Saturday - match day - after a torrid week of injury drop outs. The 2's turn up with only 12 fit men for their game against near neighbours Milton Keynes - if nothing else at this early stage of the season in the only League fixture between two 2nd XI's, pride is at stake.
Uniquely, the students are on time but engrossed in a game of IPhone golf. On the other side of the clubhouse the skipper is finishing his colouring book supervised by a 3 year old girl - no one takes much notice, most understanding it is part of his therapy. Alarmingly, he seem to think daffodils are pink and the sky is purple, but he does seem a little calmer than usual.
The pre match briefing goes well although the absence of Josh is noticed - the 2's are now down to a bare XI. Usually he's one of the first to arrive. Strategic decisions are made. The chums decide to take the game to the visitors and settle on a high press inspired by the tactical nous of Messrs Klop and Pochettino. A solemn team commitment is made not to leak an early goal, as in previous weeks.
Wardy,parted from his colouring, is noticed to be becoming decidedly hyper.
Josh phones in - he is 2 minutes away. He hopes to arrive for the start of the match. Somewhat unwisely he explains that he has no excuse, but just got his times wrong and overslept - the general consensus in the changing room is he'd have been better to go no comment. His odds on DoD shorten dramatically.
MK are mob handed and ready with a squad of 16. Entirely predictably, the visitors are a goal ahead within 5 minutes of the start.
The high press is now on trial and the strategic acumen of manager and skipper is very much under close scrutiny. However, the chums start to move smoothly up the gears and begin to suffocate the visitors back line. Goals arrive at regular intervals. Dan Andrews chips in with two short corner drag flicks - the first of which would have found its way into Imran's top ten - and by half time Oli Lovibond has opened his account for the chums.
Although MK threaten in occasional breakaways the second period follows a similar pattern. Stotty at centre mid starts to impose himself on proceedings. Wardy smuggles a deflection past the keeper before Josh misses an opening my dog could have finished. With DoD securely in the bag, he is duly substituted.
A further goal from the reinstated Josh puts the chums 5-1 up and cruising but then the boys decide to abandon simple passing and decisive finishing. In its place the chums turn into a bunch of minstrels wandering aimlessly through the midfield and surrendering possession whenever the chance to do so arises. MK can't believe their good fortune and plunder a couple of entirely deserved goals to make it 5-3.
In the last five minutes the chums recover their composure and score a sublime goal with Matt Janes sliding home a divine Dom Bennett reverse stick cross, to produce a scoreline rather more reflective of the balance of play.
A good win for the chums in a performance which, for the most part, showed a considerable improvement over previous weeks.
After the game the chums held a brief inaugural meeting of the Wardy Wine Appreciation Society and presented their very genial opponents with both a jug of beer and a bottle of wine for their star player ( a gesture which found its way into the MK match report showing it is worth doing!!)
And Josh? - well he declared he had to leave straight after the game.
MoM - Charlie Stoker
Dod - awarded by default to Josh - there being no other candidates
Wine of the Week - Montes Reserva -2014- Cabernet Sauvignon - Chile - dark and brooding, full bodied with a long finish and hints of oily rag.