Quite honestly there are times when I seriously consider giving up. I left Dunners with one thing to do - "Make sure we get 3 points against the Uni Dunners" were my last words to him before leaving for the Lake District.
So, I've just got onto the M6 on the way North when the news comes through.
"Hi Pads we slaughtered them, we had 12 shorts."
"Ok Dunners - and the score"
"We drew 1-1".
"So - we've just failed to beat Oxford University's reserves? Who've only just got into their season? And had just one League point until today?. And now they have two?"
And I can imagine that at the end of the line Dunners is wearing his usual coy smile which is the one he relies on when things haven't gone entirely to plan.
So today's game against Reading is mega important coming as it comes a week before three fixtures on the bounce against the other top sides in our League - all of them, like us,still unbeaten.
As it happens the boys are in very chirpy mood other than Bohmer who has been abandoned by his lift to make his own way to the gound, Wilson (the lift concerned) who is tearing back home to find some shoes to wear and Benji Powe who - as eventually beomes clear from his explanations, has simply forgotten to get up. Benji is a first year at Brookes -do I need to make any further comment?
Dunners is here in good order despite the fact he is now living in his car. He carries his whiteboard but has apparently abandoned the accompanying magnets - which is fine by me. The whiteboard now seems to act as a secuity blanket. Again his team talk is clear, concise and on point!!! I have to confess it is an extraordinary transformation and everyone appears to understand the objective - which is to win convincingly. For a man who has had more coaching chances than Amanda, the shepherdess on My Yorkshire Farm has had children it is a development which is as welcome as it is unexpected.
Even more astounding is the fact that this call to arms has the desired effect. We have a full squad of 16 when the latecomers finally show up and celebrate by tearing into Reading 2a's from the off.
Henry, unsurprisingly, lasts about 39 seconds before limping off with the groin that he pulled only 48 hours earlier and is the only person in the Northern Hemisphere to seem surprised that it hadn't fully repaired. As mentioned in several previous despatches, Henry is spectacularly clever, but like many inordinately bright people is not especially well versed in matters of plain common sense. More of him later.
The boys excel themselves for as much of the full 70 minutes as makes no difference and turn a half time advantage of 2-0 into 8-1 by the final whistle. Everyone plays their part and a spell of 5 goals in about 15 minutes midway through the second half merits special mention. I had thought that Reading looked a reasonable side when the game started but they are blown away. All the goals came from open play and our half dozen penalty corners tally is two struck posts and at least 2 goal line clearances - so it would be nice to score form one of these gift horses before too long. Next week will do nicely.
Bohmer, our quiet, self effacing Dutchman hogs the lime light with 4 goals showing a snipers instinct. The midfield weighs in with goals from Lewis Jowett (who ambles around the pitch to great effect), Louis Wright and the now fully awake Benji Powe. The scoring is completed by Matt Wilson who has finally managed to locate his shoes.
The boys dominance is best illustrated by those of us on the touchline who enjoy an impromptu game of "My favourite word"- if you've never played it I recommend it. The top three words were "Emissary." "Fecund" and the comfortable winner "Profligate".
Regrettably my afternoon which should have been one of "unrequited" (another front runner) joy was wrecked by Henry's continuous exhortations alongside me - some of which had to be heard to be believed. His reputation for team encouragement is not undeserved but it did at least give rise to another favourite word "stentorian". I believe Hen is pursuing a career in medicine but I rather think his bedside manner may need some consideration.
I took my wife to the village pub in the evening along with a blinding headache. There was a band playing who, frankly, were not the best and were almost as loud as the racket I had endured that afternoon. As we left the pub we came across one of the regulars Buster the Staffie. He had absented himself from his usual place in the bar and according to his owner was taking refuge in the porch well away from the band's amplified cacophony - Buster and I exchanged sympathies. I kid you not.
Clive has again done the business with his camera so that the this performance is captured for posterity.
We start again next week afresh against Amersham and Chalfont - same again please.