Tony and Jeremy joint match report
It was Greek philosopher Aristotle who said that one swallow doth not a summer make. But his best walking football days were behind him when Ari said that.
So, in the blistering sun, with several players mincing around in skimpy vests, all eyes were on the Cage of Dreams tonight for a tripartite round-robin as part of Active Hastings’s continuing quest for fitness for the Over 50s.
Your [first] correspondent could only watch one contest – Blueberries vs Lemons – but it was enough to portend another great night of football for the lads of Hastings United WFC and guests.
The Lemons pressed first, and Blues’ keeper Jeremy was called into action early doors with two fine low stops from a Marco van Gasman screamer and a close-range Mehdi shot which saw The Assassin (67) thwarted in his attempts for an early goal.
There was a welcome return for El Jay – a successful England triallist – who has been carrying a double calf injury. He bossed the game from the back and linked up well with Chairman Phil in midfield. And it was the Scouser who took the game to the Lemons with a superb strike which beat Big H in goal with the first shot of the night at The Tatty End.
If the big keeper was annoyed at that, there was more to come when White Cliff slotted home for the Blues’ second. Fine linking play from both teams in the sweltering evening heat saw a near miss from Magic Wond and two further missed opportunities from The Assassin, with Oh My Cod! begging for the ball in the Number 9 position.
The rest, lads, will have to come from other correspondents who didn’t have to scuttle off for a Zoom gig….
So Jeremy adds some reflections
“A lovely set of positional games” was Hassan Hassan’s verdict as he donned his Charlton tracksuit. And everybody’s favourite bus driver was absolutely right.
The evening had begun with Gorgeous Georges giving a bag of bibs to the three keepers and it was to prove The Night of the Keepers. Howard the Monumental Mason was outstanding both with hands and feet (used in an elegant David de Gea style) while also giving a masterclass on incisive distribution when his teammates moved for him. It really does take expert geometry from the shooter to beat him from anything other than close range and he can often rise for the second save.
Even with The Cat not on show we have an embarrassment of riches in the goalkeeping department. Risking sunstroke on an unprotected head, Rickie DLTN was outstanding again. He is unostentatious in the way he simply gets to shots and flips them away. And extremely athletic. It’s a quartet with The Cat and Jeremy, who is serious when he says he hasn’t kept goal since the age of 11 for Rottingdean cubs. He will be a useful reserve as we go into the tournament season. Notably, Jeremy dived low to his left to deny an excellent goal-bound shot from Hassan.
Everybody’s favourite fish and chip restauranteur had arrived in a snazzy Galatasaray top (he now has more than Imelda Marcos had shoes) and he seemed reluctant to take it off before donning a Lemon bib as centre forward in the expectation of netting more than a post-Brexit Icelandic trawler. And he did slot three past Jeremy – all from one-on-one close range and with his trademark low skidding shot.
There remains much debate as to who is the hardest man on the pitch. Marco von Gasman and Granite Bob will have to be put to some kind of outward-bound challenge course and accompanying bush tucker trials to see who flinches first. Gasman was a major presence in midfield for the Maroons, holding up play well and putting in crucial blocks.
On the subject of toughness, Chairman Phil took a mighty crack on the shin early doors – I genuinely can’t remember who was responsible but I’m sure Phil does. He is not a man to harbour grudges – much. Our chairman was not put off his stroke, pressing high when he scented an opportunity and taking a second goal (at the Posh End) with aplomb.
All the games were clean and good-tempered. If anybody ever ‘leaves a bit in’ on a challenge, it’s completely accidental. There was a coming-together between Hassan (genuinely totally innocent) and Medhi (67) which set the Assassin off. Onlookers knew the result would be volcanic, the only debate being whether he would blow like Mount St Helens or Vesuvius. But to his credit, Medhi bottled it up, got on with the game and turned in his usual stellar performance. A regular discussion point between two of our best players is how often there should be a Medhi to Oh My Cod! one-two, with the diminutive Turkish striker always wanting more of the ball.
Will there be any video from Matt who was outstanding in attack for the Maroons? His long legs are now officially listed by UNESCO as the Eighth Wonder of the World. They seem to telescope out another eighteen inches whenever you’re trying to slide a ball past him.
El Jay was influential and helped Margaret and Cliff find space for the Blueberries on either flank while also linking up with John Wond on lateral balls. Now an England squad member despite an exploding calf muscle on the day of the trial, he has returned after many weeks, nursing said calf muscle through the four matches. He marshalled the Blueberries from right midfield, making effective forays towards the opposition goal and bending a gorgeous shot in a parabola around Rickie. Roger the maths professor – the man on the pitch who really does understand parabolas and geometry – trotted effectively in characteristic style. He has great touch and vision with cross-field passes and is unselfish.
A penalty was awarded for the Maroons and after a little discussion, it was the bus driver who stepped up and (possibly with One Step Beyond) slotted it past Howard who went the wrong way but was not far from getting a boot on it. Hassan played extremely well all night and seemed able to encourage fluid group movement as the Maroons attacked.
Staying with Greek philosophers, isn’t it Socrates who tries to prove that the ball doesn’t exist in the Monty Python sketch? I think it was von Gasman who booted it out of The Cage (possibly not to be found again) just as Georges had his whistle to his lips. And Georges could barely conceal the delight he was taking in the improvements by the footballers under his care as he played advantage whenever he could.
Players dispersed into a perfect summer’s evening with only Granite Bob left to do a few laps of the park and a quick sprint up Harley Shute Road prior to his new guilty pleasure – a bacon hamburger at Oh My Cod’s.
MoM: El Jay.