No joy for Gary as Wapping burn down the Forest
If we weren't such tarts, Wapping could have won this league
After establishing that a polar bear hat & kilt combo results in free beer, I thought it only fitting to bash one out (match report that is), so here goes:
Waltham Forest knew they had to win at Wapping to win the league. I knew they would get there early, so I figured I'd get there earlier still, but then got distracted by an in depth discussion with Lee Valley management about how to soften the East German minimalism upstairs and perhaps turn the tennis cafe into a bar. Important priorities I'm sure you'll agree, but this led to me arriving pitchside somewhat late.
Upon arrival, I noted the presence of David George's girlfriend. Tradition dictates this would result in free beer, so I knew the polar bear hat would not be enough. However, I was packing a kilt ready for my appearance as a male cheerleader in the subsequent game, and had confidence I could fight off this challenge.
Forest apparently had been there some time, to get used to the luxurious water base. What about Wapping? Well, Wapping's eighth male team were up for this fixture from the off. Their customary sloth had been teased out of them, by a combination of actually doing a bit of a drill in the warm up, and the awesome Ladies 1s cheering pitch side. I safely parked my polar bear atop a Keizer and marched out to the field of play.
It was clear from the word go that we were hungry for it. Not hungry in the sense of ineffectually smearing a 3 course meal round your face because someone thought pre-drinks drinks was a good idea (although I am looking forward to the EoSD), but hungry in the sense of it is 2am (in league terms) and we're definitely going home with something. This led to fearsome attacking play.
Indeed so fearsome was the attacking play, I looked across to the sidelines and saw the Ladies 1s taking notes as we penetrated the Waltham defence only to coq about in the D to no great effect. "Well, they are high in their league so that must be the right approach" cooed the ladies as they admired the seasoned talent, the salt n pepper hair, the Rubenesque bellies, the taut sinew aged like a good Redwood, that makes up this not quite a vets team.
And sure enough, as the ball stuck to the end of little Ollie Kean's stick in the D, despite many an oppo tackle, and he manoeuvred himself into possibly the most unlikely scoring position possible before a cheeky little reverse flick put it in the goal, the ladies swooned with delight. As Ollie took the opportunity to say it is all about the Osaka, I could see the girls had enough to set their game plan. We were 1-0 up, we could have been more up, but to be as honest as an oppo's match report, I just couldn't see Waltham doing much in the first half. So we went to drink some lucozade. At this point, bizarrely, Gary, not quite the angriest man in hockey but close and who I do love for that, went to our end (jokes about having lost his bottle write themselves) and grumpily remarked that we should look at the league table before being too happy about our performance.
So we knew we needed to do more. Rare to be inspired by the oppo at half time like that, but he had a point. We knew that last time we'd played Waltham, we'd been 1-0 up, played like tarts just after half time and gone 2-1 down before having to fight back for a 2-2 draw. A game we should have won. We wouldn't do that again. So we went out after half time, played considerably less well, and let Waltham back into it, with all credit to them what was a very nice goal, played out to the left post as you look, before being converted past young Daniel "I like to give my old club a chance" Metcalfe.
I think the cause here, apart from an element of talent on the part of Forest, was the loss of our female support, who had gone off to warm up somewhere and have their customary pre-match chat about hairy nipples (Hannah Gage's current obsession, which she continued to talk about well into their match teas). However, we dug deep, as we frankly knew we were better, and smashed away at Forest until finally, having plum beaten the keeper on a short, Gary himself was involved in one of the sport's key debates as he appeared not to be able to see out of the bottom of his face mask as the ball hit his foot in front of a goal...flick! Huzzah, huzzah we thought, then Rel moved up to take it.
We were confused. Would Rel execute a firm no nonsense flick into the bottom right (non-stick side) like most people would? Would he be a tart and try and flick left only to be saved like our Hockey for Heroes team kept doing against Forest's Ed Stubbing in the final? No, Rel knew best. Straight down the middle as the keeper moved out the way. An embarrassing goal, but 2-1 would do nicely.
Forest fought back a bit, and had a couple of shorts. One of these resulted in the bruise on my arm that's twanging away as I type after someone, I think possibly Frank the tank, thought it best to undercut the first short corner strike. Perhaps he was trying to enforce the importance of facemasks. I don't know. But it hurts. Wah.
Whilst I would have liked to man up and play on, T-bag & Steele sensed weakness, and an opportunity to get me off the pitch before I could do more damage to our promotion chances, and eventually I did have to concede that was a bit tired and that a week of beer and schnapps doesn't help hockey ability. However, I knew I could add more value from the sideline. The polar bear went back on, and the shouting commenced:
"LAURENCE JACOMETTI YOU MAKE ME WET" as the centre back smashed another Forest attack (a nice giggle from "2s squad player" Adam Farley for that one, thanks mate)
"MASSIVE, MASSIVE PLAY MCFARLANE"
"GREAT STEAL STEELE"
"WHAT A SAVE DANNY METCALFE, LIKE A MASSIVE FRIDGE DOOR"
"GO ON OLLIE, GO ON MATE, PASS SON, OH GO ON MAAAAAAATE"
"NICE MOVEMENT MATT, THEY DOOOOON'T LIKE IT UP THEM"
"COME ON WAPPINGGGGGGGGGGGGG"
And some other stuff. This constant loud shouting got under Forest's skin and that Gary cat was actually quite lucky to stay on the pitch IMHO after shoving someone to the ground (green) and then immediately after diving at Ollie's feet for a bit of a ridiculous stick tackle express that fortunately didn't result in him saving the ball with his teeth. For Osaka, he spare you, Osaka know charity. The resultant short was "drag-flicked" by Paul Whelan into the "top corner". I'd say personally it was a firm flick (not drag-flick) that he got on target for once, but hey.
Forest were not happy at this, and had a brief wriggle of life, but Wapping were firmly in the ascendency now. Bit between the teeth, inspired by their rabid Chairman's constant stream of invective (with proper mad dog spittle collecting in his beard), we wanted to beast them. That commitment paid off as Rel defied his years to leap salmon-like, to connect with the ball on a full stretch dive and convert the 4th behind the out of position keeper. An awesome goal worthy of international play (did I mention, we have tickets for the euros, buy them from Scott Alder, come along now), and one of the finest examples of hat-trick avoidance I e'er did see.
4-1 the final score. Wapping in fourth place, just outside the promotion spots, but we play third next week, and winning that with our game in hand will put us right up there. There's even a crazy outside chance we might undeservedly win the league. Watch this space.
Whelan and dealing
David "played well for his girlfriend" George
Stu "polar bear and a kilt" Burnside