L3 come unstuck at Southend
Monger romps DoD
It was a beautifully sunny, if not slightly fresh Saturday as the table-topping Wapping Worldies took a trip to the seaside to face off against Usurpers-To-The-Throne Southend. The day had started in atypical fashion – Sandy was on time, early even! Surely this must be a sign of good things to come although there were some concerns as half the team had nearly keeled over in shock at this revelation.
Wapping arrived at the beach (it may as well have been) in timely fashion though Henny “Holiday” Hinch, having not been abroad for the whole of 5 minutes, was disappointed to see children playing football and a distinct lack of deck chairs – apparently, these aren’t ideal conditions to top up one’s tan (wrong sort of beach Henny). Once Babs had unloaded The Beast - this week moonlighting as the Issy Meere Fan Bus - and Dudley had finished doing doughnuts in the local Asda car park, Wapping got to it despite suspect changing facilities and a certain member of the team rendering the toilets unusable – no names but it had to be somebody who arrived early.
After Coach Monger, who had graciously forgone playing in his own fixture owing to the magnitude of this occasion (remember this fact, it will be important later), delivered what can only be described as a tactical masterclass of and a rousing, inspirational team talk akin to that of Churchill, MLK jr or Al Pacino in Any Given Sunday, Wapping hit the warm up with fire in their bellies and looking sharp – that is once Holtie had been separated from the ping pong table around which said words of wisdom had been uttered. Resident fitness freak Rude-One, having already done her own warm up by running between meet points that morning, made sure everyone was fighting fit and ready to go.
The game started, under the watchful eye of league President Bob Gotobed who had got out of bed especially to watch some top-flight Essex Hockey, very evenly. Both sides trading early blows with forays deep into the opposition half. The game remained this way for a while, both teams finding periods of free-flowing hockey, only to be shut down by the opposition's defensive effort. It wasn’t until late in the first half that Southend, or to be more accurate – Sandy, broke the deadlock. Said defender decided that the Southend forwards needed a helping hand and proceeded to show them how to execute a Babs style tap in, first passing them the ball, before getting on the return to steer it past the ever-valiant efforts of GK Vicky. Soon after, having watched this Akinbolu attacking masterclass at the other end of the pitch, Holtie (who had had her allotment of one large banana for the day) looked to get on the end of a ball pinged in by Skinner (by name and nature, having rinsed half of Southend) and deflect it into the top corner, only to have it denied by the Southend keeper.
Following a brief interlude so a local’s dog could be removed from the pitch, Southend doubled their lead, this time without the assistance of Sandy. Half time and more words of tactical genius came and went. Wapping started the second half hard, Issy was now playing towards her fan club and was causing Southend all sorts of trouble, when she wasn’t causing it for the umpire that is. Southend continued to attack strongly and doubled their scoreline. All was not lost though, step up Wapping’s own tap in Queen Babs/Dad/Phoenix. Tap…Tap...Tap…In! as the ball is slotted under the Southend keeper. Sadly this resurgence wasn’t meant to be and Southend were spared the embarrassment of losing a 4 goal advantage, bringing Wapping’s 16 game unbeaten run to an end.
The resulting MoM/DoD vote wouldn’t have been out of place in a Central African country's democratic process; whoever oversaw the polling must have been blinded by BJ’s radioactive jacket. Sandy and Roche took a joint MoM, with several other close contenders. In an outcome that will, in time, be talked about as an injustice on par with Argentina’s progression in the 1986 World Cup courtesy of Maradona’s “Hand of God”, Yours truly took the DoD vote with a staggering 13/24 votes; much to the joy of the 14 players in the room (I’ll leave you to do the maths).