Back to back wins had the OTFC II’s fans bubbling under with nervous excitement. Surely they couldn’t pull it off? Surely the perennial underachievers couldn’t finally break the cash saturated cartel that had dominated the top 4 of the Sixth Division South for so long.
Skipper Bostelmann had tried to dampen expectations before the dangerous away trip to Brent. “There is no pressure on us. We have already achieved our target of staying up, anything else from here on in is a bonus. The lads have been t’riffic.” The club captain spoke with calm authority before hastily batting away suggestions he was planning to name his unborn child after their league rivals, the club of his heart.
The hysteria continued as the team coach finally arrived in sunny Boston Manor, the fans having lined the streets hours earlier. Ardent, spontaneous applause broke out. The supporters carried the bus through the gates with a rousing chorus, fervent fists banging on windows. Greg Nutt had a dream…
The atmosphere in the dressing room was tense. It was clear how much this meant to the fans, nobody wanted to be the one to let the passionate population of East Molesey down. What’s more, there was no sign of “Iron Man” Mitchell. The club’s cult hero left back hadn’t been seen or heard from since being snapped on twitter partying with fans the night before. In the meantime Bostelmann did his best to control an increasingly panicked Forsyth, who had already made several attempts to enter the referee’s room with a brown paper envelope and red rose between his teeth.
A few calming words from the captain and the team were in the tunnel. Hands on shoulders. Together. Focussed.
Mitchell, having awoken naked in a disused sports store containing only a mankini and children’s swim gear, had arrived on a stolen road bike and was receiving some last minute instructions. Preparation was perfect.
“I was standing right on the half way line that first half” one 10 year old supporter recalls, “they were useless. F****** useless. Looked like an amateur team. I was sure we’d f*****d it.”
It was hard to argue with him. Kimber had been solid and Edwards and Nichols had scored from a combined distance of under a yard, but Brent had scored the best goal of the game and went into half time a goal behind but with plenty to be positive about.
Bostelmann composed himself. These were the moments he had spent years waiting for. He quickly consulted his Bible. The Kevin Keegan tactical pamphlet (publishers had been unwilling to publish any more than 4 sides once they saw an entire chapter dedicated to the brilliance of David Batty). A quick tactical reshuffle and the second half was underway. Star defender Kuldeep Grewal was withdrawn with brain fuzz, completely befuddled by Bostelmann’s insistence to give the entire half time team talk in a Doncaster accent slumped over an advertising hoarding.
Unusual approach notwithstanding, and as had been the case so many times in this most memorable of seasons, the captain knew best. The men in purple went about their task with a new energy. Roared on by their devoted public. 2 became 3, 3 became 4. Brent were reeling. Forsyth received a stern warning for pinching the referee’s backside and making kissy faces, but even that didn’t distract the forwards. Avery, Bettis & Mackay-Thomas sharing the goals around, revelling in the jubilant atmosphere. 5. 6. 7.
We want 8, we want 8.
“I couldn’t take my eyes off it. The last 20 minutes was like watching a pack of lions tearing apart a young gazelle” Happy Redknapp commented on Spy Sports later that evening before it was politely pointed out to him he had, in fact, been watching Planet Earth and deserved a long sit down and a chocolate biscuit.
“One thing’s for certain, Ruud, this team are going places. If they finish in the top 4 the Champions League is literally a real possibility.”