by Dr John Dee on 05/05/08 at 9:24 am
It was all sunshine and relaxation in the Birkbeck’s back garden, as a few more than five thousand gathered for an end-of-season friendly that didn’t mean much to either side.
The Gasheads were, as usual, there in numbers but also in particularly fine voice. The away stand is an old-fashioned one with pillars and a resonant low roof, and it sounded even louder when tucked under there. The only competition was from the tannoy, which was the loudest I’ve ever heard at any football match, and was maybe installed to make up for the library-like atmosphere everywhere else in the ground.
Anyway, we were all in a good mood, there was much fancy-dress (my own favourites were the Smurfs, though the Tangomen were also good, as was Superman and various other superheroes dotted around the stand). For some reason, the Smurfs and Tangomen got a police escort away from the ground – is painting yourself a funny colour the new Stone Island?
Trolls fielded a pretty standard side with Brilliant and the Lord at the back middle, with JJ and Dog at the sides, Rigg, Lines, Campbell and Pipe across the middle, and Dis and Lambo playing funny positions towards the front. Orient didn’t start Ibehre, who never scores except against us when he always does, and none of their line-out stood out for me on paper.
It was a useful start with Rovers having a lot of possession before one of the Orient strikers had an open goal from 6 feet out and managed to scoop it over the bar. It wasn’t easy to do, so well done that man! Rovers continued brightly before, on their second attack, one of the Orient forwards nipped on goal through before Phillips pulled him down with the lightest of contacts. She fell over, but the ref had no choice but to give it, and the O slipped it calmly into the middle of the goal while Phillips dived. Heigh ho.
Rovers attacked a bit, but Orient then had a good spell until half-time. Then Rovers found their form, and started to put plenty of attacks together with, shock horror, several decent attempts on goal. Pipey wasn’t getting much change out of their full-back, and his crosses were pretty woeful too, but one bounced back out to Captain Campbell on the wing and I thought by golly we might get a decent delivery this time. Campbell did it superbly, and Lambert won a clean header to bury it in the back of their onion bag. 1-1, and we were well worth it.
Orient had a couple more chances, but Rovers had rather more, and though I thought we had the better of the half it could have been 4-4 at half-time. They didn’t look much really, but any time either of their front two got the ball – especially Gray – they seemed to have the ability to wrong-foot and worry our defence. Our team with their two forwards could go a long way in this division, I thought.
At half-time, we’d had a good half of competitive and constructive football, and both sides and sets of fans had things to look forward to.
Second half we started well for about 10 minutes, with Lines having a long run finishing with an effort that just missed and Disley missing a sitter, but then we ran out of steam and ideas. They weren’t much better, and the highlight of the half was when a handful of Gasheads started singing ‘on the pitch’. The tannoy took the bait and respectfully reminded all fans that it is an offence to go on the pitch, asking that we should all refrain from doing so. There was only one thing to do – all the Gasheads started singing ‘on the pitch’. The boys in luminous green responded by forming a long line in front of our fans. Tee hee!
Orient had one break down the right where someone, maybe Rigg?, lost his man and Aaron Lescott scrambled it away around the post. Whoever it was got a rollocking from about 5 Rovers players that showed that they weren’t treating this as an end-of-season runaround at all.
Willo and JKD came on, but made little or no difference. Someone near to me said ‘he’s not good enough to wear those boots’, and I knew what they meant.
Orient got a goal out of nowhere, and we went a bit flat but gave a deafening chorus of Irene to show end-of-season spirit. Now we’ll need 3, I though to myself, as Ibehre hasn’t got his goal yet.
Orient then got another after someone skied a clearance into the six-yard box, Phillips fumbled it and it was bundled into the goal. It looked like a foul on the goalie to me, but the ref (who had a good game overall, I thought) saw no offence and we ended the season on a 3-1 defeat. And, of course, it was Ibehre who toe-poked it in.
So not with a bang but a whimper. My MOTM was the Gasheads, without whom it would have been a pretty dull affair. The players and Trolls came out to give us a clap, but we all went home feeling pretty darn average. Roll on August!