‘Err, we do have a Brian, sir.’
‘Then it shall be so. We will welease Brian!’
And as if by the magic of Michael Palin, Storm Brian was released, unleashing his 40mph winds upon the football pitches of South London. It was going to be a long day away to Old Suttonians, currently top of the gargantuan Division 5 South table.
Never short of pre-game drama, the Tiffs squad was at risk of playing topless after the team car carrying both the kit and the balls was stalled following a flat tyre. It could have been the start of a fairly mediocre joke: ‘How many Tiffinians does it take to change a tyre?’ At least 3 it seems, plus James Kimber who instead chose to perfect the art of tyre rolling.
Once the kit had arrived, the warm up began. It is probably fair to say about 0% of the team ‘wanted’ it. The conditions under Brian’s stormy reign were very blowy, much to delight of last week’s MOTM Joe Sammarco, with every goal kick quickly becoming a clear cut chance, or an own goal risk, depending on Brian’s mood that particular moment. To get the game over as quickly as possible, the ref decided to start 10mins early, curtailing the Tiffs warmup, which no one really minded, because no one had even faintly started to want it.
Both teams started fairly slowly. Brian however started very quickly, and a particularly heavy first touch could be instantly gusted into a 60 yard ‘big throughy’. Ricochets and mishits a-plenty, including a horrendously misjudged cross-field toe poke from left back Tom Nichols blown back nearly into his own net led to immediate cries for him to be left back in the changing room next week.
Tiffin soaked up a lot of Sutts’ attacking pressure and began pressing back themselves. A delightful series of passes on the counterattack led to a through ball in behind the defence that Tommo ‘Paul’ Mackay-Thomas tucked neatly away off the inside of the far post. 1-0.
However in true Tiffs’ fashion, the lead was quickly squandered, going down from two neat finishes from Sutton, including a low long range effort from their overly-talented central midfielder. The onslaught looked like it was beginning, or was it? The men in purple rallied back with a goal from striker Dave Bettis (@Dicky – did Dave score this one?) shortly before half time, leaving Tiffs fairly content going into the second 45, where the wind ‘should’ have been in our favour.
The less perhaps said about the second half, the better. After going 3-2 up, from a cool finish from Dave yet again, Sutton scored soon after some sloppy defensive coverage failed to close down their midfielder from 25 yards out. The symmetry of the third 3-3 draw in the space of three weeks was looking appealing for both the purists and the BBC Sport livetext stats team, but it wasn’t to be.
A series of courteous ‘after yous’ between centre back and keeper resulted in no one collecting the ball in the Tiffs penalty area, and a Sutton striker not quite believing his luck to toe poke home for 4-3. A fifth goal put it out of reach of Tiffin, despite some dubious maths from certain midfielders claiming we were still in it with less than a minute to play. Credit needs to go to Alex in goal for an outstanding last minute save low to his left to tip the ball round the post, followed immediately by a polite request for everyone to actually attempt to defend the ball. By polite request, we mean that a ginger rage multiple times stronger than Storm Brian overcame him and many of the spectators appeared to fear for their lives. The club has decided to investigate ways to initiate this rage before kick-off, and last exactly 90mins.
Man of the match for the second week running is Joe Sammarco, for a solid and committed performance spread between right back, right forward, and centre midfield. Given his knee injury sustained at the same ground last year, merely walking to collect a football for a corner, we were all surprised he wasn’t blowing a bit harder by the end of the game.
From the top to the bottom next week, the OTFC 2s face lowest-placed Shene Old Grammarians, looking for our first win of the season in ideally slightly less windy conditions.