Something is Rotten in the State of Denmark

When Shakespeare quilled those words for his character Marcellus football did not exist as a sport. Were Shakespeare alive today, I wonder if he would be writing about the intrigues of the football boardroom and dressing room rather than kings and their courts? Certes he wouldst oft find much ado about nothing πŸ˜‰ But there was something in the mood at Enfield Town when we travelled there for our game on Tuesday night that spoke of underlying unease. The Town must have started the season ok but had slumped to a string of defeats and were sitting just above the relegation zone. There was a feeling of resignation in the bar and talk amongst the home fans was muted – very different from the feeling you get at Wingate & Finchley when we’re suffering (usually there’s an upsurge of gallows humour). The real ale on tap was Redemption which perhaps was what was needed on the pitch rather than in a glass.

The Blues team sheet showed only one change from the previous win over East Thurrock with Marc Weatherstone returning to his role as Skipper in central defence and Jasper being rested. I have noticed one anomally over the last two matches. Mark Henry is on the teamsheet as number 10 – a forward – but he plays in a defensive midfield role and that’s where he lined up. Must be very confusing for the opposition! – it certainly confuses me πŸ˜‰ The Enfield teamsheet also had a surprise which translated onto the field of play – their big central defender and Captain Mark Kirby was playing in midfield! You have to ask why when they’ve got the excellent Joe O’Brien sitting on the bench?

From the very start Wingate & Finchley were on the attack, marauding down both wings. The ball seemed to be in the Towners half for much of the first 25 minutes with Tommy, Mark and Spencer mopping up anything that ventured away from the Enfield Town penalty area. All the forwards had a crack at goal at least once and Keiron had a shot at scoring too. You know it’s a very one sided game when Mark Henry gets so bored that he makes a long run into the penalty area and has a shot! Eventually the continual runs into the area became too much and the defence cracked. Hector Morante running into the box from the left wing was tripped and shoved to the ground. It was an obvious penalty to everyone except the Enfield keeper who protested to the referee to no avail and then decided to get into a name calling match with one of our supporters behind the goal (fortunately it was a very brief attack of angst and the normal good natured banter resumed soon afterwards). Spencer got the nod and put the ball safely in the onion bag sending Noel Imber the wrong way to give us a 1-0 lead. It was no less than we deserved.

Mark Kirby torture a football as he defends a Wingate corner.
Mark Kirby tortures a football as he defends a Wingate corner.
There followed a five minute period of Enfield Town pressure which included a key catch by Bobby but no genuine saves to make. Then normal service was resumed and The Blues could have added a second from a corner with a few minutes to go to half time. The incoming ball found itself sandwiched between Mark Kirby and the Towners number 4 – big lads both! Squeezed out under extreme pressure it flew towards goal where the alert Joe Stevens hooked it off the line. So, still 1-0 at halftime and a chance to redeem a pint with some coins of the realm.

Seeing the players returning to the pitch I downed the last of my pint and popped to the little boys room. On my way back to pitch side I bumped into one of our irregular fans who had only just arrived from work so I quickly greeted him with an update of the current score line. No sooner had we parted but The Blues scored from a corner kick as I was walking across the front of the main stand. The scorer – Mark Henry! Never prolific in front of goal, that’s only his third in a competitive match that I know of. Anyway, it seems that the cameramans curse is alive and well 😦 I bumped into Cain Davies as I continued my walk to join the other fans and we had a brief chat about the progress of the game and chilly weather.

Just a few minutes later Spencer produced a lovely pass for Ahmet to run onto which split the defence. As Imber advanced Ahmet opted for a beautifully audacious lob which cleared the keeper with ease and nestled soundly in the back of the goal. Another shot that I didn’t get – the focussing got spooked by something and cycled the lens all the way out of focus and back in again by which time the moment had gone. That is the problem with auto-focussing systems – they can sometimes latch onto the wrong thing or just get totally confused, especially at night games when lines between different objects are less distinct than they would be in daylight. I also suspect that the 5D isn’t as happy photographing football as the 7D though it does do very well.

Mark Henry and Joe O'Brien - both have played together at Wingate & Finchley and at Enfield Town though this time they were on opposing sides.
Mark Henry and Joe O’Brien – both have played together at Wingate & Finchley and at Enfield Town though this time they were on opposing sides.
Having achieved a 3-0 lead The Blues seemed to back off almost as if they didn’t want to further embarrass our local rivals. The ball was knocked around the field in a calm manner without any serious pressure being exerted on the Towners goal. And the Enfield players seemed to have totally lost interest by that stage with the exception of the keeper who encouraged them to string passes together. Captain Kirby was subbed and didn’t stay to watch the rest of the match – disappearing down the tunnel almost immediately. The game took on the air of a practice match and I think there was a genuine sense of relief when the referee didn’t add much time before blowing the final whistle.

Afterwards I got the chance to track down the mystery of Mark Henry’s number 10 shirt – apparently some of the players are very attached to certain shirt numbers whilst Mark doesn’t give a monkies what the number is as long as he’s got a shirt to wear in the first place πŸ™‚ I did get to ask an Enfield friend why Kirby was Silver Surfing around midfield? “I have absolutely no idea” was the basis of the response. I also noted some heated discussion over by the bar which seemed to be about how the team should be run. A precursor to a take over maybe? So as Enfield dropped into the relegation places The Blues climbed to the dizzy heights of 11th in the league with a game or two in hand. It had been a masterly performance that had outclassed a Towners side that obviously had other things on their minds.

Writing this on Thursday evening after processing the match photos I now know that Steve Newing, the manager of Enfield Town, was sacked this morning and The Towners are looking for a replacement. There was a lot of sympathy among the Wingate fans for the plight that Enfield Town have found themselves in and it would be good to see a return to the normal hard fought matches with them that usually were settled by a single goal. We’ll find out if they can turn it around when they come to visit us on 19th of April next year.

All thoughts expressed are my own and do not represent the views of Wingate & Finchley FC. Please click on the Wingate & Finchley Badge to visit the Official Club Website.


  1. Funny old game isn’t it Martin, those ups, downs and roundabouts . . . .Shame you missed the shots but I’m sure you don’t feel too bad, given the results! Still happy with your new 5D?

    1. I might moan about it Patti but that is the nature of the game – you can’t be everywhere at once! Shots of goals often lack the excitement of action elsewhere on the pitch and it’s rare to get an angle where the scorer, ball and goal are all in the shot.

      The 5D is performing very well and I was able to turn in 27 good action shots for use by the club. Auto-focussing systems can play up after dark when you’re following a fast moving game like football – it’s still a major improvement over the old days when you pre-focussed on a place on the pitch and hoped that there would be some action there πŸ˜‰

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