Monty's Monster Miss spared by Hogey's Heroics
Simmons 1 v 1 BLG FC
Fat Bloke 60 Hogan 89
That we did not end the season (and Grant's career) with a defeat was down to a last gasp goal by Hogey, who drilled home a loose ball from 5 yards out with only seconds remaining on the clock. It was fitting, perhaps, that the game embodied much of what Grant has often been about for BLG - hard fought, full of commitment, energy and passion although at times (and only on very rare occasions where Grant is concerned) lacking in top notch quality.
We actually begun the game with an extra man as Simmonds could only muster 10 for the first 30 minutes or so. With the wind at our backs and the man advantage, Barlows began strongly, perhaps even too strongly for our own good, as constant possession lulled us into some poor, overexcited play, riddled with basic errors and crass mistakes. Despite pressing Simmonds consistently for those first 30 minutes we hardly fashioned a chance (bar one unfortunate miss by the otherwise excellent James Seale) and carelessly lost the ball time and time again. We were too over-eager, too keen to do well and as a result, too incompetent.
0-0 at half time and the skipper talked about pressing home our advantage (as we were still, even having had a poor 1st 45 minutes, much the better side) and being patient, calming ourselves down on the ball and making our quality work for us. A word of warning that it "better not take a goal for us to wake up" was left ringing in each player's ears. Alas, as so often is the way with team talks we did everything we decided not to do, and quickly fell behind to Simmonds' only attempt on goal, from a scrappy half cleared corner. 0-1.
A s time ebbed away and chances were missed, it seemed like the game would elude us and a eminently winnable game would be lost. This was especially so following a miss that rivals poor Chris Ilewumo's (pictured above) howler for Scotland. With around ten minutes to go a BLG corner was forced. The first header was won by Eccles, with the ball dropping invitingly for our "offside prone" auxiliary front man Monty. At just 2-3 yards from goal and with the keeper largely beaten and everything to aim at, Monty snatched at the chance, sending the ball ballooning over the bar, much to everyone's complete amazement. With 11 Barlow's heads in hands in utter, bewildered disbelief, it looked like our best chance had evaporated (probably along with Monty's chances of ever playing up front, ever again!). However, that cheeky scouse scamp Hogan had better ideas, and with one swing of his underused goalscoring boot, he shot us level in the dying moments.
A fourth placed finish was thus achieved, which, on the balance of the season, is probably about fair. A significant improvement will be looked for next year however, as well as more immediately in the upcoming summer league (we should definitely improve on our dead last position this time!), which kicks off towards the end of April.
It just leaves me to say thanks to all of you for turning out this season and that I hope you have enjoyed the ride. A special thank you and mention goes to Grant, who, after several years of great service to BLG FC, is hanging up his boots, no doubt to either: a) run a pub; or b) write his autobiography "Grant: My life through badly mistimed tackles"; or c) perhaps most likely - don a shiny suit and skinny tie and join Jamie and Dion in the studio for Super Sunday punditry. He has been a fantastic servant, always fully committed, forever keen and ever reliable, as well as a fine right back. Thank you Grant. Your retirement carriage clock is in the post.
Team: Bush; Getty, Weeks, Conway, Eccles; Hogan, Gardiner, Craig, Acquaye; Seale, Monty
Trainee Solicitor Edward EcclesLast night's game brought the curtain down on BLG FC's relatively successful winter season and saw the final game for one of Barlows' most respected and revered veterans, Grant Conway.