AFC Varndeanians 3-0 Oakwood FC
After his caribbean holiday, the sun kissed Andy Pearson strolled around the back four like he was at a Bob Marley concert
So last Saturday at 11 o'clock I found myself at the Withdean giving mouth to mouth to a dummy with a hangover. That's me with the hangover not the dummy. I had rather over celebrated my 56th birthday, (not that being 56 is much to celebrate), after seeing an Elvis impersonator at the Theatre Royal. I certainly know how to enjoy myself. The Schoolboy error was to book a first aid course the next day and the dummy complained that I smelt of alcohol which was a cheek considering he was legless... and armless come to think of it. However I did learn a lot including that using a defibrillator increases the chance of someone surviving a cardiac arrest from 7% to 70%. And do you know 40% of cardiac arrests during sport are U18 year olds which shows you the importance of having a proper first aider at all matches and a defibrillator.
With lots of games postponed we were keen to make sure our match still went ahead and due to a pitch that drains well, and the expert fork work of vice chairman Steve Matthews and manager Kev Keehan, the game was given the go ahead by our ref Jake Woodman, who I was pleased to see was officiating as he always puts in a solid performance. While Kev and Steve were having a good fork I meanwhile was enjoying a small carvery in the Sportsman and met Oakwood's centre half Shaun Saunders, who was also tucking into a very impressive pre match meal. I didn't see if he went back for seconds but the Harry Redknapp jam roly poly with custard may well sit heavy in the second half... well I think he had a pudding or I might be just making that bit up.
Oakwood's recent form has seen them accumulate 6 out of the last 9 points, helping them climb up the league. They started the match positively with ex- three Bridges forward Oluwaseun Olabiyi looking particularly lively but with the sun tanned and ever laid back Andy Pearson strolling around the back four, after his caribbean holiday, we looked in control and after 15 minutes began to get our passing game together with Joe Keehan directing play. Tom Bradford had a few long range efforts to deal with but his handling was accomplished and he never looked in any trouble.
We took the lead shortly after a period of possession with Ollie Stevenson producing a mid air, acrobatic scissor kick that looped into the sky and dropped into the top corner. This seemed to knock Oakwood back slightly as we gradually gained more and more possession and saw a couple of efforts go wide, meaning we went in at half time 1-0 up, with the raining sleeting across the pitch.
At half time Badger introduced me to Bob Budd who used to play for the club and we had a lovely chat. I asked him when he started playing and too my amazement he said 1947 and I was even more amazed when he said he was 88, as he didn't look it. He said he kept himself fit playing squash and in fact managed to become the British Over 65 champion 20 years ago. There's hope for us all yet. There were several other ex V's at the game and it's always a pleasure to meet them and hear their stories as it brings a graphic reality to the history of the club.
I was late out to the second half, being engrossed in historical conversation, and missed a Andy Pearson near post header from a corner. He celebrated like he was at a Bob Marley concert. Ollie Stevenson and Kev formed a solid base in midfield, to give our forwards freedom to attack and the combined efforts of Scott, Arnie, Matt and Joe were beginning to unpick the Oakwood defence. I think Shaun Saunders may have been regretting the extra potatoes he had for lunch, as we were buzzing about upfront and a lovely through ball found Matt who made no mistake with a accurate lob for 3-0
We created a few more chances but failed to convert them. Scott did well to beat the defence with a well timed run but the ball got caught under his feet and the chance went away. Matt hit a stunning shot that bounced back off the bar and Luke favouring his very favoured right foot, smashed the ball into the discus throwing net. He followed this up by slicing the ball into the trees, with his unfavoured left foot, which leaves me to think he is in fact ambipedal meaning both feet have the same ability. I leave you to decide on the level of this ability. I'm still convinced he is left footed.
The injury prone Pearlo managed to come on for 20 minutes and keep his body intact and it was great to see George Warren and Luke Manley given a run out as both have been patient waiting for their opportunity. It's hard when the team are playing so well but their persistence is appreciated and a strong squad is vital if we are going to succeed.
The rain fell relentlessly and it was with relief that the final whistle was blown. Jake Woodman reffed the game excellently and it's always a pleasure to have him officiating the game supported by decent linesman, although Scott at one point did let the bats in his belfry get the better of him and remonstrated about an offside decision not realising the flag was not for him but for Luke on the far side of the pitch. Scott cares about the game and the team so he is forgiven for his momentary John Cleese moments. I was very pleased to see we had no bookings in a professional and well measured performance.
After the game I had a very enjoyable chat with the Oakwood manager Mick Gilbert and my old Three Bridges team mate 'Rashers', as we reminisced about playing county football back in the early 90's. The relationships and the people you meet is what, to my mind, playing football at local level is all about. I never played for money... mind you no one ever offered it to me, but played for the love of the game, the right manager and the right club. I'm glad to say the Kev has put together a squad which has this ethos as they enjoy playing football, have a laugh off the pitch and all go to training. I'm surprised how many managers have said they don't have training or they only get 6 or 7 that turn up.
We look forward to an away trip to Wick on Tuesday followed by a home match next week against St Francis.