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Go Your Own Way*

After a day of contrasting weather Wednesday evening was pleasantly warm with a very slight breeze only, to use as an excuse for some of the at times woeful passing and shooting (but I'm giving the plot away again!)

20 players and assorted spectators, referees and bystanders reported for duty directly to the AstroTurf as the local Elections had grabbed at the Centre for their own purposes As Chopper and El Presidente marked out 2 pitches Gaz presented a series of crypton factor exercises to tease the life back into elderly muscles Coach Davies consulted Moneyball and we were prepared to play on parallel pitches (and occasionally parallel universes)

The teams selected were;

White - Joe the Ghost, Steve Honeyman, Coach Davies (after a lengthy injury lay-off), Tony Snakehips and Colin the late

Orange - Chris G (not 3G or 4G), Cockney Rebel, Tom Derby, Lord Rainford amd Gaz

Pink - Phil the Power, Grav’, Disco Deggs, Les (Pippo) Meldrew and Citeh Geoff (master of the Tivo box for the night)

Blue - Speedo Mick, Harrison, Sharon, Tom Stretch and Mike Ox

In the first series of games Orange and White met to get proceedings underway on the middle pitch whilst Pink and Blue were in action on the adjacent pitch Early action saw Orange employ a cunning press to hem their opponents into their own half Lord Rainford impressed on his first outings of 6 weeks (sessions surely M'Lord?) His first effort was palmed over by Bert Trautman-look a like Coach Davies 2 further efforts were narrowly wide, one difficult chance made the harder by the height of the ball on reaching the enobled one White struggled to get a foothold in the contest with poor passing and a lack of movement hampering their chances The Ghost was isolated up front or wide out not offering his team mates options to clear their lines Goals by Gaz and Chris 4G plus a smart finish from the Cockney Rebel ensured a 3-0 victory for the Orange

Meanwhile the Blues and Pinks were evenly matched for much of their game Les employed in the Pippo Inzaghe lone wolf (miles offside) role claimed Pink's opener but Speedo struck as time ran out to hand the Blues a leveller 1-1 honours even

In the next series Orange took on the Pink who were handed an early goal when a misplaced clearance was driven goalward by Disco Deggs The ball took a slight deflection off the Cockney Rebel knee to drift apparently harmlessly towards keeper Tom Derby Inexplicably his first grasp at collecting the ball resulted in the application of devilish reverse spin and the ball squirmed out of his hands and into the net 1-0 to Pink (More discussion on this controversial opener later Dear Reader)

There was a period of prolonged pressure applied by the Orange with Grav and Cockney Rebel prominent Lord Rainford weighed in with his own version of a meaty clearance (own goal at great risk) Pink defended stoutly with one effort at clearing their lines resulting in Gaz taking his voice up an octave whilst clutching his family jewels But Orange did find a way through to level the game through Chris 4G before Lord Rainford tucking away a very precise finish to seal a well earned win

Meanwhile White had taken the lead in their match up with Blue Joe the Ghost doing what he does best to grab the early lead Blue were back in the hunt with Speedo finding the far corner of the net with a sweet shot from the outside of his boot Mike Ox produced a fine piece of footwork to provide space for the winner 2-1 to Blue The Ghost almost created the perfect riposte with a shot that was masked from the keeper by a defender The effort was off target however and the game ended 2-1 to Blue

Many will know that we record some of the action to help compile the Blog each week The resultant background sound effects provide an interesting commentary on our games Most players offer encouragement whilst others urge their team mates on to raise their game Last night there was the usual vocal encouragement which included - 'Just hit it', 'to my feet' as well as 'easy ball' and ‘just clear it' My favourite on the night however was 'just give me the ball and I'll do the rest' The irony of that last remark will stay with me for another time

The final full series of games paired Blue and Orange with Harrison claiming his first ever goal with a shot that hit the far post before crossing the goal line on its way back I've no record of an Orange equaliser as my attentions were taken by the other game Pinks and White facing off on the middle pitch I claim that this Blog might have directly influenced a change in style by Les or Pippo As the game got underway he took up his usual advanced position next to the White keeper but (and this is where it gets tricky) rather than taking the chances served up by the ploy he decided to square the ball to team mates on several occasions Incredibly each chance was wasted Grav did eventually finish to put Pink ahead but chances for further goals were wasted leaving the opportunity for White to claw their way back level Disco Deggs was fortunate to see a shot strike the goal frame (claiming he had it covered naturally) Joe almost found a way through but it was Colin who settled matters with a fine strike from some distance 1-1 a game that Pink should have won by some distance and might have lost at the end

The final 15 minutes saw all teams engaged in shorter more intense action with few goals recorded The final games were close Blues producing a great effort to see off White a brace by Speedo (his last action for a while after his positive Covid test this morning) and solitary reply from Joe 2-1 to Blue

Pink and Orange produced some stirring stuff but no goals in the last action A wayward freekick by Chris G was well off target whilst Orange squashed their opponents deeper into their defensive shell Orange weren't able to exit their half with the ball often retained by their keeper for extended periods The FA (who for long periods have largely ignored the growth of walking football) has just released its new version of the Laws of the Game which is much closer to WFA Rules One interesting point is the law that penalises the keeper for delaying resumption of play by more than 6 seconds I believe that keepers who delay play to that degree need to understand that this merely increases pressure on their defensive colleagues Distribution early and away from the congested middle of the pitch is so much more effective

The post match Boot Room session was fascinating as ever The Dubious Goals Panel sat to review the goal claimed by Disco Deggs that struck a Cockney knee before being helped into the net by Tom Derby's application of reverse spin was judged to be an own goal A futile application to review that verdict resulted in Lord Justice Rainford El Presidente and Referee Jeff Betty adding a one game ban (suspended) for Mr Disco Deggs Esquire for his 'frivolous' attempt to overturn justice

With Boot Room newbies Chris 4G and Harrison in attendance the Group settled to watch Real Madrid dismantle Oil Money FC on a memorable night in so many ways

Go Your Own Way* - Fleetwood Mac

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