The Bare Bones
Well, where do I start?
Well all this game missed was a balloon deflected goal, some white horses, a crossbow bolt and Erika Roe.
It was action packed. Think Friday's Eastenders or a night out with Ben Stokes.
First off, we didn't like the idea of a league game free Saturday so two Gaffers and a phone call later and the indomitable Raiders of Hawley were enticed to The King's Field for our season's bow on the hallowed turf. The slope looked as Huish (Yeovil) like as ever and we somehow had missed the full sized goals under some corner flags. Perhaps last night's Bathtub gin was kicking in more than we had realised. We speculated as to who would steal goal posts and how they would have got them in the back of a Fiat Panda. It was quite comforting returning to 9 a-side goals, like an old pair of slippers or the national anthem at the end of the day's tv.
The oppo looked good. In fact, they oozed class in the warm up. Fans with chairs. Ten footballs. A huddle. Swish warm up routines and coaches with initials on their training gear and proper boots. In fact, I could have sworn I spotted a magnetic tactics board there somewhere. We pretended not to notice or feel inadequate as our lads swigged Newcastle Brown and puffed on Rothmans.
So, off we went. A narrow defeat and a one nil thrashing last time out behind us for this newly formed side. We were down to the bare bones. One player watching his Mum in Tough Mudder, another visiting his Gran by the seaside and a couple of salad cream on the toe injuries a la Dave Beasant, erstwhile Wimbledon Custodian of the Onion Bag. I bet their coaches never had to deal with such absenteeism. They probably whittled the squad down from 20 so they could fit in their sponsored executive minibus with those lamp shades on the tables. The ones with the tassels.
With two debutants in the side - one a regular trainer but newly signed and another struggling with the rigorous international clearance process - we expected a tough game. And that, fellow managers, was what we got. Somehow we went into a one nil lead against the run of play with the goal being scored by the irrepressible Archie Cornewall-Walker. Cue pandemonium in the stands. Well, a couple of bellows from the parents and a knowing nod from coach to coach. Then came a period of sustained pressure from the Raiders. This was going to be a long morning. Unsurprisingly, the wave upon wave of pressure from our impressive visitors eventually breached the stubborn Hampton defence. One all.
What we have with these lads and the Sunday team is a spirit moulded around the finest units of yesteryear. Think the Crazy Gang of Wimbledon meeting Hunter, Bremner and Pals. Your average urchin wouldn't want to mug one of our lot on the R70. They fight for each other and win those fifty fifties over and over again. With the game beginning to ebb and flow and the new players settling into the pace nicely, it was a wonderful piece of individual skill and pinpoint finishing once more from Archie that saw Hampton go into the break two one up.
I couldn't help but look out for club masseuses, fitness trainers and energy drinks in the Raiders half time huddle. The boys were instructed to keep fighting for every ball and they did just that in the second thirty five minutes. Hawley were getting far more chances but Francis Wiggins was in no mood to concede. And so the half continued. Fine save after fine save and no nonsense defence after no nonsense defence kept the visitors at bay. Aaaaargh, the superb Kaya goes down injured. He can't continue. New Boy into a position he has never played in. Aaaargh two, centre back two, Charlie Murphy a crack to the head louder than a firework in a microwave. "How many fingers?" "Seventeen". "Perfect, Play on". This was not for the faint-hearted and the odd foray into the opposition penalty area was easily outnumbered by opposition attacks.
Perfect corner. Brilliant header. Virtually the last touch of the game and the boys furious at the elbow presented to the Charlie forehead during the goal. Two two.
The lads can be extremely proud today. This was kids' football at its' best. There is plenty more to come from this team and I can't wait to see them continue their improvement. On to next week and the beautifully named Eversley and California in the cup. Eight hundred and twenty three goals in three games from them or something. We await another busy morning. I need a lie down.
Joint MOTM - Archie and Francis.