The Importance Of Being Earnest
Tuesday 26th November 2013
—Margate FC 3 Wingate & Finchley 2—
A somewhat unusual name for the latest blog, but hoping all will become apparent as I ramble on!
In truth, hearing that we had lost away to Lowestoft in our previous League game didn’t exactly shock me, as pessimistic as that sounds. A victory against a team that we had never beaten away – said team being playoff finalists for three consecutive seasons – would always have been a tall order.
Nonetheless, my heart did sink as I saw the goal updates flash up on Twitter (sadly I wasn’t able to attend the game, due to a long standing commitment) – I found myself asking the same old questions – where do we go from here? Will we ever get a degree of consistency going in our topsy-turvy season? And will we play any better (and get a result) on Tuesday night?
I was told that we didn’t actually give a bad account of ourselves at Crown Meadow, however – we contrived, yet again, to concede an early goal, and hence always facing an uphill battle from there. While Joe Vines returning to the defence is a welcome boost, my gut feeling is that we’re missing the calming influence of skipper John Beales at the back.
Come Monday, we were greeted with the news that player / manager Craig Holloway had decided to step down from his management duties, handing those over to Simon Osborn – Craig stating that he feels that it would be beneficial to the players & club as a whole, if he concentrated on his playing career at present.
A brave, honourable move from our mercurial keeper, who in my opinion is one of the best in our League – truly admirable for him to say that he will continue to strive to help the club to success, a statement which speaks volumes about the man.
And so to Tuesday night, where after our upcoming weekender to Bognor was arranged – cheering me up in the process, always nice to have an away day to look forward to – we took on midtable side Wingate & Finchley, a side that we enjoyed mixed fortunes against last season – winning at Hartsdown Park, but losing the away fixture – and needing 3 points to boost both our League position & morale.
As the quartet of Stu, George, Margator & myself made our way to a yet again arctic Hartsdown Park (winter really is upon us!) talk turned to what songs we would sing, in order to get behind the team. Various tunes were discussed, and it has to be said that the Mini Shark Lads songs were used as inspiration for us putting our heads together & attempting to come up with a few songs ourselves.
On arrival at the bar, we (well, me & Stu) were subject to much banter from Ivesy & Andy Payne – all girl related, I’ll say no more… All I can say is, real gentlemen have a soft side too!
Mel soon arrived, looking very glamourous in her fur-style coat with matching hat (I wondered where my cat had gone!) and before long, was followed by Terry, resplendent in her MFC coat & blue & white striped beanie. A brief conversation with Danny Boyle followed, in between him promising to give Mel first refusal on his chips – again, a true gent – before making our way on to the terraces where it looked like we were playing Holland, as Wingate & Finchley were in their away strip of orange & black. (Others preferred to compare them to different teams entirely, with both Barnet & Luton being mentioned!)
A short conversation with manager Simon Osborn was had moments before the game started – we were somewhat surprised to see him on the terraces, but he explained that he had a two match touchline ban due to a verbal altercation with the ref we had against Dulwich – “I may have questioned his parentage” he admitted, with a shamefaced look!
The choir & Mini Shark Lads were in good voice as the teams trotted out & the game kicked off, only for our singing to be cruelly curtailed as early as the opening minute – Wingate scoring through an uncharacteristic error from Hollers, who only succeeded into parrying a shot into his own net (in a touch of the bizarre, the Sky Sports app reported it as an own goal from ‘Hand’ – technically that could work!)
Credit must go to the team for recovering quickly from this bombshell – Charles Ademeno being scythed down inside the box, and the ref – who must go down as an impressive (or competent, at least) official, pointing immediately at the spot. Considering Ademeno’s last penalty is still in orbit (last I heard it was circling Jupiter) it was no great surprise that he didn’t step up for this one.
Seeing diminutive wing wizard Matt Bodkin step up was a slight surprise, but he despatched his penalty coolly past the despairing dive of the Wingate keeper, leading me to bring out my Alan Shearer style run up & down the terrace (second time’s the charm!) and enjoy a celebratory Poznan. It really does warm you up!
1-1 with less than 5 minutes played, & better was to follow towards the end of the half, as Phil Walsh hit the post with a towering header from Bodkin’s corner, only for that prolific goalscoring defender Gary Borrowdale (2 goals in 3 appearances now – he’s got the taste for them!) to slot in the rebound. 2-1 up, another celebratory Poznan, & all looked rosy in the Park of Hartsdown – Wingate & Finchley looking a less than impressive outfit, in particular their keeper, who I can only assume had smeared Fairy Liquid all over his gloves, judging from his lack of catching prowess!
Sadly, our lead lasted only a few minutes, as the London side were awarded a penalty of their own, after one of their players was bought down – their striker making no mistake with the penalty, sending Hollers the wrong way from the spot.
Halftime arrived & some familiar pensive expressions were doing the rounds, along with all 10 of the Wingate fans (who must deserve an award for having the best football flag ever – blue & white bearing the legend ‘This Is All We Take Away’ on it – as they made their way to the South Stand before the start of the second half.
We trudged down to the Coffin End, where I managed to nab Margator an excellent view from behind the goal – he does like to get involved – and don my MFC hat & gloves before kickoff.
Kickoff came & went, before the dreaded moment happened – no, we didn’t fall behind, despite Wingate & Finchley having numerous chances, it has to be said they were less then prolific with their shooting – troubling the corner flag more often than our goal – but the game fizzled out & became scrappy – this does tend to happen in any game of football, but the effect it had on us was disastrous.
In an atmosphere that resembled a morgue, everyone gave up singing (including myself, it must be said) and the only noises to be heard were from those of the players. As hypocritical as it sounds, no matter how bad the game is (and let’s face it, the second half was tepid in the extreme) the team needs constant support, constant songs, & indeed any noise & encouragement that gets the atmosphere going – sadly the Coffin End seemed a fitting name, in the circumstances!
Hence the title of the blog – a definition of earnest is given as ‘resulting from or showing sincere and intense conviction’ – however misguided our convictions are, the importance of cheering the lads on is paramount – it really does make all the difference, both fans & players (namely Terry & Walshy) being advocates of this view.
As the game ambled on towards mediocrity, a (at the time) puzzling switch was made – Cesc Fakinos, a creative central midfielder, making way for Elliott Cox, our right back. However, this proves why I am not & never will be a manager – the switch paved the way for Richard Avery to come forward into his more effective midfield role, and not long after youngster Gary Vizzard replaced a limping Ademeno, the substitution proved to be inspired, Avo netting a rare goal after his first shot was parried by the Wingate custodian, only to blast the rebound past the stranded keeper with around 5 minutes left to play.
Avo’s celebration was the definition of joy unconfined, along with Walshy who graciously accepted high fives from the elated Margate fans, for his assist. For some bizarre reason (perhaps an over-zealous celebration? Maybe you’re not allowed to be overjoyed when you score a late goal?) the ref booked Avo, a nonsensical decision which had no bearing on the game or result – the final score finishing 3-2 to the Gate, hoisting us up to 9th in the table.
As the battle weary players came over to applaud the supporters, happy faces & optimism abounded throughout the ground – although we’d done it the hard way, a win is a win. With two home games in a row (Canvey Island in the League this weekend, followed by Hastings United in the League Cup on Tuesday night) there’s no better time to cheer the lads on for a much needed morale boost – the lads’ confidence did look low at times, & it’s at those times when they need our support most.
Here’s hoping for another 3 points Saturday (we’ve now won 2 home games in a row- a nice little run to start!) followed by progress in the League Cup against Ryman South pacesetters Hastings United – a team that were relegated from our League last year. Also the former club of Elliott Cox, for any Stattos out there!
Before I end this blog with the inevitable Away Keeper Arse-O-Meter (as – or ass – judged by Terry & Mel) an acknowledgement of Ivesy’s musical knowledge must be noted.
Upon my observation that the linesman looked like one of Milli Vanilli (YouTube link at the end of this article for all you youngsters out there!) he graciously waited for me to finish my short and tuneless rendition of ‘Girl You Know It’s True’, before remarking that they weren’t actually singers, but models – their vocals on the tracks were done by others, making them somewhat of a fraud! Credit to Ivesy, as observing my look of surprise, he told me that he was a mine of useless musical information – you really do learn something new every day!
Terry & Mel’s Away Keeper Arse-O-Meter –
“Quite a nice chunky arse – but shorts too long to judge thighs. Not much banter from where we stood – so a 5 out of 10”
The subject of mine & Ivesy’s musicial discussion is below – even now I’m still shocked at their exposure as frauds!