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Report 29 October 2023


Southern Combination Walking Football League 
Hornets 1 Little Common Wanderers 4

A lost tribe in the Amazon may yet be ignorant of it but I report that we lost heavily to arch rivals today. I was hoping to flex any lyrical writing muscles I might possess here but this isn’t the day for gags so we’ll play things fairly straight.

The Hornets began attacking the Rye Road end with Riddler up front supported by Mattie immediately behind him. The next tier was Chairman, Johnny Masters and Touchline. But the omens were not good when Wes Mendy fed Trigger within seconds and we were lucky not to concede.

Early doors and Riddler went down like a sack of King Edwards on the far touchline but it was theatrical, possibly a method acting rehearsal technique if he is repeating his pantomime appearance from last year.

Trigger was being allowed far too much space and forced a save low down to the right from The Cat. But it was not one-way traffic; Chairs, Johnny M and Touchline had formed a triangle and were exchanging one-touch passes at will. Fuelled only by cashews and raisins (it is his pre-practice power snack at the Ark), Johnny got an early long-range shot in against veteran keeper John Macrae who was the only man truly protected against the rain. He appeared to be wearing the entire contents of a Millets store.

Phil Burmingham stamped his authority in terms of running, with Chairs receiving a caution. Mattie, on a roll from yesterday, looked good with some step-overs and close control. The Cat’s distribution, particularly long-range to Riddler, was impressive and Touchline was proving precise, even nutmegging Little Common players with passes down the channel.

Rick was the first cab off the rank coming on for the Rid. His appearance coincided with The Cat making his best of many fine saves when, having dived, he got just enough on a Trigger shot to push it against the crossbar. But a foul on Trigger saw Phil B point to the spot. Trigger took it himself and sent the Cat the wrong way to slot home. 0 – 1.

New recruit Paul (“Ringo”) came on for Chairs as the home side sought to regroup. Macrae (goalkeeping advisor to the main club, with coaching badges and deserving our respect) made an unaccountable error as he fed a ball straight to Rick. The Beast of Bulverhythe should be commended for staying absolutely calm and not grandstanding. He simply passed the ball into the visitors’ net. 1 – 1.

If there was a vital phase of the game and a squandered opportunity it came here after Phil gave Bill Shuttleworth a blue card for dissent. You barely noticed the man advantage I’m afraid and Trigger remained unmarked.

It was 1 – 1 at half-time with The Cat vaping nervously in the break and sustaining his colleagues with Haribo fizzy strips. Neither very Tudor or Churchillian.

Trigger, generally tricky, energetic and impressive, lost concentration for some short phases soon after the break, one of them seeing Johnny Masters rob him as if he were taking candy off a baby.

But there were ominous signs with Dave Fricker getting into the game and shooting just wide. This was followed by the away side winning a free kick just outside the box. A neat tap to Kevin Feakins (a chartered surveyor by trade who only had to measure up a few yards here) saw him skid the now greasy ball like a marble wide of The Cat’s right hand. 1 – 2.

Doing amazingly well with teammates who he is still getting to know, Ringo was caught in possession but a low save from the home keeper got the Hornets out of trouble. However, the floodgates now opened. Simon Rudham (yes, that’s the fella who could earn good money as a stand-in for Phil Mitchell from “East Enders”) dribbled towards The Cat with Trigger waiting for a lateral pass. By the time this came, Trigger had been pushed very wide but he finished well from an acute angle. 1 – 3. The last rites saw Shuttleworth shoot from distance and the Cat can count himself unlucky not to have pushed the ball wide after getting a lot of glove on it. 1 – 4.

Finished with his rugby World Cup reporting duties, Touchline’s long distribution was impressive and he should combine well with Riddler in future matches. But more generally, the Hornets were trying too hard to find whoever was playing in the front position. There could have been more width in the first phase and at times you could have thrown a blanket over the entire Hornets defence. I obviously didn’t listen to any team talks but I can’t believe that there had been instructions to mark zonally. Trigger must have thought he had won freedom of the parish as he roamed unmolested through a hectare of Astroturf. There needs to be more commitment to marking a danger man out of the game.

Injuries? Rick has pulled a lower calf muscle, the one above the Achilles. Doc will know the Latin or the Greek. But staying with injuries, it needs to be said that if Wes had not pulled up lame very early on the deficit would have certainly been more.

Phil Burmingham was consistent. He was never slow to stamp his authority but made great efforts to let the game flow.

I award no Man of the Match. Not part of the squad I made a point of not eavesdropping on Paul R or Russell as they talked to players, but one thing came to me on the breeze as Russell, knowing or unknowingly, quoted Isaac Newton. You get out what you put in. The Hornets were not high energy today, but energy can also reflect your support. Plaudits for (if I leave anybody out they can be added) Doc, Jimbo, Colin, Deano, Millwall John, Carol, Amy, Harry and Reese who came to support. But Little Common had many more and they were the visitors!