Match Report - 15 Nov 2008, Old Wykehamist Football Club 2nd XI drew with The School
OWFC 2nds 1 - Winchester College 2nds 1
Fat old men earn deserved draw against McMaster's rapid dwarves
This was more than a football game. This was a clash of ideologies, of visions, of cultures. Paul McMaster's WinCo 2nd XI (who for the simplicity will now be referred to simply as the children) are a team based on strong discipline, hard work and excellent fitness. The Old Woks (the men) are founded on none of these principles. Indeed, it's hard to think of any principles whatsoever that we may be founded upon, but if there are, they certainly aren't those.
Nothing illustrated this better than the warm-up. While the children seemed to be extending more energy in a ten minute drill than most of their opponents have managed in the last six months, the men eschewed this excessive enthusiasm, favouring a half-interested mooch around, only kicking the ball if it happened to come near. Any parallels made at this point to our level of performance during the match itself would, of course, be highly unfair.
As expected, the men tried to get the ball on the deck where possible, while the diminutive but enduring children hit the channels and chased hard. Their pace up top caused occasional problems for Alex Hardiman at the back, but then so does everyone's. Starting the better, the children nearly took the lead when a free kick swung in from deep was glanced in the direction of the top corner by the confused head of Chris Webbe, only for Ed Duncan to reluctantly haul his arse skywards and tip the ball over the bar. Duncan was required again soon after, with Craig "Kishan" David the victim of a pretty harsh call for holding down the striker in the box from a long throw. The ball beat his outstretched arm, but fortunately not the underside of the bar, and the rebound was lobbed tamely back. Two bullets dodged in quick succession.
Buoyed by their escape, the men grew more confident and started to exert more control. Lascelles burst from deep before slipping a through ball into the path of Wheal, steaming into the middle off his flank with more speed, determination and focus than a guy trying to finish a wank while his girlfriend's in the shower. Wheal took a touch before driving the ball let footed inside the near post. As Partridge says, "the proof is in the pudding, and the pudding, in this case, is a football." The children still had time to carve out a great opportunity on the stroke of half time, but their winger struck tamely at Duncan's legs from ten yards out.
With a half time lead and the advantage of the slope to come, the men sensed the opportunity for a rare victory against the versions of their previous selves, but there was still much to be done. A dominant start to the second half only fuelled the mounting geriatric hubris. With Flaherty and Silber providing fresh legs on the wings, and Gervais giving the infant defenders a new problem up top, the men looked fresh and in control. A rasping drive from distance from Lascelles was pushed round the post, and Wheal and Gervais looking dangerous without getting the clear cut chance they craved. Dunn was pulling the strings in midfield, perhaps aided by the psychological advantage of being at least a foot taller than any of his opponents. Surely, with twenty minutes to go,the men would cruise to victory.
Except of course they didn't. A scramble after a half cleared corner ended with a clean strike somehow flying through the crowd and into the roof of the net. Ed Lascelles expressed his frustration at this most upsetting turn of events by attempting to perform major surgery on the shin bone of his opposite number. This reporter's conversation with the ref in The Queen suggests that the ref leaving his card wallet on his bedside table was all that saved Lascelles from the indignity of being sent off on Doggers twice in one year. More worryingly, the children's superior fitness was now beginning to show, and they looked to have won it when Craig David conceded another penalty. Whereas the first was dubious, this one was about as ambiguous as Kerry Katona's drug habit. Fortunately for Craig, a week sidefoot from the spot was easily saved, and the men somehow coughed and weezed over the finish line with a 1-1 draw.
The proceedings had not just been a titanic battle for supremacy between the generations on the pitch - it had noticeably moved those watching. When asked for comment, a visibly excited and emotional Rob Wyke enthused "I'm sorry, this is a non-smoking site. You'll have to go onto the street".
On a personal note, the most upsetting moment of the day was not in fact provided by the ball flashing past my fingertips and into the vacant net, but by the man I sat next to on the bus back to Islington. After much fiddling with the battery unit on his phone and finally managing to attach it, he smiled creepily at me and said he had magic hands.
OWFC 2nd XI: Duncan; Webbe, Hardiman, Popat, Burridge; Wheal, Dunn, Lascelles, Walters A; Foster, Coleman
Rolling subs: Flaherty, Silber, Gervais
Goals: Wheal 30
Referee: Ludicrously attired whistle happy owner of a Greggs loyalty card
Cards: None (despite Lascelles' best efforts)
Attendance: 17 (handful of old dons and bored Wykehamists)
MOTM: Chris Webbe (immense, attempted own goal notwithstanding)
Top Stat: Kishan Popat has now given away as many penalties this season as Ed Foster has scored goals
Old Wykehamist Football Club 2nd XI 1 - 1 The School ()