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Blue Monday*

The first Ruskin Drive outing of 2022 produced a surfeit of riches; A plethora of players, 22 in all, a warm up feast to ease the festive binges away, a second Peter and bevvy of Blues to test the observant After the recent inclement weather, Monday heralded a change in fortunes The sun shines on the righteous and whilst we appreciated Ian (the Vicar of Dibley’s) kind thought the fact that we enjoyed a dry morning’s entertainment made a very pleasant change So with an ensemble stretching along most of the touch line, Coach Davies put his subjects through an extended warm up to ease away thoughts of turkey & stuffing The challenge to accommodate all 22 meant the hasty provision of a second pitch parallel to our regular hallowed ground

Coach Davies with much head scratching and deliberation employed the Club’s fabled algorithm Moneyball to select 4 teams of 5 with 2 random teams granted the advantage of a sixth member each OK so 2 teams gained a numerical advantage but as we all know quality rather than quantity makes a great leveller

The teams selected were;

Blue - Colin, Citeh Geoff, El Presidente (at this point we wondered if it was selection by proximity to Birthday) but Steve Goldie (May), Paul the Package (July) and then Dave Seagull (October) ended that theory

Reds - Les, Andy, Glenn, Cockney Rebel and Thatto Dave

Other Blues - (Cockup in Bib department?) Nigel, Mike Oxo, Steve Honeyman, Donal and Phil (Editors note it was a slightly different shade of Blue) Let’s call it Azzuri

Yellow - Anita, Tom Stretch, Chopper, Mark, debutant Peter Cunliffe (imaginatively referred to as Peter hereafter) and Tony Snakehips (in a natty neon yellow hue)

Coach Davies set the scene for the first series of games with Blues taking on Yellows whilst Azzuri met Reds in the other match

Focusing on Blues v Yellows (largely as I was playing in this match) there was much to admire from the opening exchanges as both teams found their way into playing again and on a Monday morning Blues passed and moved well but lacked a cutting edge in front of goal There were chances for Colin and the Package but Yellows defended well and also produced some decent saves when half chances were presented In contrast Snakehips and Mark were left to shoot from distance Fortunes changed with Tom moving into a more attacking mode In the end neither side could produce a telling shot and play ran out with the statistician untroubled in the goal scoring department

In a parallel universe Azzuri and Reds were pretty well matched with both teams enjoying spells of possession but few chances The numerical advantage in both games was largely nullified in a justification of Coach Davies’ gamble

In the second matches Azzuri proved far too potent in front of goal to grab 4 unanswered goals against Yellow A brace of braces for the Honeyman and Mike Oxo Oxley (addressed at times as the Peacock by his mates?) secured a victory that in reality was less one sided than the score line would suggest But it’s goals that count Azzuri too clincal for their shot shy opponents I did witness one moment of magic from Donal to set up Oxo for his second goal Having joined the Club in early Summer it was fitting that Donal could make his mark after prolonged injury absence in 2021

The other match pitched the partial Birthday Blue Boys and Reds together Once again there was plenty to entertain the watching Coach with both sides spreading play around the pitch to try to find a way through two well organised defences Reds held Blues at bay with their twin goalkeeping ploy (Thatto Dave and Glenn the Chaser were both former keepers in previous lives) Some smart keeping from Andy, inspired by his team mates, kept Blues scoreless It took an eternity before the Blues finally took a deserved lead with The Package justifying his multi million price tag with a smart finish At the other end El Presidente produced a couple of decent saves to deny the Cockney Rebel & Les, but he was eventually beaten all ends up by Glenn the Chaser with a cracking strike into the far corner Chances galore but a lack of clinical cutting edge meant the game ended all square at 1-1

The enjoyment all round was so good that no one twigged that we’d only played 2 matches in the session, albeit longer games than usual The post match inquests in the sumptuous surroundings of the Slipper Lounge (it’s the posh Boot Room) all focused on the joy of playing again after all the trials and tribulations of last year and the festive period

A special word to our friends Jeff ‘Betty’ Birchall who is ‘celebrating’ a milestone birthday tomorrow Colin (the Late) Williams reaches that same millstone on Thursday

In addition Steve the Honeyman Forshaw celebrates his birthday on Wednesday, whilst Citeh Geoff Painter will be cutting his cake on Thursday too Not to be outdone El Presidente reaches his milestone next Monday and hopes to record a rare goal to mark the occasion You can all have a few days off before Dave Grazer Clark celebrates (if that is the right expression) at the end of January

Blue Monday* - New Order

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