25th August 2019 v Sutton Coldfield Vets - Andy Biddle Shield
James Sheehan·Monday 26th Aug 19.
Great game yesterday and as is the wont of the RAF FA Veterans squad, some players had left the squad after the Saturday game whilst others had joined for this Sunday fixture. Matt used his house analogy again for the benefit of the new boys and those there from the dressing room the previous day ensured the whole atmosphere remained upbeat and positive (it really is a happy dressing room!!). There is nothing like a challenge and as well as Matt’s, there was the small challenge of taking on the National Veterans Champions 2018/19 that include in their ranks a number of ex professionals. Matt and Wilky Wilkinson ensure however, that we concentrate on ourselves and what WE can do (...and it’s still a happy dressing room!!). Today, is another memorial trophy game, this time in memory of Andy Biddle. Andy was responsible for setting up the SC Vets team and had been involved with the club for many many years. Previously, he had represented the Civil Service and had played against many RAF FA footballers during that time. Andy sadly passed away last year and as well as playing this game in his memory, the weekend fundraising was for the Andy Biddle Youth Sports Foundation which had been set up in his memory by his wife. Following the game, our President, Paul Thorogood, presented the Sutton Coldfield Manager with £200 raised on his behalf but....to the game itself... SC kick off and they look very comfortable in possession but after only two minutes, from an RAF corner, Young tries a spectacular overhead kick that narrowly goes over the bar. Seddon then drew a good save from the keeper before a corner to Sutton Coldfield find an unmarked player in the box but his headed attempt was off target. A bit of a let off that one. Norton (making his debut for the RAF) then tried his luck but again off target. Just a couple of minutes later however SC were ahead when some sloppy play saw the RAF lose the ball in the opposition box. A quick counter attack and SC had beaten the offside trap with the forward through on goal. Algar did brilliantly in holding up the attacker but with no support from the defence, the attacker squared the ball to another inrushing forward and he calmly slotted into an empty net. 1-0 SC with seven minutes on the clock. Again, the RAF responded quickly and some great work by Zenko and Barker finally saw Young whip across a ball that the defender managed to get his toe to and put it out for a corner with both Seddon and Norton unmarked in the box and waiting to pounce. Norton was unlucky with a header from a corner that was cleared off the line before a raking ball from Robison found Zenko. He ran to the byline, turned the defender then passed inside to Young but his shot went high and over. This was good stuff from the RAF but they had to take these chances as SC were no mugs and were creating half chances of their own. In the 17th minute, Seddon should have scored when Rooney played a sublime ball down the left to Norton who whipped in a cross to the unmarked Seddon at the far post but he somehow managed to head it wide. I have to say at this point, in my opinion, it is the RAF team who are playing like National Champions, this is great football from the sky blues. A move started at the back with Algar then paid dividends as the ball found Norton. He played it inside to Tweedie who carried it forward before playing in Seddon who then played the ball back across goal. Norton stepped over it taking three defenders with him and leaving Tweedie to smash the ball across the keeper and into the far corner. 1-1 and 16 minutes gone. Young then had a goal chalked off for handball but had VAR been there, I’m sure the goal would have been given. Zenko was having a stormer of a game and from another of his crosses, the defender could only head the ball up in the air. Norton was there for the pieces and headed into the net despite a valiant attempt by the keeper to stop it. 2-1 RAF in the 24th minute. Seddon and Norton were causing mayhem in the SC ranks, as were all of the RAF lads to be honest, and it was no surprise when they extended the lead. Another superb ball from Rooney found Norton and his cross found Zenko at the far post. 3-1 RAF. Twenty seven minutes gone and the referee has decided that before the restart, we’ll have a drinks break. Again, the game is indoors and despite the main doors at one end being wide open, it is hot, very hot. Good call referee!! After the restart it’s almost entirely RAF as they play some of the best football I have seen in a long time (I think I said that at a game last year but this is an improvement on that!!). The passing is crisp, we are not giving the ball away, we are creating numerous chances albeit not taking the majority and the phases of play are outstanding with pace changes and movement all over the pitch. SC had now resorted to long diagonal balls to try and get in behind the RAF defence but Robison was marshalling his defence well and SC were not being given a look in. Just before the half time whistle, the RAF extended their lead further and what a goal it was. It started with Algar in the RAF goal and I’m unsure whether everyone in the team had a touch but the ball went forwards, backwards, sideways numerous times. Finally Norton used his speed to run 20 yards into the SC half and played in Zenko on the right. He played the ball back into the box and there was Norton again to smash the ball home. 4-1 RAF and this must be an early contender for goal of the season. I don’t know exactly how many passes there were in that move so I’ll exaggerate and say 300 but there definitely were a few. HT 4-1 RAF You can put your own superlatives on that first half performance if you were there...I can’t say anymore as I ran out of superlatives yesterday. Within a minute of the restart it was five when Young, Zenko and Seddon combined when the latter hit home after the ball was played across the area. 5-1 RAF, but for all the greatness that was going on, a sloppy moment let SC back into it when they scored their second in the forty ninth minute in a carbon copy of their first goal. 5-2 RAF. Algar was called into action a couple of times then as SC upped their game and they were unlucky when they hit the post. For all the effort the RAF had put in they could be excused for this five minute breather but just when you thought SC were getting on top, the RAF upped their own game again and after some more good interplay, Young struck with his left boot to make it 6 for the second day in a row. 6-2 RAF in the 60th minute. The final 30 minutes were a battle with both teams going toe to toe and despite chances for both sides there would be no further score. Zenko had to come off after he tried to charge down a ball that the keeper was about to hit out but unfortunately, it hit him square in the head and after lengthy treatment he came off the pitch and was sent to hospital for a check up. It was initially thought he may have had a detached retina but it has since been revealed that he just has bruising to the retina and he should be fine in a couple of weeks. The family wish him all the best and congratulate him on his well deserved Man of the Match award. Get well soon Zenks!! FT: 6-2 RAF A thoroughly well deserved victory with some of the most breathtaking football by a Vets side, at any level, having been played. Thanks to both Rhyl and Sutton Coldfield for providing the opposition. Thanks to all the players over the whole weekend for once again making us old, non playing, codgers so proud to be part of this set up. Thanks to the wives and girlfriends who turned up to support and special thanks to Woz Robinson’s son for helping out with the therapists, to Andy McCullogh’s lad who helped with fundraising and helping the kitman and to Tony Hill’s young lad who was the mascot. Finally a massive welcome to our incoming President, Paul Thorogood, who, although turning up extremely late (he blamed the traffic), never received one nomination for Ulrika, hmmmm!! Two days, two games and two trophies...A great weekend was had by all. A final point from me...Matt, I’m afraid your house has gone... We are building a FORTRESS!!!