As the famous early 20th century philosopher GK Chesterton once quipped – “The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him”
It is not clear whether he had Old Tiffinians in mind when saying that, but it was certainly relevant on Saturday, as Tiffs took on Old Dorks in the trenches of East Molesey.
The big question on everyone’s lips before kick off was whether Sam’s poundland Gazebo would survive Storm Alex which had battered the Grists playing fields the day before
With conditions reminiscent of the Battle of The Somme, Tiffs took to the field keen to build on their heroic win the week before, donning the all white kit that has the AFA Division 6 South experts comparing them to Real Madrid. There were a couple of changes in selection, with PC Dom Lundie coming in to the heart of defence, the Ant Hill Mob members Dylan and Aaron joining the Dog of War Jez in the middle of the park and skipper Sam opting for a false 9 in the shape of Billy (more on him later). Steve was granted Scottish Independence out on the right wing.
Just like their counterparts some 100 years ago on the Western Front, the Tiffs soldiers waited patiently in their trenches, the whistle blew and over the top they went to do battle with the opposition.
The men in White started well, with housewives favourite Dylan taking charge of the midfield and nearly bagging an early chance from a textbook Flynn long throw. However as the game settled, Tiffs came under fire from a creative and troublesome Dorking front 3. The long ball over the top was causing trouble for Tiffs, with PC Dom Lundie choosing dummies rather than headers as his preferred method of choice for defending. More Reg Hollis than Detective Chief Inspector Jack Meadows?
Josh was solid in goal, pulling out Cruyff turns and playground insults in equal measure, while the Dennis Irwin of his generation, George Sullivan, was delivering his usual reliable DPD service at left back.
Tiffs weathered the Storm (Alex) and it wasn’t long before they scored the game’s first goal. A Darren Gough like inswinger from full time corner taker Rob Palmer was met by the duck feather cushion head of Billy Zeqiri, who had wrestled free of his marker and guided his header into the top corner. It was such a cultured header that it should definitely be nominated for a Turner Prize this year. In line with current affairs, the track and trace system in the Dorking box was non existent. 1-0 Tiffs!
It wasn’t long before The Good Guys doubled their lead. Tom Flynn brought out his inner Steve Guppy, going on a jinking run into the Dorking box, evading capture as if he were on a 30 mile drive to Barnard Castle and cutting back for first half substitute, the freshly quarantined Owen Kirk to produce a classy finish into the roof of the net to make it 2-0! It could and perhaps should have been more before the half time whistle, with Billy perhaps taking his role as false 9 a bit too literally. Half time 2-0 Tiffs!
The second half kicked off with storm clouds gathering , which perhaps was a sign of things to come…… Adey Prince Jnr was on at left back fresh from his weekly trip to the QPR club shop, while Ben Lewis had joined the troops in the middle of the park after being acquitted on the charge of GBH for his assault on Khaj Lets Flats the week before.
The game became more physical with Dorkinians looking for a way back into the game, but Tiffs stood firm while still creating chances. Flynn and Billy were put through numerous times but it appeared they had entered into a private competition to see who could score the sexiest goal, with both attempting audacious lobs akin to the great Phillipe Albert, but with their attempts resulting in Jonny Wilkinson style conversions instead.
There was a flashpoint on 60 minutes as Rob decided to give out his best Phil Mitchell impression to vice captain Owen. It is not clear what the motive was here, perhaps it was a power play in the ongoing VVVVVC battle of supremacy (with VVVC Flynn and VVVVC Steve watching on from afar). They kissed and made up later, with all Covid guidelines respected, as regulated by the opposition’s number 81 who was heard screaming “What you gonna do brooooooooother??!! in the midst of it all. (one for all you die hard Hulkamaniacs there)
Dorkinians pushed and probed as if it was 1.52am on a McKluskeys dancefloor, with a similar success rate. However on 81 mins (ironically) they clawed a goal back. A corner from the right reached the back post and with skipper Sam taking leave of his senses (as he had done earlier that morning when fitting Rob’s new shower), the oppo’s number 16 was able to guide a header back across goal without dislodging his perfect Loreal cleansed hair. Adey valiantly attempted to keep it out, but at the split second he could have cleared it, he turned into Clint Hill and put the ball into his own net. This gave Dorkinians a glimour of hope of snatching a Desmond, however their hope was similar to that of the Japanese soldiers who kept fighting long after the final bell had been called on World War 2.
By this time, Sam had decided he was bored in defence and wanted to play the Carlton Palmer role in midfield, with one particular moment of note when he became the new Heavyweight Champion after securing a pinfall on the opposition skipper! Reports of a rematch at next year’s WrestleMania are unconfirmed at this stage.
Tiffs had chances to get the 123 count and finish the match, with Steve being subjected to a Rock Bottom while attempting to open his account for the season, while Ben Lewis nearly did what no Fulham fan has seen this season – score a goal!
However it was on 90 minutes that Tiffs finally declared victory. A good run from Steve into the box resulted in him being fouled (again) and despite the referee trying to play advantage while the ball went back into midfield, he finally saw sense and awarded the penalty. It was a u turn of epic Matt Hancock proportions . Fresh from his tantrum, Assistant Regional Director of Vice Vice Captaincy, Rob, stepped up to stroke home the penalty past Jimmy Nail in the opposition goal to make it 3-1 to Tiffs and secure a second successive 3 points for Old Tiffs.
Two wins on the bounce for Tiffs 3s and up to third in the table, with European football a real possibility next season. There were jubilant scenes in the Summer Road End terrace as the Ultras of Rose Senior, Fiona and Jess sent their purple flares up into the gloomy afternoon sky. There is a real buzz for a possible clash with the Lazio Ultras in the Europa League next year….
Final Score: Old Tiffs 3-1 Old Dorkinians
Goals: Billy, Owen, Rob (Pen)
Man of the Match brought to you by Sam the Handyman
Dylan Brilliante – who delivered a truly remarkable performance in midfield which will have the ladies of East Molesey trembling for some time. Here is Dylan impressively dealing with the Paxman style line of questioning from the Club’s Media Team of Jez and Flynn.