Merton 1s v Birkbeck College – 12th November 2011
The prematch excitement became too much for me at the prospect at wearing the AC Milan strip… I was hoping it might mean we play like them. Despite having the kit we were not going to play at the San Siro, furthermore we weren’t allowed to play on the ‘Big pitch’ because the 4s had craftily stolen it and started late, deliberately to wind up Clappers –full marks.
We then enjoyed a particularly long warm up due to a classic case of the opposition forgetting the kit, was their organisation even worse on the pitch? There was an enormous sense of optimism among the squad, Ivan was on fire with the kick ups, with both Gladkows in the starting XI losing didn’t seem likely.
Eventually with the game started, Milan immediately showed their class against the lemons (they wore a yellow kit) who had a serious case of slow starter syndrome, with the lemons having a high average age across the back four, Milan looked like they ought to produce a rugby score, something Tom Rowe could appreciate, but the offside rule wasn’t. The midfield was fully functioning with the Gladkow brothers ruling with an iron fist and there was Irish John causing all round confusion for both opposition and fellow team mates whenever he spoke. With Merton veteran in goal Alex Herbert hitting the giant target man and high flying actor Jason Statham with pin point precision it left the oppo at the back in all sorts of problems. The lemon goal keeper was a little vertically challenged and even with his step ladder he couldn’t reach the bar, but with balls flying well over the bar he didn’t even need to start climbing…
Eventually the deadlock was broken, it was the club superstar and younger, less mature Gladkow, Ivan, who scrambled the ball over the line after three or four bites of the cherry, after having had a few golf balls in the bar, this ugly five yarder had become goal of the season. The second goal came when the young rugby player ‘picked’ the ball up down the right flank and the ball fortuitously ended at slippery Chris Rayner’s feet who arrogantly decided he should knee the ball into the net.
Half time arrived.There were oranges – fantastic! The team reflected how ‘decent’ the performance had been thus far and concluded more goals were on the cards, with Femi failing the punctuality test, he was the fresh pair of legs to come on. Who would he replace? Nobody. He must have been very late!
The opening quarter of the second half saw a revival in energy from the opposition, Milan were slow throughout the team, although the old veteran Sherbs pulled off a string of phenomenal saves, leaving many to ponder how things could have been different for ‘The Crazy Gang’ had this man been between the posts instead of Neil Sullivan. Eventually the lemons broke through the Milan defence, were they back in the game? Not for long.
Jason Statham, left to a standing ovation from the spectators (they were all standing anyway), but he had been terrific winning the aerial battle all day long. Femi was on. He had cleaned his boots, luckily there wasn’t much time left for him to get them dirty, but he did make an immediate impact, using his searing pace to break the line of defence and beat the tiring defender; he squared the pass to the rugby player who avoided the temptation to pick the ball up and drop kick it over the bar, but he nervously side footed it past the little keeper. 3-1 Merton.
A historic day for the club; 5 wins and 1 draw… ‘The Merton Way’
Team: Sherbs (GK), Clowesy, Clappers, Kev Wood, Jonesy, John Lynch, Vanny, Tom Rowe, Jase (Femi), Rayner
Written by:Tom Rowe