U.C.L. Academicals Football Club

(The Accies)

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2006-07 Results - January

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Saturday 27th January

Comedy Corner Update - Shaddapa Ya Face

Cardinal Manning 0 (Mark Dawson) Accies 1sts 1.

Brent 2 Accies 2nds 3.

Old Uffingtonians 2 Accies 3rds 1.

Old Ignatians 1 Accies 4ths 4 (Andy Mackay 3, Alex Nekrasov).

Accies 5ths 3 (Tom Porter 2, Thomas Lovell) Old Parmiterians 5.

Egbertians 5 Accies 6ths 0.

1sts Match Report from Steve Hair

Accies progressed to the last 8 of the AFA cup with a 1-0 win away to Cardinal Manning. In truth, this was as comfortable 1-0 victory as it is possible to have, with Dawson only being called upon to make 1 save in the entire 90 minutes – a straightforward gather from a free kick in the first half. Only a terrible pitch and some interesting refereeing kept the score down. Even then, Accies missed some straightforward chances to give the scoreline a look which their superiority deserved, particularly in the second half. 

The Accies started well, without creating too many clear cut chances in the fist 15 minutes. Vanson and Jones both looked bright and were causing the CM defence problems. The referee failed to give Accies a deserved penalty, adjudging Vaughan to have been fouled outside the area when it was at least 2 yards inside. Just before half time, the Accies went deservedly one up. A fine move resulting in Vanson being put through and coolly nudging the ball past the keeper before slotting home. 

The second half was even more one sided, with Hair, Vaughan, Vanson and Foster all coming close to adding to the score. The defence had no trouble from the CM front line and Pirrie was imperious in the midfield holding role. A much sterner test awaits in the next round, with Accies facing favourites Nottsborough. MOM - Pirrie

2nds Match Report from Mo Alvarez

The Accies had to come from behind twice in this scrappy game to make it 9 wins in a row, proving that they are real title contenders this season. Starting brightly, UCL should have gone ahead on 12 minutes when Max ‘ladies man’ Lovell fizzed a shot just wide. It was the type of chance that Barndoor (away on paternal duties) would undoubtedly have also missed.

Against the run of play, the Accies found themselves one down from a set piece. Shocking defending! However, they came back and on 19 minutes, after some terrific link up play, Lovell, getting ever closer, hit the bar from 6 yards out. Fortunately, the rebound fell to Alvarez, who made no mistake – combining power, skill, precision and sheer class to finish with a devastating left-footed volley.

Brent then enjoyed a period of sustained possession, which was accentuated by UCL continually giving the ball away very cheaply. It was compounded by the loss of Tingling, who didn’t really fancy it. However, after a 10 minute pre-match oration about ‘keeping it simple’ on a bad playing surface, it was skipper Walker who was the main villain of the piece. On more than one occasion it was like watching Micky Jackson offering Jesus Juice to a 12 year old as he tried to turn his man, only forgetting to take the ball with him. Brent duly took the lead on 32 minutes, albeit, from a shot-cum-cross from outside the area.

UCL continued to plug away and came out at half time with purpose and belief. On 49 minutes, the excellent Bryant slotted home after an exquisite through ball from Fewkes. Continued pressure from UCL eventually paid off and on 56 minutes the Brent keeper was unable to hold onto a low drive from the industrious Crotty. Waiting on hand was Lovell, who never misses from 2 yards.

The game then went to stalemate, with the better of the chances falling to UCL. Ramsden offered confidence and assurance between the sticks, and the Accies defence held strong as Brent tried to salvage a point towards the end, but it was UCL who were worthy winners of this hard fought contest.  

Saturday 20th January

Cardinal Manning vs Accies 1sts postponed.

HAC vs Accies 2nds postponed.

Accies 3rds 0 University of Hertfordshire 1 (at University of Hertfordshire).

William Fitt vs Accies 4ths postponed.

Wood Green Old Boys 1 Accies 5ths 4 (Bob Woad, Greg Healy, Sameer Patel, Tom Lovell) .

Accies 6ths 1 (Jason Ingel) Old Edmontonians 4 (at Old Edmontonians).

3rds Match Report from Terry Foster

SATURDAY SAW A SECOND SUCCESSIVE defeat for the Accies, who’s disgruntled fans streamed home ruing a host of missed chances, and a woeful inability to convert second half supremacy – aided by a significant wind advantage – into goals.

Phil ‘the Power’ Stewart was the central villain of the 1st half pantomime, blazing over a 4th minute penalty following an innocuous shove on Warhorse Atkinson. Stewart assured your correspondent during the post-match conference that he is in fact equally as ambidextrous as Mark Hughes in his prime, but many might have argued that using his left foot (i.e. the one which he uses for approximately 98% of the time during open play according to Opta) could perhaps have been wiser. Either way, it was blazed high over the bar, and as the Power held his head in his hands (perhaps wondering ‘how come it worked for Andreas Brehme in the World Cup Final, but not for me?’), the chance had disappeared as quickly as it had arrived.

The remainder of the first half was an even if tepid affair, with our hosts edging it on chances created but failing to capitalize on the blustery conditions. Giovanni ‘Pezzo di Merda’ Martelli deputized ably in goals for the absent Fox, understood by parts of the media to have taken the afternoon off in order to search for a suitable retirement home. The bulky Italian certainly looked the part throughout the opening forty-five, belying the excess pounds with a display of unexpected agility: comfortably gathering a well struck 30-yarder, diving sharply down to his left to block a low drive, and making himself big (effortlessly) to snuff out the danger in two one-on-one situations. 

At the opposing end, John Hartson dead spit Stu Bannister followed up his plucky brace against a Kinga-led Josephians by shining in midfield, offering glimpses of threat with some nice touches, notably a mazy dribble culminating in a fine strike which narrowly cleared the bar. 0-0 at half time then, with the probably Accies the happier of the two sides.

The second half saw the introduction of hard man Wall and midfield dynamo Foster, the latter almost creating an immediate impact with a 25-yard volley, which unfortunately was straight down the keeper’s throat. The pressure then mounted in tandem with the growing wind, and the chances came thick and fast. Atkinson was chopped down for a clear penalty (dare I suggest the referee was afraid to award two pens in one game?), Angry Wasp Short headed over from six yards when well placed, and Foster blazed inches wide from the edge of the box. 

But then came the 80th minute sucker punch, as we were caught on the break after a solid ten-minute spell camped in the Hertfordshire half. Martelli appeared to leave a near-post gap not dissimilar in size to Jade Goody’s mouth, and the grateful onrushing forward stroked home with glee amidst a frenzy of home celebration (Ed's note - how often have the phrases "Jade Goody's mouth" and "stroked home" appeared in the same sentence?). The Accies can be pleased with their response – Short instantly finding space to turn and force a smart save from the keeper, and a flurry of late corners eventually leading to Lyon’s low drive being desperately scrambled from the goal line – but it was ultimately to no avail, leaving those away supporters to face the long journey home grumbling feebly ‘if only, if only’, wondering just how we’ve managed to drop five points this season against the league’s bottom club.

6ths Match Report from Danny McConnell

With three wins on the bounce, the sixths travelled with optimism, or was that over-optimism, for a rematch with Edmontonians at Church Street. Having conceded four in the first thirteen minutes, surely a repeat horror show couldn't occur.

Despite late arrivals (one, who to prevent accusations of finger pointing shall only be referred to as "Roy", missed the 1.15pm meet, turned up extolling the virtues of Jermaine Pennant's goal for Liverpool - which flew in at 1.04pm) the Accies had a full side, albeit not the one Lieutenant Pink (Heaton) had hoped to start, and were condemned to playing into the gale as the vice-skipper on management debut proved to be as useless a tosser as Captain Marmite, in Germany rumoured to be setting up a German office.

The first half performance was, frankly, superb, with the Accies looking like holding Edmontonians scoreless until the ball broke, and was crossed to the far post where Andy Colthorpe rose to challenge the forward, but given a disparity of eighteen inches in height could only threaten his chest as the Edmontonian opened their account. Accies then rocked for five minutes, but just before half time, Jason Ingel broke in midfield, beat four men, and just as he staggered to the ground exhausted poked the ball past the keeper for the equaliser.

At half time, the words of wisdom offered only two ways we could lose the game - be complacent, take it easy and assume we'd won it, or get niggly and involved with their players and wind them up. Had anyone mentioned a third, our keeper have a ####ing shocker and they'd have got the perfect hat-trick. To misquote the song, Three Out Of Three Ain't Good. Although the wind dropped, Edmontonians flew out of the blocks in the second half, and made most of the running, most of the chances, and all of the goals, three of them spread throughout the half, two of them keeping blunders. The Accies, younger, supposedly fitter, and allegedly better, looked none of these, and by the end were reduced to moaning at the referee, who had a decent game.

All in all, a very disappointing afternoon. Three months ago we accepted this sort of thing, because we didn't know better. Today was poor, across the board (with apologies to Al, Oli and Graeme, all subbed at half-time having done the hard work, and then watched the detrius of the second), and something we'll all want to improve on and (hopefully) learn from. There's no shame in losing, but if one has to lose, one wants to be able to feel one's given 100%.

Saturday 13th January

Cardinal Manning vs Accies 1sts postponed.

Accies 2nds 6 (Paul Bernard, Lysander Bryant, Kieron Jennings, Nat Keast, Max Lovell, Danny Fewkes) Southgate County 0 (Matt Ramsden).

Accies 3rds 2 (Stu Bannister 2) Old Josephians 3.

Accies 4ths 2 (Andy Mackay 2) Old Buckwellians 2.

Old Woodhouseians 3 Accies 5ths 2 (Jack Hulme, James Liang).

Accies 6ths 4 (Dan Bennett 2, Roy Okec, Ryan Harbi) Bealonians 1.

2nds Match Report from Mark Walker

Another good win for the 2s. However, after a decent first half hour this wasn’t a particularly impressive performance and the least said about the second half the better. The game lost all shape after the departure of the talismanic Bernard. That said; a win is a win and the merry bandwagon that is the 2s this year continues to roll on. Despite this not being a great game it did serve as a reminder why some of us continue to resist the trend to spend Saturday afternoons in acquisition mode at Brent Cross or some similar establishment; or alternatively sitting in one of those ubiquitous coffee houses reading the celebrity obsessed press; or even worse propping up the bar along with other losers at a Harvester style pub with only the Belgian lady for company. For the record this third path is the one the feckless skipper of the 3rd team tends to take on his Sundays. At football there is always a little pleasant banter and it gets even better when there is something laid on to keep everyone amused. It is the primary reason that Uncle Fewkes continues to play well into his 41st year of Accies football. Mojo watchers everywhere will be delighted to know that this week it was their hero who provided the entertainment in an incident which will live long in the memory. More of that later.

Regarding the football, notable performances came from Alex Keast who continues to perform with distinction on the left side. He combined well with Fewkes and always posed a threat to the opposition. The Skipper’s favourite player Bernard scored a cracking first goal and was unlucky to see another ruled out for offside. Bryant settled nerves with an excellent finish for the second following good work down the left from that man Keast. The other Keast: Wee Nat handed in another good performance and a goal in holding the midfield alongside Bryant and Fewkes broke his duck for the year with a wicked inswinging corner which cleared all defenders and went directly into the onion bag. Donal McElwee our latest recruit finally made his debut which was promising and bodes well for the future. The only issue is that he brings the Celt Count in the squad up to dangerously high levels at 5. A team can only have so many Charlie Nicholas/Mo Johnston type players otherwise all discipline and structure breaks down. Mojo’s unconventional refuelling habits are only tolerated as long as he continues to perform (in the widest sense) each Saturday. The 2 Cornish deviants count as Celts here. A very strange place Cornwall with strong Celtic heritage apparently. To round things off Max Lovell notched the final goal by chesting Mojo’s quality free kick past the Southgate keeper.

With time running out an incident occurred which nobody present could possibly have foreseen. Our central midfielders had pressed the opposition very well throughout when not in possession and on this occasion the player being “pressed” saw the red-mist. It has to be said this was the only serious flashpoint in 180 minutes against Southgate over the last 2 weekends. The Southgate player’s reaction to a foul was completely over the top and he won’t be proud of himself. However, let’s hope the referee is as lenient as possible as this seems to have been a one-off. Southgate are a good set of lads no doubt. If it wasn’t for Mojo, this incident would probably have passed by with just a booking for the offending player. Unfortunately the Chilean Jocko entered the fray from stage left eager to display his fistic abilities and to back up his man just when things were starting to calm down. Admirable intentions indeed but this wasn’t the sort of intervention for which Kofi Annan is known. In fact it almost started an all-in 21 man brawl. Perhaps sensing that he was a flyweight taking on a heavyweight Mojo decided the “Glasgow-kiss” was out of the question and instead opted for a new move: the “Santiago step-over”. Basically this entails rushing in, pushing the man over, looking tasty, then throwing out some verbals (that no one who hails from the great nation of England could possibly understand) and finally stepping over the man on the way out through stage right. Job done. Unfortunately Mojo did not execute the final part of the move properly and ended up being accused of stamping: a charge he has since denied. Do we believe him? On balance yes but it has to be said Mojo’s approach learnt on the battlefields of the Gorbals was ill-advised in the circumstances. Luckily for him without linesmen the referee was only able to deal with the primary incident involving the Southgate player and he went unpunished. A lesson learnt? I suspect not. Looking on from a safe distance (the Skipper is a coward) this was a very amusing incident. Keystone football. The whole thing was finished off beautifully when a passing Danny Mac restrained and berated the Skipper’s favourite player (quite unfairly) for his limited involvement which was simply that of a rather large and intimidating peacemaker.

Saturday sees the next round of the Old Boys cup against a strong HAC side. We will need to play better than this to secure a result but we travel in good heart expecting to give a decent account of ourselves. Either way the lads are encouraged to secure a pass (for the early evening at least) as a trip to the jungle that is South London affords an opportunity for some ale and banter no matter what the result is. Win or lose etc……… Paul Bernard’s requests for paternity leave have been denied by the management in clear breach of EU legislation.

6ths Match Report from Danny McConnell

A windy day at fortress Shenley, and Captain Marmite faced with the sort of impossible decision few would struggle with. He's won the toss, play with or against the wind - overheard squawking "I don't know, I've never won it" (clearly a useless tosser) as the referee suggested "ask Danny", JD took command and elected to go with. Bealonians worked hard for twenty minutes, and the Accies struggled to make the conditions count, but finally Dan Bennett awoke and broke into the right side of the area before lashing home a shot which the Beals keeper could not hold. Soon after Dan added his second, from twenty yards firing in off the underside of the cross bar and the scoreline looked much healthier. Tseyi finally arrived, having finally achieved full flake-dom against which he had struggled for far too long. Late because he spent all morning looking for his missing boots. The same boots he'd left behind after last game and were in the kit-bag, and bench duty for our Casanova who doesn't know his transatlantic 69 from his 99.

Bealonians continued to press, but the Accies held firm. Adey Haysome made one desperate lunging defensive tackle on the edge of the area, missing the ball and conceding a free kick, but fortunately this was the edge of their area, showing Adey's timing and territorial sense had increased proportionately over the years. i.e. not at all. Finally, as half time beckoned the Accies added their third as Roy Okec turned home to give a commanding advantage, although mystic Serge's prediction of an 8-0 outcome proved to be a wildly inaccurate attempt at clairvoyance.

Into the second half, and Bealonians took control, and an early goal would've made the game interesting but the Accies held firm. After 20 minutes Dan was switched to man mark their play-maker, and both effectively vanished from the game. Bealonians were reduced to scraps and numerous corners, but with the main aerial danger to the Accies defence at corners snuffed out (Jason not playing this week) the Accies could concentrate on marking Bealonians and held firm. Time continued to tick by, and despite further and almost constant pressure, so sustained that Waz forgot to get injured, the scoreline was finally extended as Ryan proved to be the pinball wizard and turned home a scrambled ball for the fourth.

The final few minutes were focussed on whether the Turtle could keep a clean sheet, and the ever more frantic efforts of Harry Ramsden in the goal behind to ensure he failed. Harold touched our match ball more often than his in the second half, and whilst Alex Keast on the 2nds touchline "cleverly wasted time" by mishitting a return from 40 yards away from goal to 50 yards in a different direction (or was it an accidental wild swipe, shurely not), Harry scrurried hither and thither to get the ball back as quickly as possible in his long running sad obsession with the Golden Gloves.

Finally, in the last minute, Beals winger broke through into the area, Captain Marmite did his Bambi-on-Ice impression and the consolation goal was fired home to the audible laughter of the b#####d in the goal behind. A clean sheet ruined, but at least some consolation for the team in three points won.

Saturday 6th January

Accies 1sts 0 Old Hamptonians 3.

Southgate County 1 Accies 2nds 6 (Paul Bernard 2, Max Lovell, Alex Keast, Nat Keast, og).

Accies 3rds 4 (Scott Atkinson 3, Terry Foster) South Bank CUACO 3.

William Fitt vs Accies 4ths postponed.

London Hospital Old Boys 2 Accies 5ths 3 (Bob Woad 3).

Old Ignatians 0 (Danny McConnell) Accies 6ths 1 (Serge Sollo).

1sts Match Report from Steve Hair

After the good win against Aloysians the week before Christmas, the Accies slumped to defeat against Hamptonians at rain lashed Shenley. The 3-0 scoreline was somewhat harsh on the Accies, the simple truth being that Hamptonians took their chances exceptionally well, whereas the Accies didn’t take any of theirs. 

Both teams tried (and at times succeeded) in playing some good football in atrocious conditions and it was Accies who had the first real opportunity of the game. A fine passing move carved open the Hamptonians defence, and Carabine was upended in the penalty area by the Hamptonians keeper. Up stepped Hirst, but the Keeper made amends for his earlier fowl, by making a fine save to his right hand side. Hamptonians then stepped up their game and scored 2 goals in quick succession – the first the result of a good move and clinical finish between the two forwards, the second a finish from a wide midfielder who should in truth have been tracked. Accies were still trying hard and had some good situations from corners, none of which could be converted. 2-0 was the half time score, with Hamptonians justly being in front at half time. 

The second half was almost all Accies pressing forward, but nearly every opportunity seemed to be hit straight at the Hamptonians’ keeper. Hamptonians were also showing their class on the break with some quick counter attacking and from one such attack, Dawson was forced into a flying save from a Foster thunderbolt from the edge of the area – a shot which would have been a contender for own goal of the decade had Dawson not reacted well to keep it out. From the resulting corner, a good header from the angle made the score 3-0 and there was no way back for the Accies. Not a bad performance against a team who will challenge for the title and AFA cup this year, and the same level of effort in forthcoming games will no doubt produce much needed points. 

A word also for the referee, who had an excellent game – good decision making and some sensible refereeing in allowing for the conditions when judging fouls. 

Accies MOM – Jenkin. 

2nds Match Report from Danny Fewkes

Accies 2s regrouped at Shenley for an LOB Cup tie against Southgate County, eager to make up for a succession of pre-Christmas postponements, and keen to continue the improved form that had seen them climb the league table after a problematic start to the season. We again benefited from a settled squad, with only two starting eleven changes from our last victory at Isleworthians, the returning Bryant replacing the travelling Ginger Prince in midfield, and Mojo rotating bench duty with Alex Keast. Perhaps a little surprisingly given the Christmas refuelling habits of certain individuals, Accies started strongly and took an early lead when Southgate failed to clear Crotty’s in-swinging corner, which was stabbed home from close range by Barndoor. Continuing to pressurise we were perhaps a little unlucky not to add to our lead, but on the half hour were caught out, and a well directed shot found its way past Harry Ramsden to level matters. Fortunately for Accies, Southgate were unable to build on this, and immediately conceded a second slightly soft goal from another corner whipped in by Crotty. We noted we’d had the better of the first half but turned around aware that a 2 goal cushion was imperative to close out the game.

Accies again started well, and settled nerves on 55 mins, when your correspondent’s cross was buried from 6 yards by the advancing Lovell. The young racehorse (Lovell that is…..) was then replaced by Jennings (and a warm welcome back from the US for him, a pity is only for 2 weeks…). On the hour 3 became 4, as Crotty showed quickness of mind following a disputed free kick in Accies favour, and his incisive pass freed Alex Keast in the left channel to finish well. Mojo then entered the fray as another magnificent specimen of athletic prowess was rested. Forced to chase a game on a large pitch as the weather continued to deteriorate, this was always going to be a difficult period for Southgate, and so it proved as 2 further goals were scored, the 5th by the powerful Barndoor and the 6th an og allocated to Nat Keast for the price of a pint. 

A great performance to start 2007 and all players contributed strongly. However, we’ll need to work just as hard in the more important league fixture against the same opposition on Saturday. 

3rds Match Report from Terry Pratchett

The crowd of three at Shenley on Saturday witnessed an old fashioned hum-dinger of an AFA Cup tie, match that had everything – goals, incident, excitement - and proved ultimately triumphant for an Accies outfit who can’t seem to resist doing things the hard way. Atkinson was the hero of the hour; the old war-horse defying the critics and advocators of retirement with a satisfying hat-trick, following up his first half free kick with two brilliantly taken second half efforts, the later of which eventually proved to be a match winning strike.

It all started so differently, however. The opposition came out of the blocks like rats up drainpipes, and took a deserved lead on three minutes with a well taken far post volley after the defence left veteran Woodrow cruelly exposed. One could argue that a keeper of thirty years experience should really be covering his near post, that’s probably a debate for another time. 

The Accies sprung to life after conceding, and the pressure mounted on the opposition goal. Hanlon struck a post with a defender’s finish from six yards, when placed in front an open net, before Atkinson equalized on the quarter hour with a well flighted free kick which the keeper fumbled into the back of the net.

Game on then, and the Accies proceeded to produce their best spell of play all season, passing and moving, creating numerous chances (most notably falling to Angry Wasp Michael short, who stabbed wide when well placed), dragging the opposition all over the place. As Tony Locke seemed keen to point out: ‘they didn’t know what to do with us.’

Except go straight down the other end and score, that is. That’s right, after their first forage into our half for the best part of 20 minutes, a Dawsonesque howler by Woodrow allowed the pendulum to swing, the experienced campaigner spilling a speculative 30-yarder into the path of the their centre forward who gobbled up the chance, as the Accies appealed in vain for offside to the referee.

1-2 at half time then – a travesty to be conservative – and the margin was widened early in the second half with a bullet header from a right wing cross which left Woodrow clutching at air. 1-3 down, and it was time for a show of steel and guts, which is exactly what was witnessed in the now monsoonesque conditions. Accies responded instantly through Atkinson: a smart chest trap and belting right foot volley when most internal voices in the rest of the team’s heads probably rang out cries of ‘Row Z!’

As brilliant as it was unexpected then, and the game was turned on it’s head with 20 minutes remaining when the referee correctly pointed to the spot following an unfortunate if avoidable handball from a left wing throw. Up stepped Foster, icy and remorseless, to rattle the equalizer in off the crossbar for his third of the season, leaving the keeper to wonder why he’d even bothered to move. 3-3 Now it really was game on.

A hard fought scrap ensued, the pitch degenerating as quickly as the mud to grass ratio increased in favour of the former. It was a shame for the purist that the game was decided by a mistake, but Atkinson didn’t complain as he raced onto an ill-advised back pass which held up in the sticky surface, and finished smartly from 30-yards with the cool head of a seasoned campaigner. 

As the old warrior wheeled away in delight, the opposition must have though the game was up, but there remained time for a final twist in the tail, as the Fox was forced into a brilliant last minute save, adjusting his aged feet to claw away a long range pile driver which looked destined for the corner of the net. The only disappointment was that he was unable to hold it.

That was the final action then, a well deserved and hard fought victory as the Accies march on on all three domestic fronts. As I final point, your correspondent would like to extend warm thanks to his new captain for allowing him to return to the match reporting fray, following Mr. Fewkes’ cruel if unpopular decision to block my claims last season. I’m back Fewksey! BACK!!! 

Skippers Disclaimer: This week we allowed our resident 3rd team author loose on the match report, if he keeps up the references to the captain's age he won't be invited to contribute again. I can see why Mr Fewkes banned him last season - also you will note a distinct lack of reference to the 2nd team captain, sorry lardy, next week I will be back!!

6ths Match Report from Danny McConnell

On a warm July Sunday there's little better place to be than Foxgrove Road, Beckenham. Cricket is a game made for summer, casual, drawn out, relaxed, and 2-3 hours of fielding, accompanied by 2-3 minutes of batting, followed by 2-3 hours of lazy drinking in an everlasting evening must be a version of sporting heaven.

Six months away, the days are short, dank, windy, wet and cold and cricket is furthest from the mind, yet to this observer, perfect footballing weather. The French bloke over the hedge might think it's a game for cloudless days, without an Englishmen in sight (except paying the overinflated wages), a non-contact sport, but he's wrong. Football was invented for days such as this. To quote Marv Levy - "where else would you be than right here, right now".

As rainstorms swept across the London area, fifty Accies, and a dozen from Hamptonians, Southgate, South Bank CUACO and Ignatians descended upon Shenley, accompanied by four referees hoping to have minimal writing to be done. The Shenley staff had done their usual superb job of preparing pitches, and despite concerns, four games were on.

The Accies 6ths entered their game fuelled by confidence. Unbeaten for over a month (good psychology ignores Christmas) and boosted by an end-of-2006 win over Camdenians, the side looked forward to 2007. Captain Marmite had finally managed to move office, Alex had finally been prised away from the pink machine, no-one had got any white boots for Christmas, Serge was grunting in the warm-up, Marcus was still under house-arrest following pre-Christmas revelations and all was well with the world.

The omens carried into the game, as the Accies started with a shock, failing to concede a goal within the first five minutes. Indeed, throughout the first half the Accies defended resolutely and restricted Ignatians to a handful of half-chances, whilst generally showing a defensive discipline and confidence that has been all too rare, and at the other end looking threatening and calling for a couple of decent saves from Ignatians keeper.

Half time arrived with the game scoreless, and the talk was all about patience, for Ignatians looked like they might struggle to last the ninety minutes. Despite Christmas, the Accies looked younger (mainly), fitter (surprisingly) and leaner (astonishingly) and the feeling was if we stayed patient, we'd reap the rewards. And just as we restarted, it started raining again.

The second half is why we play football. The rain got steadily heavier, and the conditions were such that you wouldn't start a game of football in them. Indeed, just along the road at Barnet, kicking off an hour later, they didn't. But starting is one thing, you'd finish a game of football in it.

As the half progressed, the surface became slicker and slippier, and both sides threw themselves into challenges. Not one tackle had an ounce of intent or malice, simply two sets of players determined to win, acknowledging the conditions, and giving their all. Waz's ritual second half injury came on cue after 55 minutes, and he was replaced by James, and Ian having flogged himself into the ground as the lone striker was replaced by Roy. With twenty minutes to go the pressure was almost all Accies, and the breakthrough finally came when a cross to the backpost was met, to universal astonishment by a surging Serge, whose 40 yard run (I kid you not) was perfectly timed, and distinctly longer and quicker than any time he pushes out of defence.

Ignatians wouldn't give up, and for the final fifteen minutes both sides struggled to get the ball out of midfield, each creating their share of threats, and Tom missing a perfect chance to extend the lead and seal the points. Alex got clattered, Adey threw himself into challenges with all of the enthusiam of a 4 year old playing in the puddles and the midfield of Ryan, Dan (for once earning his post-game snooze home in the Turtlemobile) and Jason worked tirelessly to protect the lead. Roy harried up front, though kept stopping to have a rant at the injustice of a decision not going his way (a referee in the making?) and as time ran out, the Accies still held the lone goal lead.

A glorious win, and three key questions arise:-

1. Why can Serge gallop 40 yards to score, yet needs to take two comfort breaks to get the same distance out of defence.

2. Why did Captain Marmite think driving three hours to Manchester without a shower wouldn't be unpleasant? And why did he think I wanted a late night text telling me there was nothing to match the feeling in his end?

3. How long before Ben Haysome is sent along to football to look after Daddy?


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