Men's 1sts Ride the Railway...and Meet Gary
By Mark Farmer-Wright
Men's 1sts Ride the Railway...and Meet Gary
On a wet and grey day the men’s 1sts travelled to co-promotees Lowestoft Railway, a venue renowned for brutal tackles, hail mary passess and colourful cards. A bare 11 travelled as Gibson was bird watching (or at least something to do with a bird) and Hammond was on call for spud pulling and putting in a stint for the 2nds.
The rains came as the first whistle blew, much of the early game saw pressure coming from Railway as they looked to get through a slightly sleepy and disjointed North Norfolk team. However, a strong and resolute defensive effort from Whitood, Hart and Sands prevented any serious danger. North Norfolk were not without mounting attacks of their own, but they were hard to come by due to a solid high midfield press by Railway. Sadler-Barker worked hard under consistent pressure, but was on occasion able to get the midfield three of Whitby, Miles and Barker on their way who benefited from Sayer just ahead of them to create some good link up play. Leon Waldron on a well earned call up looked menascing upfront, whilst Farmer-Wright’s first touch left much to be desired.
The first half saw Railway’s pressure continue, and as we later found out they had been specifically working on a plan in training to beat Bartram between the sticks. The aim being to keep the ball low and to have two players surrounding him at all opportunities. However, they went into the break scratching their heads as every shot on target was palmed, kicked and hoofed away with confidence and an “is that all you’ve got?!” attitude from Bartram. The start of the second half saw Railway come out the blocks with an increased tempo, creating chances and short corners early on but it wasn’t to be with Bartram continually keeping the doors firmly closed and some fantastic discipline from the back line.
With the early pressure ridden out and a change in formation, North Norfolk were able to settle. Sadler-Barker breaking from the back found Whitby on the right, who rode a number of harsh challenges before slipping to ball through to Farmer-Wright, who managed to get into the D and squeeze a ball through the legs of the Railway defence for Henry Sayer to tuck home first time on the reverse after making the most of a poor pass. North Norfolk’s confidence grew, so much so Hart took it upon himself to show Sands how to ariel after his fluffed effort last week. Whilst this scoop did make it air bound, I’m not sure it was the greatest example to set, but an improvement nonetheless. The link up play massively improved, with Miles and Sayer working together in a well oiled fashion, before putting Whitby in who resisted the temptation to shoot and squared the ball to Farmer-Wright to tuck home into an open goal, the move which received a THAT’S.HOW.YOU.PLAY.HOCKEY shout from a pumped and delighted captain after seeing his team’s resurgence.
Railway continued to pressurise, but with tired legs, hopeful balls and increased risk…North Norfolk were able to find Sayer and Miles in acres of space, who in almost drill-like fashion worked 1-2’s to beat the remaining defence and keeper, with Sayer providing the final opportunity for Miles to finish. With time still to spare, Railway were able to give themselves a glimmer of hope, as some silky stick work in an angled run drew in more defenders than it should and the ball was smashed to a player on the far post who only needed to get a stick on it with Bartram being left helpless.
Sayer took his tally for the season to 4 goals in 3 games, after a fantastic run, beating 2 defenders before elegantly lifting the ball over an onrushing keeper into the back of the net. A glorious finish. There was a further chance in the closing stages for Miles, who probably would have scored 1-on-1 with the keeper had it not been for to previous three american football style tackles he had been on the receiving end of. With the wind well and truly knocked out of him, a dead leg and go knows what else Miles was closed by Railway defenders, and his shot found the shinpad of a defender on the line. An obvious flick that was not awarded, instead it was a green card in response to Miles’s thoughts on the decision, which he will now use as an example of why he asks the team not to talk back!
Final whistle with a 4-1 win, sees North Norfolk continue unbeaten ways and topping Division 3NE (on alphabetical order). A hard earned and hard grafted win for North Norfolk that will believe they have much more to give going into future games. Leon Waldron in a call up to the 1sts played fantastically, his pace and work rate were second to none.
The drama wasn’t all left on the pitch, the showers were turned up to boiling point for full decontamination and creating girly screams from the male changing room. After a tough match a good refuelling is always key, Sayers announcement of “Beef Stew anyone?” drew wide eyes and salivation from Kevin Hart and Dale Bartram, who pounced upon the first bowls eagerily. The smell singed the nostrils and raised questions as to whether the meaty chunks in the broth were actually beef, or whether infact it was something completely different and unapitising! With nostril hairs firmly plucked to remove the haunting smell of the stew, the lads took upon a celebratory drink where they were greeted by Gary. For those of you who don’t know Gary, he’s 65, was in the army, thinks all the 1st team are ugly, love Leon’s legs and is a little touchy feely. We’re working on getting Gary to the next social, a man that will live on in the memory for his banter, uniqueness and generosity of buying the men a winning round…Thank you Gary!