impact was to have a shot blocked at the edge of the area when he may have scored with his first kick, although we understand it is a long time since he scored period.
The Vale mounted attack after attack, well one or two anyway to keep the Brigade under pressure and were rarely tested themselves apart from a couple of unintentional nutmegs on Monty which provided opportunities which Nick dealt with comfortably.
With time running out their goalkeeper in a race with Andy safely collected the ball, regrettably 5 yards out of the area and then belted the ball into touch, the referee with reasonable sympathy only awarded the free kick, taken by Warren only just over but rightly berated by the Brenens for failing to hit the target.
As the game was destined to peter out into a draw a moment of sublime magic occurred when DB on the overlap was fed by Warren and his call for Bennett to get on the end of it was either ignored or more likely the delivery was no where near him, was headed clear to Andy lurking at the edge of the box to make no mistake with a right foot half volley which whistled (crept) into the net low to the keepers left.
Vale maintained their 100% record even without the promised appearances of Clive & Robin, perhaps they will make an appearance shortly along with Higgi, Palmer and Brownie although there is a greater likelyhood that Lord Lucan (Lindsay Curtis) may be seen in a Vale shirt before them!!!
RPVFC Vets Vs Spelthorne Vets
15 September 2002
Team: Blackman, Nathan, Mott, Kent, Spence, Harkness, Thomas, Verrills, Bennett, Harrison, Brenen A. Subs: Potton, Jenkins, Mayer, Brenen D.
It was immediately apparent that this was the Vales opening game of the season with what appeared to be a team of complete strangers.
The strike force of Brenen and Harrison soon found some understanding creating two excellent chances which fell to Brenen one on one with the keeper, the first he blocked with his legs and the second he fingertipped away onto the post when he looked beaten showing real agility for such a rotund figure.
Although this was Spelthornes third game they claimed to be missing three influential players which from their previous results seemed plausible and early stretches by two of their replacements resulted in tweaked hamstrings and they both limped off to be partially replaced by Jenkins from the Vale bench.
The Spelthorne spine looked good with the keeper and centre forward in particular looking good. Spelthorne were playing the ball around well with Vale unable to take advantage of their numerical supremacy. The centre forward held the ball up well and showed very good feet and control for such a gangly chap but fortunately our n + 1 always proved sufficient to somehow stifle his efforts.
It was therefore surprising that the same n + 1 didnt seem to help when we had the ball, seeming impossible to retain the ball by woeful passing and concession of possession to the opposition at every opportunity.
On the few movements we did string together, a Harrison cross was nudged home at the near post by Bennett followed by Harrison looping home a header after a midair challenge with the keeper to make it 2-0 to the Vale.
Whilst Spelthorne played it around well at the back they eventually just had to launch it forward to the big man who was invariably outnumbered.
Vale continued to have chances and eventually added to their tally when Harrison thumped home a header from an excellent Nathan cross though regrettably this was the only time he achieved a decent ball in.
Warren introduced a moment of farce to be discussed at half time when caught on his heels he toppled over backwards unaided by outside forces to play dead ant at the edge of the box without even the excuse that the Vale pitch contributed!!
The final act of the half was an outrageous attempt by Harrison to con the referee into giving a penalty when though clearly tripped, exaggerated the grass munching dive for which he is famous, but this was clearly recognised by the official, who may well have booked him!
The usual half time changes saw Brenen D & Potton replace Verrills & Bennett in midfield along with Al Mayers coming on up top replacing Brenen A.
Vale maintained the pressure and Grant Harrison cleverly wasted chance after chance to complete his hat trick in a disgraceful show of jug avoidance.
It was left to the old and the young to make the next breakthrough when DB crossed to Warren in the box who converted from 6 yards.
Grant continued to spurn chances although he was creeping closer to his preferred range of about a yard having 3 successive efforts from about 3 yards without success.
He eventually did complete the jug feat although we have yet to see or taste it when he headed home a free kick and even then he deliberately pushed a defender in the back hoping to have it disallowed.
From the kick off they played it back to their midfielder who lumped it forward only for Barry Kent to stumble and let in the big fellow who was brilliantly foiled by Blackman who pushed it wide but the forward recovered quicker and fired in off the far post from an extremely tight angle on the byeline.
Vale were not to be outdone and after Bennett returned for the injured Spence, Thomas for once putting pressure on the defender robbed him took the ball on and finished clinically.
Act two, from the kick off they played it back to their midfielder who lumped it forward only for Warren to call then completely miss the ball and leave the big fella through to despatch his second.
Vale cunningly prevented his hat trick by not scoring any more goals feeling a 6 2 scoreline a satisfactory start to the campaign.
M.O.M. Harrison (to be confirmed only after sampling the Jug!!)