One of the perils of playing over 50s football is picking up an injury.
As we get older a little niggle can hang on much longer than a knock to a younger player.
Tonight’s Active Hastings session in the Cage of Dreams saw the Cat having to come out from between the drainpipes and Speedy Steve limp off with a recurring hip problem. Add to this Archie Andrews who is still off with a stomped-on foot and the necessity for a good ref who won’t tolerate any nonsense becomes paramount.
And the good news is we may have found our man in the shape of Ollie who joined the Hastings lads for the first time tonight.
To be fair, Gorgeous Georges runs the Monday evening sessions with flair but he did let a couple of things go: Chairman Phil was sent sprawling with a body charge on the new Posh end and Granite Bob was upended at the other. Both, thankfully, were unharmed but the need to watch out for any contact is there for all to see.
On the pitch, three teams of four each played a round-robin with the goalies sticking at either end.
The Cat had ‘one of those nights’. When Hassan toe-poked past him from 20 yards with the very first shot of the night, leaving him rooted to the spot, and then followed up with the kind of goal that would make a howlers reel on YouTube. The Motormouth whipped one down to the keeper’s left and saw his shot parried but the spin of the ball saw it move inexorably towards the goal and the crawling Cat could only swipe it into his own net. Hassan also scored his third of the night, at the other end, making it a busman’s Bank Holiday to remember with no ludicrous goal celebrations and a display of modesty that would put Mother Theresa to shame.
It was a goal-fest at the Cat’s end with him hardly making a save all night.
Pick of the bunch was a superb low 20-yard drive from Speedy Steve but Ian Jean Luc was not far behind with two excellent cross shots and three other good goals, taking his tally for the night to a fab five.
Rusty also worked hard all night for his goal which he took with an accurate shot that went agonizingly past the Cat’s outstretched left.
Chairman Phil took his one real chance brilliantly. The Cat pushed it out to Hassan who found Andy Pandy with one of his few non-backheels of the night, he tucked it to the Scouser who looked up, picked his spot and beat Ricky DLTN down to his left. It was a peach of a goal. Ricky played out of his skin once again and the Chairman’s strike was one of the few shots to beat him. The big man saved two penalties (a third was shamefully missed by the Cat), made a string of great stops and dominated his area well. He also didn’t make a single pressure clearance which went astray.
Only Andy Pandy beat him with two consecutive strikes and they don’t count because it’s like playing against his grandad for him. But he still belts the ball harder than anyone on the pitch.
Granite Bob came into his own after being called on to go in goal, the opposition sniffed blood but he made a few great saves and began making his scary whooping noise again, which terrifies passing dog walkers.
Matty turned in another good performance and The Assassin played well at the back with the Cat and the ref conspiring to stop him scoring with a feet-first save and a disallowed goal for running.
Bobby Dazzler covered a lot of ground and did well not to get over-rattled when he tussled with Medhi (67). Legendary Rog walked himself ragged and the White Cliff took his chance skillfully for a well-earned goal. The whole evening was played in great spirit. It’s nice to play in the sunshine but, jeepers, it was hot.
Men of the Match: Ricky for a hatful of outstanding saves and Ian Jean Luc for his hatful of well-taken goals.