Author's note, you may, quite reasonably assume that I am a king-sized bell-end from this match report - please bear in mind context and irony are everything. Thanks.
Having decided it was time to give some others the opportunity, I was not down to play in the big match against the Canterbury Dynamos on the 2nd May. I only got the call that the team were short on numbers on May 1st. A May day ‘Mayday’ you might say. An emergency cry for help. Was it written in the stars that I would come to the rescue of the Reckers? Time would tell.
To give some team-mates the chance to shine I started on the sidelines for the first 30. I watched the game for a bit but lost interest after a few minutes and went for a stroll to check out the new changing rooms and toilet block. Very impressive I have to say.
I wandered back to find out from one of my fellow subs, Newcastle fan, seems like a nice bloke, that while I’d been taking in the new children’s play area our keeper, nice chap, not sure what he’s called as I’m not generally down that end of the pitch, had saved a penalty. What’s more the bloke with the beard who was playing on the right for us had punted in some kind of cross that their defender had kicked into his own goal.
I started watching the game and was pleased to see us score a second. The little chap on the left kicked it to the new bloke upfront who passed it to the left winger - bloke with the funny fingers, who whacked it into the net. Miss-hit cross or cracking goal, I know which side of the fence I was on!
Anyway, all that was very much the prelude to the big moment when I took to the field at the 30 minute mark, slotting into the key position of centre forward. Pretty soon I was able to put my mark on the game, getting the ball under control, bringing others into play and generally knitting our play together. I sailed through the game until half-time prompting my team-mates with my clever play and working out the weaknesses in the opposition back line in preparation for my half-time team talk.
Having delivered my concise instructions it was gratifying to see the look of eager understanding in my teammates, and it was with a notable spring in our step that we started the second half.
With the slope in their favour the opposition had more of the ball and our big chaps at the back had a bit to do. I spotted this early on and during a break in play was able to suggest some tweaks to their alignment that sorted out the danger and had us playing much better again. This was further helped on 60 minutes when I rang the changes, switching us to a 4,4,2 and bringing on the new chap to support me up-front. I broke down the right and picked out the Irish bloke with a pin-point pass that he just needed to pass into the net but somehow managed to miss. I realised that I’d need to make the next chance a bit easier, so when I broke down the left, held onto the ball until the new bloke was about 10 yards out before tapping the ball into his path. 3.0 to the Reckers, assist Truckle!
The next action would see me go one better! Taking a pass from the Irish chap, I swivelled in the box and drilled an unstoppable left foot strike under the keeper and into the net.
My clever passes created more chances for the Reckers but as time was running out, I realised I was going to have to take matters into my own hands. I took a pass from the midfield chap who does the pointing, turned, glided past the first defender, faced up the second, dropped the old shoulder and skipped over his desperate attempt to bring me down to leave me one-on-one with their keeper. Shaping to put it to his left, I gave him the eyes, sat him on his arse and took the ball around him. I was tight to the line, to the side of the goal but sadly as I chipped the ball into the net a slight bobble took it onto the post. It would have been an appropriately magnificent finale to a fine all-round performance, but I did not dwell on it, as for me it is all about the team.
This 'alternative' match report was the idea of Jason House, based on this Whatsapp exchange.
This is the real match report:
We started with a minute silence for our team-mate Nick, impeccably observed by our opponents the Dynamos.
Nick Hayes loved football and would sometimes mention his support of Aston Villa but generally he liked to keep that to himself. He was a qualified referee and talented creative writer and teacher, working in a number of schools in Kent including Barton Court and Simon Langton for girls in Canterbury where he was responsible for pastoral care and proudly led the debating team to national finals. During lockdown Nick wrote a book, which you can read about here: https://www.whitstable.co.uk/locked-unlocked-by-nicholas-hayes. He will be sadly missed and fondly remembered.
To the action.
How would we perform without the Gaffer? For some time there has been rumours that the fading tactical genius that is Chris Garrett had his best days behind him. That glittering early management career had started to hit the buffers, and his brooding presence around the Rec, and his naturally defensive mindset was holding back the attacking flair of the Reckers. Was it time for the board to make a decision, could we afford to pay him off? This was an opportunity to see how the Reckers might perform if such a decision was made and boy did they make the most of it.
We kicked off playing downhill and right from the start played some lovely one and two touch football. The Dynamos couldn’t get near us as we popped the ball around in midfield and created openings. Our combination play was a joy to behold, one touch passing between renowned hatchet man Rob ‘The Butcher’ Ball, Tom and Howard down the left, likewise Mike T, Beardy Mike and Aaron on the right with Ash controlling everything fed to him up-front.
Despite our good start they had the first opportunity, a push on their star striker gave them a penalty, which Matt saved low to his right. Reprieved, the Reckers were straight up the field to take the lead. Beardy Mike swung in a cross that one of their defenders took a wild swing at, only to see it fly beautifully into his own net. We’ve not seen a finer slice since they had that Mille-feuille episode on Bake-off, just as well it wasn’t stollen by a linesman’s flag.
Sadly, that was the last action from Beardy Mike who suffered a nasty case of Reckers hamstring and looks to be out for month or so.
Our second arrived at about 20 minutes and was an absolute beauty. Rob Ball pinged a ball to Ash who played a lovely first-time pass on the volley into Howards path. Running free on goal from the left side, ‘take a touch’ we screamed from the side-lines, only to watch him curl it first time over the keeper and into the far top corner. A peach of a goal.
They huffed and puffed and tried to get their star striker into the game – the gobby one who is quite good, but Paul was having none of it, snuffing out every chance he got. Getting up close and personal in a way that would almost certainly be frowned upon by Chris Witty. With Seery taking up great covering positions alongside him and Mike T and the Butcher covering the flanks Matt had very little to do in goal.
A word about Ian Rutter, we seen to have found our very own Ngola Kante, mopping up in front of the back four and keeping it simple when he won the ball and providing the base for our new, post-Gaffer, free flowing football.
Half-time 2.0 the Reckers
We almost got our third straight from kick-off, a mix-up in their back line saw Tom put in a lovely cross from the right which Truckle put over the bar.
With the slope they started the second half a bit better and we started hurrying our passing a bit but we were still comfortably in control. Paul carried on his storming first-half performance and we were still creating chances.
On 60 minutes we went to a 4,4,2 with Chi and Luke bossing the midfield and Ash joining Truckle upfront. Straight away they combined well, a great run to the near post by Ash took both their centre backs with him and Truckle was able to slide the ball across to an unmarked Aaron whose shot was saved. A similar move a few minutes later saw us score our third when Truckle squared for Ash to tuck away what will be his first of many in a competitive Recker’s game. Five minutes later it was 4 with Aron squaring to Truckle who tucked it under the keeper.
Matt made his second penalty save of the game to keep our clean sheet while at the other end Luke hit one narrowly over the bar which would have been an absolute belter and there was one final chance when Truckle went through a couple of challenges and rounded the keeper only to hit the post when Tom had run himself into the ground to provide a simple pass for a tap in. The greedy bastard.
All in all a great mornings work, played in a good spirit and a fitting tribute to Nick.
MOM Paul U.