Last weekend we played within the sumptuous grounds of Merchant Taylor’s School in Northwood, near Rickmansworth, where coincidently and totally irrelevantly, I passed my driving test many years ago, to play the Old Boys of the school. Not that many of them were old boys – in fact, several of them were so young they were still pupils. From the 3s, we welcomed to the squad Paul Hood, who I mistakenly called Robin, which was fair enough I thought, and Frazer Simpson, which was a pleasant surprise as I wasn’t expecting him, but it was like receiving a Joker in It’s a Knockout, getting an extra bonus player. Scraggy also joined us and I played him at centre back, which I found out soon after we’d begun that he’d never played in that position before, but as expected he did so with aplomb. This created an interesting dynamic as at sweeper was James Keeling, who happens to be Scraggy’s daughter’s science teacher; what followed were some interesting and at the same time, awkward exchanges: “I’m passing to you Mr. Keeling.” – “Many thanks, Mr. Scragg.” Going two nil up relatively quickly through a Scholesy drag flick from a corner and a neat first time slap from Robin, we thought we would be in for an easy afternoon, but for some reason we didn’t capitalise on our dominance. As time wore on, the game got more fractious and talking of slaps our 5’2” striker Reuben heinously fouled their 6’4” centre forward ten minutes from the end and in the ensuing ruckus, Reuben casually flicked him dismissively in the face. This sent their man into an unconstrained rage before Frazer interjected with the decidedly Shakespearian: “Leave him alone – he is but a child!” Situation defused as the rest of us collapsed with laughter. With 5 minutes to go, Boggs made a decent save, before being beaten at the near post, which meant a nervous finale, especially as they won a short corner right at the death, which Boggs brilliantly saved, but the rebound was saved on the line by Draco Malfoy and we held out for the win. And so we celebrated on the Cowley Road with team beers (and margheritas for some unknown reason) and a curry where Reuben surpassed himself with his local knowledge of hostelries and Tom Forrester surprised us all with his quaffing ability of Grolsch, in particular.
Additional player: Oli Watts