Match Report - 01 Apr 2012, Clapham Rovers Clapham Rovers beat Wig Army
Underdog Bosses: "Famous cup triumph marred by degenerate louts"
April Fools Sunday saw Clapham Rovers A return to their cup glory years as they secured the prestigious Bert Gabey trophy after a dramatic penalty shoot-out in Barnes Bridge.
It was the best of times. It was the worst of time. After a season-defining cup final victory, and the jubilation that followed, Clapham Rovers A players proceeded, on what observers claim, to be a 10 hour drunken 'binge' through their home district.
The day began bright and early, with Taxis arriving at the ground in Barnes Bridge by 9am sharp. Nerves were noticeable as the Clapham gaffer, Chris Kew, attempted to rouse his troops with nostalgic England songs, such as Three Lions, which were met with dampened amusement as the playing squad focused on the game coming up. Leaks from the dressing room claim some of the first team players were disappointed at their manager for failing to play 'Vindaloo' by Fat Les.
The stadium terraces were awash with Clapham blue and white, with our commonwealth cousins from Australia and New Zealand even turning out for the most seminal moment of 2012 in the UK capital, prior to the Jubilee and Olympic Games. Celebrities too were caught up in the South London hysteria, with Dave 'Wolfie' Fynn fighting back the paparazzi to take his seat in the makeshift stand. Nerves were even getting the better of Rovers' most famous follower, who was witnessed pacing up and down the terrace end, often overheard shouting at the Clapham managerial staff for 'yellow boots' to make an appearance from the bench.
The game began cagey. Both sides were well drilled in the art of defence and the midfield became clustered and a dog fight, with Matt 'Bunny' Warren lucky to escape a copious amount of cautions for 1980s style challenges, reminiscent of an over-exuberant and fired up Mario Balotelli. An even first half was edged by Wig Army, with a chance clinically dispatched from inside the box, in what was the half's first proper chance from the opposition. Whilst Rovers shaded possession, a handful of half chances were not quite enough to see the Blue & Whites go in ahead, or even draw level at the interval.
A lack of goals certainly did not dampen the appetite of the Rovers supporters, however, who embodied the new age Fan 2.0 by keeping engaged with the club's new Twitter page, Twitter.com/ClaphamRovers. A stroke of marketing adeptness from the club's recently appointed commercial directors, Godwin and Daly (JD), the Twitter page was intentionally created at the start of the first half, in order to ensure the highest follower uptake, and therefore a critical social media mass as soon as possible.
With the fans in the ground, in their armchairs at home, and beyond, being updated and entertained through the Rovers' social media channels, the players took to the second half with the grit and determination that is expected of cup champions. Constant probing took its toll on the Wig Army midfield and back-line, and a double substitution by Manager, Chris 'Jonny Evans' Kew, swiftly broke their resistance. A ball hovered back post on 70 minutes was deliciously volleyed home by Social Media vice-president and playing squad member, JD. Supporters were at this stage still flocking to the sidelines to witness the unfolding sporting magic, with Jimmy 'silver fox' Joyce's (cousin of QPR's Sean Derry) very own Jack Russell, 'Russell', barking the team on from behind the increasingly animated Kew.
Nerves were at this stage in proceedings understandably frayed, and the officials bore the brunt of the Rovers' frustrations as they went for the victory within the allocated 90 minutes. That big lad at the back, known affectionately by teammates and the fan base as 'Jim', rode his luck with a tourettes-style outburst at the referee following a foul against Rovers. Following a gruff holler of 'FUCK OFF' to the match official, in what can only be likened to a grizzly bear in the wild roaring at a petrified intruder to his nest, Jim's second repeated tirade in the closing stages of normal time led to some squeamish looks between those on the sidelines. Luckily for Rovers, it went unpunished.
Further abuse of the match officials was again evident by midfield all-rounder Bunny, this time not in outright verbal abuse, but a more sinister and witty putting-down of the much derided 4th Official. With the 90 minutes fast approaching, the Blue & Whites had a free kick just inside the opposition half. Gesticulating like a furious Tony Pulis, gaffer Chris Kew signaled for the 6ft-ers of Hitman, Jim, Carswell and the petrifying 'G', to advance into the box for Bunny to swing one in from the dead ball. As Bunny sized up his angles, the 4th Official called out to the Rovers' midfielder, requesting he move the ball back a few yards. A weak, weedy and anonymous 4th official up until this point in the final, Bunny understandably turns round , and with a snear, simply enquires, 'who are you?'... the free kick is taken without being moved.
As the game moved into extra time, chances become sparse, and cramp and tiredness saw the game peter out to the dreaded penalty shoot-out. A rousing speech by the Gaffer, reminiscent of Hull's Phil Brown at half time against Manchester City back in 2009, provided the forlorn 11 with the heart needed to plough through. This was complimented by a intellectually curious Dan 'Hitman' Harley, who philosophically posed the question: "confidence over talent, or talent over confidence?"... It is believed Kew employed a mixture of both.
The approach indeed paid off. With Wig Army skewing penalty number 1 wide, the remaining 5 penalties from Rovers were clinically dispatched, leading to Wolfie starting the catchy terrace chant of 'we are German, we are German!'.... jubilation took over and players, coaching staff and fans alike rushed in for the much loved victorious penalty shoot-out pile on.
With the finest trophies from the Woolworth's administration auction handed out to the players and staff, it was time for celebrations...
With a round of club and steak sarnies ordered at the club's official post-match players lounge, The Underdog on Northcote Rd, the infamous binge began. Between the hours of 1-9pm, pints of Underdog were ordered at a faster rate than Geraint 'Gaz' Lloyd could get through an entire stripper cohort at Brown's in Shoreditch on a Friday night. What began with jovial laughter and rejoice at a hard earned cup triumph, with banter between fellow punters and Underdog staff alike, slowly turned sour. Fellow customers began to desert the premises, and the bar staff became increasingly agitated at the degenerate behaviour on show. Cork screws were fired at Samsung LCD-wall mounted Television sets, and the sole remaining table of non Rovers customers come 7pm had their conversations drowned out by players giving Kew the most ill co-orindated, lazy 'bumps' ever witnessed in a Battersea bar. The bar staff, aghast at such un-Sunday evening like antics, power walked from behind the bar to confront those involved. With double digits of Underdog lager swilling through their veins, only the club's respected Social Media directors took stock of the unfolding events.
Reports later circulated that Bunny was prohibited admission to Gigalum nightclub on the grounds off 'intoxication'. Plan B was hatched, and after dumping a pair of £10 Argos fold out chairs into a Clapham South bush, the Avalon pub was the next destination, before Gigalum was successfully entered at approximately 10pm. The tabloids have suggested that Carswell was last seen leaving the Avalon with a blond, East European 'lady of the night'. Others claim she was merely a work colleague. Carswell has yet to be quizzed by the Rovers management staff on the reported incident.
After much parading of Bert Gabey trophies (now purchasable on Cash4Gold.co.uk) to apathetic females in Gigalum, the lights came on at 11pm, and the venue began to slowly empty... as jubilant, but now weary players made their separate ways home, the final scandal to emerge was the post-gigalum destination of Rovers manager, Chris Kew, who was last spotted with a 20st English teacher named 'Emma'. Kew has remained silent on the matter and it is believed he has took out a Lambeth Court injunction on the story to prevent such leaks reaching his current Australian girlfriend, whom the Rovers chief sees as his ticket to an Australian Visa, where he hopes to expand his cheap Moldovan bathroom fitting enterprise on the Oceania continent.
"It was like a piece of the most beautiful ballet" "I was a work of art, like seeing Da Vinci paint the Cistine Chapel" "It was better than sex"
Just some of the phrases that have been used by football fans around the world to describe JD's Cup Final half-volley that ultimately helped earn the famous Clapham Rovers that Bert Gaby Cup. It was their first cup success in 122 years, since the boys of 1880 (including a young G) lifted the FA Cup.
But this victory ranks higher than even that win over Oxford University during Queen Victoria's reign for most Rovers fans. Indeed, even Mr Gaby himself was heard to say "that's the most amazing thing I've ever seen" when handing over the trophy to Rovers gaffer Chris Kew after the game.
"I knew I was going to score that day," said a relaxed JD a few days later while signing autographs in the Underdog in Clapham South, the same haunt the Rovers players celebrated their famous cup win, and where hordes of fans have been coming since to pay homage to their heroes.
"I just love the was Jim's shorts stretch over his bulging thighs," said Jessica, 85, from Balham.
"I dream about Hitman every night," said Steffann, from Berlin.
"I was so happy after the final, I got a tattoo of Bunny's face on my forehead," said Bunny.
It was the sort of day that defines a generation, a day when heroes were born and immortalised forever. Final opposition Wig Army knew they had the lost the game the minute they walked past the Rovers dressing room and 'The A Team' theme was blaring out. "A little bit of me died inside and I knew it was a battle we were going to lose," said an unnamed Wig player.
The game itself was a non-contest. Yes, Rovers let Wig Army think they had a chance by allowing the Division One side to take the lead just before half-time, but that was only to make some sort of contest out of the game. When substitute JD was chucked on alongside the workmanlike Gin, Wig Army knew the game was over.
Gaz's perfectly stood up cross on 70 minutes was met by JD with the sweetest of half-volleys, the very sound of which was said to have made Maradona have an orgasm all the way in the UAE.
Each Rovers player had their part in the epic encounter, which is reportedly being turned into a movie, with James Cameron interested in the script. Sheva returned from the Wilderness, or The North as its also know, to put it a solid display between the sticks, capped off with one superb reflex save. It's been rumoured Ryan Reynolds wants to play him in the film but Sheva is adamant he will play himself
Carswell at right-back was more solid than a lump of concrete and has reportedly been given a a fragrance range deal with Calvin Klien. G and Jim have been offered contracts from the army to teach soldiers how to be tough after no-nonsense displays, while Miles Birch is still on the pitch trying to score a goal. It's been reported Tom Cruise will play the role of Miles in the film, which has a working title of Joy Of The Rovers although it's thought the team prefer the title of 'Up The Fuckin Rovers'.
In midfield Jimmy Joyce has been offered his own talk show with a three-series deal, and Bunny and Gaz have a 10-week 2-man show at the Paladium running from now until July. Only £600 a ticket, not bad.
Juan has finally been offered that visa while Smudger has acquired his very own chauffeur business to ferry him from Clapham to Cambridge every Sunday in style. Hitman has opened his own chain of restaurants called Hitman's Hmmmm House. Don't eat the ceasar salad. Rovers manager Chris Kew, though, has decided to shun the limelight despite steering the team to their first trophy in 122 years, preferring a quiet pint (or 10) in Gigalum.
As for the trophy itself, it's still pride of place in JD's flat, tucked up in his bed. It's one of the biggest jugs that have ever been seen under his covers.
Clapham Rovers Clapham Rovers 1 - 1 Wig Army (5-4 on Pens AET)