Colonel Harland Sanders, born in 1890, went on to establish one of the finest chicken eateries the world has seen. The fact is all the more amazing when you consider the true impact of the KFC meal. Whilst it always tastes fantastic your body leaves you in no doubt that you’ve eaten something incredibly nauseating at about the 2 hour post consumption point. All that grease and funk makes you regret the minute you stepped up and ordered the ‘lite’ family bucket for a lunch time snack. The true magic is that you return a day later to repeat the process like a somewhat confused cow wandering back into the abattoir having taken a wrong turning and walked out the fire exit first time around. That brings us to the Vets.
Every week we relish the build up, talk tactics and generally convince ourselves that the football leagues have missed out on a few quality players in our veteran age group. Invariably 1 minute after the final whistle we look dejectedly around and discuss how poor we were and how thoroughly disappointing the result was…then as if by magic, we return the next week and do it all again believing it will be different.
I firmly believe we are under the curse of the jovial bearded KFC greasy grandad which first came about in 1985 in Osaka¹. As a part of a tribute to the local teams greatest player the crowds tossed a statue of the deep south denizen into the local river. Returning the next day the bearded behemoth of the chicken world had gone, and along with it went the form of the local team. I’m sure to this day the Vets are plagued by a similar curse since stealing the balustrade from the local pub to act as a trophy for the tour. We returned it (of course) but the curse remains. We simply cannot win.
Cue the third game of the season, a beautiful day, our home pitch bathed in dappled sunlight as we trooped out to face Wey Valley. A team with a few losses behind them and an opportunity for the Vets to take it to them.
After setting up the dug out and running through a warm up with our perennially injured Spavo mascot we were off. An interesting start to the first half where we decided to confuse them by playing really badly. Having decided they were all under 18 and built like Roy on after a month of growth hormone we agreed to set about them like the Japanese rugby team on the way to destroying South African dreams. We’d have been better served taking the traditional South African approach and taking pot shots from behind the closed changing room door. We’d have had more chance of scoring. Sadly we ignored our own pomp and let them knock the ball around and failed to make any crunching challenges. I’ve seen harder tackle in the showers after a midwinter away game in Bordon.
The recall of Roy up front, which certainly wasn’t driven by desperation and lack of players, resulted in a short tussle at 35 minutes. The ref adjudged the little lad to have had his teeny stick like arms pulled and awarded the penalty. Colin eventually stepped up after ambling forward at the pace of Reg’s heart rate and sidefooted it into the net. Half time. 1-0.
The entire first half was undoubtedly the most dog-eared depressing game of hoof ball witnessed since at least last week. The usually ice cool Matt Burke stepping up at half time and telling us we were all shit before apologising to Mark’s son both for his language and for letting him witness his hair slip slightly out-of-place. The hamstrung manager/coach/treasurer decided that they hadn’t had enough chances and 1-0 was too good and promptly made some changes. With a quick juggle of squad and positions we went back out to boss the midfield. Having stated at half time that he could manage another 10 Dysandro remained at right back, ‘Awol’ Whiting picking up left back and allowing angry Burkes to step up to midfield duty.
With 9 minutes played, preempting the demise of Dyson’s body, unchallenged and feeling a bit tired Whiting went off as a result of a pebble on the pitch. Dyson with his lungs hanging out of his back-end, knee caps somewhere near his ankles and spine shaped like Quasimodo in a hall of mirrors, soldiered on. Badly.
The new formation and tactics paid off and they soon scored from a corner. We know the drill, unmarked header, scrambled around the feet and a poke in. 1-1. We had some chances to win, Ethers hit the post late on and Roy did his usual ‘try and score from the byline with three players in front of him when a drag back would have meant a goal’, but we carry on, the win still eluding us.
Some solid saves from Paul, some ok passing but no penetration, a bitty horrible game. A booking for the white-toothed assassin up front, Mark Holgate, and Dan Fluety avoiding the book by stating he only swore because he’d really hurt his hamstring…last season he was sent off as linesman by the same ref, this is the new improved Dan! Good recovery!
A few nominations this week, Martin for changing the winning line up and turning 3 points into 1. Regal gets a nod for filling the water bottles and then emptying them out before the game. The ref gets a cursory glance for telling Roy that he couldn’t give him a penalty as he was too quick and then following up with telling him that Lambo had a lovely touch for a big lad. Dan gets a mention for shouting ‘I can’t defend if I’m up front can I!?‘, somewhat of a challenge for a left back.
Spavo gets a mention for saying he’ll turn up on Teamer, not realising that counts toward the squad availability…and for having the shakiest hands when videoing the match, unless he really enjoyed it…
This weeks winner, the devilishly attractive Dyson, pulling the trigger on a forward run with a shot that would have made Geoff Thomas blush. Only improved upon by a beautiful airshot when going to clear a corner. A notable mention however for trying to drop stinging nettles on ‘wee Jimmy Allaway’ whilst he was marking his territory in what was clearly an icy breeze.
Fleet Spurs Vets (1) – (1) Wey Valley Reserves
Matt ‘Tough Love’ Burke
Awol ‘Rough Love’ Whiting
Colin ‘Body gLove’ Vickery
Byron ‘Mr Lover Love’ Friel
Dan ‘Well Mannered’ Fleuty
Mark ‘The Dentist’ Holgate
Mark ‘The Spaniard’ El Rick
Richard ‘Sheikh’ Etherington-Smith
Paul ‘Solid’ Knight
Phil ‘Fluid’ Taw
James ‘Gaseous’ Dyson
Mark ‘Deft Touch’ Lambert
Roy ‘A touch deaf’ Allaway
There is video footage to follow but in truth it looks like it’s been filmed by Shakin’ Stevens through a time warp.