Tuesday 18th April
Merton 1sts VS Southbank

An evening kick off always brings with it an odd sense of novelty that some embrace and others shy away from. Peter Brown was uncharacteristically upbeat and bullish commenting that he has the rare opportunity to work-out his day’s frustrations on the football pitch whilst Simon wasn’t really up for it and decided to leave his football boots at home, an early candidate for Dick of the Day surely!
The pre match bants was as strong as ever with people noticing that Matt Bosher was the new fatty of the team (until Woody arrived) and Browner was dressed in the Tesco uniform, which kept us occupied for a while.

With about 20 minutes left before kick off 4 players decided it would be a good idea to go out to the pitch to warm up, Tom Rowe failed to notice that out of a bag full of balls, the one he picked was flat but that didn’t stop the dedicated few from warming up in true “end of season fashion”…….. by hitting balls at Rat in goal, .which looked like some kind of secondary school bullying, forcing the small kid to stand still while the bigger kids tried to hit him with a ball. As coined by James Tilley, we were living up to the tag of Rag Arse Rovers……..until the opposition turned up. They had decided that practising corners with 10 players standing in the box heading the ball out was a good warm up. Still, we continued our fun until Clappers turned up with his shorts pulled up as high as Simon Cowell, but at least he had his boots on. Games faces on! Clappers instigated a proper warm up…… we had done 4 shuttles from the goal line to the edge of the 6 yard box when the ref signalled that start of the match….brilliant! Surely everyone had warm muscles ready to start fast right??

The line-up told you all you need to know about how the game had begun….Ivan, Bosher and Clappers in the middle of the park, not an ideal mid field trio but they ran around enthusiastically enough. The pitch was awful, hard as concrete with small patches of grass which ensured the ball would jump up if it ever ran along the ground to you, which was rare.
The ball was hoofed from one end to the other by both sets of defenders whilst everyone else got to grips with the pitch and their touches, to be fair to them, the Merton back four seemed to be the only ones who started well, straight from the whistle. The opposition had a 6ft.4, 18 Stone midfielder which led to some funny looks and chuckles between clappers and Matt as Ivan was left to mark him. Mis match maybe??
The game continued with not much to note as both sides settled, the opposition threatening more than Merton, with a few runs that didn’t seem to reach their full potential. There were flashes quality from Merton as everyone got to grip with their positions and with a few one-twos and some good movement out on the wing by Tom, we started to create some chances. With some neat passing from the back Tom released Kieron down the left wing who ran at defender s and seemed to be through on goal, his shot (or low cross) troubled the keeper who pushed it in to the 6 yard box and after a failed clearance Tom smashed it in the back of the net from close range. It would be fair to say it was slightly against the run of play but 1-0 to Merton nonetheless. We were lucky to retain the lead after a blind pass from Clappers to nobody, but that didn’t stop Clappers calling Browener….as though it was his fault…..and Tom Rowe giving a hospital pass back to Siri which put him under unnecessary pressure. The opposition’s huge midfielder started to impose himself a bit and began playing some good balls forward so Ivan began the lock down in midfield. The usually unaggressive attacker seemed to change to “Will Low” mode……the Silent Smasher. Ivan began dominating the massive midfielder, snapping away at his ankles, pushing him off the ball and at times nearly physically picking him up! In a David and Goliath scenario that may one day be made into a film, Ivan stopped the man mountain from playing where others could not and began frustrating him. Ivan had done his job and had this rubber stamped by the Ref after the beast like man complained that “number 7 keeps fouling me”! Job done, a new midfield Enforcer was born! The half played out with the same quality of football but on a positive note, everyone was starting to get warmed up.

The half time team talk was relatively short (thank god) and a few changes were made to save a struggling Tom and a puffing Bosher. Woody has finally arrived so went into the middle and Ivan went out wide………normal business ensued and Merton began creating better moves with a bit more composure in the middle of the park. Passes began going to feet, people started reading the game better and Merton started controlling the game. Every long pass forward from the opposition was being eaten up by Browner and Rat with Cooky and Connor controlling their respective sides. After another round of substitutes and position changes Merton began creating better and better opportunities with Woody half-volleying a pass forward which sliced open the opposition’s defence and nestling nicely on Kieron’s foot. He touched it past the defender and was on goal, a nicely placed passing shot would suffice and it would be 2-0 but Kieron went for the chip…….the ball did not ripple the net! Another good opportunity but the quality of the finish did not match the quality of the move. Another break down the left wing with Charlie and all he needed to do was deliver the ball into the box with Ivan back post and Clappers running into the box but Charlie lashed it high and out for a goal kick. The game became a bit more of a battle towards the end with a spirited performance by the Oppo, who refused to give up, fighting until the very end even though they were already relegated. There were a few moments where the ball bobbled into our box and wasn’t cleared properly which gave Southbank a chance to level the game but their shots were smothered well by our defenders, worthy contenders for MOM.
The whistle blew and the game was won. A cheeky 3 points on a Tuesday evening.

We all settled in the bar for a drink and to vote for MOM and DOD. As instigated by Woody as usual, Ivan was unfairly voted DOD for no other reason than jealousy from the real dicks of the day and Rat rightly won MOM.
Additional highlights include Tom Rowe spotting a message from Sherb’s wife on Clapper’s phone as he was checking for nominations…..some say it was a picture message!…….and Charlie was heard walking out of the club house with Ivan and Matt whispering softly, so that there was no chance the oppo could hear, “Good luck in Div 3 you *****!”

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