West Wickham 3 - 2 Cray Wanderers
By Oliver Green
Over The Hill Ivory Bangs Twos in Kent Cup Final!
The first surprise of the day came when I opened the curtains that morning. My trusty weather reports had told me no rain was expected Saturday however in true British fashion rain fell throughout the entire day.
There was no surprise when it came to punctuality! Fitchy, Kempez and the good looking Ollie Clarke rocked up just as the final goal was set up. Joe did rearrange two pegs by the goal nearest the clubhouse on his way in which was essential to completing the task.
The Polytechnic game gave us the perfect preparation to a clash which was probably up there as one of the toughest yet.
Tunes blared out of the away changing room and with the CV of their player manager boasting Beckenham Town and Erith and Belvedere they appeared full of confidence in turning over the blue of Wickham.
The weather didn’t keep the big names out of the stadium. Dave Scudder came armoured with his hands free kit so he didn’t miss his favourite afternoon Terry Wogan show and the finest broker to grace Liverpool St, Paul Kemp was arm in arm with Grandad Barry Russell and the cat Jeff Gibbs!
The family spirit off the pitch was mirrored in the changing room. With some extremely weird characters amongst the group there’s definitely a connection forming between the players. Most of this evidence is apparent in Patrick’s on a Saturday night but it also came to light 5 minutes into the game.
After Horgan and Fitchy got twisted inside out after 20 seconds and the visitors hit the crossbar it was our turn to show what we were about. Big Connor Durnell who is turning the heads of women in abundance of late turned the head of the Cray right back playing some sumptuous football with ex playboy Joe Kemp before picking out Pink Eye Tutt lurking on the edge of the box. Will did his best to block Josh’s shot but Mr Tutt slapped a left foot drive into the bottom right hand corner bringing up 15 goals for the season and giving the Wickham faithful an early reason to shout.
There was another Playboy on the pitch who felt rather left out of the sequence of events. Joe Ivory notorious for scoring plenty of goals on and off the pitch has been back on song of late. We worked on corners at training and it was no surprise Ivory didn’t listen to a thing I asked him to do and made a run exactly where he shouldn’t have been to put us two nil infront. It was a gorgeous cross by Mr Tutt with more swing on the ball than a 1950’s Jazz band and the Navy blues stripes were celebrating once more.
Our shape meant we were happy to concede possession for large periods of the game to Cray but we made sure the areas they had the ball were those where they would be least effective. Will and Ian were having to deal with the carousel of 4 alternating central midfielders Cray had in what was from a tactical perspective a really impressive way of playing. Cray got their reward after a good spell as they found an opening between the lines as well as one by Tayler’s near post. Tay had already made a fantastic save from a one on one but there wasn’t any stopping this attempt.
In my mind I was thinking hold on till half time and we would be fine but once more the chuckle brothers up top had other ideas. Joe Kemp won about 30 headers Saturday and his involvement which led to Ivory’s second was top class. His flick led to a mistake by the Cray defender and despite it being a one on one it was absolutely top class from Ivory who shifted the ball to his right before sliding it between the keepers legs.
It was a massive moment for the boys who were working tirelessly to keep us in front and the two Joe’s gave there defenders the ammunition they needed to continue in this vein.
We went in at half time and the idea was to try and stay as relaxed as possible. We knew that it was a semi but blowing it out of proportion wasn’t going to do anyone any favours so the boys took their time to have a chat and talk some waffle before part two of the plan was carried out.
Used to rolling subs it was killing me inside having the strength we did on the bench but the timing of the subs was always going to be important as disrupting the flow of a good side isn’t always the good idea.
The time for change came on the hour mark in the form of Farthing and Eski. Paul had taken the decision to not talk to me after me asking him to start from the bench but I wasn’t looking for a in depth chat about his week I was looking for a massive impact in a big game of football and that was exactly what I got. He ran his nuts off up top and his athleticism is an absolute sight to behold. You may play against players who get paid to play football but you can guarantee they still won’t be as fit as Paul or have the desire to win like he does. Eski / The Chopper was chopping people up with the ball and without it. Their dangerous left winger got swiftly taken down by a proper tackle from Eski and his footwork in the left hand flank in particular is not what a defender with tired legs has any desire to deal with.
Will Scudder has been injured since the turn of the year and has been out trying to find himself a girlfriend. He was grafting his socks off in Patrick’s with a lovely looking lady on Saturday night and made sure we all knew about it smooching her for the entire night. Lucky for me he grafted twice as hard on Saturday alongside the Ginger Xavi the pair put on quite a show. If I was the manager of the opposition I would have been offering many of our players money to sign for Cray and them two would have been high on the list.
Will’s legs unlike his tongue ran out of steam after 70 minutes and my trusty side kick Steve Jones came on as his replacement to guide the troops over the line. Big games need big players and Steve has never let me down in the last three years and Saturday unlike his barnet was a strong, controlled and sturdy performance until the end.
Cray scored with 10 left on the clock but myself and Cudmore already had the cigars out and there was never a moment of panic! We had it all under control. Ivory and Dave Scudder on the other hand were more animated as Wogan’s show had ended Dave was fully focused on the game and he was lucky he went for the shaved head Saturday morning cause I’m sure he would have probably pulled it all out!
The back 3 made sure we held on. They are absolutely unreal on every levels. With the ball and without they have a way of playing and understanding which means whenever we are scoring goals down the other end we can beat any side. Adam’s swan dive onto the football to prevent what looked a dangerous counter attack was unconventional but underlines his passion and mindset which is second to none. Horgan and Clarkey are two beautiful specimens and neither will lose many games in their careers.
Tayler Emblems save late on sums him up. Throw whatever you want at this lad in a big game and his produces the big saves. It was a monster right hand of similar magnitude to the save he made from the free kick at Corentians and they may well dedicate this cup to him if we were to win it. My hero!
Fitchy ran a marathon last April and then another one Saturday. We’ve done a few marathons together now. It must be my shouting he enjoys to why he does them so well. Huge performance from another whose attitude is one only of a winner.
My Mrs fancies Connor Durnell and so do I. Not sure where he’s come from but when you get a text from someone who says ‘Hi I’m Con, I know all your mates, love the sesh and have a naughty left peg’ one week before the season starts it’s like finding water in the dessert. He doesn’t let me down and the only thing to get the better of him this season is the steel fence Bromley.
The Ginger Xavi is just the Ginger Xavi. The cherry on the top of my cake. Red round and delicious his football could turn a straight man gay. I’ve run out of words to describe the lad!
Mr Cudmore didn’t play Saturday. The first time I’ve ever had to do that to a player in my career as a coach and it doesn’t reflect on what a huge part he is to our team and our club! He was monumental last week against Poly and tore them to pieces and he will win us plenty more games this season with his magical footwork and his unflappable work ethic.
The final will be played on Wednesday 4th April at an unknown destination against an unknown side. What is known I’ll be there in my Wickham tracksuit and I will be taking the Thursday off work. Bring down your friends and your family! It’s sure to be an enjoyable evening!
Thank you for all those who supported on Saturday! We wouldn’t have done it without you!