Monday, November 14, 2011

The Quiet Men

Leigh and Bransford Badgers - The Quiet Men

Before I begin this week’s little gem I just wanted to clear the air with Sepp Blatter. Sepp, I never doubted for a moment that you would do the right thing (as mentioned in the ‘Baboons Bottom’ post) and I’m sure you are as pleased as we are that England beat the World and European champions…

This week’s match took place on a beautiful autumn afternoon at the Worcester Raiders home ground. The dirty tricks started early as our brave boys attempted to cross the car park to get to the pitch. The Raiders had dug a trench three feet deep by two feet across to try and catch any unwary U13’s. We had to assume they would eat anyone they caught…

Just before kick-off Mandy informed the waiting Rovers supporters that the referee had parental problems…well, we didn’t know him, we didn’t know his lineage and he was wearing black…no further comment. Either way he did a fine job in organising the minute silence to mark Remembrance Sunday.

From the kick off Rovers were playing as if their lives depended on it and the surprise star was Mat ‘The Silent Assassin’ Skipper who took the first shot at goal. This whole game, as you will see from the rest of the narrative was one that the quiet men of the team stood tall. It was like the Saxons on Sandlake Hill before the Battle of Hastings awaiting the Worcester Norman Raiders (see what I did there?). 

"When their backs are against the wall, those Quiet Men still stand tall"

The Leigh and Bransford Badgers Rovers Defensive Line

Raiders tried desperately to break down our defence but (unlike the Normans they didn’t use archers or cavalry but the result was much the same) ultimately they failed. The Raiders were becoming frustrated which led to some less than sportsman like behaviour from their defence, bringing down James ‘King of the breakaway’ Henry just outside the box. The resulting free kick from Matty ‘Thunder-foot’ Griffo was just squeezed out by the nervous Raiders keeper. The poor chap’s nerves were stretched even more with consecutive corner kicks but luckily for him resulted in no attempts on goal. 

Rovers sportingly allowed Raiders into their half but as usual the off-side trap was working well and in combination with some strong tackling from Arron ‘Number 7 is not getting past me’ Manton, Ben 'Bone crusher' James and a brilliant save from Ali ‘Did you expect anything less’ Ching they were frustrated again. After some solid work in the midfield the ball reaches Matt ‘Appears like a ghost’ Skipper in the Raiders box to shoot again.  More solid defending at the back from Arron and Ben leads to a Raiders corner but nothing comes of it. Ali sends another enormous kick deep into the opposition half to be picked up by James who nearly beats the keeper with another of his trademark runs. The Quiet Men appear again this time in the form of Dan ‘I don’t care how tall you are’ Watson who blocks a Raiders attacker at least twice his size leaving the poor Raider dazed and confused. The moral of this story...Don't mess with the Beast!... He then lays the ball in to the path of Matt Skip who promptly gives a brilliant display of dribbling and passing by laying the ball neatly into the path of Jacob ‘The soccer scalpel’ Gillibrand who cuts through the Raiders defence with ease to have a shot. Just wide…

Raiders have a rather speculative shot at the Rovers goal but as expected the shot is halted by Ali ’Safe hands’ Ching. Ali’s next kick ends up with that man again…Matt Skipper who chases and has the Raiders defence in panic.

Corporal Jones
They don't like it up 'em sah!

Lots of pressure by James and Jacob ‘The Batman and Robin’ of the Rovers attack leading to a good save from the Raiders keeper.  Some good defending required and delivered by Ben, Liam and Dan T and finally by Ali. Raiders eventually get around to applying some pressure and miracle of miracles they score…no, but wait…the linesman has seen something the ref. and the Raiders haven’t … The ball went out before the goal! The Raiders are about as happy as a Spanish goalkeeper at an England match. 


Much grumbling from the Raiders coaches…sorry lads, life can be tough…

Ali boots the unexpected goal kick all the way up the pitch to Richard ‘I’m on my own here’ Stevens who is dispossessed by a Raiders midfielder…Richard’s response to this is inspired…

A good kick up the backside

He kicks the midfielder up the backside and makes him lose the ball again. Jacob picks up the ball and charges towards the Raiders box only to be fouled before he really gets going. Step forward the next Quiet Man of the piece… Dan ‘Cooler than the Jamaican bobsleigh team’ Thomson who, after a Matty Griffo free kick, neatly ends the goal mouth scramble by slotting the ball under the flailing keeper…(sorry, I have to stop here and wipe the tear from my eye…) 

The Rovers can now smell blood and their confidence is showing. More trouble free defending by Dan T and Arron and a great interception from Ben. Dan T passes a neat through ball to Matty Griffo whose shot is just wide. The final Raiders attack of the half is calmly sorted out by Liam ‘The left wing leviathan’ Woods who shows real strength under pressure, as he has all game.

The second half begins with another attack from James, Jacob and the now inevitable Matt Skip. Panic again in the Raiders box with them all hailing a cab at the same time… Play to the whistle Raiders...

Cpl Jones

At this moment our young heroes have a bit of a wobble. Ali makes a characteristically great save but things are getting a little tense. Luke ‘The man to rely on’ Painter is his usual business like self and clears up some of the mess with a great piece of ball control but Raiders have the ball again and score…this time there is no reprieve,  1 – 1.

Now the Rovers have come alive again, two more runs from James (did James just pass there?) and another shot just missing the post. More pressure applied by Rovers. Some quick, slick passing and James hammers one home to give us the lead once again.

Confidence growing in the Rovers squad again. More neat passing that drives the Raiders defenders into frenzy giving away a free kick. Luke takes the kick but it’s picked up by Raiders midfield. The Quiet Men again appear…Dan T makes the interception, Matt Skip passes to Dan W, who in turn passes it on to Richard leading to a corner for Matty Griffo but gathered in by the Raiders keeper.  The end is nigh for the Raiders and they know it, severe panic in the ranks…

Raiders Army
The Raiders Defence
but the Rovers are unstoppable now…excellent defence from Ben, Luke, Liam, Matty G and finally cleared by Matt Skip. It’s end-to-end now with first Raiders then Rovers on the attack. Two corners to Raiders, another free kick to Rovers (more desperate play from Raiders) after a nasty foul on James, Matty G hits the side netting. Another free kick to Rovers, this time taken by Luke from a long way out leading to a shot from Jacob. Raiders turn again, another corner, a free kick and inevitably another spectacular save from Ali (could be his best yet). It’s all over. Raiders are out of the cup and Rovers are triumphant.

Hang on, I need to get my breath back...

Matty Griffo was awarded man of the match for his excellent support work.

This weeks mention in dispatches goes to two from the ranks of the 'Quiet Men'...Matt Skip for his tackling, passing, shooting and generally excellent play and to Dan T for getting stuck-in, very much in the same vain, and a rather neat goal.

 Jumpers for goal posts...Ron

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