Sunday, 10 April 2011

Final defeat for management duo

Dulwich Hamlet Supporters' 3 Worthing Supporters' 4 Friendly at Belair Park Saturday 9th April 2010 In a 'fitting' end to the eleven-a-side managerial reign of joint Gaffers Mick O'Shaughnessy & Mark Hutton, defeat was snatched from the jaws of victory, as 'The Rabblers' went down by the odd goal in seven, where the Rebels from the south coast were unwittingly aided & abetted by the sheer incompetence of our own club referee Phil Baker! 'Fitting' because losing was the norm under their tenureship, but to be fair to them, you can only work with the tools you have! In some sort of defence of the 'big nosed one', he does a great job sorting out the kit, & offering to referee, without whom we simply wouldn't have a game...though at one stage we thought we wouldn't have one anyway, as he arrived at Belair only seven minutes before the scheduled 10.30am kick, which meant a ball wasn't kicked in anger until ten to eleven. James O'Shaughnessy attempted to get on the good side of the referee by politely enquiring: "So are you going to be my friend today". Presumably not, as the retort from the man in black (actually a bright green number reminiscent of communist era East Germany)-"Fuck off you cunt, you're going to get a red card". A threat he never kept, fortunately. But with volunteer refs like that what hope the Respect campaign eh? This is always one of the most keenly anticipated fixtures on our card. A combination of Worthing being one of the friendliest bunches we play, & helped by the fact that they are of a similar 'limited' footballing ability as ourselves! Though we should perhaps introduce some sort of 'two goal' handicap to compensate for the pace we give away for our advancing years. And why not eh? There can't be many, if any, supporters teams anywhere up & down the land, who have not one but two over sixties turning out, as we did today! We managed to get a full side out, just! Apparently one or two put themselves forward, but failed to show, which is not good form. Whilst Worthing had the bare eleven. The attendance was swelled briefly by a local couple, strolling in the park with their little boy,the dad offering some 'pearls of wisdom' to his son. "Can you see how they're not all chasing the ball at once?" Little 'un, wisely, declined to offer his opinion, but the old man quickly rumbled this wasn't quite Champions League standard he was used to on the box, & ushered his family away to safety! An early chance came our way, a scissors kick effort from Jack McInroy. Fairly even early exchanges, but with the Hamlet boys stanping their authority, trying to gain the upper edge. Making an appearance was the other manager's son, David O'Shaughnessy, who worked hard throughout, unfairly compared by hs old man to Bambi! Who also noted what a contrast the opposition were to our previous opponents Preston North End! Lawrence Marsh went close, before Will Patrick stooped slightly to connect with a James O'Shaughnessy corner, to hit the bottom corner of the net. One nil to The Hamlet! We were only able to hold the lead for five minutes though, after Matt Hammond saved a Rebels effort, deftly pushing it out. but the rebound was whacked past him. Moments later another Worthing effort whizzed past his post, which was a bit if a wake up call, as they could have-and should have- taken an undeserved lead. As if this was a wake up call, we began to push players forward and began to pile on a bit of pressure, which left us a bit exposed at the back, on more than one occasion Steve Rickerby mopped up the danger with his dependable hoofs. Further up the park James, having had no luck trying to cultivate friendships with the referee pre-match, wasn't making many with his own team mates, moaning at Jacko 'to stop with the flicking'! Which is a bit harsh, as I, personally, think Jacko is still one of the most talented & unselfish players we have, & he is now over fifty too, so give him a break young man, & respect your elders! James is not without a touch of talent himself, nice short sharp one-two football involving himself, finished with him putting his brother David through, only for the offside whistle to blow. And left the exasperated manager on the sideline to mutter:"Someone aquaint my son with the offside law". More chances fell our way, a ball from Larry to James unfortunately ending way over the bar. But the strike of the game thus far came next, with a Worthing player hitting the crossbar from just inside the half. It looked pretty impressive, but to be honest it never rippled the back of the net, so he may as well have hit the corner flag. Worthing were starting to gain a slight upper hand, and turned this into a goal, Matt pulled off a fine save down at the post, but despite us having players packing the box it was the visitors who reacted and tapped the ball over the line, to take the lead. Which should have been added to when an attempt at a gaping open goal went begging & over the bar. That should have been three one. Mick the manager shouted out to his son James: "That was down to you showboating!", which brought a smile from the boy, which might mean,I say MIGHT, he is finally starting to lose some of his petulance & growing up! ;-) He saved his response for the start of the second half, letting his boots do the talking! A powerful strike from at least 25 yards out saw the ball fly into the back of the net for a magnificent goal! Now that's showboating! The game was turning once more, with 'The Rabblers' regaining the upper hand. Larry went close, but his attempt was saved by the Caveman in goal, who we can forgive I suppose, as he recently 'guested' in our colours, up at St. Johnstone. The parry fell to the 'evergreen' pensioner Paul Verrico. We took the lead in a similar situation to our first. Another James corner flew across the box, to be met once more by the polished head of Will, whose decisive header was even more powerful & impressive than his earlier one. It's rare in itself nowadays for Hamlet fans to take the lead in a game, but it affected the referee more than most. Minutes after we took the lead, Matt was bellowing instructions from the back, marshalling his defence, including debutant Trevor Collins, who he wanted to offer some advice to. "Trev, Trev!" he barked, for the whole pitch to hear. Including Baker in charge, who stopped the game, mistakenly thinking he was shouting 'Ref, ref'! Oh dear.. Phil is getting on a bit, but that's a 'senior moment' that Hutty would have been proud of! The 'show' must go on..and as an aside, watching Hamlet fan Tony Squires sidled up to me to share the information that he thought Trevor was the spitting image of England cricketer Michael Vaughan. not being a cricket follower I didn't have a clue what he was on about. No change there then... Back to the game, if we must. David O'Shaughnessy went close, just wide of the post. Soon after John Prendergast went off early, as he had a prior appointment flathunting, the late kick off due to the referee being less than punctual not helping our cause,resulting in his premature departure from the field, with 61 years young Mark Hutton being forced into the fray. We once more came under a sustained spell of pressure, James working hard, moving back to help out. Andy Chaney tried an opportunist lob at the other end, when it goes in it's class, but on this occasion it was nowhere near. The game was to & fro, Matt pushing the ball wide for a corner, in the scramble that followed the referee missed a Worthing handball, but nothing came of it, as their effort went for a goal kick. It looked for moment that the match was slipping away from the seasiders, reduced to a few long range opportunistic shots, hit in hope more than anything. But as the clock ticked down tiredness was starting to creep in on our weary bones, and we seemed to be playing at least four up front. Not as any sort of tactical masterstroke, but people were too tired to track back, making it a hell of a lot harder for our pressed defence. Trevor cleared up a couple of times, & we had the ever reliant trusty traction engine boot of Steve. Not that we had given up trying to add to our lead. But David was caught offside a couple of times. Leaving the Gaffer to call out: "David! Run across the line!" I turned and said to him: "You should have taken him down the park more when he was a kid". The reply wasn't quite what I was expecting-"I did. That's how he split his chin". No answer to that really. Worthing almost pulled it back, the ball flying off the post, resulting in a corner from the rebound, which was then dealt with. As it hit the post Mark Hutton was hugging the post, I wasn't sure if he had blocked it or not. I asked the Gaffer if he had got a touch, but he told it was the post, & Hutty was still there looking for the ball... We bowed to the inevitable, and the equaliser came, but to be fair, it was a shot that a keeper with one eye would have struggled to stop (That's one eyed Gordon Banks, not Hutty!) & our perfectly sighted Matt Hammond had no chance in preventing the goal of the game. Scenting a chance of glory Caveman Nick took off their keepers jersey,not a pretty sight, actually an ill-fitting three sizes too small old Oxford United top, & came outfield. Despite his 'danger' it was ourselves who got a last burst of energy,Larry bringing the ball forward, beating his man, but shooting just wide. Moments later we were awarded a corner, to the total bemusement of EVERYONE, including the ref who insisted it was a corner! Common sense prevailed & everyone totally ignored him, with a goal kick taken by the Worthing custodian. But if those watching & playing thought that was bad, worse was to follow. Much, much worse! Andy Chaney broke through, clearly the last man, but wasn't able to tuck the ball away, as he was being grappled round the body, as the assailant appeared to have more arms than an octopus, holding him back. A clearcut case of a penalty, & if this were not friendly supporters' football, a red card for holding back the last man, but nothing absolutely nothing, from the referee! Now I know I don't like to moan at referees, as we would would struggle without people like Phil helping out, but even Hutty would have spotted that if you'd poked his eye out! Shock seemed to set in after that, & instead of having sealed the game from the spot, it was almost inevitable that the next & last goal of the game was to come from the Rebels fans. A corner was only partly cleared, 7 the resulted scuff ended up in the back of the net. With not long to go that looked like it, just one optimistic long range attempt from James, before the referee held up a finger to indicate one minute left, or was he inwardly smirking, giving us lot the finger, after his penalty denial? Match over, handshakes all round, a close game played in good spirit, with a joint team photo to finish. The only 'consolation' for 'The Rabblers' was the management duo waiving matchday subs, which they covered, as a gesture for this being their final eleven a side match at the helm. Presumably out of their own pocket & not team funds, which I would hope should be left for whoever takes over, to cover future costs... ;-) Finally, before the match, there was another great gesture, this time to our Gaffers, from the Worthing head honcho Nick, who presented Mick & Mark with a bottle of wine each, to commemorate their final match in charge.

Saturday, 9 April 2011