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Walk Between Raindrops*

Most footballers would contend that to play against a good opposition is a good test In difficult weather conditions that test becomes as much a test of character and resilience as the game itself Personally, I hated to play in severe windy conditions but its part of what you come to expect if you are serious about the game So Wednesday's Sutton session was the embodiment of the noble battle We started in drizzly conditions after a wet day with spells of heavy rain but at least it was dry-ish for the warm up conducted with notable encouragement by Clarkie Within 10 minutes of the opening round of matches we were treated to a bout of heavy non-stop rain that lasted for the rest of the night

24 hardy souls reported for duty and responded to the Clark warming routine with energy and enthusiasm Teams were selected by Coach Davies, split in four teams of 6 Coach volunteered to act as BallBoy/Referee and Tom Stretch Parr arrived nursing a hamstring gah to act as the other referee

The teams were;

Pink - Mark Davies (still no relation), Disco Deggs, Martin McNevin (another product of the Whiston Academy on debut last night), Lee Thomas, Tony Snakehips and Jeff Betty (playing his first game at less than 30 degrees since January)

Blue - Lord Rainford, Clarkie, Nigel (still wearing Factor 15), Chris 4G, Dave Bates and Dave Babylon Gray

Yellow - Harrison, Phil the Power, Chopper, Steve Honeyman, Paul Porter and Les

White - El Presidente, Gonzalo, Cockney Rebel, Deano, Joe the Ghost and Norman Ball

Play started with the first series of matches pitting White and Blues in benign drizzle but as the White took early control of proceedings the weather took a distinct downturn Goals from Joe the Ghost, Cockney Rebel and Gonzalo eased White ahead Blues rarely able to find a way out of the high press that the White imposed on their opponents Whites passing and movement kept Blues on the back foot Deano providing a constant outlet and Joe wide on the left always available Blues did eventually hit back with Nigel powering a shot that spun through El Presdidente's grasp 3-1 Undaunted, White hit back with another swift passing movement to present Gonzalo with a simple tap in 4-1 Impressive!

At this stage in the session we lost any hope of recording goals and even scores when the deluge took firm charge Pink and Yellow was fairly evenly poised with Yellow claiming a narrow 1-0 victory courtesy of Steve Honeyman

White v Yellow in the second round of matches was another masterclass in passing and movement The other ingredient that made a real difference was the confident way in which all players communicated to each other Whites called for the ball and encouraged their team mates when things broke down Another Gonzalo brace and well deserved goal by Deano sealed a 3-0 win for Les Blancs Yellow grafted throughout to remain in contention Phil produced one magical moment when he turned El Presidente inside out, Les too carried the fight but was starved of decent ball

Meanwhile Pink v Blue was another tight affair that included a penalty (or not) and Deggs goal (or not) In the absence of accurate record let's agree that whatever the outcome there was plenty of decent football that caught the eye of Referee Stretch A late report (stop press) reckons it was 1-0 to Blue courtesy of Dave (insert which one as you wish)

And so in the eye of the storm the final round of games produced the closest of the series

Blues and Yellow was a tight five goal thriller We do know that Blue claimed the narrowest of wins with goals by Dave (yes but which one?) Chris 4G (a rare right foot effort) and Clarkie winner 3-2 to Blue As for the Yellow scorers we can but hazard a guess

The last report features the unbeaten Whites taking on Pink In fairness the game felt like a comfortable win for White but the score line was much tighter Gonzalo fired White ahead and there were lots of chances for a second but some inspired keeping by debutant Mrartin Mc and Mark (no relation) kept the White at bay for long periods Gonzalo added a second but immediately owned up to encroaching the area (too honest that boy) Jeff Betty fired a power drive through El Presidente at the near post 1-1 but this merely stung the White to raise their game to close out the game with Joe ghosting his effort beyond the diving Martin Mc to seal a close 2-1 win that was in truth not that close

The Boot Room was an enthusiastic temple to all things SHWFC Tom Stretch spoke of his delight in the spirit of all who played In turn we all spoke of our gratitude to him and Coach for withstanding the weather and being there for us all The quality of football has improved substantially in the past few months Every session is now a chance to to showcase this raised quality We learned too that our AGM and planned Race Night will be held at The Wicket at Ruskin Drive more news when dates are finalised

There's nothing quite like winning when you've beaten the elements as well as your opponents Night's like Wednesday just make the Club a little more bonded and collectively stronger

Walk Between Raindrops* - Donald Fagen from the album 'Night Fly' a classic

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