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THE BOXING DAY EXTRAVAGANZA 2007

Old Gits 8: Young Whippersnappers 6

The polar ice caps are melting; England will not be at Euro 2008; the banks are collapsing; the Government keeps losing our data; the dollar is sinking fast; and Max and Stacey were having an affair. Yet in life there is always one thing that you can completely and utterly rely on, hang your hat on or put your house on. Something that even if Pricey tips it and bets on it himself, it will still happen. The Old Gits will always, always give those young whippersnappers a beating on Boxing Day.

ScatOnce again the old excuses were dusted off and trotted out.  The Gits had 19 players on the pitch as opposed to the 16 fielded by the youngsters, they say. I say that if you count moving players only the Gits were outnumbered two to one. The referees were children and easily influenced by the parenting skills of the old timers, they say. I say that if you know anything about parenting the one thing you know above all else is that your kids do not listen to you and, if anything, do the opposite of what you tell them.

At the end of the day, it was the superior footballing brains, skill and fatness (yes that has been spellchecked!) that won through for a team that earned their spurs in the days when football was a man’s game and players could recall particular games from the scars on their legs and heads. All the legends were on show this year, comparing themselves in the changing rooms beforehand as they recounted their tales. Spivey had the facial scars of many an aerial battle; Lyndon White’s bionic legs told of his bravery in challenging with the forwards; Pip’s physique was superbly designed for a Sunday morning keeper, filling the goal nicely; Scat Allen’s follicly-challenged appearance was a result of scratching his head wondering what the rest of his team were doing; Rob White and Dacre still retained their loud mouths for telling everybody what to do; Adey’s body hair retained warmth nicely as he stood around up front in the winter; Adam Rogerson’s hands were well designed for the linesman flag; whilst it would appear that Graeme Price and his ‘bat handle’ were better designed for cricket. Some of the youngsters had achieved OG status this year, like Wayne Cope, whilst the new additions of Rob Kennard, Shane Mooney and Greg (one name like Kaka, in more ways than one!) rounded off the team nicely and Adey Moore’s special brandy, which doubled as both alcohol and fire lighter if necessary, helped to give the team a nice warm feeling that, for once, was not just incontinence.Matt and Pip

This year, the young whippersnappers certainly lived up to their names. The usual crowd of Bere’s star players from the Saturday and Sunday squads turned up, hungover and looking like they had indulged in the Christmas spirit slightly too much. The names are now so familiar that one word will do: Mickey, Al, Shaner, Trist, Weasley, Biggaybear. In fact, the managers normally have one name for the whole team, but that remains unprintable! However, this year saw a wholesale baptism of the next generation of Bere youngsters and some familiar surnames, as the veterans’ children were allowed out to play. Evans, White and Gale were there, but this time preceded by the names Matt, Jack and Callum, and Aaron. Stuart Moorse also returned to his natural home for a chance to play with some real footballers for once.

A capacity crowd (around 20) and the local press (Alice and her cameraphone) were in attendance and as the whippersnappers kicked off the cheers were almost audible, although that may just have been from the local girls as Sean ‘Pretty Boy’ Pettit turned up to watch. As usual, the youngsters got off to a flyer and took full advantage of the Old Gits 3-10-5 formation to open up a 2-0 lead. It was fair to say that Lyndon’s goalkeeping skills were rustier than a second hand car from Tewkesbury as he watched them both whistle past. He was not helped by Earl Dacre’s defending, as the two of them struck up an understanding akin to Israel and Palestine or Laurel and Hardy. Thankfully, Adey’s special brandy kicked in after about ten minutes and the Old Gits were soon walking rings around the opposition, with some lovely little triangles from a few of the old squares that had the youngsters running round in circles. Chances, like Darren Gough winning Strictly Come Dancing, were inevitable and it was only thanks to some heroics from Nick White in goal that none were Shanetaken. Some would say the first controversial turning point came with the OG’s first goal and the familiar sight of Rob White collapsing in the box for a penalty (The search is still on for the sniper wot did it!). An appeal of Australian cricket team proportions followed and the referee could only point to the spot, or be sent to bed with no supper. It was left to the King of Cool, Pip Evans, to stroll up and slot it into the corner (click here to see the video). An equaliser soon followed, and from thereon in, the Old Gits never looked back, which was a shame because if they had they would have noticed that there were no defenders and the youngsters had scored. Again, the OG’s came back to equalise and again the youngsters took the lead. An equaliser was desperately needed before half time, largely because the referee was not allowed to blow for half time until it came. After the kind of pressure that only a darts player’s belt can withstand, Pricey popped up to make it 4-4 and the teams retired to their respective changing rooms for some much needed energy drinks, Lucozade and water for the kids, vodka and Red Bull for the vets!

As with all the best teams it is the tactical half-time substitutions that make all the difference and the wily Old Gits made the best of them. With a defence shakier than Shakin’ Stevens with Parkinson’s in an earthquake, Earl was pushed into midfield to make his mark, presumably on a Moorse as is traditional, and Lyndon was pushed into attack to make his day. Greg, the debutant and man mountain, took the keeper’s shirt and the defensive rock that is Spivey (I said rock!) took his familiar slot in the back three. The final nail in the coffin was the persuasion of Shaun Cope to join the OG’s with the temptation of an old Spurs shirt, as they were playing in white. He could easily be the next Portsmouth manager if he is this easy to bribe! The youngsters made a couple of changes, as Weasley swapped with Nick in goal and some late sleepers managed to haul on a shirt on for the second half, but you could see the confidence oozing through the old timers as opening time approached. It was cat and mouse, or more like Tom and Jerry for the spectators, as the OG’s swept into the lead soon after kick off; were pegged back by a scrappy goal, led again and were hauled back once more. However, with God on their side, even though Pete Cheeseman could not actually play, it was soon men against boys (literally!). The defence of Spivey, Kennard and Moore became impregnable; the midfield 11 won every 50/50 battle, a few 60/40’s and I swear I saw Earl won a 99/1; and a forward line with more Whites than a Klu Klux clan convention started to find the net. Shane Mooney opened his legs and showed us his talent on more than one occasion on the wing and poor Weasley in goal had no answers. Both Adam and Rob White finished the game with hat-tricks and even Pricey scored, both on and off the pitch I hear. The youngsters even resorted to some cheating as a bullet header from Lyndon was clawed out from behind the line by the keeper, the call for goal line technology ball watchingcontinues (or even a goal line would be nice). The old men even had the audacity to miss a penalty, so as not to embarrass the youngsters too much. Pip Evans had been felled in the box, which kept Herbie happy as he would not have to roll that bit of the pitch next time. Spivey strolled up to score his customary annual goal, but with his innate charitable nature decided to let young Macklin look good in goal by striking the ball at just the right height for him to make a stunning save. Who said the age of the gentleman was dead. The piece de resistance was left to Nick White as he decided to take a shot straight from kick-off after the final goal. With a shot that would have had David Beckham looking on with envy the keeper could only watch as it struck the crossbar, which is probably still shivering now. A fitting end to another memorable game and another 12 months of humiliation for the youngsters to endure.

Perhaps 2008 will be their year, place your bets now……