Brian Glover: The fair-haired slightly balding Charlton.

West Middlesex Sunday League Premier Cup Final – Bedfont Sunday FC v Chiswick Griffin FC
Thursday, 5th April 2012, 7.30pm
Bedfont Sports Recreation Ground
Distance 9 miles, Attendance 150ish (estimate based on the takings)
It amazing how 90 minutes of sporting entertainment can be neatly summed up in one sentence, but jogging over, and proclaiming excitedly to waiting family and friends on the touchline, “They’ve put Beckham on the wing!”, the young man was eloquently giving all the clues one need to preview this game.

Luther was (and is still) my footballing hero, but when kicking a ball I never deigned to emulate him. How could I? In my eyes, he was genius; he was one of the Gods. Instead in these moments (keeping my feet firmly on the floor) it was Keith Mercer or John Stirk I turned to. These were players I felt sure one day, given improved agility, bravery, fitness, and most importantly ball skills, I really could equal*. Of course targets of admiration are generational, but football fans all have them, so for the said Bedfont Sunday player there is totally empathy. Lining up in front of us I’m sure every one of the players was desperate to emulate a hero, to impress their families, to win the Cup, and to avoid having the piss taken out of them by friends who were enjoying a beer or two.

Driving up Hatton Road into the large car park, as fully kitted up players rummaged in their cars for last minute necessities, was a first for me, but then I’d never before attended a game whose level I couldn’t pinpoint either (some help in this would be appreciated). As it turned out this was the sort of good-natured game, where friends heckling from the sidelines, players exclaiming “These boots are f**ked! They’ve got holes in them.”, and the lady in the tea bar offering a knowing preference between four-finger and Chunky, all seemed perfectly normal.

Unlike others at this level** the pitch it must be said was excellent; lush and green and flat. As the game started on it, the early chances fell to Bedfont Sunday as first Vinney Hodge headed over and then Jay Kettles tamely shot wide. The main focus however came in the middle of the park where tackles made bystanders wince and the ref, Mr.P.Andrews, used “play on” like a default setting. Late challenges aside, the half played out with Sunday having the upper hand though failing to capitalise, whilst Chiswick Griffin “couldn’t string two passes together” according to a man behind me. Jamie Field headed over a Kettles free kick as the first ball found its way into the allotments behind the goal, one player admitted to wearing borrowed boots, and the lino complained of a sub in a red top (well it’s not my favourite colour either). In the Griffin goal Simon Greening was hardly tested, only making his first real save on 34mins from an Andrew Pepiate strike. This seemed staggering given the extra possession Sunday had had, and the fact that Greening appeared to be carrying a leg injury from the start which was severely limiting his mobility. In fact, from a Luke Brooks-Smith free kick, it was Richard Pike who was first keeper to be tested, which he tipped out for a corner. Soon after, the same player shot narrowly wide. It was a tough first half with both sides struggling to find space and only really opened up in the final few minutes though still Sunday couldn’t find the target. First Griffin shot over, and then Pepiate got in a testing cross that no one was on the end of. Mark Hartnett found space but was muscled off the ball before he could test Pike, and up the other end Sunday had a couple of corners to finish the half but both came to nothing. In between there was crunching tackle, after crunching tackle, with only one man ending the half being cautioned. This left me wondering how Beckham would’ve actually coped if he’d really been “on the wing”. As the half time whistle went Hodge over to chat with friends before heading off for the Sunday half time team talk.

As it turned out his team’s talk must’ve been brief and to the point, as they were back out on pitch soon after, where there they stood waiting in the plummeting temperature. The heavy support were still topping themselves up in the bar, and only returned pitchside when Griffin and the officials strolled out, by which time Sunday were clearly cold.

Barring a fruitless free kick, from the off, Griffin were the better team, with greater purpose on the ball. The first chance fell to Brooks-Smith who sent a free kick into the allotments. Up the other end Hodge fed Sunday sub, Adam Turner, who shot straight at the still limping Greening. Then the tide swept back in favour of Griffin. It seemed inevitable they’d score but twice the officials came to Sunday’s rescue; firstly the ref unusually didn’t play the advantage as Griffin bore down on Pike’s goal. Moments later he ruled out a Hartnett goal for offside. When a fifth ball to found its way to the allotments it was narrowly over the bar from Ben Brook-Smith’s boot, and Pike made another fine save from a Griffin free kick. It seemed to be ages before Greening was tested again, though his defence held firm midway through the half on a couple of occasions.  By now the changes were being made by both teams, leading to some confusion from the fourth official operating the numbers board, but clearly helped Sunday get back in the game. When Michael Parma showed good feet and Pepiate shot wide, it felt like it was against the run of play but the tide was clearly turning once more, and the desperation to lift the cup was showing in the language emanating from both benches. Griffin got in another fierce but wide shot, then Sunday went on the attack; the ball reached the box and struck a defender. Immediately the Sunday bench emptied, deploring the ref for not giving hand ball, but instantly changed to celebration as Parma stroked the loose ball home. With only fifteen minutes left Griffin looked totally deflated. They’d had so much possession this half but failed to capitalise and try as they might nothing would budge the score. Two chances fell their way at the death but when the first was headed over, then Matt Allen couldn’t control in front of goal, it was clearly time to attach the blue ribbons to the Harry Edmondson Premier Cup***.
With applause ringing out for all who had taken part in this even tempered encounter, the officials, then Griffin filed up for their awards. Only then did Bedfont Sunday take centre stage; celebrating both together, and with friends and family. In the coming month I hope to have see many more Cup Finals, but in this one, it was great to witness two nicely designed kits (yes this does bother me), real tackling, a strong smell of Deep Heat, plane spotting, children eating hot dogs in the dugouts, and more than anything, aspiration. Yes, there were supporters mocking their friends on the pitch, but deep down they all wanted to be out there; playing football, and scoring the winner in a Cup Final. We’ll all have our moments on the ball, but consistency is the deciding factor. For the more consist Cup Finals will come their way. For those of us of limited consistency, well, we can just aspire to play like John Stirk.

The fair-haired slightly balding Charlton, Brian Glover, once demonstrated beautifully this never ending aspiration to be our idols but tonight there was only one man, Michael Parma, who could declare, “And that, boys is how to take your chance!”.
(*Naturally I humbly apologise now, **9 next season due to Bedfont Sports promotion, *** former President of the League, Harry Edmondson, awarded the first trophy in 1948)
This entry was posted in 2011-2012, West Middlesex Sunday League and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Brian Glover: The fair-haired slightly balding Charlton.

  1. mannumberone says:

    This blog is ace, so much stuff to catch up with! I like it alot!

  2. Terry Reader says:

    Great Photos and a great Match report.

    Thanks for taking your time to do this.

    Many Thanks

    Terry Reader
    bedfont Sunday Chairman

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