|Cold, five degrees with a biting in your face wind.|
We got there slightly early to sharpen up passing, but as soon as we got out of the car we realised this might have been a mistake, it was freezing. Thankfully there were a few other plucky early arrivals, so Harvey trotted off to have a kick about, Dad headed back to the warmth of the car until nearer kick off.
When I got back to the allocated parents section, Harvey was holding his hands up and shouting ten, ten, ten at me. I am thinking, great the managers have seen sense and are only playing ten minutes each way. Nope, no such luck, Harvey was telling me they only had ten men. Thanks to injuries and illness, we were down to the bare bones. The opposition did not seem to notice, one of their parents actually said, you look like you have more than us out there. I put them right but realised why it looked like this. Our lads were working their socks off because of the lack of numbers. The opposition also stuck to their usual formation, as although we did not have anyone upfront, they still kept five at the back. So glad they could not count.
After ten minutes of hard graft and some good passing, a break through. Our centre forward who had been in his sick bed, decided to give it a go. For ten minutes we saw how much better Rainham 84 actually were with a full compliment. But after running around bravely, our lad gave up the ghost and took the wise course of action to get home to wrap up warm.
However being back to ten men only made the boys work harder. Some of the effort that was being made was incredible. 50/50 60/40 and in one case an 80/20 challenges came Rainham 84's way. They were just so much more up for it, surely this would pay off. It is a rare thing to say in a game 10 v 11 that the 11's best player was their Keeper. He was stopping everything and anything the boys could throw at him.
Our Keeper was not taking his own kicks today, which was strange. I asked his Dad if his son was alright. He too had been in his sick bed, back was hurting and he could not bend down. Could we get any more depleted? Eh, yes. After another slick attack by Rainham 84, we suffered another injury and the lad had to come off. Surely with nine men and a crocked Keeper the game was up?
But no, we kept pushing on and looked the more likely to score. Our wonderful physio and bosses wife, managed to patch up our wounded lad and get him back on the field. Word was spreading on the terraces that extra time meant another ten minutes each way. That mattered on a couple of fronts. I could no longer feel my face and the lads had been a few players down for the normal time, extra time was just sheer punishment for the lads who had worked so hard.
First half of extra time came and went. This had penalties written all over it. However Rainham 84 forgot to read the script and after some excellent build up play, Rainham 84 had a tap in. Well it should have been a tap in, but the lad tried his hardest to sky it and it smashed in courtesy of the underside of the crossbar. Five minutes to go, is this going to be a case of hanging on in.
Nope. Another fine break and then some individual skill that put their brave Keeper for once on his backside, Rainham 84 finished them off with a great second. 2 - 0 to Rainham and on to the next round of the Cup.
|Harvey, pleased with his team's hard work today. Did what he had to do, no heriocs, just a steady job, well done.|
I read somewhere in the press this week that West Ham were after Martin O'Neill. Now I can understand why, but he has a job to do here at Rainham 84, so they can clear off.