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Old Monmothians vs Monmouth School 1st XI ReportMarch 10th, 2016
Old Monmothians vs Monmouth School 1st XI
Ruminations on a Football Match
Some are born great. Some have greatness thrust upon them. Some people just play football. It was with these wise words ringing in our ears that the Old Monmothians and the Monmouth School 1st XI took to the field on a Welsh Saturday afternoon that couldn’t quite decide whether it was sunny or cold. With the recent election of Gianni Infantino as President of FIFA and his intention to clean up football, it left a sour taste in the OMs’ mouths that Mr Tamplin’s young charges had been using performance-enhancing methods, such as ‘training’.
The warm-up came and went before one could even say ‘Ow, my groin’. As the OMs learnt each others names, erstwhile disputes were put to bed. Thomas L. and Weeks shook hands, putting the bad blood caused by Thomas’ 7 goals for The Grange against Weeks’ St John’s side in 2004 to one side, enabling them to combine to deadly effect on the field.
The referee clearly believed he had been assigned the Johnstones Paint Trophy final, and must have fallen asleep the night before with The Laws of the Game audiobook in his cassette player, as he adjudicated accordingly, refereeing the match with a fine tooth comb, and a whistle.
Johnson in particular took a shine to the man in the middle. He must have forgotten it was Mothers’ Day the following day, as he practically begged the referee to give him a card.
The start of the game saw the OMs firmly on the front foot. Alderman, Johnson and Aldridge Sr. in defence resembled the Maginot Line, if not quite to scale. Williams, Hillman, Aldridge and Weeks between them patrolled the middle of the park with ruthless efficiency, while Spear and Bird rekindled memories of Severn House camaraderie and added pace on the wings. Thomases A. and L. were a constant threat up front.
Chances for either side were not forthcoming early on in the encounter, as the middle third saw the majority of the action, but the OMs quickly began to turn the screw. Thomas L. rattled the post with a scuffed corner, before another gilt-edged chance went begging as the 1st XI goalkeeper stayed strong in a one-on-one.
It was from the OM’s next corner that the afternoon’s first goal was scored. It was just such a shame that it was in our own net. The 1st XI broke with tremendous speed from a clearance, leaving the OMs severely outnumbered at the back. As a cross was whipped in, Hillman lunged with intent – a move that wouldn’t look out of place in the Ministry of Silly Walks. Unfortunately the touch took it past Aldridge, and the scorer was at last troubled. 1-0 to the 1st XI, and against the run of play.
Changes were needed and swiftly followed. Rodney entered the battlefield at left-back, with Zorab just ahead of him on the wing. At this juncture, disaster struck. One of the six Aldridge collarbones decided it had had enough, and during a simple act of goalkeeping distribution, a new shot-stopper was required. Thomas A. did the honourable thing as captain and donned the gloves. The remainder of the first half continued with the OMs on the up, but goals still proved elusive.
The second half started as the first had finished. Both sides were putting on pressure but it was still the OMs who looked like scoring the more, with Thomas A. proving a natural in between the sticks. But then, the turning point. There are some moments in life when those in the midst of greatness understand precisely the importance of what is unfolding around them, and this was one such moment.
Thomas L. found himself through on goal after some loose 1st XI defending. As he and the goalkeeper approached the ball in the corner of the box, hearts were in mouths. Thomas got a flick to the ball first, and the committed goalkeeper could only watch in youthful horror as the onrushing Thomas fell to earth.
Weeks was given the role of penalty-taker. He looked confident, and struck it sweetly. It pains me to say that the bar rudely obstructed the passage of the ball, but still there were questions – questions such as â€œHad the ball crossed the line?, Will the referee give it? and How long, ref? All we needed was Kenneth Wolstenholme and the drama would have been truly complete. In the end, the referee ruled neither with age nor beauty in mind, and the 1st XI got away with it.
Monk, who had turned up in a fetching coat but without rudimentary sporting attire, was summoned to take over in goal, allowing the skipper to assume his role in midfield, as the OMs went in search of an equaliser, and then maybe, just maybe, a winner.
The 1st XI began to up the ante, and the fact that they had met each other before was telling. They besieged the OM goal, but the experience of the former pupils was keeping them in the game. As the clock approached 80 minutes, the tie was very much in the balance.
Those of us who were educated in the chemistry classroom of Mr Jefferies know that the world has but two rules of note. Firstly, energy can be neither created nor destroyed. Secondly, if it can go wrong, it will go wrong. The OMs sought to prove the latter, while disproving the former. The zest of yesteryear disappeared from the haggard legs, and the tie took on an unfair gloss.
The 1st XI scored their second from a delightful finish that would have had Messi purring so much he’d have a reason to forget about his tax returns. A third followed swiftly after, via Alderman’s left shin at the far post. As time passes and details grow less factual, they will say that it was going yards wide, rather than clipping the outside of the post which it may probably not have clipped. Alderman himself blamed the Umbro shin pads that were older than the current 1st Form.
Unfortunately, the OM midfield and defence chose this inopportune moment to begin rehearsing for the South West heats of the Lord Lucan impersonation competition, and things escalated. We weren’t quite losing our shape, but the Maths department had their compasses out trying to figure out if this shape had ever been seen before.
Goal 4 followed in double quick time, and there may even have been a goal 5 as the post-match Carlings and rumoured Peronis entered the minds of the OMs, and the scoreline flattered the 1st XI. With a missed penalty and two own goals in the scorebook, realistically the OMs won the match. At least a good time was had by all. Man of the Match was awarded to Thomas L. for his probing runs into the opposition half, and for generally looking like he had his wits about him.
We’ll win it one year.
Andy Thomas (c)