Sheppey 1 Holland & Blair 2

So This weeks edition of #learnwithites leads us to famous people from Gillingham because despite the name our opponents are not actually Dutch. Kicking off we have none other than Will Adams’s, famous mostly for having a medical centre named after him but he was also the first westerner to travel to Japan, now I’ve fallen asleep on the train a few times after football but never got to Japan, Dover, Faversham even Canterbury so hats off to Will. Secondly, famous cowboy Gary Coopers mum was born there, and today out of respect much of the town still resembles the Wild West. Lastly famous Alan Partridge impressionist David Frost hails from the historic town, although surely Chat…Ham would have been more applicable.

Bank holiday Monday it was then, a horrible day all round, more miserable than a night out with Morrissey and wetter than a haddocks bathing costume. Our visitors made the short trip along the A2 to Nuclear Island needing something from the game as they were neck a neck with Rochester fighting for relegation. What they needed was to come up against a team with one eye on the final and luckily for them Sheppey obliged. Having rested a fair few notably our entire forward line it was difficult to see where goals would come from but in the end I discovered the answer, Holland & Blair.

Having a work colleague who follows HB I was reliably informed their goalkeeping hero wasn’t playing due to his wife giving birth, selfish I know but surely this would work in our favour.

The game kicked off, the weather had blighted the crowd somewhat but still over 300 mutants turned up including a fair few from Medway. Straight away it showed who wanted the points more HB snapped into tackles, the Home side dangling legs in there in a half arsed fashion, our solid midfield seemed less so but I wasn’t bothered as we had big Johnno who that very morning had wrestled a bear with a toothache and single handedly emptied the Richard Montgomery of any harmful ammunition before making it back before ko and the colonel in place of Ralphy who had a more suspect groin than Frank “ Kellie” Maloney so we were covered. Timothy up front was doing manfully trying to eke out space but Ites were too pedestrian in getting the ball forward, HB seemed to be bossing the game so it was no surprise when Rob Denness be Rob De Saunders and fired Home giving Glover no hope 1-0 to the visitors and no more than they deserved. Having been to our game with Rochester the other week and seeing their dastardly tactics I can’t claim this goal bothered me too much but in fairness it seemed to bother the team who unlike Jeremy Beadle decided to make a fist of the game, first Timmy sprung the offside trap and sent an effort goalward that was narrowly deflected wide by a passing moth, Captain Batten and Girty had a couple of long range sighters that were more a danger to the coastguard than their keeper and then just as we thought we were never going to score we get a free kick ten yards from their area, this was Batten territory but up stepped young Cooper ( no relation to Gary’s mum) and with that wand like left foot curled it round the wall, the keeper, rooted to the spot like Douglas Bader with woodworm didn’t move, 1-1. We were back in it, even the rain stopped. The rest of the half was played out mainly in the HB half without Sheppey creating much but it was into the bar to dry out for us.

Second half out they come, Sheppey fresh from a Churchillian team talk set about the task with more vigour, Kwasi, the Magistrate, a man who’s attitude is second to none but having spent so much time on the bench he had started calling the forwards the prosecution was having a decent game as was Johnno who was up against a battering ram of a bloke built like the proverbial brick outhouse who curiously for a man his size was called Kushi, both were bouncing off each other but in the true spirit of the game. In fact Kushi had a decent chance to give the visitors the lead from a decent cross he looked up, saw Johnno was momentarily distracted by a passing female and shot straight at Glover, luckily his shot had all the venom of an impotent grass snake so the parity remained but not for long, a cross from the right evaded all the attackers, Glover, not wanting to be seen as a less than genial host got a hand to it managing to deflect it to the Blair forward who although surprised returned the favour and the ball into the empty net. 1-2 this was the signal for the rain to start again, this time heavier and more depressing than Dawn French, the hosts had seen the wind taken out of their sales and the goal had rejuvenated Blair who now looked like they were the mid table team. Easy E threw on young Alfie Bates in an attempt to unsettle the visiting defence with Hiccham settling just behind but in truth Blair saw the game out comfortably, no one got injured so most were fairly content with the score.

Summary

HB came for a point but deserved all three, a much changed team never looked up for it apart from a 20 minute spell but can’t have many complaints in the end.

MOM. For me Coopers goal capped a decent display and was probably the one highlight of a dour display but I’m going to give it to Kwasi, he’s more overlooked than a chubby girl at the school disco but by all accounts never moans, whines or complains about a thing. A true example to the younger lads starting out.

Sheppey 3 Deal 3

So in today’s #learnwithites I discovered Deal is a town much like ours in that it’s famed for its great comedians, Comedy beefcake Charles “ Greystoke” Hawtrey lived there for many years in “ Middle St”, surprising really as most would assume he’d prefer spending his time in Bottom rather than middle. Another great comic Norman Wisdom lived in a children’s home there until he ran away at the age of 11 after allegations of abuse, he was later to join the BBC where any such allegations were taken with a pinch of salt laced with the slight smell of Rohypnol and sherbet dip.

So onto the game, our intrepid heroes came into this off a two game unbeaten streak against a well placed Deal team.

Sheppey were much weakened, the Colonel out along with the front two of Remmell, still minus his mums goat curry as promised and Bradshaw who now with one game less only needs another 23 goals from his last 7 games to equal the promised 40 goal tally.

On the bench we welcomed back George who had just finished a 12 game ban for amassing more cards than Moonpig plus two lads who didn’t look old or tall enough to get served a MacFlurry let alone a beer.

The game started as most have lately, Sheppey slow out the traps, Deal who certainly looked a capable side took the game to the home side from the off, big Johnno and Ralphy doing well to keep them at bay with Josh in goal being kept busy. When the Ites did get the ball invariably the final pass went astray, Bradshaw as always making the runs but not getting found, tiny Cox again providing the trickery but sadly nothing seemed to be working and then the pivotal moment came, a loose pass in the midfield, a simple pass sent their forward clear, he rounded Josh who unceremoniously clattered him, penalty. 1-0. Groundhog Day. This proved to jumpstart the Ites, Cooper started to find space on the wing, Captain Batten started dictating the game more, suddenly Deal looked in trouble.

A cross from the right found the captain in space on the edge of a six yard box, he rose like Jesus at Easter and like Andy Carroll powered a header into the net 1-1. The rest of the half seemed to be all Sheppey, neat precise passing had Deal chasing shadows without carving any openings.

Second half Sheppey started well straight off, the tempo noticeably quicker. First The Shrewsbury shifter had a half chance to add to his 27 but passed it up, the dry spell has now lasted longer than Mother Theresa’s, Timmy and cooper both getting behind the Deal defence but failing to deliver the killer ball and then it happened again, like the French army we shot ourselves in the foot, Deal get a rare attack the balls comes in the area, we don’t clear it the ball comes to their centre forward 8 yards out who gobbles it up like a fat kid in the cake shop. 1-2.

Another uphill struggle ensued, Sheppey pushing on relentlessly, the Deal keeper pulling off a few smart saves, a succession of corner kicks, one met by Bradshaw 6 yards out a point blank save from the keeper. In a last roll of the dice on comes young Bates from the youth team, after a few nervous minutes he grew into the game, from the edge of the box his shot took a wicked deflection the keeper through a leg out and somehow deflected it over the bar, this was going to take something special to drag this back, deep into injury time after our 47th corner up comes the goalie, corner 48 comes In Josh gets his head to it and bullets it into the roof of the net just as the fat lady was clearing her throat. 2-2. Josh, somewhat delighted threw himself into the crowd, the ref reached for his yellow but luckily Hiccham pointed out that goals like that are rare and another yellow would have been a red thus missing the final. Common sense prevailed and the game ended all square.

Summary

As in a good few games we had to go 1-0 Down before playing, not ideal but the way we turned the game round showed character as did the way we nearly threw it away again, but cometh the hour etc and 2-2 seemed a fairly respectable score.

MOM – For me Darren Cooper who has started games in the more forward position of late, good left foot and an eye for a pass.

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.

Corinthians 3 People’s Republic of Sheppey 0

Before we left for the fairly arduous trek to Longfield I googled ” famous people from Longfield” not a sausage, no one, this in my book made Sheppey favourites as we can boast such comic legends as Michael Crawford, Rod Hull and Patch Connolly from El Dorado.

With this in mind I expected a fairly easy victory despite the fact that in the last win I saw the winner was scored by a Young Ernie Batten with an assist from Carrots.

With Big Johnno still suspended for his accidental seven stamps on the entire Crowbrough team James Fitchett came in to cover, Remmell still out and the captain on the bench the squad was stretched but still a decent starting eleven.

The superbly named Gay Dawn farm on Pennis lane was the setting, a lovely little stadium, 40 fellow mutants had made the trip swelling the crowd to 46 but to be far to the locals, those scary trees at the end of the stadium would have scared me off going there had I have known.

The game started, a cagey affair, no obvious signs of panic or desire in either team, Little Cox showing early signs of being trickier than Paul Daniels c.v, Bradshaw making more runs than Viv Richards, and Mahoney, good old Jack, as usual covering more grass than Dan the dealer from the town clock (call 07898657341 any time). Corinthians didn’t look to offer much, the little forward looked dangerous as the normally do against us until we buy them, but I didn’t see us conceding too easily, indeed I thought it would take either a tremendous piece of skill or an error to break the deadlock and so it proved. An aimless punt downfield straight to young Fitchett, he in turn obviously realised the game was a bit boring so livened it up by completely missing it leaving the decent centre forward plenty of time to roll his mate in who gave Glover no chance 1-0. Had to feel sorry for the young lad, individual errors have cost us dear this season yet we never seem to profit from them, still we should be good enough to get back in this game, after all we had got our one error out of the way early, well that’s what I thought but ten minutes later the centre half missed a header, the ball dropped to the decent forward who with his back to goal somehow skilfully / fortuitously hooked it over his shoulder and Glovers head, 2-0. If the first goal hadn’t knocked the stuffing out of them this one certainly did. Plenty of arm waving, frustration and finger pointing followed and that was just from the travelling fans, the players were worse. HT 2-0 Second half Sheppey came out more purposeful, we’d seen them pull back a 2-0 deficit before so why not, tiny Cox got busier than Stephen Hawkins IPad , dropping more shoulders than the brittle bone society, beating his man time and again but failing to find his target in the middle, half chances came, first Bradshaw drew a good save, Then Cox fired wide but as always when chasing the game gaps appeared at the back, Glover saving well to keep us in the game but only for a few minutes, the Colonel ( who never gets beat) got beat a simple cross found the decent forward who tapped in from 5 yards 3-0.

Sheppey bring on the puppet master and Timmy, the rest of the half led to more frustration, Bradshaw finding space but the final ball seemed more elusive than Lord Lucan. The final bit of action summed up the whole night, Timmy played a nice one-two in the area, Timmy gets to the byline, shapes to cross just as the wheel on his roller skate breaks, Timmy collapses as the ball rolls out of play apologetically in front of us which at least gave us something to snigger about.

Summary.

No league wins since October tells a story, there seems to be a few mitigating factors, no luck when we need it, questionable decisions and in the case of Crowbrough just plain getting beat up. Confidence looks low in all area’s, the Shrewsbury shifter who at the beginning of the season was more lethal than heating cuts on the elderly is now on a drier spell than a nuns fiddly bits, injuries to Remmell, Ronnie and Reggie Batten haven’t helped creativity but hopefully Saturday’s game will see a few back and hope springs eternal.

Mom – Difficult one this, nobody played to their potential, Mahoney probably stood out for a couple of decent free kicks and as I said to the lads, I’m so glad we’ve got Mahoney, I’d hate to lose him to a bigger team who pay more money, like Sevenoaks but fortunately he seems to be happy here.

That said my man of the match goes to big Mark who was playing on the indoor pitch that was overlooked by the bar. The amount of sheer effort and endeavour he must have put in just getting his shirt to cover that 20 odd stone frame was admirable.

Sheppey 2 Beckenham 4

Straight off the back of a semi final win confidence was high, sadly the atrocious weather put paid to a bigger crowd though to see 250 there was still a good effort on a night colder than a 20 year marriage and wetter than a haddocks bathing costume.

I’d heard a lot about Beckenham and their win at all cost tactics but always assume there’s a case of sour grapes Involved so I was interested to see how this played out.

The returning Richard Atkins added a bit of spice, he’s been scoring regularly and is up there with our own northerner in the hunt for the golden boot.

The game started at a frantic pace, The visitors settling early. A strong Sheppey team with Johnno, Cook Brunt and the Colonel at the back looked comfortable with the early pressure, the home side grew into the game, Batten starting to impose himself, always looking to move the ball quickly. Bradshaw and Rem unsettling the Back four. First chance fell to the visiting team, a swift move of tight passes gave the forward a half chance but he only managed to find The keeper, . This stirred the Ites, they then started creating openings, a half chance to Bradshaw that sailed into scrappy‘s garden behind the goal miraculously knocking over his Lambretta, breaking two windows, one at the front, and completely flooding his kitchen according to his claims form.

Back came Beckenham, pushing forward again, Big Johnno more than once stretching his meccano legs getting in tackles from the other side of the pitch. This was looking like a good game despite the conditions.

By now Sheppey were firmly on top, Remmell supplying the trickery, The shifter getting behind the defence so it was no surprise when the goal came, Mahoney picked up the ball wide right, looked up curled an awful cross right over the keepers head into the top corner. 1-0 and deservedly so and right on the stroke of HT.

time to thaw out which I did by firstly pouring a cup of tea straight into my gloves then secondly by using a Bear Grylls trick of urinating down my own leg, apparently not only does this warm you up it also stops wild animals attacking you. By the fact I’m writing this tells you there’s truth in that theory.

Second half underway, much as the first ended, Ites the better team, this time attacking the Botany end where the Chernobyl extras had massed, 50 odd minutes in we win a corner, Mahoney curls it into the wind Bradshaw leaps goes up quicker than petrol prices and nods past the keeper. Easy, this was vintage Sheppey, Beckenham had hardly uttered the immortal words “ Reffffff” so far, infact they were the perfect gentlemen much like ourselves. For the next 10 minutes Sheppey pushed on looking for the third, the frustration from the visitors rising like a 14 year old with the Freeman’s catalogue, first a tackle on Batten, surely a yellow ? Nope not even a foul, then a tackle on Bradshaw that looked and sounded like a leg breaker, yellow card this time ? Not even a free kick. Batten again fell foul of what looked like a mugging, the game needed the Ref to stamp his authority on it, unfortunately he didn’t but Big Johnno did, catching a visiting player somewhere in the 6 inch box. Funnily enough the officials saw this, straight red, another early bath for an Ite. It’s makes you wonder if there’s not enough showers to go round so the lads need to stagger them.

Next attack, Beckenham now laughing down their sleeves like Dick Dastardly get the ball, it goes in the area Brunt, possibly puts a tackle in, the winger goes down like Willem Defoe in Platoon, the ref who I thought was going to give a spot kick irrespective of whether they got in the box obliged, up steps Atkins 2-1. Beckenham now with their tails up pour forward, the home defence looking more battered than a hen night in Blackpool, the equaliser came via a lapse in defence, the forward found himself with more time than the Kray twins 2-2. Sheppey looked all at sea but as I said, think how good it would be to hold out for a draw, unfortunately nobody heard me, least the players who then contrived to concede a third. By this time the game had descended into the keystone cops, the officials who had started poorly and deteriorated, might as well have been watching from the bar. The home team had less protection than an Ashford fan on a first date and tempers were shorter than Easy E’s fringe. Wisely the tunnel was wheeled out, we made our way to the less vocal paddock just in time to see Beckenham score the fourth. All over.

Summary

Sheppeys football was as good as any I’d seen all season for 60 minutes against a very good footballing side. Had the ref applied any kind of logic to the early tackles and given some protection we might not have got so angry and kept 11 men on the pitch. Once Down to 10 men we were never going to hold out as they have undoubtedly used such tactics before.

M.O.M Big Johnno, a big lump with a decent touch who doesn’t mind mixing it up a bit, ok the sending off changed the game but to see someone get a foot in was refreshing to see.

On to Rochester next, I can feel 3 points in the air.

Canterbury City 1 Sheppey 3

So the eagerly awaited semi final was here, the Friends and family stand had hired a minibus, we asked for one with particularly dirty windows so we had something to do on the long trip to Deal. After a quick Spoons breakfast we were off, a nice cold day as usual but with our assorted beer coats on no one seemed to mind. On arrival at Deal we found the pub nearest the ground for some mulled wine and a warm by the fire. A few locals were slightly bemused and I had to personally talk one out of calling the zoo as in his words he’d never seen such an ugly species of animal.

Anyway, nice little stadium really, not so the pitch but as we know Sheppey will never do things the easy way so it seemed fitting.

The crowd of 140 ish was made up of about 110 Ites, a few locals who only popped in as the wrestling wasn’t on telly and two men and a red setter from Canterbury.

Sheppey were starting with two new centre backs, Big Johnno, clearly signed from The land of the Giants and Dave Cook who I’d heard of as being a decent lad and definitely one for the future (or not depending when you read this) in place of the Colonel and the injured playboy that is Ralphy.

Canterbury had in their starting eleven a veteran of 6 games in 3 spells for Sheppey Darren Marsden, a great player who could cause us problems given time and room.

The game started, Sheppey quickly into their stride looking confident from the off despite their recent lack of form, Girty as usual getting on the ball looking to release the fit again Bradshaw at every opportunity. Mahoney in midfield, the ever willing runner covering more space than the inside of Harry Kane’s head, Capt Batten and Hich driving the team on. Then it happened, Canterbury had barely touched the ball so the last thing you’d expect to happen would be for them to score, they didn’t, the Shrewsbury Shifter did, getting behind their defence Dan drew the keeper, he had that much time, and slipped the ball past him into the Holy Goalies net 1-0. Cue wild celebrations from the two stands full of travellers. Canterbury, coming from the Holy City were clearly not used to such noise, the red setter who I later learnt was named Colin tried to rally his team but gave up saying there’s no “pointiff “ the other two won’t join in. Sheppey still dominant pushed on, on the rare occasions Canterbury threatened,  big Johnno the Baptist turned defence to attack like water into wine with a firm but assured approach. Then the miracle of the second coming, a great move involving Hiccham, Timmy and The elusive Remmell ended with Bradshaw breaking free to score easily 2-0 with only 30 minutes played, he was really rubbing their “ Moses” in it now. The travelling ites buoyed by not only the performance but 6 hours in the pub cheered every pass, determined that we wouldn’t throw this away and then two minutes before the break Bradshaw chased down the defence like a man possessed stole the ball and again slotted past the keeper who by now had been beaten more times than the Fritzl kids. 3-0 at HT and the team trooped off for a well deserved pint with a standing, for those of us who still could, ovation.

The second half was in truth never going to live up to the first, the home side had found their feet and at last put the boys under pressure. Again the defence of Johnno, Cook, Brunty and Girt stood up to all they could muster, the chances dried up like a 60 year old nun and the game settled into a midfield battle that neither team got on top of. Marsden as usual proving their best player despite the disparaging chants of the crowd, well me mainly, but in truth he was never afforded the space as in previous returns.  The half was punctuated by a few subs, Coops on for Timmy, Josh Froggatt getting a run but the game seemed to be petering out until Sheppey made the Cardinal sin of allowing the hosts to score a consolation which barely raised and eyebrow let alone a wagged tail due to the fact that Colin had long gone. 3-1, slightly took the gloss off the game but the final beckoned.

Summary.

Very pleasing, went for the jugular from the start against a higher placed team. The new centre halves looked imposing, the midfield did more running than a council estate kids nose, and the forwards were on top of their game. A final against Whitstable was the reward, we owe them one definitely and April 8th can’t come quick enough.

MOM. Difficult as the team performance was outstanding, nobody played below their best and everything on the day clicked. Bradshaw though was different gravy, they never got to grips with his pace and tenacity and to score three against the Vatican eleven was the icing.

Erith 0 Peoples Republic of Sheppey 2

Our hosts have a vivid history in football, Malcolm Allison started his career there, he often used to say in interviews that despite his illustrious career he still cited Erith as being the pinnacle.  Latterly Bournemouths Harry Arter played there, it’s also the birthplace of Scottish poet William Auld which is commemorated with a hoarding round the pitch known as “Aulds long sign”.

Anyway after our designated driver took us to Phoenix sports ground it was left to the most irresponsible one of our party, namely me, to find our way to Erith. Suprisingly I did. We got in the ground to be greeted by a load more facially challenged from the Island, the crowd which was fairly non existent bar the mutants swelled the gate to about 72. After a pint of Moretti, my 3rd favourite beer, we got into the stand for the start.

With the leaving of LHO we were greeted to the news that the romantically named Omar Degado Hibbert was starting, on loan from Greenwich Borough, the 6 ft 12 forward certainly looked the part though having not played for 4 months would certainly be a test. The absence of local hero Dan Bradshaw certainly put a dampener on it after last weeks show but as always we were confident.

The game started, the pitch looking better than expected seemed to play well, the stadium felt very holmly all the ingredients for a good away day. Sheppey seemed a bit more positive from the outset, a much changed team seemed to gel early. The puppet master in the midfield again started pulling the strings, the back line bereft of Ralphy again meaning Girty playing centre half added to the return of young Coops gave us a youthful look. Erith are nobodies mugs, a nice tidy team who played football the right way meant that we would have to work hard for the points and that we did. The first half seemed fairly evenly matched, both sides creating chances, the lively Omar proving trickier than a scouser round a pound note started to show some great touches, producing more flicks than an 80’s casual hairdresser linking up well with the excellent Remell.  Hiccham had Sheppeys first chance, a shot from the edge of the box that tested the keeper, Erith replied in kind, stinging the Veteran Glovers hands. Timmy on the wing was proving a thorn in the home teams side, using his pace to stretch the defence but nothing came of the half chances created. HT 0-0.

Back to the bar for another sampling of Gods own urine, this is where it started going wrong for me, I stayed there too long and when I came out I was told we were 1-0 up, a Batten penalty for a foul on Omar. With this the heart seemed to go from the home side, Sheppey took hold on the game and even started to bully the home side which is like Ronnie Corbett stealing Mike Tysons dinner money, the football the visitors produced was great to watch, fast flowing one touch, cheered on by the vociferous support, it was only a matter of time before we increased the score. Jack Mahoney who again covered more ground than Susan Boyles underwear was involved, the ball fell to Hiccham on the left of the box, the keeper came out, Hiccham chipped the ball over the advancing keeper with aplomb, 2-0. More chances came and went, the home keeper making a smart save to deny Omar a debut goal, a succession of dead balls led Mahoney to be stood on the corner that much the Vice squad took interest. Erith huffed and puffed but in truth were a class behind Sheppey on the day, a few tackles went in, but for once we gave as good as we got. Two minutes before the end, big Omar was replaced by Kwasi and left the pitch to a standing ovation. Hopefully we get to see a bit more of the tricky forward.

Full time Erith 0 Sheppey 2

Summary

A very good battling display by the boys, Ian in the middle showing us what we’ve missed, Girty giving us that extra dimension at the back, a bit of steel but with a great pass at the end of it. Omar looks a good addition, and going forward we seem to have regained the cutting edge we have lost of late. Onto Saturday against the runaway leaders, a great test, hopefully a much needed confidence boost will mean we can match Sevenoaks and move up another couple of places.

MOM. Remmell, again he showed a great touch, a willingness to track back and even seems to have calmed his legendary fireyness, at half time there was a minor dispute in the bar regarding an out of place beer mat, I looked round expecting to see Rem in the thick of it but no.

Note. Interviewed/accosted the Shrewsbury shifter who was full of praise for the supporters saying it really does make a difference with a noisy crowd getting behind the team. There’s a hint for you.

Glebe 2 Republic of Sheppey 0

Well, Glebe didn’t have a great reputation before this game, 7 red cards helped that out and a bench that’s caused more misery than the Old Bailey. Sheppey on the other hand are nicer than your uncle Kevin, playing great football but with a softer underbelly than Dawn French. How both sides wish they could swap a little piece of each other’s attributes.

With this in mind it was imperative that strong officials were appointed for the fixture so when the kid out of Beavis and Butthead ran out we somehow knew it would be a trying day.

Sheppey lined up the same as the last few weeks but with Mahoney dropping to the bench, Kwasi coming in at left Back and Brunt playing in midfield. The home side who due to suspensions were fielding the Kray Twins in the middle, looked a physical side which might explain the red card situation.

The game kicked off with not really a lot to say about the opening stages, a few 50-50’s were won by Glebe, the odd cynical bit of plat that went unnoticed by the red and linesmen but no real decent football of note. The home side seemed to be the better team without much penetration, Ralphy and the colonel mopping everything up with relative ease. Going forward, again we flattered to deceive, good flowing football but the front three of LHO, the Shrewsbury Shifter and Remmell were feeding on more scraps than Andy Constables Dog, Gurty in the middle seemed to be up against it against the Home midfielders who wouldn’t have looked out of place wearing balaclava’s, every time him or Hiccham got on the ball their opponents took it as a personal crusade to stop them one way or another. Still at least they’d get some protection from the officials………..One such challenge saw Gurty go in for a header only to be met by a flailing boot that caught him flush in the mouth leaving more him bloodied and toothless than a Stan Collymore date. After a fair few minutes our lad got back up and dusted himself down, the ref, who used this time to sort his pokemon cards out took no action. This seemed to spur our intrepid heroes on, suddenly the passing looked sharper, movement was better, just needed that spark. That nearly came from Remmell, picking the ball up on the Halfway line R.E.M beat one of the SHINY HAPPY PEOPLE, then two, three and glided in On goal, pulled the trigger but was foiled by their keeper who in fairness did well. The hosts created a few half chances, drew a couple of standard saves from Josh but all in all when the half time whistle went the Home team were probably happier than us.

This gave the Home dressing room a chance to wind themselves and their team up even more, when they emerged for the second half they looked so fired up they looked like extra’s from Platoon, Sheppey sauntered out, calm, laid back and handsome.

Within two minutes of the re-start the ever reliable Colonel played a blind Back pass Ray Charles would have been proud of, their forward overcame his surprise and gave Glover no chance, 1-0. This fired the bench up even more, barking and growling after every challenge, the ref by now looking more nervous than Ryan Giggs at a family wedding was oblivious to the obvious intimidation from their no.10 who by now was angrier than a hungry woman. Glebe get a throw, the ball was launched into the area, the forward shrugged off a challenge and got a shot in, Glover dives full length to make a great but could only push the ball into the path of one of theirs who from fully five yards netted. 2-0.

Sheppey bring on the captain Ian, their caveman seemed to take an instant dislike to him, after a challenge cruder than Bernard Manning, Ian jumped up only to be accosted by their no.10 who grabbed him by the throat, the linesman who we were stood behind chose to look at his watch, keys, phone, diary anything but the fracas until I questioned him, then he meekly waved his flag almost apologetically, the ref who by now had completely retreated into his own shirt stopped the game, consulted the cowardly lion with the flag and duly booked Ian for what I can only assume was a nasty assault on their players hand with his Adam’s apple, much to the delight of the feral bench. Sheppey to their credit still tried, R.E.M making a STAND and pulling the strings then became the focal point for the angry mob. As we know R.E.M is never one to shy away as they probably realised so it was hitting up.

As a last throw of the dice on comes Selwyn Froggatt, fit again and raring to go, twice He got to the bye line but both times we failed to capitalise leaving just enough time for him to somehow also upset the bear with toothache despite their obvious size and weight difference and then the ref decided he’d ignored enough and blew for full time.

Summary

Again good flowing football without getting the points, the physical approach seems to have done for us again and although we brought about our own demise as Ernie pointed out to me, we never get that lucky break, bad back pass that you don’t deserve. It’s not for the lack of effort or endeavour that we aren’t getting the results which will turn in time. Keep the Faith and as LHO tweeted our support is valuable when we win or lose and no one is more disappointed than the team.

MOM R.E.M who is stamping his authority on games more with no shortage of skill. As he knows when we don’t win EVERYBODY HURTS but he seems to show it more.

Sheppey 2 Croydon 3

So what do I know about Croydon ? Well a few famous people have lived there, David Bowie, Ronnie Corbett, the Great Dane Bowers, Woy Hodgson, bonkers artist Tracy Emin, Kirsty Macoll and popular beat Grime artist Stormzy. I used to see a girl who lived near there until she had a restraining order put on me and I’ve worked at Croydon East train station, which is massive. With this in mind I was clearly excited about Saturday’s game, plus the fact that I’d willingly agreed to have a go at dry January meant the day should be interesting. Well it was.
My quip last week about Trey waltzing out the door never to be seen again seemed rather unprophetic as there he was turning out for Croydon against us, as his self appointed agent I felt a little let down I wasn’t party to any negotiations but that’s football I guess.
Talking of which, Sheppey amazingly kept the same starting eleven from last week, a feat worthy of the three points alone you’d think, Croydon clearly didn’t.
The game kicked off just about the same time I ended my gallant attempt at dry January, Croydon decked in what looked like a Coventry kit had a centre forward the spitting image of Peter Ndlovu (google him kids), a great player who left Coventry a week before Terry Phelan left, prompting the song ” you’ve lost Ndlovu and Phelan, woah Ndlovu and Phelan” ( another Google kids). Anyway, Ndlovu and his forward mate both looked very decent up front, ironically the other Croydon had two great forwards, makes me wonder if they just swap attackers similar to Fred and Rose West. Both were proving as elusive as my willpower early on, making diagonal runs and at times the home defence were finding them harder to pick up than the Chairmans wallet, the young midfielder supplying the ammunition early on should have given the defence an early warning, well if it did no one took any notice as the young lad, fresh from his paper round found Ndlovu 25 yards out, the defence gave him more room than Abu Hamza at pass the parcel let fly with a shot that found the bottom corner 1-0. By this time Sheppey weren’t in the game and looked as potent as Pele after a couple of beers so it was no surprise when Croydon doubled their lead. This time a crisp move led to the other forward with enough time and space to slot the ball home with a finish Cynthia Payne would be proud of 2-0.
Finally Sheppey turned up to the party, a couple of tackles won, Bradshaw playing wide right started getting the ball and asking questions, our first chance fell to the Colonel who somehow found himself with only the keeper to beat, he didn’t. Remmell and LHO started to look threatening and the midfield, again missing Burke and Hare the comedy villains started to get a foothold. First Remmel flashed a chance wide, then the Shrewsbury shifter got behind the defence but drew a decent save, the pressure was mounting like a dog on heat, then Girt sends Clark away down the left, he delivers a superb cross that Bradshaw, who overtook Usain Bolt to get in the box and met the ball on the half volley giving the keeper less chance than Diane Abbott on countdown 1-2. As I’d earlier predicted to the other weirdo’s in the paddock at 2-0 down, there’s no better feeling than winning 3-2 after trailing, I know my stuff. The Visiting keeper who had looked more indecisive than a fat kid in Greggs then played his part, a cross came in, the keeper went for it, had a little juggle, dropped it at the colonels feet and for the second time he couldn’t miss, he didn’t 2-2. Sheppey now had their tails up, pushing on restricting the visitors chances and went in for their half time ovaltine level pegging.
The second half started, me again telling anyone that would listen ” we are a second half team”
Then out of the blue, the rock solid Jack Mahoney played a back pass that wrong footed the Colonel, Ndlovu’s mate pounced on it and beat the keeper with a low shot, 3-2, what a kick in the proverbials. Still plenty of time on the clock, the 274 crowd found its voices urging the team forward, a few half chances came and went, Croydon still looked dangerous on the break, a free kick from a fair way out was curled round the wall into the side netting, Sheppey were now going Gung Ho for the equaliser, Girt fizzed a long range effort wide, Hiccham went close. Time for a sub, on comes Timmy for LHO, I’d also predicted Timmy would score today, a few corners, one of which Ralphy got on the end of but suddenly their keeper looked like he knew what he was doing saved well, in a last ditch attempt, Easy E brings on young Coops for Mahoney and Froggatt for Brunt, the latter taking over step over duties from Trey but it was all to no avail, 3-2 to Croydon.
Summary.
Another disappointing result, didn’t start playing until 2-0, however some decent football got them back in the game. Technically we are as good as anybody in this league and realistically with games in hand could still be pushing the top 6 but as I’ve said before when things aren’t going right we haven’t really got anyone to do the dirty work, a few crunching tackles to give the opponents something to remember, the dark arts. I’m lead to believe Ronnie and Reggie Batten are available next week , hopefully their absence will have made them hungrier and angrier than before. Glebe next week, it’ll be nice to see a few new faces at away games, give the boys some encouragement and get the revolution back on track.
M.O.M
Dan Bradshaw, started wide right but presses all over the pitch, he’s fitter than Jennifer Aniston, and his sheer work rate and will to win got us back in this game.

Sheppey 0 Whitstable Town 0

Well after my report from the away game at Whitstable earlier in the season, repercussions were mentioned mentioning the word “racism” amongst others after I dared accuse them of playing direct football and attempting to influence the referee. With this in mind I thought I’d do a much more politically correct report for the home game. 
Sheppey lined up with Josh Glover in goal, a veteran of over four appearances for the club who must surely be lining up a testimonial. New signing Lewis Clarke came in to the defence, the rest of the team was pretty much the norm with the exception of step over King Trey who apparently dropped his shoulder, dummied the manager and twisted and turned his way out the door never to be seen again.
A very healthy 550ish crowd packed the embalming stadium including a handful of loyal and very vocal Oyster fans who took up residence in the DSS stand alongside our own array of professional lamplighters and father Christmases. 
The game kicked off in a much heavier wind than I had expected, having only wore a jacket that was thinner than Ernie’s hairline I was shaking more than Oliver Reed at opening time. The visitors seemed to have underestimated the wind as every time they passed the ball the wind accidentally blew it back on the ground which clearly surprised not only them but also the Sheppey players who had turned up with binoculars. In the opening exchanges Whitstable looked the better team, their excellent right back pushing forward and using the ball well particularly when finding the ” experienced” centre forward. Mahoney and Bradshaw, our own pair of dynamo’s were covering more grass than the crowd at Glastonbury in an effort to unlock what looked a very disciplined defence. Our resident electrician Luke Harvey who usually has the freedom of Ohm park seemed to be getting a lot of close attention from the visiting defence, one such tackle on one of the Oystermen led to a ” shucking” over reaction amid cries of “Ref” from Porter and his entourage not for the first time. To their credit, Whitstable were not only creating half chances but also nullifying our three pronged attack it also managed  to keep the crowd fairly quiet.  Glover between the sticks was being kept busier than a Frenchmans white flag but coped admirably with not only the visiting attacks but the swirling wind. It was the wind that gave Sheppey their first decent chance, Mahoney with a corner that evaded everyone except the alert keeper who reacted quickly to palm the ball away. Moments later, a swift move in the midfield sets Hiccham free, he drew the keeper better than Rolf Harris, gave him ” the eyes” then calmly rolled the ball straight past the outside of the post. The rest of the half was a fairly even affair, both teams snuffing each other out like Fred and Rose West.

Half time saw the entire 550 crammed into the outside bar making it more full up than Andy Constables lunchbox with the unmistakable Island smell of weed and disappointment. 
Second half underway, the Heroes in red and white seemed to adapt to the conditions better than the first half, Gurty and Remmell coming into their own , creating half chances for Bradshaw and LHO, neither of which were taken, the full backs Brunt and Clarke were now getting more forward than a Tory MP pushing Whitstable back. Another such move again led to Hiccham breaking free with only the keeper to beat, surely he wouldn’t miss this time and had learnt his lesson, nope same result, stroked majestically wide. Back came Whitstable, buoyed by the miss, a shot from distance catches the wind, swerves more than the DSS stand at the job centre beating Glover and striking the bar. Time for a couple of subs, on comes Timmy for LHO, and the return of Josh Froggatt, minus his ever present burger, for Hiccham who when substituted attempted to sit on the bench but unfortunately missed by four foot, but to no avail, both sides had half chances but by the time the fat lady sang a scoreless draw was probably the right result.

Summary. A very decent game despite being goalless, both teams battled well, some of the theatrics were worthy of Whitstables own hero Peter Cushing but in fairness to them the football was a lot easier on the eye and the neck than the away game. Croydon up next in what will be another good test, a win will push us right back in it as we’ve got games in hand.

MOM .
For me no one stood out more than anyone else, a good all round performance, like Lewis Clarke but I’ll have to give it to James Huggins for the pure fact I saw him in the car park as I was going in the pub before the game