I can't deny I wasn't sorry to see Saturday morning finally arrive. Multiple pre notified apologies for not being able to play were unexpectedly supplemented on Thursday evening by a phone call with regular goalkeeper and new father Jonesey who had spent the day at the JR courtesy of a stomach complaint - I'm saying no more about that in the circumstances other than if I was a bug and wanted to target anyone's stomach in the squad then, if I'm honest, .................
I also think, and I know this observation may be slightly contentious, that, given his general behaviour over this season there is a debate to be had over whether Jonesey is actually fit to be a parent. But maybe that's a debate for another day - that is, if we ever see him again.
Hard on the heels of Jonesey's withdrawal came an email from Jowett declaring a dose of Covid which resulted in him becoming the squad's sixth absentee for the, far from straightforward visit of Amersham (and Chalfont).
To his great credit Jowett did at least get to BRN to watch the rump of Oxford Hawks 2's do battle - voluntarily isolating in the far corner of the pitch. However, it was not long into the game before he began complaining loudly how stressful he found the experience of watching the team rather than playing. I was moved to remind him that Dunners and I do it every week - or, more accurately in Dunners case, one week in three but only if he's not skiing or off on some other jolly. And I did observe "By the way Lewis take it from me it's a lot worse having to watch the side when you're playing."
So - we were due to turn up for a pretty important game with a squad containing (or, more accurately not containing) 6 absentees. By meet time the number of absentees had risen to 10 courtesy of Barrett's car having given up the ghost that morning, Grouty being reliant on his Dad who was apparently late picking him up and Dunners amusing himself by arguing with the garage to which he had taken his car for ongoing repairs.
It always turns out OK in the end (or has done so far this season) so the rest of us, while waiting for the stragglers to arrive so we would at least be quorate by push back time, enjoyed being regaled by Dr Henry Taylor with stories about life on the ward. (Yes Henry really is some sort of a doctor and no longer a perpetual student).Sadly most of the stories don't bear repetition much as I would enjoy sharing them
Clearly if you've watched "This is going to Hurt" and you now know what Henry does you'll conclude that the TV programme is probably by no means as far fetched as you might have hoped. Given also his reputation for stentorian delivery (that is very loud or unbearably loud) It did also occur to me that every patient on Henry's ward would require ear defenders to be standard issue so his appointment will be adding significantly to the NHS budget.
So to the game- we had drawn 2-2 away at Amersham in November and since almost all our other draws, with the honourable exception of Marlow (I certainly don't want to wind them up!!), have been in the lower quartile of the League you might conclude that they might be an easier game on paper than some. Not so. Firstly I'd point out we were playing them on astroturf not paper and secondly they had provided stern opposition in Buckinghamshire. So we were expecting a toughie - the first of three such games (Basingstoke and Marlow to follow in the next two weeks). As things turned out no sooner had the game started than an extraordinary thing happened.
It happened thus. Within 2 minutes of the start with our brave boys in possession the ball fell to Grouty in the Amersham 22. With a straight run on goal he drove at the Amersham keeper. Clearly unaware of Grouty's previous record with that sort of gilt edge opportunity (namely that he 's never scored) the keeper desperately charged from his goal catching Grouty, who by then had lost all semblance of control, and upending him outside the circle.
After some debate a yellow card appeared and the keeper disappeared to the sideline chuntering. Penalty corner - goal (Bas Marshall drag flick). -1-0
In the keeper's absence Hawks scored a second with a tap in from Grouty thus maintaining his goal a game record 2-0 to the boys in less than 10 minutes.
Events on the pitch after all that excitement are hardly worth recording. So I won't bother save to say that for the remainder of the first half and a fair proportion of the second we spent a lot of time driving into the Amersham circle and either hitting the ball wide of the goal, smashing it into their keeper's pads or running into him. It would be no misrepresentation to say our finishing was pretty poor..
Extraordinarily the exception to all of this was the aforementioned Dr Taylor who had a remarkable game especially in the second half where he managed to create absolute havoc down the right flank in a virtuoso performance. When I report that he even scored for the second week running showing the sort of composure in the circle which had been notable by its absence elsewhere you would be entitled to conclude this is pure fantasy but it is not.
If any future opponents happen to be reading this report which I very much doubt let me just say you will have learned absolutely nothing. Henry has never played anything like he did on Saturday and the chances of him repeating the trick are infinitesimal. Frankly I'm still in shock.And there's another compelling reason.
He's not available.
3-2 doesn't sound too convincing particularly with a 2 goal start but we did at least see the contest through to a successful conclusion quite comfortably in the end.
If you'd offered me 3 points before the game I'd have snapped your hand off.
Massive game next week at Basingstoke.
I think the photos come from Clive and Evelyn - anyway as usual they are excellent . We are very fortunate - thank you both.