Rowley College 1 Sheldon Community Church 1

January 31st

Best to say nothing today since silence simply leaves today’s score (as History will) and the conclusion: good point earned against a good side. However, so much more went on today with lots of people to mention so here goes…

After a week of unsettled weather which both threatened and promised a game  I awoke this morning to a certain amount of snow so I set off to Holly Lodge with a broom and resolve: we had got a couple of recent (and vital) wins and my old mate Lyndon had intimated Sheldon were struggling for players. As it turned out the pitch was both a little snowy but playable but the lines were nowhere to be seen. However the broom allowed me to find the lines and when referee Neal Taylor arrived (early as promised) he gave me the go-ahead to clear all the lines (a mammoth task with one broom) for the game to be played. He is an excellent ref and all the officials deserve praise today for allowing this game to be played (the lines were a little faint but common sense and sportsmanship prevailed).

This extends also to Lyndon and Sheldon who turned up with nine players and might easily have tried to get the game off. Instead there was not a word of complaint only cheerful banter and this speaks volumes for their attitude and values. I was obviously spurred on by the prospect of facing one of the better sides in the league without the full complement so much that I hadn’t registered that our keeper Lee (usually first to arrive and self-appointed kit man) had not arrived. This meant a couple of lads driving off to get what they could of our kit from the last decade and us ultimately lining up like ‘raggardy bottom Rovers’ but also finding in the meantime that Lee had had an accident on the way to the game. Though knocked unconscious and therefore taken to hospital, I am assured he is OK and probably home by now. His first thoughts on regaining consciousness were for not letting the lads down and our best wishes go to him for a speedy recovery.

Sadly we couldn’t give him the present of three points since when the game did go ahead we came up against the ‘Sheldon nine’, a capable well organised bunch of footballers who fought a terrific rearguard action. Led by a man-of-the-match performance by Shaun Horobin they played the game perfectly in a 4-3-1. Their pacey forward kept at least two of our defenders busy, leaving us otherwise facing a well-organised defensive unit. This, of course is not an excuse: nine is too few to really mount a challenge but we did it ourselves 20 years ago, beating FC Foley 4-3 and came far too close to suffering the same fate today! At first it was attack versus defence on a sticky pitch and we had a chance in the first minute and lots of action in a slippy penalty area. Then when we failed to score the ‘playing against nine’ became a burden (we were better and it was easier playing with TEN against eleven last week). To make it worse they got a corner and ball to hand: penalty. Stand in keeper Craig had barely touched the ball before picking it out of the net! Now the dread started: in my belly and on the pitch.

We continued to have most of the ball and lots of energy particularly from Clive and Ben and Olly and young Brad when he came on but though we passed it back and forth, we barely created a chance until the last twenty when Christie blazed offer and he and Ben had promising moments thwarted by terrific defending. Mark and Dave got headers on target and they defended for their lives. However they were also getting out second half and giving us plenty to think about. Sadly, they were the better side! All the signs pointed to a humiliating defeat and a missed opportunity. Then ref calls ‘two minutes to go’ and we manage to smuggle it through to Olly back post and he’s clear of the last defender and into the six yard box and wants to make sure and it squirts into the corner off the keeper’s knee. What a relief! And back to where I started: good point earned against a good side. Thanks to all for a bracing morning of football and old fashioned values and get well soon Lee!

Illustration is Mike receiving news of last week’s win at the top of a considerable hill!

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