Sheppey 2 Cray Valley 1

So in this weeks addition of #learnwithites, I discovered that West Ham legend Billy Bonds comes from Cray, as does celebrity cooking twat Garry Rhodes and one time Judo hard man and bouncy castle impresario Brian jacks, added to these, ” hilarious” comedy duo Hale and Pace both lived there until they hit hard times and sold up, moved to Wales where they’ve taken the comedy circuit by storm with their amusing doormen sketch.

Anyway, Ites came into this game on the back of the worst run since Jimmy Savile did the marathon for the Jersey children’s home, the snow had been coming down for hours leading to it being that cold I saw a scouser with his hands in his own pockets. Added to this our pre match ritual of pie and mash, which we were told was shipped down from London, was Infact shipped down from London, while we waited which meant we struggled to get there for the start, so if this weeks report actually bears some resemblance to what actually happened I can only apologise for my accidental sobriety.

Not overly enthused to find that Mahoney had jumped ship to join Josh Froggatt on champions elect Sevenoaks bench, liked him but it was tempered by the fact the first person I saw as I walked through the gates was Jim Huggins, luckily he has removed the restraining order he had on me and we had a quick chat which didn’t go as I’d planned as having previously calling him my love child Jim asked me for 26 years pocket money.

So big Johnno the colossus was back in defence, I’d been reliably informed his pre match diet consisted of eating crushed glass and small kittens which gives him an edge but also makes him rattle like a milk float when he runs. Also back after being run over by the Crowbrough midfield was Capt Batten with Timmy starting out wide and the Colonel getting a well earned rest left Lewis Clarke starting at left back.

The game started, Sheppey started well, Cray who boasted ex pro’s Kevin Lisbie and another bloke who’d played for all 92 league clubs also looked bright, both sides keeping the ball on the ground, the slippy surface testing all the players first touches which happily seemed good on both sides. Sheppey were the first to test the keeper, a good sweeping move involving the puppet master, little Cox and Timmy, Bradshaw broke free and looked certain to move closer to the 40 goal tally he drunkenly promised me the other week but somehow managed to find the keepers foot, Infact their keeper who looked quite hesitant and nervous to me made a few early saves that defied logic and in one case gravity. Not to be complacent Lisbie combined with the other celebrity centre forward who streaked clear of the defence only for Johnno, who was in the bar at the time, to uncurl a leg and dispossess said striker without spilling his pint. As the half time loomed  it was fair to say the 160 odd crowd who had braved the elements were fairly and unusually optimistic. Just time for Hicham to fashion another chance then it was into the bar to thaw out with a freezing cold Beer.

Second half, Ralphy is replaced by the Colonel, apparently he’d picked up a knock but I’m sure the rest wouldn’t hurt him. The first bit of action saw Johnno mis-place a pass leaving Lisbie through on goal, Johnno, his pride hurt chased back, single handedly surrounded Lisbie who then apologised to Johnno and gave the ball back. Sheppey again pushed on, both Brunt and Clarke advancing down the wings with gay abandon, Hiccham, Girty and Ian controlling the midfield giving it more much needed urgency, Timmy having his best game for a while was getting through the visiting defence just lacking that final touch. One move from the back led to Brunty curling a beautiful ball into the channel, Bradshaw gambled the defender would miss the ball, he did, as he beared down on goal Timmy looked the best option but Bradshaw chose to shoot and found the keeper, who looked completely different to the one in the first half, but then we can’t comment on that, to keep the scores level. Then disaster struck, a mix up between I’m not sure and the keeper gave the ball to Lisbie who gratefully accepted the gift and rolled the ball into the empty net at the D.S.S end 0-1. We’d been here before, the script now says Sheppey push on concede another one game over but this time Sheppey rolled up their proverbial sleeves, dusted themselves off and any other euphemism they could think of and took the game to Cray, 68 minutes on the clock the ball bobbled around the Cray area, Hiccham latched onto it, hit a tremendous half volley that the keeper stood no chance of even seeing let alone stopping. Joyous scenes in the paddock as grown men hugged each other, then stood back and assured each other it was only for body heat, surely only one winner here, and then it came, the Kennedy moment, Timmy, got the ball 35 yards out on the left, done the defender up like the proverbial kipper, got the ball on his right ad in slow motion curled the ball into the top corner, 2-1, pure adulation, Timmy somersaulted like he’d never somersaulted before, grown men cried and kissed babies, Matt took 5p off the price of a pint and Ernie danced a jig of joy in the dugout ( I later found this to be the result of a nasty gout attack but let’s not ruin the moment). Just the small matter of the few minutes left which the Ites saw out and there it was, Victory, the bleak weather was forgotten as the fans conga’d there way home, domestic violence on Sheppey hit an all time low on Sheppey and the trains run on time.

WE HAD WON A GAME !!!!!!

In typically British sportsmanship the Cray team got a deserved ovation off the pitch as did the ref, resplendent in dreadlocks and resembling a certain Jamaican Reggae star would have been the ideal man to have officiating the Crowbrough game so we could have had Bob Marley and the Wailers on the same pitch. That said he reffed the game superbly, with common sense due to the difficult conditions and made sure there was no ” exodus” of players from the pitch.

Summary

Great win, great game, the returning players made a big difference, Johnno’s presence, Ian moving the ball that bit quicker and Timmy……well Timmy, what can you say. Both goals superbly taken with great technique, even the Chairman tried to emulate his famous Watford counterpart by offering us free nuts in the bar. Cray played their part, as did the officials and the crowd. Bradshaw assured me in the bar that the 40 goal target was still easily achievable, he just needs 29 more in his last 11 games.

Mom – It would be churlish to single out anyone, I’d originally decided to give it to Remmell despite not playing as he had promised to bring me some of his mums curried goat, however that didn’t happen, so he’s not getting it. Loads of great performances individually and as a team but I’m going to give it to the ref, he seemed to be a character who didn’t feel the need to be the centre of attention as most of the recent fascists have.