Have You Ever Had Your Stick Tickled?
Abingdon 3, Banbury Piranhas 0
Was it the sound of a flock of woodpeckers or the international knitting convention? No it was the Piranhas having their sticks tickled for 70 mins – well apart from the two who got carded for complaining, but on the positive side, their sticks had a 5 minute respite. Ken Dodd would’ve made Abingdon a shrine had he witnessed this orgy of stick tickling – how proud the town would have been to have him as the “face of Abingdon”……..
Abingdon Men’s 2s lie 2nd in the league and had decimated the poor MK Samurai 10-0 the previous week (they’d thrashed them 15-1 in the fixture before Xmas (and the “1” was an own goal – probably because the defence and keeper were so bored that they decided to do some shooting practice during the game?) so Captain Camp tried to reassure the team that we’d obviously got them during a weak period in their season….). The first half was absolutely even with both teams testing defences. Steve Hicks in goal commanded the “D” with some fearsome charges and sweep saves and Captain Camp worked well distributing the ball effectively and coordinating the back line of Joe Whinmill, Mervyn Long, Ollie Webb and Finley McEvoy. Unfortunately, within 5 minutes of the start, Adam Hughes received the first tickle on his stick, which to be fair, was, on this rare occasion, blown up – but then he was green carded for putting his arm up as an appeal (a heinous act and executed in a most violent manner) as no appealing was allowed apparently as we were told…… after the sending off. So within the first few minutes we were down to 10! The stick tickling continued but we got on with the game and the youngsters did particularly well against their much more experienced and bigger opposition. Sam Bracke and Charlie Camp worked hard and created many chances, Ollie Webb and Finley McEvoy were particularly effective in defence, Will Eagles held the midfield together like a seasoned veteran and Thomas Allman chased everything down up front. Ollie Webb even tried throwing aerials all bar one being insightful and brilliant….. the wayward one nearly crowning his dad on the opposite sideline……
Then with 2 minutes to halftime, Abingdon sneaked a goal in and the Piranhas were unlucky to be 0-1 down going into the break.
The half time talk consisted of how not to look appealing so you wouldn’t get sent off – Ken Dodd is an excellent example, but some of us are incapable of stemming our natural beauty and appeal. A stick check then followed (there must be a very wealthy stick supplier in Abingdon) – “always check your stick in these parts son” is my mother’s advice…. then we marched back out to try to turn the game round. We did ask if the umpire wearing Abingdon kit could change his top at least, as Mervyn was already confused, but the rather abrupt reply meant the likelihood of Mervyn marking the umpire would be inevitable.
Unfortunately “sneaking goals” seems to be an Abingdon Men’s 2s trait…. and they sneaked a lucky goal within 5 minutes of the start as their centre forward slipped the ball inside the far post, past Steve Hicks. This galvanised the Piranhas though, and a mass attack took place for a sustained period – interrupted only by the regular tickling of sticks which we rode through and ignored of course. Then Ollie Webb was sent off after a defender kicked the ball in the air from a shot and thus was deemed unintentional – stupidly Ollie decided to point this out – but Ollie forgot this was an “appeal”….. so off he marched.
Whilst down to 10 yet again, Abingdon scored a scrappy goal to give them a rather undeserved 3 goal advantage. Ollie came back on and with the teams even again, the Piranhas again pressurised Abingdon especially through the marauding Joe Whinmill and Finley McEvoy down the flanks, but despite the valiant efforts of Bracke, Hughes, Ben Britto and Charlie Camp, the ball wouldn’t go in.
With one minute to go the Piranhas were suddenly in a state of shock, as the chief Ken Dodd worshipper tickled Joe Whinmill’s stick particularly vigorously and to add a bit of spice barged him over for good measure. And Lo !! A yellow card was brandished and the chief priest to the cult of Ken Dodd left the field, with 30 seconds left on the clock and 3-0 up it was rather unlikely this decision would risk Abingdon’s win…..
So the whistle went, Abingdons captain was very complimentary and apologetic, and off we trudged to the Dodd Shrine for some great teas at least. Abingdon are a strong team and the young Piranha lads played out of their skins in the second half and were unlucky not to leave with a point….. but with sticks well tickled what more could a Piranha wish for?