Match Report circa November 1993

ENGLISH LIFE SERVICES 7    Short 3, Laming, Wood, McGuire, Chubb

SAN MARINO CLAIMS 2    Fluke, Luck

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COE, WILLIS, BATES, CAVE, ENSOR, WOOD, CHUBB, CARTER, LAMING, SHORT, MCGUIRE

How a team like this can win 7-2 I just don’t know. Most said it would be a close game, but the word on the streets was that Claims were the new force in Zurich football. What transpired was a good old-fashioned Saturday night at closing-time whacking, which left Claims shellshocked and LSD extremely surprised. Before we go into graphic detail, here are the reasons LSD were being written-off, before a ball was kicked in anger:

(1) The world’s worst ever talent shortage. No Hardcastle (oh no!), no Wolf (oh blimey!), no Ford (oh God!), no Smith (oh well never mind!)

(2) Reputation. LSD are bad, really bad. Many’s the time Trev Harris has sent us to bed with no supper. Spectators and people parking their cars in the car park don’t get off lightly either. Rumour has it that we once even reduced Matt Sawyers to tears. Now that’s bad.

(3) No kit. LSD are a sartorial nightmare. Old LCD shirts, T-shirts, even a West Ham top. When it comes to gear, Third Division stuff.

(4) Jason Willis.

THE MATCH

With Cave his usual prompt self (can’t this jerk buy himself a watch?) LSD fell behind when they all stood still to admire Claims’ first corner, ever. It was such a lovely, inswinging, dipping, looping corner that it just had to result in a goal. 1-0 down, everyone playing out of position, Claims rampant, the defence barely on first name terms. Things looked bad.

(At this point we must mention the supporters: Vicki, Jenny, Louise thank you. It was cold out there but you never wavered. Sharon, the sight of you sloping-off in our hour of need will be remembered by us long after you’ve forgotten it).

As far as the game went, class was always going to tell eventually. It did. SHORT equalised in his inimitable style, stopping his wild celebrations only to humiliate the fallen goalkeeper with a mouth of abuse. Shortly after, LAMING bundled the ball home after a “Hand of God” incident, seen only by the entire Claims team and no-one else. The 2nd half was utter annihilation, AC Milan v The Rose & Crown, Men v Boys, Class v Arse.

WOOD toe-poked one from 30 yards  to make it 3-1, before Andrews caught Coe in No-Mans Land to make it 3-2. Blame for this lies at Willis’ feet, as he took a throw-in whilst Bates was still in the car-park having just retrieved the ball. Thanks Jas. Looking forward to a friendly v Touchline. Now the fun began, Chubb and Sawyers went toe-to-toe (only one winner there) then Claims’ mini-version of Andy Bates started crying after one knee-high tackle too many. SHORT’s persistence made it 4-2 before one of those “Great Sporting Moments” that come along so rarely.

Carter found McGUIRE, whose shot bounced straight back to him off the goalie, and LSD’s very own Ian Wright made no mistake with his second attempt. McGuire was instantly mobbed by crazed team-mates, who had to be dragged off him after 5 minutes of sheer adoration. Willis then managed to fluff a penalty (class to the bitter end), before SHORT made it 6-2 with a close-range effort. His feverish attempts to convince everyone that it was “a great goal” were sadly wasted though.

With the game won, CHUBB opened his magic box, beat one, then another and another, then the first guy again, shot, got a lucky deflection and celebrated in arrogant style. At 7-2 the referee had seen enough and mercifully blew for time.

The bar beckoned, seductively.

NOWHERE TO RUN, NOWHERE TO HIDE

Andy “Mr Blobby” Coe (9) Though I still reckon your wonder save from Mountifield was going wide, you played a stormer. You’re no “Cat” Smith, but beggars can’t be choosers. If Sugar Ray Leonard and Frank Sinatra can come out of retirement, I’m sure you can. And we promise not to insult you ever again. Fat bastard.

Les “Late For My Own Funeral” Cave (8) Started slowly, tailed-off in the middle, but stormed the last twelve seconds. Honestly though, very solid. Needs to invest in a trusty timepiece. A Ken Ebbens “Soccer Skills and Tactics” video wouldn’t go amiss either. Some good passing though. It kept passing me, anyway.

Mike “Bite Yer Legs” Ensor (7) Started like an uncoordinated wreck, but improved. Pre-season transfer from FLSD looks like a sound deal by Pat “The Manager” Chubb. Mike seems to have found his own private heaven at left-back. Now the question is, will “Scores on the Board Mr Ford” regain his place? Stay tuned.

Andy “Football’s Too Bloody Easy” Bates (10) Did all that was required, and then some. Playing at the back with The Three Stooges can’t be easy, but Norm carried it off perfectly. Made it all look so easy, Andy should advance to “GO”, collect £200 and enter the Life Services Hall of Fame. Class act again. But what about that T-shirt?

Jason “Who Glued The Ball To My Foot” Willis (8) I was going to be harsh, but I can’t kick a man when he’s down (ooh er, Mrs). As pointed-out afterwards, constantly runs out of pitch, maybe all that baby oil makes him keep slipping off? Missed a penalty, but so have some of the greats (Wright, Baggio, Carter). Sees himself as a lady-killing cross between Giggs and Cantona, but is really a girly version of Julian Clary.

Ady “Rabid Demented Mad Dog” Laming (8) Ady scrapes an 8 for being such a lovely bloke. He walks old ladies across the road, buys his Mum flowers, and says “Thanks” when a nut from Claims attempts to decapitate him. He was dead crap until he scored, then he changed into an all-tackling, running, hacking, whacking and chopping machine. I accept your thanks for my “hand” in your goal. Mine’s a pint, Ady.

Simon “I’m Old Enough To Be My Marker’s Dad” Wood (8) Despite the fact that it was also his marker’s “time of the month” Simon deserves no less. When I left to play for LCD he was a whippet, now he’s a sad old dog just waiting to be put down. A bit like Bagpuss. Except Bagpuss was a cat. I think. To compensate for loss of pace he’s acquired a shrewd footballing brain which tells him “the goalie’s crap, if I toe-poke it from 30 yards it’s sure to go in”. His partnership with Willis was a highlight of an entertaining match. Don’t retire yet.

Pat “Reformed Butcher” Chubb (10) You were going to get a 9, but Dom reckons you were the man of the match so I’m giving you the benefit. Also, I don’t want to be in midfield with you if you’re upset about something (assuming there is a next time). I’m not too happy about you trying to beat-up my mate Matt Sawyers but I forgive you. Sprayed passes around like nobody’s business, shame that McGuire was the intended recipient all the time. Scored a corker, and didn’t desert me when I was in need (most of the game).

Andrew “Let’s Introduce Some Culture” Carter (8) A fair reflection on another debut performance. I’ll remember the through ball to McQueer long after I’ve forgotten his goal. Was occasionally caught in possession, and put in trouble by some dodgy service from defence. Enjoyed the huge space left in the Claims midfield, but would be surprised if EBU allowed me the same space. Would be a 7, but what about the shirt? I can get you some cheap from a man I know in Romford Market, The idea Xmas pressie. Go on, just sign here…………………………………………………..

Danny “Can I Play At The Back Cos I’m Not A Goalscorer” Short (9) You are a natural. Natural what I’m not sure. If scoring goals ever goes out of fashion, you’ll be the guy with the 1982 Stay Press and gold tie-pin. My tip for top scorer this season, all the lad needs is service from midfield (hint) and an able strike partner (big hint). Takes his goals like Mick Quinn on a good day. Poacher extraordinaire.

Jason “No Pace, No Skill, No Aggression, But One Goal From A Classic Carter Pass” McGuire (7) A natural finisher (not). Makes “The Care Bears” look like drug-crazed Hell’s Angels. He’s just so determined to stamp his name on any game. Claims don’t mind losing 7-2, but letting in an attempt from McGuire? That’s embarrassing. Used to get picked for his luminous shin pads, but now it’s goals goals goals that get him picked. Being sexually assaulted by Short after his goal will no doubt live in the memory.

Match Report circa 1994

RAMPANT REDS (1) 8         Short 4, Wood, Pattison, Carter, Bates.

LILYWHITES (0) 0

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Given that 8-0 should have been the half-time score, and that Claims only had eight or nine players (and I use the term loosely), wild jubilation should be abandoned in favour of disgust. By my reckoning we had roughly thirty, yes thirty, goal-scoring opportunities, at least fifteen of which came in the first half, from which we managed one goal. However, given that we had a few “squad” players playing in the absence of Hardcastle, Ford, Coe, Wolf and McGuire, a victory was all we could ask for.

The opening ten minutes were 80/20 in our favour, but after that we really took the game by the scruff of the neck, with Short going close. After twenty minutes, good work by Pattison, yes Pattison, enabled SHORT to convert from an acute angle, and celebrate in customary style by abusing the Claims’ goalie’s Mum, and shouting “Get in there” as loud as possible. From then until half-time a siege took place, though to be honest Cave did make two or three saves which can only be described as “Coe-like”. By half-time, seven Life Service players had had shots on goal, but only Short had found the Claims onion bag. Notable misses included Laming’s shot past the post after pelting fifty yards with the ball glued to his foot, Bates’ miskick with the goal begging, numerous Wood raids ending with the familiar sound of the ball hitting the fence behind the goal, a weak Carter shot with the goal at his mercy, a save by Beagley after Pattison worked himself an opening, etc, etc, etc. The general feeling that the game was being played in the Twighlight Zone rather than Alexandra Park reached its peak when the half-time whistle blew with the score still stuck at 1-0.

The pattern continued in the 2nd half, Short and Bates contriving misses when a goal would have been bread & butter for someone of the calibre of the missing McGuire. Then, suddenly, things changed. SHORT found himself on the end of a dream ball from Bridger, turned, and rolled the ball like a Nick Faldo putt inside the Claims post. “Get in there”.

From the kick off, the rampaging Short set-up WOOD, and it was 3-0, and Claims could hear the familiar sound of the floodgates beginning to creak open. SHORT’S pre-match worries that this could be his first game against Claims where he didn’t score a hat-trick were put to rest when he rifled in LSD’s fourth, again from an acute angle. “Get in there”.

At this point, LSD’s new striking sensation Simon Pattison was starting to feel the pace. Claims knew he was the man to target, and over an hour of late tackles, elbows in the face etc had reduced “The Huddersfield Hit Man” to a shambling wreck. Luckily for him, his route off the pitch , having finally given-in to cramp, took him through the Claims penalty area during another LSD raid. Wood found Short, who found Laming, whose weak shot seemed to have been saved. However, the ever-friendly Claims goalie allowed the ball to squirm away, and yes, you guessed it, PATTISON, sharp as a fish, prodded the ball over the line, prompting a celebration not seen since LSD last played Claims, when McGuire found the net.

At 5-0 the game was obviously won, but there was still time for SHORT to take his season’s tally to ten with a fine finish. A rare Claims attack then allowed Cave to cynically hack his man down, and escape even a yellow card. The ref was obviously in no mood to test LSD’s new-found “goody-goody” image, preferring instead to remember past encounters which had almost ended in a bloodbath when a Life Service player was cautioned. Anyway, Cave successfully feigned injury for long enough to allow everyone to forget why the game had been stopped.

Ever alert, CARTER made it seven for Pat Chubb’s Red Army, before BATES received the ball in the box, faked panic, shimmied, and stuck the ball away, allowing LSD to maintain their average of eight per game against the poor, unfortunate Claims goalie. Apparently, by now someone had phoned the RSPCA to complain about our disgraceful cruelty to dumb animals. The ref decided to blow for time, before our goal difference began to resemble Manchester United’s.

“DREAM TEAM” POINTS

Cave (9) A sound, often spectacular display by Mr Late himself, who made numerous saves when the score was 0-0. His commitment to the cause may no longer be doubted, especially after a body-check that could still get him charged with GBH.

Bridger (9) Drafted in to replace the expectant Ford, turned-in a classic performance of grit and skill. Surely worth a place on the bench at least for future games. Beaten once all match, battled as if his life depended on it. Ford must be worried.

Ensor (8) Tackles like an angry pit-bull, but his distribution is lacking on occasions. Seems confused when there’s no-one within 20 yards, but much happier when there’s six people within five feet of him. However, can’t be faulted for heart or determination, anything less than this mark would be outrageously unfair.

Ebbens (8.5) Another solid performance, backed-up by the returning Chubb.His return to form has coincided with his recent marriage. Jason McGuire should think about this. Never reached the heights of his colossal performance against LCD, but never had to. Worthy of this mark.

Chubb (8.5) First game for four months, dodgy back, unfit, playing in defence: all excuses we’re likely to hear from him over the next few days. In truth, never really extended, though as with Ebbens, the competition was poor. No-one could have expected more, though a couple of long range efforts were enough to scare the corner flag.

Carter (8.5) Slotted into his preferred Beardsley role after a dodgy start. Often spoilt for choice when deciding who to put through on goal, so sometimes decided not to put anyone clear. Goal was pure Shearer.

Bates (9) A typical performance, scored, set-up a bagful of chances, took the piss out of Pattison’s cramp walk. Has too much talent to be playing with the likes of us. Revelled in the space in midfield, which sometimes resembled the Sahara.

Wood (8.5) Workmanlike, in the last half-hour was given the freedom of the right flank. Still needs to work on putting crosses in the air occasionally. Speed remains however. A thoroughbred in a team of cart horses.

Laming (8.5) You thought I’d forgotten that miss, didn’t you? Goal at his mercy, just run towards it and roll it in. Not Ady. Ady pulled the trigger from 18 yards, and grazed the wrong side of the bar with a surface-to-air missile. A rare error from the Mad Dog.

Pattison (8) Forget McGuire. This man’s the business. His finishing skills honed to a razor’s edge, his touch a sight to behold. You could tell Claims had resigned themselves to defeat the moment he ambled out onto the pitch in his baggy tracksuit bottoms and pre-shrunk T-shirt. The new Vulture.

Short (10) OK, so it was Claims, they only had eight or nine players, their defence was out to lunch, the space he was allowed was almost an insult. However, Sniffer can’t be blamed for all that. Four goals, surely another Golden Boot on its way to his mantelpiece, an assassin in front of the sticks. I’ve tried to justify a lower mark, but can’t. Take a bow son.