As with most seasons involving the Falcons squad the Haslemere away fixture is looked at with some trepidation as it involves a potential 4 hour round trip, and is subject to the vagaries of the M25 and in late January whatever the weather decides to throw at you.
Any concerns regarding a potential lack of resources for the trip, however, were soon dispelled as the team sheet was distributed and 14 names appeared.
What then followed would do justice to a Dad's army script as the troops began to fall from the volunteer list leaving Lance Corporal Jones somewhat perplexed when heading to the game with the final list heading for manoeuvres.
The bare X1 (or Bear X1 if you follow Sergeant Wilsdon's description of the squad) duly arrived and Mainwaring's (Warner) attempts to explain the line up without involving the word diamond, which has never appeared in the induction manual. Instead offers of a 4-4-2, false no.9 and even support striker largely fell on deaf ears. The simple explanation of few forwards finally got through meaning Private Walker (Burrell) and Pike (Sumser) would have to carry the Burden with Private Godfrey Griffiths sneaking around the D. Captain Mainwaring remained convinced his masterplan would work!
Duly prepared what could possibly go wrong. Lance Corporal Jones had stressed the need to keep a cool head in the trenches and avoid the need for his 'don't panic, don't panic' rallying call. In fact the troops then scratched their heads as he headed to the bar and purchased a pint of the local ale to prove his point. This would return to haunt him-'Stupid Boy!'.
The Strategic plan was immediately demolished as Mainwaring (Warner, of course) viewed a general reluctance to implement any pre-match rhetoric, an a red mist moment by the Lance Corporal earning a yellow card and 10 minute sin bin. Down to 10 and another tactical switch required.
Things then go from bad to worse as a slow motion goal from a short corner put Falcons 1-0 down. The short corner by Haslemere took a huge deflection and looped over Sergeant Wilson's head in goal, who appeared to forget he was wearing standard issue army goal- keeping gloves designed for the purpose of attacking any ball in the air. Chief Warden Hodges (Billington) was heard to mutter 'I did not tell anyone to put the lights out so he must have seen it!'.
The final scene from Dad's Army involved Private Frazer Kaluza. As the natural bearer of bad tidings he then chooses this moment to announce his hamstring had gone. He would be forced to leave the Theatre of war, leaving only 9 to continue engagement and a further tactical deployment by Mainwaring. The first of which was to refuse permission for Frazer to leave the trenches and deploy at the rear of the line. Whilst a little unsympathetic a compromise was agreed. He would stay on but do a relative non- movement marking role at the back. 'Nothing new there was the cry from Sergeant Wilson (oops Wilsdon).
It was then left to The Vicar (Hutton!) and the Verger (Bowden) to seek a higher calling and support Mainwaring in the engine room and good news finally. They both step up to the mark, albeit after a shaky start by the Vicar who appeared determined to provide generous assistance to the enemy in the early exchanges.
OK enough of all that. Falcons pull one back with a well taken goal from Griffiths as Warner finds him in space. Several chances go begging and the scene was set for the 2nd half with a full quota of 10 and a half.
Hutton then delivers a moving sermon and a rally call based on love and goodwill to all men.
Warner introduces some colourful language and is later seen to apologise to David Blomley's sister who had arrived to watch the second half. In fact this appearance and support in hardly pleasurable conditions inspired the troops.
From the start a free-hit in the opposition half was taken several times by warner as the oppo. would not move away and in a slightly comical moment continued to back peddle towards his 25. Warner's persistence was rewarded as the 5th pass in this sequence found Buzz unmarked in the D and a bemused Haslemere defence watched as he slotted home from an inch inside the shooting area.
At this point the Falcons simply played their best hockey of the season in a second half blitz that would secure 6 goals and a 7-1 win. It is slightly unfair to pick out individuals as every-one played to their potential and in the case of Hutton, Billington, Bowden and Burrell supplied the platform for the win.
Jones had undergone a period of mediation and reflection and returned as the influential figure in the middle of the back four allowing Blomley, Billington and Warner to combine and release players now confident and wanting the ball all over the pitch. Buzz Burrell produced 3 further goals combing movement, touch and down right persistence. Bowden and Sumser caused havoc on the right and a short corner move involving a semi Dutchman from Warner enabled Bowden to slot home and Warner slammed a short corner home.
Despite torrential down-pours on the way home and nightmare traffic nothing would dampen the spirits of the Dads Army platoon returning from a well executed and superbly delivered objective.