Match Report - 11 Oct 2008, Old Wykehamist Football Club 1st XI beat Old Salopians
Buzzing Blues Subdue Salop
The sun is indeed shining on OWFC: goals are flying in from all angles, both sides are sitting pretty at the top of their divisions, and cyberspace has been tamed. One might say ‘we have never had it so good’, but until the release of the second volume of Prof. Underwood’s comprehensive history of Wykehamist football, Manners Makyth Quality Football: Harry Cripps and The Good Times, we’ll have to be more circumspect and concur with an unnamed source, who has revealed that ‘There is a real buzz around the club right now.’ This buzz, in tandem with a new aptitude for incisive forward play, allowed OWFC to see off a talented Old Shrewsbury side in a game marred by a horrific injury for the Shrews’ left-back.
The Woks continued their habit of starting badly, distracted by the riparian charm of Chiswick, mildewy kit, and the crunchier than usual economic atmosphere. The unseasonable sunshine and unusually scrappy football combined to give the game an otherworldly feel: for the first time since the abandonment of the Gold Standard Baker lost out on headers and Vernon tried to strike a pull-back with his standing leg. The Woks rode their luck as the Shrews spurned good chances. But then class shone through: Masefield danced in from the right, past the lumbering OSFC defence, and dispatched a chirurgical left-foot finish into the far corner from the edge of the box.
Masefield’s insouciant finish reminded OWFC of their quality and fighting spirit. The defence, corralled by the effervescent Spalton, in his last game as a bachelor, began to find some shape. Walter’s mastery of the drag-back and Delap-like throw began to dominate the left flank. Tackles were firm but fair. No-one typified this good-natured grit better than Baker, who won a fifty-fifty on the edge of the box. Unfortunately, the old adage of ‘go in hard and you can’t get hurt’ was proved wrong, as Salop’s defender became the latest victim of the crunch. The veteran Shrew’s commitment was not enough to prevent Baker winning the ball, and then, quite accidentally, investing his studs deep into the defender’s shin. Tempers simmered on the sunbaked Chiswick floodplain. However, aggression soon dissipated and turned to tedium as the long wait for an ambulance began.
It is a testament to their new winning mentality that this forty-five minute hiatus did not derail Wykehamist dominance. OSFC came back after the break with new vigour and a hastily acquired slaphead ringer. The loss of Baker’s aerial prowess was soon forgotten as Merriott and Stevens stepped up and made their exuberance and elegance tell in a crowded midfield. Marauding full-back Wakiwaka moved up to right wing to make way for Toone, where his pace and delivery presented problems.
Nevertheless, Shrewsbury continued to threaten as they committed more men forward and spread the play effectively. Spalton, Rann et al. held them at bay, but their play took a turn to the agricultural, and possession began to dry up. Voices were raised. Testing times for the Blues.
However, as often this season, the Blues’ exemplary knowledge of where the goal is, surely a must for footballing success, got them out of jail. This time the deus ex machina was provided by midfielder Merriott. A typically crisp free-kick delivery saw the pigskin fly sweetly from Toone’s right boot onto Masefield’s chest, where it was cushioned by a mat of ginger fuzz, before landing straight on Merriott’s advancing left boot. It screamed into the top right corner.
However, this moment of brilliance did not steady the good ship Winchester. The three points did not even seem safe when Coleman, who put in a tireless shift up front on his first team debut, latched on to a Walters’ through-ball and notched up a third with a striker’s finish. After the game, Mrs. Baker, who has a Master’s degree in linesmanship and was right on the spot, dismissed any talk of offside.
Despite nimble work from ‘keeper Neale, Salop dirtied the Wykehamists’ sheet with a late goal. A nervy Wykehamist side began to carp at each other and were perhaps saved from oblivion only by generous refereeing and Shrewsbury’s wastefulness.
In summary, a remarkable victory for OWFC: ‘if you can play badly and win…’ The long road to victory stretches ahead and the three biggest obstacles are presented not by other teams but by the Wykehamists themselves: complacency, perfectionism and chronic tardiness. Next week’s visit at Bradfield will be crucial in the battle against these threats.
OWFC: Neale, Walters, Rann, Spalton, Wakiwaka, Vernon, Merriot, Baker (Toone 45), Stevens, Masefield, Coleman.
Goals: OWFC -- Masefield (20), Merriott (65), Coleman (75)
OSFC – Spiro, or maybe one of the other X-Men (84).
Man of the Match: Masefield
Old Salopians 1 - 3 Old Wykehamist Football Club 1st XI ()