Saturday 14 January - significant because it is the punchy one's wedding anniversary. He announces that he will be giving his wife a treat (lucky girl) but is not even sure how long he's been married. Frankly I'll bet she has a very clear idea how long she has endured the relationship - probably putting a line on the kitchen wall for every day of her living hell that passes. The poor woman must qualify for a prize of some sort. When I was at school, some decades ago, the Howard Cup for Effort was awarded annually to the inadequate who had done his best to make a success of his life in the face of intense adversity - everyone hid when the choice of recipient was announced in case they had been chosen. Winning the cup presaged a year of unremitting abuse and bullying. I've never recovered fully.
Anyway well done Mrs Ward for extreme fortitude and we wish you many more years of wedded bliss.
Our tiny general has also spent time devising a cunning plan to confound Eastcote - second to Hawks on goal difference in a very tight league - so not a side to be taken lightly. It is the first League game after the Christmas break and as usual available and fit 2ndXI players are as rare as vacant hospital beds. The Dutchman has returned to Holland and Felix to Bavaria. Dubs is halfway up a ski lift, Stotty has been promoted to the 1's, Stoker is back at school - I could go on.
The short one explains that the chums will abandon their usual gung ho tactical approach and we will play with 2 centre mids - namely himself and Lamby - cue sharp collective intake of breath. Yes we really are that short of quality and could definitely do with Stotty.
As to the game Eastcote, with a squad of 15, are rapidly into their stride and look sharp going forward but decidedly vulnerable at the back. An early chums attack leads to a penalty corner which MJ converts in some style. 1-0 to Hawks. The visitors deservedly equalise with a short corner of their own and then capitalise on some sloppy marking to sneak into a 2-1 lead. Before half time the chums contrive to foul up two utterly gilt edged chances. Our leader declares that his grandmother could have put those opportunities away - and then informs the side that she sadly passed away in 1986. 2-1 to the visitors at half time is a distinctly distorted reflection of the play.
The second half follows a similar pattern. The chums dominate the midfield battle and enjoy territorial advantage but simply cannot score. Eastcote defend with massive commitment and some good fortune before stealing a breakaway goal to give them a 2 goal cushion. Hawks continue to throw everything at the visitors but MJ's second goal from another penalty corner is too little and far too late - although the chums do at least go down with all guns blazing.
One of those days I fear - if you don't take your chances then you get nothing. A hard lesson but one the chums must heed.
Extraordinarily the Lamby/Wardy experiment is a great success and Lamby in particular turns in a quite magnificent showing to win Man of the Match. There are excellent individual performances from pretty much the rest of the side but, collectively, defeat in such a key game means this is a Howard Cup for Effort performance.
MoM - Charlie Lamb.
DoM - MJ (the only man ever to score twice and still win DoD)
Paddy and Wardy's Wine of the Week - Les Courlandes Chateaneuf du Pape 2014 - Les has produced a stunning and complex drop of gubbins here which certainly eclipses anything le petit entrepreneur has given moi this season - could do with cellaring for a further 18 months to reach its peak!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!