The Dads Done Good

On a mild August Wednesday lunchtime, the gauntlet was  thrown down to the GEF Senior Ranks to participate in a battle of the ranks: 5-a-side football against the junior members of the Flt.

Although nervous at first, the challenge was duly accepted. The seniors safe in the knowledge that although the youngsters had agility and speed on their side, the old heads had the guile, determination and a game-plan to give the opposition a run for their money at this version of the beautiful game. With an average age of 45.2 versus 24.1, the seniors knew that the pitch and the warm weather would be a great leveller and that they could sweep away this potential banana skin. It is said that ‘old age is in the mind’; it’s keeping it from creeping down the body that’s important! Both teams fielded strong line ups on paper but as we all know, there are no easy games at this level and you don’t win anything with kids.

The game kicked off at the stroke of noon with both teams not really wanting to buy a ticket for the raffle. The juniors started full of youth and enthusiasm but their faces dropped when they conceded the first goal. Marshalling superbly at the back, Colin ‘The Kaiser’ Palmer, who to be fair, has only lost half a yard of pace, laid the ball wide to Paul ’The Fridge’ King who has a great touch for a big man. Giving the first man the ‘eyes’ and jinking inside, the ball was squared to the pint-sized Andy Crowe. He in turn knocked a sweet ball to the far stick for Pete ‘All One Foot’ Haworth for a simple tap in. One–Nil to the father figures! The game ebbed and flowed, the juniors knowing full well that the best form of defence is attack. However the bus was parked firmly in front of the seniors’ goal and they got little change for their efforts. The youngsters’ defending was at sixes and sevens and it was not long before Daz ‘Wanchope’ Ward was banging in goal number two, three and four showing that he still has it in his locker. The next forty-five minutes continued in the same manner, the score ending up as 14-7 to the seniors, leaving the juniors sick as parrots.

Quite perturbed by the embarrassing drubbing handed out from the ‘old men’ the challenge was issued again two days later; football is most definitely a game of two halves. A must win game for the juniors, they drafted in a couple of established players; whilst the seniors lost pint sized Andy Crowe due to injury (or it could be the fact that his drive home is further than most people go holiday). A sure footed replacement was required but the only available player was Shaun ‘The Cat’ Kates who was carrying an injury (and if I’m honest, he has spent more time under the physio than Ledley King!). The game kicked off under similar skies, slightly warmer than the previous encounter, both sides knowing that this was a real ‘six pointer’. The juniors came out of the blocks on fire and were soon one up through a deflected shot that cannoned off the Fridge and wrong footed the Cat. Buoyed on by their early success, attack after attack was stubbed out by some dogged defending and most because efforts were a nice height for the goalkeeper. Normal service was soon resumed; the Kaiser showing that he still has a full deck of cards, although he just shuffles a little slower now and the equaliser, although fifteen minutes in coming, was a joy to behold. The Kaiser picked a short roll out from the Cat, the ball was ‘pinged’ to the feet of the Fridge who produced a step-over worthy of Messi, releasing One Foot down the wing. A drop of the shoulder wrong-footed the defender, spreading the play from the left to the right wing. With sublime control Wanchope killed the ball dead & rolled it inside to the Kaiser, who had motored up the middle like a (quite slow) locomotive, latching onto the ball & stroking it sweetly home in the corner of the Onion Bag for the goal of the game. The youths’ spirit was broken and they never seemed to recover from this outstanding display of teamwork and crisp passing. They say “Inside every old man is a young man wondering what happened” but if growing old is mandatory, growing up is definitely optional! The score finished with a resounding victory again for the seniors 21-4.

When asked about the result and the triumph of old heads over youth, the WO Colin ‘Kaiser’ Palmer replied, “I don’t feel old; I don’t feel anything before one o’clock! All credit to the lads, they just had no match for quality….I’m over the moon about it. We gave 110% over the two games and we got off to a great start early doors. They should have treated both games like a cup final, but it has been a great advert for the game and for the older generation” (who, from this account, can still talk a good game).