Every coach has his own way of doing things and it can't be much fun to have to freshen up the same messages week on week. In Blakemore's case he likes his teams to pass the ball simply and quickly. Most of our squad seem to understand this basic concept even if they won't ever actually do it. Also, as somebody observed recently, communication with the squad is not as challenging as it was, given the absence of any Brookes students in the side, although we do have Gurden and Mallinson.
To be fair Blakemore does his best to be bright and interesting each match day. One week it's cross dressing like the German women's captain and the next having a brutal haircut. Unfortunately he has already lost the little magnetic men he used to play with and relied on heavily when he was first appointed. He admitted they are actually in his car presumably, on long journeys, forming new tactical formations to keep themselves occupied. Whatever - we no longer see them in the changing room where they might be more profitably deployed.
This week - to his credit - he decided it would be fun to have a quiz rather than a team talk. His first question was "What are we trying to achieve this afternoon?" Well - for my part I thought that was a bit dumb because it rather depends who you are. My answer was that I'd be over the moon if I could collect a match fee from Sam Windsor Lewis or Nutty. That would have me dancing for the rest of the day. (For the record SWL did actually settle up both the day's match fees and all his post Christmas arrears - Glory be!!).
I imagine Henry must have thought it would be nice to score a goal and I know Fearless was obviously thinking of a clean sheet - in these parts both commodities being as rare as a breeding pair of Dartford Warblers.
I'd have to concede that this novel take on a team talk did have the desired effect as after a nervous pause most of the boys got quite excited. The Oxford and Cambridge students (Henry and Hugo - you couldn't make it up could you? I mean when we had Brookes students it was Charlie and Stotty. Who says Oxford and Cambridge are too elitist?) soon had their hands in the air and were pleading to catch the coach's attention so they could announce their clever answers. Think primary school front row and you'll have the picture. Mallinson and Gurden, by contrast, tried to hide under the bench.
Various penetrating answers were offered - 3 points, more goals than Amersham etc etc.
It turned out that what our leader and guiding light wanted was for everyone to be much nicer and encourage each other more. Blue sky thinking or what?
I need hardly tell you that the entire squad bought into this principle big time so the walk to the pitch became an orgy of high fiving, back slapping and mutual admiration which sent everyone into a state of glowing well being.
As for the game the boys actually played rather well for much of the first half, moving the ball all over the pitch at a high tempo, dominating possession and scoring 2 goals to 1 for the visitors. In strict accordance with Blakemore's directions this good play was accompanied by much embracing, expansive cries of congratulation, enthusiastic hand shaking and admiring comments (see pic 16!!). Unfortunately, no one seemed to have noticed that, apart from the 2 goals with which he had been given no chance, the Amersham keeper had been an observer for the remainder of that half.
The second half followed a similar pattern. Hawks had the lion's share of possession but created very little in the circle other than a fine Windsor Lewis reverse stick shot which was good enough to defeat the goalie who, by then, had become so bored he was sat on the backboard eating a banana. It finished 3-2 to Hawks.
The post match wash up simply reaffirmed what we knew already - the 2's are a thoroughly good bunch of chaps.
Thanks to Evelyn for the excellent photos.