Match Report - 13 Oct 2012, Old Wykehamist Football Club 2nd XI lost to Old Harrovians
Warning! Results in the Arthurian League may be closer than they appear
It was one of those close 5-2s. At 2-1 down at half time the men of the Old Wykehamist FC Second XI believed, rightly, that the game was theirs for the taking. They had started the brighter of the two teams, forcing a couple of early corners after some crisp interchanges on a pitch which cried out for passing football. Even Harrow’s opener—an Henry-esque finish by their talismanic striker Ben(?), who opened his body and placed the ball in the right corner after using his pace to exploit a hole in the OWFC backline—did not upset the Blues’ composure: England and Morgan were winning the midfield battle and spreading the ball round the pitch like butter on hot crumpets. This good play was soon rewarded when Wake-Walker slotted home an equaliser from a narrow angle after a scramble in the box.
It was not long, however, before another scramble, this time in the Wykehamist penalty area, allowed the Harrovians to pull clear again. Once more it was Big Ben who inspired panic in blue-clad hearts, latching onto a through-ball and bearing down on goal. He was temporarily halted by the nimble Flaherty, a stand-in between the sticks who impressed all day with his bravery (his right shin was later left sporting a red badge of courage after another run in with OHFC’s busy spearhead) and his busting (“A good six or seven posts,” was the Hopperite’s evaluation of his own kicking from hand). But after the ball came loose neither Hardiman nor Morgan could effect a decent clearance, choosing instead to direct the ball directly into the flight path of the striker’s swinging right boot. Half a second later the crossbar was ringing and the net was bulging.
Nevertheless the men of Wykeham continued to prosper by using their widemen, and before long the pressure told. Wilson ghosted in front of a defender and shaped to meet a speared cross from the industrious Morse. His hulking marker could not bear the ignominy and bundled the frontman to the deck. On-field captain Rann had confidently nominated the penalty taker before the game: “It’s got to be Jack [Wake-Walker].” Like a sort of less-right-wing-more-centre-back Mitt Romney, Rann was soon regretting his rash and ill-founded comments: Wake-Walker, keen as ever to outdo his sparring partner (/ life-partner) Kiley, posted his entry for the ‘Worst Ever Penalty’ competition by idly bobbling his effort wide of the left-hand post.
After the interval, and the introduction of skipper Blackett to the on-field contingent, spirits remained high. The first ten minutes yielded a fine opportunity, with Morgan channelling Bergkamp to pluck a Hardiman through-ball from the air, only to be dispossessed by a last-ditch Harrow tackle as he shaped to lash home. Harrow kept busy and mobile and pinned the Twos back into their own box, forcing an error of judgment which proved decisive. So convincing was Hardiman’s call for the inside pass that Rann overcame his instinct to propel the ball from near the corner flag to somewhere in the vicinity of Rayner’s Lane and instead slipped it inside to his colleague on the corner of his own six-yard box. “I immediately regretted making the call,” the loquacious veteran told a poorly-attended press conference. “I just didn’t get the right contact on the clearance.” The silver-clad Harrovians tucked in the loose ball from three yards and the match started to slip from the Blues’ grasp.
The Met Office’s pathetic fallacy department responded to the scoreline by engineering a Biblical rainstorm. In the confusion (this was serious rain – it was like at the end of Back to the Future II) Harrow extended their lead after a midfielder scampered onto the umpteenth through-ball: Rann and Hardiman at first shouted, and then grumnled, Statler and Waldorf style, about offside. But Izmir, the man in teal secured from Gumtree at the last minute to officiate, had left his watch, cards and, it seemed, whistle at home. (Heroic left back Guest later admitted to playing the scorer onside.) In the downpour things started to get nasty, with most of the incidents involving Harrow’s simian No. 9, who looked like someone who would spill your pint then laugh at you while swigging on a WKD, or push a child off a swing, or be involved in the Libor scandal, or just generally be a bit of a dick. [In the light of the potential online publication of this piece, and on the advice of OWFC’s lawyers, we remind readers that all opinions expressed here belong to OWFC online editor Joe King and may have no basis in reality: No. 9 might well be Hampstead’s answer to Mother Theresa – or perhaps some other recently deceased, much loved charity champion.]
The sodden Wykehamists, inspired by the indefatigable spirit of Christofides, played on with gusto and once more threatened to upset the Hillsiders’ dominance after Wake-Walker floated a back-header into the net from a Wilson (?) cross. But if Lance Armstrong has taught us anything, it is that people who overcome the odds to triumph in the face of adversity are probably mendacious, bullying sociopaths with arteries full of someone else’s blood. With this in mind, the Blues decided to cut short their comeback, preferring instead to give the ball away with attempted Hail Mary passes and take pot-shots from 40 yards. Morse, more used to the four minute halves of FIFA 13 than the statutory 45, succumbed to cramp and the Harrovians exploited the vacant right flank, and Rann’s lassitude, to work an elegant fifth.
As the sun emerged somewhere above Sudbury Hill, Izmir finally located his whistle and put an end to the splashfest. After 90 minutes, full of both promise and disappointment, OWFC2 were left still rooted to the bottom of the table without a point to their name. The Blues Brothers have already lost more games this season than in either of the two previous, triumphant, campaigns. Nevertheless, in this hard-fought battle they showed that they have the wherewithal to compete at this exalted level. Their next opponents (TBC) should be shaking in their hot pink Nike Tiempos
Old Harrovians 5 - 2 Old Wykehamist Football Club 2nd XI ()