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Walk In The Night*

It has been another challenging few days in this prolonged run up (that's a foul right there) to the festive season Our members are in the far flung corners of the earth, Tenerife, Vietnam, Ireland and yet again Whiston A&E It's curious how there's almost a weekly visit and how we now have a waiting time sweepstake How long? Luxury! We had to wait 20 hours Sad state of affairs that we've become accustomed to that wasted time now being the norm

Monday morning's Ruskin Sports Village session went ahead as normal with a rainy drizzle welcoming Members as they assembled The weekend had been devastated by freezing temperatures that made even 3G pitches unplayable As we oft times reflect this Club is blessed with good fortune at least as far as the weather goes

31 bodies dressed from head to foot in suitable warm clothing took to the touchline to limber up prior to selection In view of our recent injury toll, most took full advantage of the exercises, stretches and horrors on offer Better safe than a month or two out

The teams selected originally were as pictured below, however as is now often the case, last minute alterations were made in an effort to present better balanced sides

Black - Spiro, Roger, Enoch, Les Meldrew, Andy Man and Grazer (a late switch from Green)

Sky - Les H, Mika, Donal, Harry the Hatchet, Mark NR (but only briefly) and Haggis

Green - Phil the Power, not Grazer, Snakehips, Mark NR, El Presidente and Triallist

Orange - Citeh Geoff, Chris K, Kenny, Eileen and Wickie

Pink - McSpeed, Phil the Moss, Grav, Phil the Cat, Sheila but not Phil the Power

Purple - Barry Wizz, Charlie, Eamon, Paul F and Amazon

Just 2 Referees were available but they were fully certified, official and top notch old chap Jeff Betty and Les Lomax both Tournament qualified WFA qualified officials set their collective stalls out with big calls in their first matches

One Pitch One (or the one near the grandstand) Jeff Betty stomped on 'not walking' from minute one As a consequence it took a Meldrew special (usually on the keeper's toes) to seal the narrowest of 1-0 wins for Black over Pink

Ref Les stamped out all misdemeanours too on the adjacent pitch, as Orange and Sky struggled to find the net in their first outing 0-0 the inevitable score line Inspired by the lack of goals elsewhere Green made things as difficult as possible for a speedy looking Purple outfit The best of the chances came instead to Green but so cautious were both that in the end neither side could find the net 0-0 after an end to end encounter

In Round Two Sky shaded Green thanks to a solitary goal from Les Hewitt The goal was a goalkeeping howler that did not impress El Presidente in particular This was almost Les's last meaningful contribution as he limped out of the next game early on with a ' hammy' - the injury of choice for walking footballers Green had plenty of chances but couldn't find an equaliser 1-0 to Sky

There was a continental twist to proceedings on Pitch One with Spiro hitting the only goal of the game, Black claiming their 2nd 🏆 bonus 1-0 over the Purple people

Green ended that Black winning streak with a goal by Mark NR poked in at the left post despite a Grazer attempt to shut out Green were good value for the win, and could have stretched their winning margin but for Grazer's efforts Elsewhere Pink scored twice with Grav claiming both goals His vital contribution making up for his team mate's injury withdrawal The welcome arrival of spectator Tom Stretch soon heralded his preparation (not pie related) as he agreed to join Pink as keeper for the rest of the session

Into Round 4 and a frustrating one for Green who battered Orange but were unable to score only to succumb to a goal from Eileen Green's defensive solidity throughout was undone in a moment of madness 1-0 to Orange

Elsewhere Purple shaded Pink thanks to a goal by Clubman of the Year, Green Room columnist and all round good egg Eamon 1-0 to Purple

The final round of games saw Orange crush Black by 2 goals to nil thanks to goals by Chris K and Kenny Meanwhile Green proved too strong for Pink with goals by Mark NR and Tony Snakehips Byrne The score might have been much more but the Cat rode his luck to pull off several saves (how much he knew about these is another question for another day)

There was a serious lack of cake in the Slipper Salon as participants warmed down (most warmed back up technically) We do hope that normal service will resume in the two remaining Monday mornings before Christmas God willing there will be cake!

Plunging into the midweek session in bitingly cold temperatures, the few remaining walking wounded were fortified by the arrival of El Presidente's latest Red Cross parcels

Club bags the latest addition to the Club themed equipment on offer Thankfully a number of non-Wednesday people made the trek to the Sutton SoccerDome to retrieve their booty Inside Les Meldrew put away his thumb screws and stowed his collection box before beating a personal retreat Another victim of midweek Premier League fixtures?

The Usual Suspects (minus their spiritual leader) were hastened to the Sports Hall to play a quick version of silent football Rather like a silent disco (where participants dance around with their headphones tuned to their own musical choice) silent football involves no ball Players have to pretend they are kicking a ball Phil the Power meanwhile trekked to the outer limits (AstroTurf pitches) to collect the indoor balls that had been erroneously journied outside

As a consequence start was delayed as there had been disputed goal claims during the silent session indoors No Referees were hurt during this interlude

Outside particular care and attention was made to ensure all bodies were thoroughly prepared for the rigours ahead

The teams selected were;

Red - Deggs, Graham, Darron, Jason, Haggis and Mulla

Blue - Eamon, Eileen, Lord Rainford complete with Toad of Toad Hall headgear, Chris 10P, Andy Man and special guest appearance against medical advice Gonzalo the keeper

Gonzalo's inclusion to level up the playing sides had been approved by Michael Gove's office, which speaks volumes His determined "I'm only going in the nets" was a brave if foolhardy measure but in the end he performed manfully and was only at risk when trying to reach into the corners Blue played with great style and purpose, organised by Andy and Chris 10P with great cameo appearances to add to the talent on show Eamon, Eileen with a wicked first touch and the said Mr Toad worked well in support Blue out-passed and out- thought the Red who were impressive too though not quite as polished overall

All of this made for a terrific contest with both sides intent on finishing on top

Blue defending the Far End in the first half in to the teeth of a very cold breeze that made spectating uncomfortable Phil the Cat, Geoff Prout and Chris 4G were the lucky(?) on watchers Gonzalo having arrived to spectate found gainful employment instead as emergency keeper Chris 10P fired Blue ahead with a shot that crept inside the post

Red had a couple of sighters but couldn't find the goal to draw level Graham settled well within the Red team, but despite their efforts they were still a goal adrift halfway through the first half Darron Walley did find a way through placing his shot in the far corner leaving Gonzalo unable to get across 1-1 Mulla tip-toed along the touchline before the space opened up in the Blue rearguard He then shot across the keeper to give Red a 2-1 lead

As time ran down before the interval Blue applied pressure thanks to some very slick passing Andy Man grabbed a well deserved equaliser just before the break 2-2 and a great treat for all involved or privileged to watch

Chris 10P found the net within the opening minute, his shot off both posts before settling in the net 3-2 Blue The Blue workrate was excellent and in the final analysis decisive Lord Rainford having ditched the headgear made the most of his chances claiming a brace (one an exquisite Sussex sweep) as Blue moved away from Red on the scoreboard if not the game itself Eamon punished a Red error as play swept to the opposite end Red continued to press for goals Deggs included a Cryuff turn and Deggs (big toe) finish Haggis almost squeezed a shot inside the far post but Red struggled in front of goal continued They'd raised their effort to match the Blue but Blue held a comfortable advantage 6-3 Deggs claimed another 6-4 The game ended with this Reporter's hands very grateful for the chance to warm up An excellent performance by both teams in extremely trying circumstances

Indoors, those who hadn't drifted off to sleep were rudely awoken by the return of Phil the Power with a supply of indoor balls Referee Jeff Betty Birchall assembled his cast of er....ten to slice and dice into 2 teams of er...five

Those lucky few were, not photographed so you'll just have to picture them grinning inanely The Usual Suspects were;

Green - Grav, Thatto Dave, Michelle Wednesday, Joe the Ghost and Enoch

White - Phil the Power, Kenny, Harry the Hatchet, Wickie and the Honeyman

Jeff reports a very close game until the final 10 minutes locked at 2-2 Grav had claimed both of the Green goals The skirmish between Kenny and Thatto Dave at times over shadowed a titanic struggle At times this deflected from the real action But there was no malice (afore thought or anywhere else) Good old banter Football speak for warfare but with polite handshakes at its end Kenny had a penalty saved nonchalantly by Michelle Her cackles of delight are nothing new but this time it was personal and she celebrated accordingly Harry had made a string of fine saves to deny Kenny and his Blanc Mangers Joe recorded a trademark ghost-in to tuck away the sealing goal The final score 5-2 to Green A great night's football, which even enjoyed by Mr Betty All went home happy, apart from those who should have made it to the Boot Room but somehow were lost in transit

The Boot Room reported all preparations are advanced for Friday night's (15th December) Club bonding session (as opposed to Bondage session which is another night apparently)

Plans for Deggs to make a virtual appearance via a satellite link from his holiday in Costa Rica we're not disclosed But rest assured he will be drinking about his Club Mates during the gathering

Walk In The Night* - Junior Walker and the AllStars (no tenuous link but what a great tune)

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