Rolling The ‘Stones

August Bank Holiday weekend – Our saturday match against the Met Police was postponed because our opponents would be otherwise engaged at the Nottinghill Carnival.    With a free Saturday, the opportunity was taken to do the annual Team photo and mug shots during the morning training session.   This job of work for the club photographer is not without its hazards – balls that accidentally get mis-directed by players whose accuracy in front of goal is legendary and, of course, the player who doesn’t know that his head is not located in his shorts!   Fortunately, as a long serving telephone engineer, I’m no shrinking violet – I’ve seen it all before and then some… 😉

Bank Holiday Monday and we were away to Wealdstone FC.    Located more in Ruislip than Wealdstone, the Grosvenor Vale ground was once home to Ruislip Manor FC but The Stones now play their matches here.   It has some interesting features including a wooden fence separating the crowd from the pitch and a concrete structure that would appear to be an anti-aircraft defence from the 2nd World War – possibly a searchlight battery.   Now that might come in handy for night games 😉   The ground also has a very fine bar facility in the form of the Ruislip Manor Sports and Social Club.  On the day of our visit amongst the standard fizzy stuff there was Deuchars Pale Ale available on the hand pump and very nice it was too.

Wealdstone have, in the distant past, knocked very loudly on the doors of the football league.   They never gained entry to the smoked filled rooms beyond though and dropped down to find themselves in what is now the Ryman Premier Division.   The club had a reputation for uncompromising football and for equally uncompromising fans – reputedly the local derby against Harrow Borough can still be somewhat feisty both on and off the pitch.   So how would we, newly promoted, fare against the long-standing premier side?

In the previous match Wingate & Finchley got up and running very quickly and probably won the game because of their brisk start and early goal.   Against Wealdstone the haste was almost indecent – I barely had time to finish my pint, attach the lens and stroll out to the touchline before Leon was bearing down on goal to score.     In fact I was so poorly positioned to capture the moment that Leon, not the tallest of our players, didn’t fit in the frame!   His goal came from another one-on-one with the keeper.  This time the keeper stood his ground and saved the initial close range shot but Leon was able to out-power a wealdstone defender to head in the rebound – 1 up to The Blues after just 6 minutes.   As for the Stones defence, they must have still been getting to grips with their manager’s pre-match game plan.

Things now took a slightly unfortunate turn – Joe O’Brien and a Wealdstone midfielder went for a 50/50 ball and Joe was slightly later getting there.  The resulting ‘studs showing’ tackle earnt him a straight red card, probably prompted by the baying of a vocal section of the Wealdstone crowd.     The tackle looked to deserve a yellow, but red was harsh and I wonder what would have been given if the timing had been the other way around?  This set the tone for the rest of the match with several refereeing decisions appearing to be very much influenced by how loudly the home supporters shouted.

Leon Heads Home

Leon Heads Home

So – down to 10 men and 75 minutes left to play.   How should you respond to having a player sent off?   Wingate & Finchley have experience of this situation in spades after  last season’s game against Maldon & Tiptree and our players have learnt to deal with such setbacks in a positive manner.  Within 2 minutes they had earned two corners and from the second Leon was able to get on the end of Lewis Jones’ perfect delivery to head home past the Wealdstone keeper putting The Blues 2-0 up!   The only person not positive was Joe who walked past me a couple of minutes later still flushed with the rage of one who has suffered an injustice.   With a strong squad challenging for first team places no one can afford a Homer induced 3 match ban.

As the half progressed towards the halftime break, the home crowd became ever more disenchanted with their team as they failed to make an impression on the 10 men of Wingate & Finchley.   Try as they might they seemed to be unable to break through the centre of the back four where Neils’ and Bobby Aisien were putting in a solid and unruffled display.   They did have more joy from the wings and some good crosses resulted in Bobby Smith having to pull off a couple of good saves.  As an aside, Bobby was wearing Orange for a change as the home keeper was wearing a green strip – this was much to his dislike though I thought it was a good shade, looking more like the colour of copper than the camera frightening orange that some keepers wear (I did hear that Kenny was going to order a Pink keepers strip for future colour-clash situations if there were too many complaints) 😉

Lairdy Scores

Lairdy Scores

Into the minutes of injury time at the end of the half and suddenly, after a period of calm defending, Wingate & Finchley were on the attack again.   Picking up the ball in midfield, David Laird strolled through 3 Wealdstone players, defeating the last with a delightful chip through which he then collected.  Steadying himself as he ran into the box,checking the keeper’s position and oblivious to the pounding feet of a closing defender, he picked his spot and smacked the ball home!   To my right Adam, the club statistician, spun round with a huge look of glee on his face.  Anything that can make a statistician smile at the same time as the rest of us has to be good karma 🙂   The half-time whistle went and we all went for a well earned break.

Adam Cracks A Grin!

Adam Cracks a Grin!

Clearly, in the second half there was going to be a lot of pressure on our defence.   The Wealdstone manager would have been drilling into his players the fact that they were playing against 10 men and should be using their numerical advantage to good effect.   As a photographer I have to make choices about where I stand based on what I hope to photograph.  This often see’s me standing somewhere other than with our own supporters who normally congregate behind the goal that we are attacking.   However, I did have a few qualms about standing in the midst of the Wealdstone supporters for the second half – it was, photographically, the right place to be as that was the end where most of the action could be expected to happen.   I picked a spot on the rail and hoped for the best.   As it happens I chose well – I was joined by a club steward and a lady who, whilst strongly supporting their team, had no issue with me being a Wingate fan.

The second half started strangely though with an initial period of end-to-end play rather than the expected immediate assault on The Blues penalty area and it resulted in pressure on the home goal with a corner being awarded.   The low ball in, knocked on by Bobby Aisien, found a defensive boot and looped over another defender into the back of the net leaving The Stones keeper a helpless observer.   I have to laugh at a photo I have of this one as Weathers can be seen with his finger raised as if claiming the goal for his own – the score keepers weren’t convinced and typed OG on the score sheet 😉

Now, finally, Wealdstone began to attack in earnest.   A young supporter appeared on the other side of me and could be heard insistently urging his sde on.  It’s always great to see kids at the football ground when they are involved in a positive way with what’s going on – I think this one will be a good long term supporter and I wouldn’t be surprised if he doesn’t grow up to play for his side 🙂   That’s the positive but, unfortunately, the negatives were also starting to show as a group of fans standing behind the goal and on the tier in front of the cafe became ever more voluble in their attacks on their own players for failing to make a positive effort in front of goal and also making unpleasant comments about the capabilities of our number 6 – or was it their number 6; It was difficult to tell at times but I felt they were singling out Bobby for their comments and I hope that was only because of some imagined deficiency in his play that I couldn’t see because otherwise the ‘Wealdstone against Racism’ banner means nothing 😦

Eventually, on the 72nd minute, the pressure told – on the referee as much as anyone – and from a four player challenge which saw two from each side going for a header, one of the Wealdstone players was left on the floor in need of treatment.   The home fans screamed for a penalty and the referee capitulated.  My photos show no reason for a penalty to be given, though maybe the ref saw something from his angle that I couldn’t, but the injury to The Stones player was due to his fellow forward landing on top of him!   A few minutes later, with the injury treated and the player back on his feet The Stones leading striker, Richard Jolly, stepped up to the spot and saw his penalty saved by the feet of Bobby Smith.  Displaying his strikers instinct he rushed forward and was able to score on the rebound giving hope to the Wealdstone faithful.

Bobby

Bobby Models Orange Kit whilst trying to perform The Impossible Save!

In the previous game Wealdstone, playing away at East Thurrock (a very hard team from our experience), had pulled back a 3-0 loss at half-time to draw the game 3-3 at the final whistle.   On home turf the fans clearly felt that a similar recovery was on the cards and urged their team forward.   Within minutes they had another – a superb strike from well outside the penalty area which was beyond Bobby’s glove and would probably have defeated the great Gordon Banks as well.  Superb is a word which fails to describe the beauty of such a clean strike of the football and the appreciation of the goal was unanimous amongst the fans of both sides 🙂

The Stones continued to press forward and the Wingate defence closed ranks to keep them out.  Another shot crashed into the side-netting with Bobby happy to see it wide.   Jordan came on for Lairdy and helped out in front of the back four.  Jake Furman relieved Lewis in midfield.   Finally Mitchell-Coop came on to relieve Murat who deserved a rest after a hard-working afternoon for which he had nothing to show but whatever the result would turn out to be.

By now the Wealdstone fans were really turning their anger onto their own team as time and again the ball dropped in the area only to be cleared by a Wingate player without any meaningful challenge being made.    There would be no further serious attempts on goal.   With five minutes to go there was already a steady stream of Stones fans heading for the exit.   By injury time it was a deluge of biblical proportions.   At the final whistle only the true fans and the fans who ‘wanted a word’ remained.   That word was directed with venom at their players, their manager and the coaching staff.   Some of it was of a nature that clearly ignored the presence of children.   I cannot understand how ‘fans’ can treat their team in that way – a team that has just suffered a defeat needs the encouragement of the fans.   The players need to recover their confidence and they aren’t going to be helped in doing that if their fans are roundly proclaiming their deficiencies (including those of parenthood).   It was a disappointing spectacle bordering on disgusting – and almost certainly distressing for the other more reasoning Stones fans and the club officials.

So we recorded a win, our third of the season and one which we should be very proud of – Come on you Blues 🙂

All thoughts expressed are my own and do not represent the views of Wingate & Finchley FC.

Advertisements

Comments

  1. jennygoth says:

    and i thought it was the stones band lol you men and sport can you tell im not a fan ? some great pics though seeing as i know nothing about football il kick off then pleased you liked blue oyster i love it too have a great week xxjen

    • I Love the Rolling Stones too, just seemed a good parody for a title 🙂 Love Blue Oyster Cult, Black Sabbath, etc. Favourite bands are Budgie, Groundhogs, Stray and Argent. And The Hamsters of course… Thanks for commenting Jen – Have a good one 🙂

  2. thirdhandart says:

    Congratulations on the win! Great photos!

  3. jennygoth says:

    hi im here again to wish you a great week no need to get your garlic out my vampy teeth are not sharpened ready lol ive had a glass of red wine instead xxjenacdc quite good too

    • LoL – We use a lot of Garlic in our cooking so the comment was really about when my wife and I share a kiss 🙂 I’m half vampire – only one of my fangs grew – which is great for scaring friends kids when they’re being rowdy. 😉

      AC DC – great band… For Those About To Rock… 🙂 How about some Bad Co. – Deal with the Preacher’s one of my faves. Free did some great raw stuff – the Heartbreaker album is excellent.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: