Trappists, Benedictines, Tao Buddhists, Carthusians? Which type of monk does Coach Russ have in mind when he chides us with: “You’re like a silent order!” I once had a snifter of Chartreuse at the Carthusian monastery near Steyning and it certainly kept my own motormouth shut long after vespers.

We really talked to each other and encouraged everybody to great effect this evening. The Cat, who arrived halfway through from a gig and refereed several games said that it was the best football he’s seen us play.

There were three teams: Yellows, Blues and Gums with Ricky and Jeremy playing throughout and several other players not getting much of a rest. If you think that a few of them had been involved in the earlier council-run session (and incidentally, why on earth the rift?) then you’ll realize that many of the squad are extremely fit.

I run out of superlatives for Ricky Knight’s goalkeeping and that’s from somebody who writes for a living. He was even making double saves tonight and there is simply no point in taking him on from distance or at an angle. I hope his watching grandchildren appreciated exactly what they were seeing. One of the boys has trialled for Charlton colts.

The passing was delicious and there was hardly a poor or mistimed challenge all night. We have all improved; guys who used to have the turning circle of an aircraft carrier are now pirouetting to get themselves out of trouble. As one of the more flat-footed members of the squad, it’s great to watch from between the sticks.

Touchline Mike played higher than usual this evening but never found himself on goal other than at acute angles. Massive Mark continues to belie his stature (and nickname); he’s one of the most skilful players on the park and a wonderful (relatively new) addition. Chairman Phil found himself with time and space in several break-away moves but the ball never quite ran for him. Ali (Oh My Cod!) scurried near the keeper’s ‘D’ to no consistent effect though he did beat Jeremy low down early doors.

I think every game that Poppi played was against me and he didn’t shoot once – he was always unselfish, playing a cultured game out from the back and looking to feed others. Everybody was willing to take a gamble on the incisive final ball and most of these came off. I even saw a Hassan backheel fall sweetly to the intended recipient. Wondie was latching onto passes having moved into the right space almost before his teammate had decided what to do with the ball.

El Jay’s Golden Calf (see what I did there – ask resident Old Testament expert Hassan for an explanation if you need it) came through unscathed being nursed with pre and post-game calisthenics. I would bet the ranch on him succeeding with a penalty and he’d be my choice if my life depended on it. Well that’s the ranch gone. Even from the spot, our England squad member couldn’t get past Rick.

Standing next to Speedy Steve during the warm-down I noticed that even this most elegant of men was sweating like a racehorse. It was quite a workout. Bobby played (against medical advice) in the earlier session. He will now rest his injured groin and he observed for a while from a canvas chair before disappearing towards Queens Road for Oh My Cod! hamburgers which he eats by the brace apparently.

There is a tournament on Sunday September 19th – the committee will tell us more soon. You need to be a club member to play. And paid-up players will be given super-slick membership cards starting on Saturday so if you’ve not registered just ask for a form and give us your tenner. Outstanding value – you’ll never have so much fun with your clothes on – or possibly off given the hum of camaraderie and good humour shown this evening.

There are two departments in which the club has an embarrass de richesse (ask Posh Richard for a translation of that): goalkeepers and journalists. Touchline Mike is a journo who writes about that odd game they play with an egg-shaped ball. He’s written this exquisite reflection on his time (only a few weeks to date) with us.




Man of the Match: Rick.