Match Report - 22 Feb 2015, Clapham Rovers Clapham Rovers beat Lokomotiv Londres
Following on from the seminal performance against Kings United, the Rovers quest for the title continued on Sunday.
It wasn’t Westminster Schools (birthplace of the Joyce crawl), Kings House (home of the Joyce little Asian ref red card) or even the fabled Riverside turf (home to 26 Joyce yellow cards). This weekend’s game took place at the White City 3G pitches.
Rovers did not have a depleted squad by any stretch of the imagination, but were missing some key personnel. Nick Woodward was playing wheelchair basketball in Epsom, Rich Storey was in Nicosia on half term and Andy Carswell was dating. Matt Wright had travelled on a covert MI5 sponsored mission with Hans Blix to Saudi Arabia and was understandably unavailable.
13 Roversmade the trip to White City and were rewarded with a rousing tactical speech by the manager, who employed any great orator’s rule of three: “Keep running. Er, win your tackles. And, er win the game”.
As the team excitedly bundled their way out onto the fake turf, the surface quickly lent itself to the technicians of the squad. Horse immediately orchestrated a sophisticated warm-up, which saw him spend 17 minutes smashing balls towards the goal. The standard Rovers warm-up then ensued, at which point the infamous Lokomotiv goalkeeper ‘John’ was seen in the shadows of the bushes directly behind the Rovers. John had his hood up, was smoking, and looked evil.
Whilst John attempted to watch Godwin warm up, his attention was caught on Chris Ken who was wearing a cheap suit overcoat over his Rovers kit and awkwardly kicking out in front of himself in a bid to carry out Smudge’s warm-up instructions.
The game kicked off and within a couple of minutes Rovers had won a corner. Godwin sauntered over to take it, delivering a tepid front post cross which fortunately was cleared straight back out for another corner. Hearing the murmurings of the Charlton Brothers, a flu-ridden Godwin succumbed to the pressure and delivered an even more inept corner, this time spooning it straight into the side netting. G was witnessed trudging back off shaking his head and muttering to himself whilst Horse reportedly shouted over to Chris Ken and made the ‘substitute sign’. Fearing Godwin would hear and have his feelings hurt, the paternal Horse then quietly told Ken: “He’s ill, he’s not well”. Makeshift Centre-Midfielder for the day, Matthew Warren overheard this and was seen gesturing at his imaginary H.Samuels watch to Ken, in order to signal that Godwin needed more time.
For 20 mins the game remained cagey and neither side had many clear cut chances. Rovers looked the more threatening side, and one attack ended up with a cross coming in and being collected by ‘John’. Gaz happened to be standing about 3 feet away from John as he jumped to catch the ball, and as John came landing back down he threw out an elbow in The Seed’s direction, narrowly missing him. This seemed to go unnoticed by the Ref, and The Seed was overheard telling John he was “nasty”. This nastiness from John sadly boiled over to his other players, with Shaun the next to feel Loko’s wrath. After an innocuous claim for a corner, Loko’s squeaky voiced cockney no.6 RB took exception and did a Pardew on Shaun. It is unknown whether the no.6 was offended at Shaun putting his hand up for a corner to be awarded, or because he was the ugly, miserable doppelgänger of the Rovers Centre-Forward. Bizarrely the Ref saw the whole incident unfold but failed to take any action. Reports circulated that the Ref’s family were threatened by John before the game.
Rovers then took the lead about 25 minutes in. Godwin atoned for his earlier corners by delivering a delicious free kick in to the danger zone, Shaun rising like a salmon to nod the ball past a rash, on-rushing John. Horse overly-congratulated Godwin on his delivery to compensate for his calls to be subbed after 2 minutes.
Rovers quickly made it 2-0 with a sublime team goal, possibly one of the best team goals of the season. The ball was being sprayed around, utilising the ball-playing Charlton Brothers at the back. It was fizzed into midfield where a sumptuous dummy occurred, to switch play from right to left, through Bunny, Ken and Nath, before eventually making its way to Gaz who rolled back the years in the no.10 role and laid off an inch perfect ball into Moley’s stride on the right-hand edge of the area. Moley didn’t need to check his run as was the quality of The Seed’s delivery to him, and he arrowed the ball into the opposite bottom corner, leaving John hopeless. It was the Rovers very own Brazil 1970 Carlos Alberto moment. Gaz was Pele.
From this moment on the game become a breeze and both teams seemed to realise the inevitable outcome. This however seemed to rile John. For the remainder of the first half he became fixated on Godwin at the back post. As Smudge began controlling the right hand flank and committing players, Godwin found himself free at the back post on numerous occasions. John would only realise this when an attack broke down and he had time to survey his surroundings. On about 9 occasions in 20 minutes a Rovers attack down the right would end in a corner, goal-kick or deflected chance. Each time John would turn round, see Godwin free and bellow “HE’S F*CKING FREE AGAIN”, “WHO’S F*CKING PICKING HIM UP”. Godwin was seen waving at John on one of these occasions.
In the absence of Matt Wright, Molby, Charlie and JD, the centre midfield slot was up for grabs and Bunny began staking his claim for this position as the first half wore on. Modelling his game on fellow countryman Joe Allen, Bunny was controlling the game well, enjoying numerous tika taka passes with G.
The half was comfortable until Pybus misjudged the flight of a big, high clearance which eluded him. The ball bounced straight over him, and despite a bumbling Horse flailing his hind legs back to stop it going in, the eloquent G scurried in and missile tackled it away to safety. This incident riled Horse who began bellowing at any Rovers mistakes, namely Godwin for booting a ball straight up into the air.
The second half began and this is where Rovers started to assert their dominance on the game, and scoreline as well. Within 5 minutes Shaun had rolled the awkward, lumbering Ivan and slotted a beautiful “pass-shot” hybrid into the bottom corner. The finish was sheer class, with G heard waxing lyrical to Horse about the ‘hold-up’ play. 3-0.
With 60 minutes on the clock Ken had had enough of squinting his eyes and clearing the ball and subbed the ill Godwin for Joyce. Ken advanced himself into the LWF position. The change paid dividends with almost immediate effect. As Smudge continued to wreak havoc down the right hand side, the ball found itself back post. As the cross came in, Shaun attempted a last gasp flick from his outstretched body, only to hear a shrill, excited, nervous, petrified scream from Chris Ken behind him. Trying to emulate Martin Tyler, Ken connected with the ball sweetly and screamed “KEWBALLS!!!!!” as he rifled it past John into the bottom corner. Pandemonium broke out and Ken was bundled to the floor in celebration. 4-0.
Ken later apologised to John and his teammates for what he deemed an over-zealous celebration; “Sorry for that celebration chaps, I’ve not scored in about 6 years”. Eight hours later John realised what Kewy had said and went berserk, claiming Ken was taking the pi55 out of him.
It was immediately 5-0 when G lofted a technician’s Centre Back ball through to Shaun who lobbed the onrushing John. Fine hat-trick was secured.
At 5-0 the game was becoming ratty and Loko were putting in some feisty challenges and verbals. On one such occasion their usually sanguine CB told Smudger that War Horse was sh*t (and that he was a c*unt) and Smudger couldn’t contain his frustration, throwing the ball away and attempting a Matic push on the aforementioned CB.
It was a capitulation by Loko, and final goal to make it 6-0 was scored by a now-booked Smudge. Joyce and Ken were striking up a left-wing partnership to instil fear into St George. Ken powered his thighs through to the edge of the area, the ball worked its way across the box to Smudge, who smashed home for 6.
Rovers were cruising and Joyce was showboating at LB with 45 yard cross-field balls to his fellow full-back, Sheva.
As Ken’s pace was deceiving him, Loko were able to flesh out a 2 on 1 on Joyce down the left hand side. The 2009 Bannister recovered admirably, getting his body in the way. Alarm bells started ringing for all Rovers at this point. Shaun’s miserable RB doppelganger had a little chip at the back of Joyce’s heel, and another, and another… the inevitable was about to happen.
As Joyce tumbled to the ground with their RB, he fell on top of Joyce and Joyce did what only Joyce knows best, he flailed out his limbs in anger. As the pair of them hurriedly got to their feetand Joyce went to bite his nose, an on-rushing Nath shouted “Jimmy don’t you dare!”. Joyce backed down and went on a charm offensive with the Ref, to no avail. James Joyce, 11 minutes, booked.
With less than 10 minutes to go the scoreline was 6-0 and Ken won a corner. John, who was rushing out of his goal to collect the ball for what he perceived to be a goal kick, looked up and saw the Referee’s decision. He then proceeded to go apoplectic with rage. Clearly sensing the game was there to be won by Loko, he turned on the ref, bouncing his hands up and down on his head and screaming as if he had just seen someone lay a dump on his bedroom carpet:
“NOOOOOOOOOO.NOOOOOOOOO. WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!?!?”
Followed by “I’ll knock you out”.
At this stage, half the Rovers were exasperated by John’s tirades, and those of his ugly RB, and the other half were besides themselves with amusement.
Horse proceeded to stand near John at the following corner, failing to incite his rage there and then but copping a volley full of abuse as he retreated back to his CB position when the corner came to nothing.
All in all a routine title charge victory rounded off with Joyce being asked in the car on the way to the Durrell Arms what he thought of Scottish people:
Lokomotiv Londres 0 - 6 Clapham Rovers Clapham Rovers ()