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Mens 2's win again - no thanks to Maximus Decimus Meridius

22 October 2016, 13:30, Banbury Road North (Near)

Men's 2s 3 - 2 Marlow Men's 1s

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You'll probably be familiar with this scene from Gladiator. Maximus Decimus Meridius , Commander of the armies of the north, General of the Phoenix legions, loyal servant to the true Emperor Marcus Aurelius,father to a murdered son, husband to a murdered wife and a thoroughly nice bloke, (but not possibly someone you'd want as a next door neighbour) is locked in a fight to the death with a huge opponent in the Coliseum. The battle is being watched by the Roman mob and the loathsome, narcissistic, Emperor Claudius.

The other Gladiator is clad in full body armour and a silver face mask similar to those worn by defenders at penalty corners. The smart money is on old silver face, not least because he derives considerable assistance at critical moments in the fight from a number of apparently famished tigers who are released by slaves strategically positioned around the arena. It really does not look good for Maximus Decimus Meridius (aka "the Spaniard") until, when apparently about to succumb, he spots an opportunity and drives the spike of his enormous axe into and through the exposed foot of his protagonist. The mutilated limb erupts with blood and gore. Old silver face crumples to the sawdust floor unable to muster any further resistance. To all intents and purposes it is game over - there can be no way back.

The Emperor responds to the baying demands of the rabble, briefly delaying before directing his outstretched thumb downwards to indicate that the stricken gladiator must be finished. The denouemont is complete - save that the Spaniard hesitates before turning his back on old Silver face and refuses to deliver the fatal blow. Presumably - although the scene is probably on the cutting room floor - old silver face is dragged away to the nearest A and E department in Rome to be patched up and ministered to by fragrant Vestal Virgins for the rest of his life. Not a bad ending for him you might think, even though he will never play football for Lazio again.

I observe that this could not possibly have happened in Game of Thrones in which the limited ambition of all the characters seems to be only to make it alive to the next episode. You can be sure that the stricken Gladiator would have been despatched in some suitably barbaric but final manner like a spear through the eye socket. That's because there is a definite shortage of thoroughly nice blokes like Maximus Decimus Meridius in Game of Thrones.

However there is no such shortage in the Men's 2's. In fact we have an abundance of thoroughly nice blokes in Paddy and Wardy's chums. Just ask Marlow 1's.

On Saturday the chums raced to a 3-0 interval lead against Marlow by dint of playing some incisive and penetrating hockey Although Marlow threatened in breakaways it is your correspondent's humble view that the scoreline did not flatter the chums. Indeed the fact that one of the scorers was a certain Andrew Blackburn who scores infrequently (so I'm told) tells its own story. His straightforward finish from a yard or so was subsequently supplemented with two efforts from Jack Knight and at half time the 2's were in a relatively comfortable position with Stotty in rampant form.

The half time discussion focussed on the merits of finishing off Marlow in the second period and not assuming the game was done and dusted. Marlow had shown enough to suggest they were a rather better side than their early League results might indicate. All were agreed that it would be a great mistake to assume the game was won.. A decisive second half performance was required, or, to use a cinematic analogy the finish should be more Game of Thrones than Gladiator.

Although that was the collective decision it soon became clear that individually the chums had secretly decided, like the Spaniard, that mercy should in fact be the order of the day and - not for the first time this season - presented the visitors with every opportunity to mount a revival offering more turnovers than you'll ever see in a Bake Off Final.

Within 15 minutes of the restart Marlow had gratefully accepted two gifts and spent most of the remainder of the half pressing for an equaliser. Happily the chums managed to hold out until the final whisle for a win and even mounted a mini revival of their own in the last ten minutes. The win propelled them to the top of the league table.

As I said last week three points is three points.


Man of the Match - Jack Knight

Dick of the Day - Wardy (who managed to forget his son's first birthday - well done Wardy!)

Paddy and Wardy's Wine Appreciation Society Wine of the Week - Vina del Portillo - Gran Reserva - Navarra - wonderfully mature displaying dark fruit with hints of minerals, against a complex background of toasted aromas typical from good oak aging.

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