The Gaffer’s Still Smiling

Written and sponsored by his dentist

Such has been the growing reputation of Doncaster Legends this season, The Gaffer is now leading Legends International towards global domination. Firstly, Mr Happy now understands the power of this thing called the “in to net”. As one spectator who viewed our website and attended today’s game (if truth be known the only spectator at the game) flew from the other side of the world just 24 hours earlier, and actually wanted to watch this showcase match!! Secondly, his travel bag is now officially packed on a slow boat to China where he plans to tell them all about our five game winning streak … and probably the only goal of his season!

However for the local and highly committed City players, this last match on grass for this season raised many pre-match questions. Why is grass always associated with cold and very windy matches? Who would be running the line if Glenn was playing? And was it true that Steve H was given 10 to 1 odds to get to the match 30 minutes before kick-off? Needless to say, he lost the bet as petrol was a more urgent issue, and probably picked up a couple of speeding fines along the way!! The good news though he at least was not running the line, but only because our ever present and loyal Ash picked up a flag he found on the ground and before he knew it he was running the line for the whole match.

Hearing that the previous match had experienced hail, rain, heavy wind and even some sun, the referee checked the radar and very quickly commenced the game. No surprise The Gaffer chose to go up the hill, against the wind and into the sun!

The first two minutes are always enlightening and today was no exception. Ray, having very kindly tried to pass to his opposite number on a couple of occasions, then decided that his Irish mate hated Arsenal so they were no longer besties. This resulted in a handbags at dawn stoush, apparently in Ben Stokes terminology – “an affray”, which was somewhat coloured with a few heart felt adjectives. Whilst the ref immediately stopped the game and asked them to return to their respective corners, our undercover police informant, Sid, heard one offender being “very bad again”. So with astute hearing and a very accurate recall ability, Sid communicated the message directly to the referee. Clearly impressed with his detailed account, the ref reciprocated accordingly with “Neil – stop it!!”

Barely 10 minutes old and despite all the odds, City scored the first goal. Some good work between Glenn and John M down the left released a buoyant Usain Bolt (Paul C) who sprinted past the last defender before burying the ball in the back of the net. 1-0 City.

However the lead was short lived. A speedy counter attack saw our defence all over the place and with unmarked Sandringham players at the edge of the box one took a shot at goal. Although not overly powerful, it was deflected by Paul E between Rick and Gary standing next to each other on the goal line. Despite this soft goal and perhaps a little surprisingly, ‘friendly Gary’ was still flashing his shiny whites. In a very amicable manner he then spent the next five minutes defining his version of what an own goal was to Paul E.   

While Sandringham pushed many players forward and played some good attacking football, they left themselves very open at the back. For the rest of the half this meant numerous chances being created by City and by definition  many many misses on the Sandringham goal.

For example, Eric L whipped in a delicious cross from the right only to see the unmarked Paul C, alone in the 6 yard box, not even get his head to it. He spluttered something about “it just died on me … that bloody 90km wind. Why did we kick this way, anyway?”

Then there was Eric S who went on a marauding run down the pitch. This 40 metre run started really well and with a couple of shimmies in his own half, he then suddenly found himself in a big space and fast approaching their penalty box. A mental moment of panic struck and with heavy lactic acid/fatigue building, the bulldozer quickly came to a sudden stop and his chance of fame and fortune was effectively spawned.

And how can we forget the many one on ones that once again saw Paul C play rebound football between post, keeper and the nearby birds in the not so close Oak trees?

Fortunately for City the returning police informant looked back to his best and quickly took on the play making role in the centre of midfield. With this in mind the second goal came from some lovely inter passing through Glenn, Steve and Andy, before he unselfishly passed to Paul C, who in acres of space finished off the move by striking the ball in the bottom corner of the net. So a deserved 2-1 lead, that could and perhaps should have been 4-0 by half time.

The half time team talk initially involved Sergeant Shaw having a kit inspection and castigating John H for his red Man United shirt covering his freezing arms. Despite this The Gaffer immediately bought on John and Dennis and then repeated his previous mantra of “the wind will help us this half” (meaning the wind was about to totally stop); “It’s just a friendly” (meaning don’t EVER show the inside channel Dennis when I’m on the pitch); and “Carry on Chaps” (meaning ALL free kicks are F**** well mine!!). With such a shortened tactical talk it perhaps comes as no surprise that Eric S was still bent over double still recovering from his earlier marauding run, and Eric L quickly sought out the media to remind them of just how brilliant his first half cross was.

The team tactics appeared to work well as for the 15 minutes City dominated Sandy who were camped in their half. John H enjoyed a fair amount of possession and opposition brutality, flicking some nice balls through to John M and to the constantly forwardly mobile Ray. Rick again spent more time in the centre circle than his own penalty box and it surely wasn’t long before City’s third would arrive.

From a direct foul just outside the box, The Gaffer flashed his teeth, which meant Steve H get lost this one’s mine. From his accurate but tame shot the goalkeeper failed to grasp the ball (another version of events may be “the shot was directly aimed to come out of the sun”) and sniffer Paul C on his second attempt hit home. Full credit to this goal scoring Legend, he may well have missed five goals just in this game, but this is his third hat trick of the season which must be a Legends’ record!!

With the game quickly slipping away from Sandringham, Andy now took a rest and duly thanked the plaudits in preparation for his China adventures. Not to be outdone, The Gaffer also wanted to get onto the season’s goal scoring charts. So when another free-kick was given at a full 25 metres out, he meticulously placed the ball on one of the few lush tufts of grass on the pitch. Carefully assessing wind direction and sun alignment with his military compass, his shot was struck with some venom and accuracy and pierced the roof of the net before the keeper even moved. Yes the smile got bigger until Andy cursed him for using up his one decent shot of the season up when there are so many games still to play!! No more was this apparent when another free-kick from the same spot flew over the distant trees, or was this another tactical move to either deliver a ball quickly to China and waste a bit of time to get his old body back to central defence.

More importantly, the game was effectively over at this stage, but in true style there were some sublime moments in attack with a lovely step over to see Eric L hit just wide and some excellent one twos by Dennis cutting open the Sandringham midfield. And of course some horrendous moments in defence where individuals passed to the opposition and on one occasion their centre forward skied his open goal shot over the bar when he could have just as easily walked it in.

In summary, a confident winning display despite the conditions, and even the one English spectator reported that he had been “inspired” by our performance. Even with no beers, the changing room was a happy place until Paul E gave some shirt washing instructions that I know his wife would be so proud of! With China imminent, the goal scoring Mr Happy was also only too keen to dump all the kit off and on departing the changing rooms, did we really see him skip as he whistled “Always look on the bright side of Life”?

MMM Equal effort by four imbeciles in chronological order of appearance … Ray for trying to square up to a unhappy Irishman; Paul E for deflecting a shot past the Gaffer on the goal line; The Gaffer ‘what were you doing on the goal line standing next to Rick from open play?’; and Glenn for hilariously appealing for obstruction when not within 5 metres of the ball.    
BMW BoP The China Missionaries (Andy, Gary and Erick), who are clearly ready to impress and represent Legends International, on our behalf! 


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