Match Report - 06 Sep 2020, Clapham Rovers Clapham Rovers beat AFC Balham
It was a massive delight to see us opening our season proper with a fine 4-1 win over long term bogey side, AFC Balham.
From 1 to 16 the shift was unreal and a marker for the rest of the season. Shaun just took the MOM by a whisker for his 2 goals and 2 assists.
With a much welcome break from tradition from my often inaccurate match reports, please find a match report from Godders
AFC Balham 1 - 4 Rovers
Sunday saw the Rovers return to action for the start of the 2020/21 season following a much-extended break of competitive grassroots football caused by the global Covid-19 pandemic.
It was a glorious September’s morning on the spiritual Rovers home (by name) on Clapham Common, which was awash with technically deficient Sunday league teams, overpriced British Military Fitness bootcamps and middle class liberal parents with young children.
The first game was versus the auld Northern Line enemy, Balham, who sported their slick Red, white and yellow kit with decent sponsor. In a scene reminiscent of Old Etonians watching Darwin enter the field of play, Rovers were led out onto the field by long serving manager Chris Ken. Now into his 14th season and sporting a baseball cap over a Walder Fray mane, Ken proudly wheeled his XL Adidas sports bag across the Common before dishing out the Rovers shrunken white shirts.
In the ensuing excitement of the warm up for Matchday 1, Nath nipped over towards the bushes for a much-needed toilet break before kick off, and was subsequently fined £150 by Lambeth Council for ‘Urinating’. A firm believer in tough policing and a dictatorial stance on public order, Nath wilfully handed over his ID and details to the council penalty enforcer. It was later discovered that Nath cited ‘IBS’ as a mitigating factor in an attempt to nullify his penalty notice.
As the time approached 10:29pm and with the Referee blowing his whistle for the start of the match, Ken delivers his tactics and team talk:
A one to eleven is announced within a 3-5-2, along with a “c’mon lads let’s get at them”.
The rovers start sluggishly as the players struggle to get to grips with their tactical instructions and shape worked on in training. Seb was busy getting himself about in the midfield whilst brother Bernard was up front trying to latch onto the multiple overhit lofty balls from the Rovers centre backs.
A gritty game by virtue of a hard, bouncy pitch sees few chances for 25 minutes.
Out of seemingly nowhere, a lofty Balham ball over the top is poorly judged by the Charlton Brothers G and Nath, who in a desperate act akin to Bould and Adams, put their hand up for offside. Ken, running the line to the best of his abilities doesn’t raise his flag. Pybus, under pressure from the demands of modern day sweeper keeping, attempts to rush the oncoming striker but is subsequently lobbed.
Rovers 0-1 Balham.
In the Balham celebrations, Nath and G can be heard remonstrating with Ken who himself is gesticulating to the Referee to get his attention. Ken then runs onto the pitch, and after a short exchange with the official, beckons over Drew who takes the linesman flag.
It was later confirmed that Ken was in need of a drink of water and passed over his duties to Drew as he had a light head.
The rest of the first half went by without incident.
As the players trudge off, both Ken and Nath address the players with Nath posing the rhetorical question of “Lads, think how we can tactically play these guys in the second half”.
Mckee, inspired by watching his hero Harry Kane in the recent ‘All or Nothing’ Amazon documentary, then piped up with a series of stock motivational phrases such as “everyone put in 110%”, “leave everything out there” and “let’s f*cking win”.
Whether it was Ken’s musings, Nath’s tactical ponderings, or Mckee’s rousing stock phrases, the Rovers came steaming out of the blocks for the second half.
Within 2 minutes, Bernard Finkle (brother of Seb) played a lovely one-two with Shaf, gave the keeper the eyes, and slotted home to draw Rovers level.
Rovers 1-1 Balham.
It was soon after Mckee’s time to shine. Following a barrage of Rovers pressure, Shaf lofted in a cross to the back post for Mckee to score with his head. He couldn’t miss, and on this occasion didn’t, despite not heading the ball downwards like every good striker, such as Tim Loius, is told to do.
What followed soured what would have been a solid if not spectacular performance by the Rovers post 2014 era striker…
More intricate play between Bernard and Shaf saw Bernard get to the by-line, and play a ball across the six yard box for the inevitable ‘Jew goal’ seen some many times on virtual football gaming. All that was left was for Mckee to slot home and prove his doubters wrong who have been claiming that Tim Louis is a better striker.
In a scene which left players, spectators and Council Officials lurking in adjacent bushes aghast at what they witnessed, from 0.5 yards Mckee blazed the ball over the woodwork. Some reports later suggested this was 0.2 yards. Captain Nath was later overheard questioning whether the miss was a deliberate act by Mckee who didn’t want to be associated with scoring a so called ‘Jew goal’. One can only make the link between such reported anti semitic behaviour and affiliations to Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour. Another unnamed Rover, recently employed by McKinsey, suggested that Mckee had a momentary lapse in concentration due to the narcotics still floating in his system from the Rovers Draft the previous Sunday.
In what could have proved a costly missed chance, the Rovers onslaught continued at frenetic pace. Soon after, a second ball was latched onto in the middle of the park and a through ball was played to debut man Bernard Finkle, who had replaced his brother Seb (now a midfielder) up front. Racing through, Bernard shaped and rocketed the ball with a beautiful inside curl into the far left corner beyond the reach of Balham’s overweight, facial blemish-free Allison Becker.
3-1 and Rovers are in cruise control.
A fourth was added shortly after to kill the game beyond all doubt. As the Rovers won a corner, the Charlton Brothers decided to stay back. As Shaf lofted in another corner, Mckee sniffed out an opening at the back post and nodded home.
At this point, with 20 minutes remaining, and with the game won, Balham were beginning to get ratty and commit multiple fouls.
In one particular incident, Balham’s bald, 5’8 Stephen Ireland right winger lolloped down the right-hand flank. With G facing him off as he rapidly approached the by-line, Stephen Ireland attempted a Henry vs Carragher punt and run past. Despite being 41 years old and having recently returned from Rhodes to escape the 4G signal causing Coranavirus in human cells, G was in no mood to be beaten for pace. As G shepherded the ball out of play for a goal kick, Stephen Ireland wildly slid through the back of G, who, against all his better judgement and football values, decided to ‘buy the foul’ and jerk his body towards the ground to exaggerate the contact.
As the referee blew for a foul and G dusted himself off with a slight air of shame, Nath was heard shouting “Konchesky! What was that?”.
Clearly irked by this incident, Nath was beginning to take exception to the increasing number of niggly Balham fouls. Soon after, a Balham central midfielder went through the back of Shaf in a relatively late yet innocuous foul, deserving of little more than a ticking off from the young David Ellery ref. As the Balham midfielder trudged off, Nath came steaming over and shouted:
“So late, get a watch and arrive on time”.
The Balham midfielder and Rovers player in earshot of this all looked at each other and Nath retreated sheepishly back to his centre back position.
As the full time whistle went, Rovers gave each other numerous fist bumps and congratulated each other on a fine and memorable opening match victory.
Special mention to Bernard Finkle for his two goals and all round impressive display up front, and to Seb who put in a shift in midfield for the first time in his Rovers career.
Sunday 13th September Fixture
Next up is another bogey side for us, Parklife. Think AFC Balham but more dangerous. We’ll therefore have to be bang at it again.
Edward Alleyn Club, between 83 and 85 Burbage Road, Herne Hill, SE24 9HD
https://www.google.co.uk/maps/dir// Edward+ Alleyn+Clubfirstname.lastname@example.org,-0.1648491,12z/data=!4m9!4m8!1m0!1m5!1m1!1s0x4876040a65289849:0x99308e4c10c4370d!2m2!1d-0.0948094!2d51.4489684!3e2
Meet 9.30am. Kick Off 10.30am
See you Sunday
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FANTASY FISCAL ROVERS
AFC Putney 9/2/20, Tooting Celtic 15/3/20, Streatham Stanley 23/8/20, AFC Balham 6/9/20
Westminster 5/1, Albion 12/1
Westminster 1/9, Tooting Celtic 15/3/20
AFC Balham 6/9/20
Harbut Rovers 16/8/20
AFC Balham 6/9/20
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AFC Balham 1 - 4 Clapham Rovers Clapham Rovers ()