HOW THE MIGHTY HAVE RISEN!
Sils 6-1 win over the ‘old foe’ Olton secures second place and promotion for the Mighty 4’s with one match still to play.
Firstly, congratulations to the whole team and especially to Dave for being a fantastic skipper and for leading us brilliantly both on and off the pitch. The team spirit and banter has been first class and I for one wouldn’t have missed it for the world.
Our promotion is no fluke, it has been coming over the past few seasons and is well deserved, fourth in 2015, third in 2016 and now second in 2017. Wow!
Also a special thank you to our coach and mentor Shaun. Despite his inherent shyness and full time job as a councillor for the mentally fragile, he has somehow managed to turn a bunch of odds, sods, misfits and geriatrics approaching the afterlife into a winning team. Who can forget his very first half-time team talk? That quiet gently measured voice, like a well-crafted gin and tonic with just a twist of venom, deliciously soothing until, that is, he noticed Craig wasn’t paying attention. STICK-SMASH-CROSSBAR-FULL ATTENTION. The whole squad broke wind in unison (at least that’s all anyone owned up to) and all of a sudden we were transformed into a winning team bathed in the sweet smell of success. I hope I wasn’t the only one who had to ditch the laxatives and rush out to buy a multi-pack of new boxers!
Just to illustrate the Shaun effect, who can forget that moment last season when Mick Lane got all confused trying to clear the ball. Shaun yelled, “The simple one.” It was a ‘light bulb’ moment for Mick who immediately passed the ball to Mike Bettridge. The best bit was the look of hurt and indignation on Mike’s face.
Oh, I nearly forgot, the match.
For the first fifteen minutes Sils pressed high and attacked constantly with Tom Tyrer applying considerable pressure and causing all sorts of problems for the Olton defenders. Despite fielding only ten men, Olton put up a very well organised and determined defence which frustrated our attackers. Simon Russell eventually broke the deadlock with a firm shot into the back of the net. Following this, Sils began to find something of a rhythm and new boy Sam Stephen, fresh from the wilderness, popped in a second just before half time. This seemed to spur him on and in the second half he began to torment the Olton defence with probing runs and very tricky dribbling in and around the danger area. He was ably supported by Murray, Yogi and Simon in the centre, Str [oops] Choppy H on the right and Tony D and James on the left. Olton’s defence wasn’t helped when their sweeper took a very hefty knock on the ankle which seriously impaired his mobility, despite this he bravely hobbled on.
Inevitably goals followed, four more in fact, by the ever hungry Sam Stephen bringing the Sils tally to six. To their credit Olton played on with spirit and some good controlled hockey which eventually rewarded them with a late goal.
James, improving visibly week on week, looked startled when his excellent reverse stick shot hit the post. Was he surprised that he had actually hit the ball, or that it hadn’t gone in, or that it hadn’t gone wide? His enigmatic smile gave nothing away.
A standout moment came late in the second half when Theo made an outstandingly good reaction save low down to his left. Obviously, and it goes without saying, Yogi would have made it look nonchalantly routine, I think… well possibly… maybe?
Sils kept their shape, organisation and discipline extremely well throughout the whole game and this was particularly evident across the back with strong performances from Mick, Sam T, Craig, ‘Frank’ and Steve.
Olton must feel that Sils are becoming their nemesis having beaten us only once in the previous ten encounters. Plus, for the second time this season a Sils player has scored five against them in the guise of the ‘Old Poacher’ and the ‘Young Pretender’.
The quality of umpiring from Jim and Mike was consistently high throughout with perhaps just one minor exception. Mike awarded a free hit to Olton after their defender had deflected the ball into the crown jewels of Willetts the elder. No Mike, despite everything sagging south at an alarmingly rapid rate they are still not below my knees! Still it is good to report that Mike hasn’t put a foot wrong all season.
Man of the Match: Sam Stephen
So the Mighty 4s ascend into the dizzy heights of Central South West 1 where they will encounter the higher teams of the clubs we currently play plus new opponents Bridgnorth and Stourport.
We have enjoyed a fantastic run in recent seasons with very solid and creditable performances from the ‘old guard’, great match play from those still some way off drawing their pensions and wonderful flowing hockey from those still in their prime and not to mention the exciting under 21s, Sam, Max, Tom, Jack and Theo who are depressingly very fit, fast and skilful!
Also, there is still time left for Rushy to add a few more to his already impressive haul of 37 goals.
No doubt Captain Dave will pay tribute to all 27 players that have turned out for the Mighty 4s in his last report of the season next week, so I shall say no more except for…
'That Moment’ aka ‘The Incident’.
I couldn’t finish this report without revisiting that bizarre moment at Edgbaston when time stood still. You had to be there to understand it but it’s worth a mention because, from the circulating emails, it would seem that Yogi has forgotten all about it and would appreciate a little reminder. The Whippet also wants to bask in the afterglow of his ownly goal this season.
Tension was high with the Edg forwards slugging out with Sils defenders in the left hand side of our D. The ball was pinging about all over the place but they couldn’t get the ball in the net and we couldn’t clear the ball out of the D. After what seemed like an eternity, the ball suddenly broke free from the melee and rolled into the unoccupied far right hand corner of the D, close to the by-line. Unoccupied that is, except for the Whippet, quivering on red alert. Having had cataracts in both eyes for years he had just undergone a cataract replacement procedure in his right eye, restoring it to 20/20 vision. To further enhance the process Mr T had completely removed one dark lens from his specs to allow in maximum light thus giving him a somewhat unnerving cycloptical appearance. Eying the loose ball our ‘Vision Express’ saviour sprang into action. Sils breathed a sigh of relief sensing that the danger would soon be over as a simple clearance beckoned. What could possibly go wrong? Through the cornea of his good eye the Mighty ‘T’ spotted the slimmest of gaps at the narrowest of angles and smashed the ball into the back of the net like a rocket. Dire Dwyer, had he removed the wrong lens? There was a stunned silence. Yogi glowed with something less than pride and more akin to Chernobyl, you could have boiled a kettle on his head. The Whippet remained in the land of the living because, mercifully, he was out of reach of the steam engine. The umpire blew and went to indicate a long corner, this seemed the obvious decision. Time stood still. The umpires exchanged glances. Although quite some time had elapsed the ball had been played in the D by an attacker some minutes earlier. The dawn of realisation spread, the umpire signalled a goal, bizarre but correct. Instead of beating our nearest rival and stretching the points gap between us we ended up with a draw. It is the only time I have ever seen Yogi lost for words.
One of their forwards remarked, “If I had known he was that good I would have passed to him more often.”
Later in the bar Kimbie, their wise old sage in defence said, “You need to man mark him!”
Mike and I were passing Olton’s defender Micky who, realising that we were promoted, said, “See you again the season after next!” Oh how we laughed.
I hope he’s wrong but if not I have an almost Identical headline ready for the end of next season. What could it be…