London Edwardians Men's 2s (10 - 0) Surbiton 3s
Joe Cooper, Goal Scorer
Saturday 27 January 2018. A day to live long in the memories of the chosen 15 (plus coach plus special guests Adge and DQ plus the parents of the Surbiton kids). It all started with captain Will demanding that his players arrive on time. The vast majority were punctual including a perma-tanned Jonny Knight and regular offenders Dave Nance and Rev who often use their interests as an excuse for tardy timekeeping - the former for reasons less godly than the latter. Will, with better and worse Ollies in tow, arrived in the nick of time according to his Casio which is a far more accurate timekeeping device than any iPhone. However, Sebastian Jennings, 33, mortgage broker, arrived 20 minutes late which not only meant that he accrued an early DoD nomination but also very kindly funded a couple of team rounds of Champager Bombs at the EoS dinner (50p x each minute late x no. of players kept waiting) and a potential tour to Budapest. Thanks Seb!
With the team in situ in the changing rooms and listening attentively, Al “Paxman” Brogdon then befuddled the forward line with a multiple choice question of where the centre forward should stand: easy lads, in front of the goal (as demonstrated by a diminutive centre back a bit later on). After the mutiny was averted, the team was led out onto the pitch in good time to warm up with Joe Cooper seeking to convince captain Will that he should join in the back four drill, as opposed to the ‘shooting at the goal as hard as possible’ drill which the strikers normally do, for fear of breaking his stick. A lesser individual may have pointed out to Joe that he’s been refusing to shoot all season but for fear of adding the purchase of a replacement stick to his debts (in addition to his unpaid subs (note: new payment terms negotiated with club treasurer)), Will acceded to Joe’s request.
It was evident that Surbiton had brought a number of youngsters (even younger than Duncan and Dave if that’s possible), and this was made clear when, at the toss, the umpires discussed the importance of safeguarding when one of their six u18s was substituted. Despite this inexperience, there were a number of senior Surbiton pros on show and they pushed the Eds hard at the start with Matt Marrown doing a superb flying squirrel impression to keep out a flicked shot with his right paw. Marrown snuffed out a couple of other Surbiton chances before London Eds finally managed to get a foothold in the game and they kept this up for the rest of the match. A sustained spell of pressure with decent ball retention by the defenders and midfielders around the D and the forwards running the Surbiton defence ragged led to a couple of openings which the Eds failed to convert with Ollie Randall pulling the strings at the back and regularly peppering the D with his disguisey speedy slidey passey, later described by a forward as a pass which “they don’t know where it’s going, we don’t know where it’s going, he doesn’t know where it’s going” – easy lads, just put your stick on the ground and direct towards goal (as demonstrated by a diminutive centre back a bit later on).
Then, not unlike the heir to Hugh Heffner’s fortune on hearing of his demise, there was a moment of relief and joy with a slight pang of sadness for others. Joseph Moreno Cooper broke his goal scoring duck. To put this into context, the last time Joe scored the Spice Girls were number one in the charts, Adge was 11 stone and Ollie Randall still had a full head of hair. For once, Joe decided to push the ball towards goal and the Surbiton keeper, with the fiver Joe slipped him before the match still fresh in his memory, stepped over the ball. There were no wild celebrations, no Paolo Di Canio topless shirt swinging and no Tony Hibbert style pitch invasion (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IfWU4YRcLF0). Everyone knew that, without context, it was just an average goal (unlike that demonstrated by a diminutive centre back a bit later on). Soon after Ollie L assaulted a 14 year old (not for the first time) and earned himself two minutes on the sideline (not for the first time). Someone else scored again to make it 2-0 to the London Eds at half time. At half time, Al “Pacino” Brogdon fired up the troops and Marrown pointed out that if we scored more goals than the opposition, we would win the game.
Early in the second half, we won a short corner and Ben Hildrey continued his fine form from shorties with a firm flick into the back of the net. 3-0. Upon the restart, Surbiton no. 17 enacted vengeance for Ollie L’s earlier crime by rugby tackling trainee marathon runner, Henry Meller. No. 17 duly saw yellow which was to continue the theme of the half. The forwards and midfielders were now dominating the game and finding space in dangerous areas and a delightful dribble and pass by dance off maestro Duncan reached a diving Dave Nance to put the ball in the back of the net. 4-0. I’m pretty sure Joe scored again at this point. 5-0. A Surbiton player voiced his displeasure to the umpire and was awarded a yellow card in return.
Then came the pivotal moment of the match. Will intercepted a pass to their striker and slid the ball to Rich Mc who, in turn, drew two players and slipped the ball to a winger. The winger then crossed the ball which rebounded off a couple of Surbiton defenders before finding its way to Will on the penalty spot who had timed his run excellently. Will threw the keeper one way with his eyes and put the ball into the back of the net with the pinpoint accuracy that only a natural born goal scorer could. The crowd went wild, setting off flares and fireworks accompanied by celebratory gunfire. It was later reported in the local news that the nearby hospitals were predicting a surge in babies named William. With one perfectly executed strike, Will had scored more goals than Al Brogdon in Hampshire-Surrey Division 2. 6-0.
Once the celebrations had died down, Surbiton threw caution to the wind (the air now filled with smoke and cordite) and attacked. They kept on coming and Ollie R kept on pickpocketing the ball with some perfectly timed tackles although eventually, a ball was directed towards the D which hit Ollie’s hand/foot (it was a foot but not a foul according to the umpires). The Surbiton players protested whilst Joe was left one-on-one with the keeper and decided to take the longest possible route round the keeper and completed his HAT-TRICK. 7-0. Finally, a release of emotion as he threw his stick down in a Prince William-esque ‘drop the mic’ moment. At this point, it would have been nice to share the moment with his team mates but unfortunately, they were all preoccupied in their own half as they watched in bemusement as one-by-one Surbiton’s senior players shouted at the umpire and one-by-one received yellow cards for dissent. With Surbiton down to eight players and lacking any enthusiasm for the rest of the game, it was a turkey shoot with the highest of high presses creating numerous opportunities with Ben H to score another corner and Seb and Rev to add their names to an illustrious and star studded score sheet. The game ended with the Surbiton players complaining to the umpires whilst the Eds marched triumphantly off to enjoy their foam burst and tunes in the changing rooms.
MoM was shared between Joe (deservedly for his hat-trick) and Matt Marrown (deservedly for keeping a cleaning sheet) and DoD was shared between Will (undeservedly), Joe (deservedly) and Seb (deservedly). The result left the Eds five points clear at the top after a run of seven straight victories with a trip to bottom side Addiscombe to follow.