Match Report - 23 Mar 2014, Clapham Rovers Clapham Rovers beat AFC Maverick
ollowing the Bert Gabey cup exit last weekend, the Rovers were looking to bounce back in the league as the team’s pursuit of top of the table resumed.
It became evident mid-way through the week in the build up to Sunday that the Rovers were potentially staring a repeat of the 20-0 loss suffered at a similar stage last season. With Chris Ken frantically texting Rovers players to enlist the services of any acquaintances whatsoever, it was clear from the outset that When Sunday Came (G’s favourite film), the Rovers were likely to be battling with 11-X players. Whilst Chris Ken was assumed to be messaging people using free WiFi in an IHOP diner in Florida, it was later reported that he was sat in a dark room in Old Street, muttering “I shall not resort to GumTree”.
Sunday arrived and between 9:30-10:20, 9 Rovers waited in a poorly lit, cold Riverside Lands changing room. Whilst the players eagerly awaited the arrival of G with the kit, much jovial thumb twiddling and conversation took place as the changing room atmosphere was positive and upbeat in the absence of the injured Jan Beadle. As each of the 9 players took their turn to defecate in the sole toilet and kill time by listening to all other changing rooms turn silent with emptiness, G lurked in and dropped the kit bag on the floor. The Rovers quickly got changed into the White n Blue, but it soon became apparent that G had used all his Persil and Lenor Orchard Silk on his GAP gilet, and the kit remained creased, dirty and of a scent most likely attributable to South West Wolves after a full 90 minutes plus extra time. As the 10 men trudged out at 10:24am, Smudger proclaimed that the Rovers’ smell shall be their 11th man.
After a swift warm up, G was called over to the Referee’s coin toss, and came back smirking like he’d just watched two infamous videos posted by James Mark. It transpired that the opposition captain won the toss, was asked by the Ref what he wanted to do, looked perplexed and shouted to their James Corden manager for advice. His reply: who gives a f*ck.
The game kicked off and for 44 minutes, 10 men Rovers dominated. Smudger led the front line by example supported with gallant advances forward from No.10 Godwin (playing in the “Rooney” role), Gallo on the left wing, and Rovers stand in ringer, Dan ‘Paul McShane’ Wheeler. Around 20 mins in and Juan advanced down the right wing, the ball was fed to Smudge who jinked his way to the by-line, crossed it in and Dan Wheeler ghosted in to glance a shot to the back post. Bunny, flailing and surging his way into the box inadvertently blocked the shot.
Around half hour in and Nath received the ball in the middle of the park. Looking up, he played a Steven Gerrard-esque ball over the top. Their CB looked comfortable to clear but Godwin slid round the side of him at the last minite, unfortunately poking a right footed shot wide. Carswell then decided to impersonate Kolo Toure by playing a tepid ball across the back four. Fortunately G was in imperious form (flying in the face of recent criticism of him by an un-named injured Rovers central midfield playmaker) and covered well.
With HT only a minute away, the opposition made a rare advance into the Rovers box. As the ball landed at their strikers’ feet, G rolled back the years to precisely 22nd April 2012 with a SKUD missile tackle, leaving a crater and small fire at the scene of the challenge. The continental referee took exception to the tackle and pointed to the spot. G was then booked as he remonstrated the decision with more fury than if the Pirate Stu had run out of Warm Chocolate Fudge Cake and neapolitan ice cream. Bunny was overheard muttering that he’d break the referee’s arm but the penalty stood and Rovers went into the break 1-0 down.
The second half started and Rovers soon fell 2-0 behind. Again undeserved. But the Rovers were not to be deterred. Juan, with a looming departure hanging over him, was in inspired form. Leading offensive play down the right flank, Rovers were probing and playing an arrogant form of tikka-takka, with good triangles forming between the technicians of Nath, Godwin and Bunny. One particular attack started with good movement by Juan who found Smudge on the right hand side. Smudge slalomed his way into the box and poked the ball to Godwin on the penalty spot. Godwin, about to shape for a trademark piledriver, heard a bellowing squawk from Bunny who was arriving late and behind him completely unmarked. Godwin played a quick pass to his left into an acre of space where Dan Wheeler was waiting to tap home. In transpired he has been shouting for the ball but was out squawked by Bunny. Out of nowhere Bunny arrived to snatch the ball away from Dan Wheeler (like if Paul Scholes had taken the ball from Michael Owen against Argentina in 1998). In an unexplainable moment, Bunny decided to try and hit the Boeing 777 flying towards Heathrow by hitting a 45-degree trajectory shot. Godwin and Nath were spotted exchanging nods as this incident occurred.
The unthinkable then happened and Juan and Gallo had to depart, leaving Rovers with 8 men. Miraculously this galvanised Rovers who soon were awarded a penalty as Smudger ran clear and was brought down on the edge of the area. Godwin converted the spot kick and an unimaginable comeback against all odds was on the cards. With quarter of an hour remaining, all positions were abandoned as Rovers went gung ho to salvage a point. Bunny and Carswell honourably guarded LB, CB and RB positions as G attempted to replicate Tony Adam’s goal in Arsenal’s Premier League clinching victory over Everton in 1998, by surging forward at every given opportunity. As Nath marshalled the middle of the park and Dan Wheeler and Smudger valiantly ploughed on up front, Godwin was wiping away a nose bleed as he played a quasi sweeper position for roughly 5 mins.
With little under 10 mins remaining, Rovers won a free kick. Nath, attempting a low under the wall piledriver saw his shot scandalously blocked by Godwin who was running across the box as the shot was taken.
As G was now resembling Matt Elliot and flicking on headers in the opposition box, time was running out. A counter attack against 2 Rovers defenders was almost snuffed out, but with the last kick of the game, Rovers fell 3-1 behind courtesy of a fine strike on the edge of the area.
3-1 with 10 and then 8 men and the Rovers left the pitch with their heads held high.
AFC Maverick 3 - 1 Clapham Rovers Clapham Rovers ()