What’s the tightest thing you can think of? An ‘O’ ring smothered in flange sealant on a piston engine? A Scotsman in Tel Aviv? Or a woman the Cat met at a Tudor event who wouldn’t even give him her phone number, let alone get on the nest? I’ll tell you. The tightest thing in the UK tonight was the session in the Cage of Dreams with only eight goals in nine games.
Now, for the benefit of complainers from outside the 1066 Walking Football Club, Monday night’s extravaganza of football in Alexandra Park is run under the Auspices of Active Hastings and the watchful eye of Gorgeous Georges – even though only five of the 18 players on show this evening were not in the club. Hope that clears it up for the more literate rebels who have voiced their concern on other forums.
To the football: it was a night for the two goalkeepers who split their skills between the three teams. Big H turned in his customary powerhouse performance – including an incredible match-saving stop from point-blank range in the dying seconds of the last game – but the top honours again went to Ricky DLTN who made an average of four superb saves per game. The pick of these was a full-stretch bottom left hand corner effort that would grace any pair of sticks in any football match anywhere. He continually frustrated opposing strikers with his brilliance and both keepers drew warm applause from the outfielders for their bravery and athleticism.
Ricky’s only downside is poor distribution and, time and again, he was forced into double saves after Parcel Force ( the world leaders in poor distribution) clearances. Big H, on the other hand, barely put a foot wrong all night. He was wrong-footed by a very rare event – a well-placed shot by the injured Cat ( who hasn’t scored since he was 35) – but he is forgiven for his other super saves. In fact, H’s best save was from a suicidal back-pass from West Ham Paul that almost crept inside the left upright.
The teams lined up like this: the Lemons included both Pauls, Popdark and The Cat playing out due to his finger injury. The Wine Gums included Magic Wond, The Assassin and Oh My Cod! and the Blueberries fielded Speedy Steve, Bobby Dazzler( aka Bob the Binman), Granite Bob and Matty, among others.
The goals scored, although few and far between, were exceptional. Ali’s pivot-and-shoot tactics worked twice for him and he scored with the last kick of the first game, leaving the Lemons heartbroken. Ali’s equalizer in game seven was even better with a superb build- up after The Cat was caught in possession in midfield by a visiting rebel. His through ball to Oh My Cod’s feet gave Ricky no chance.
Speedy Steve scored a brace too: his first, in game two for the Blues against the yellows, came with a superb assist from Matty (more of this man later) and his second, in the last game of the night was a typical SS strike that was a goal from the moment it left his boot. If Steve is incapacitated following his upcoming hip surgery, his loss will be sorely felt. Puffing Paul’s goal for the Lemons in game 5 was a poacher’s dream. He caught a female rebel napping and leathered the ball past Big H with aplomb. Chairman Phil’s goal to level game four for the Wine Gums was a sublime effort.
There were some great performances elsewhere on the pitch. Medhi (67) played in defence all evening and didn’t let the Gums down once. Bobby Dazzler had a couple of near misses with his trusty left foot and Popdark ran virtually every game he was involved in, scoring a cracker for the Lemons and cajoling better performances from his team.
The moment of the night was Granite Bob’s beanie hat being knocked off by a thunderbolt clearance in the Gums’ goal. The unintentional header rattled what little brain he has left unscathed in his 83-year-old-skull and on any other sports field he would have been off for a head injury assessment. Not Granite Bob! Hard as nails, the octogenarian shrugged it off and, to all intents and purposes, was none the worse for the concussion-inducing skull-rattle.
But the best has been saved for last. Matty. Matty has been a revelation since joining the club and turns out at most sessions, always chipping in with a goal or two. Well-taken, thoughtful goals from an intelligent player who just gets on with the game and abhors the politics raging around him.
But tonight he left his shooting boots at home. In fact, he left them in a bag, inside a sealed leather case – protected by a combination lock – in a locked basement vault, protected by facial recognition software. A trio of shots in game six of the night for the Blueberries v Lemons summed up his night: the first was belted over the double-height fence, one bounce into the river (never to be seen again); the second he scuffed weakly at the keeper with only the goalie to beat and the third went into touch without even crossing the penalty area.
There were four more howlers like these. But did he give up shooting? No. Did his Blue teammates stop passing him the ball? They didn’t. He persevered and stuck to his task all evening and if anyone deserved a goal it was Matty. He epitomises what WF in Hastings is all about … never give up. Never surrender.
MOM: shared between Ricky for his outstanding saves and Matty for a never-say-die attitude. He wins the Charlie Farley Liverpool Crock of Shite Boot Award too.