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Guest Post – The best of times versus the worst of times.


By Rod de Lisle

Forrest Hill Milford 4 Wanderers 2.

13th August 2016.

When the going gets tough ….. some football players do a runner.

This week, with regular report-penner Tom Rowland away on heavy drinking duties, I took the opportunity to scribe the action at Becroft  Park, home of rich listers Forrest Hill-Milford where purportedly (some) of the players receive a tidy wedge in a brown envelope each week and club funds are plentiful. I’d never been here, either as a player or manager, but based on these rumours I was expecting a slightly more salubrious venue I suppose.

Instead it was a rough pitch, as thinly thatched as my head and a hint of cool winter breeze perhaps keeping the crowds away. There was little in the way of seating for the punters, apart from the muddy embankment and a shortage of room in the small dugouts.

But the welcome was warm and friendly and I was delighted to run into old chums Paul Olivier and Helen Stedmen whose sons play in the FHM reserves. And in the club I was shown the Rob Ferguson memorial trophy, a tribute to Helen’s past husband and a good buddy I wrote a post about earlier this year for

In the best of times when your football team are top -or thereabouts- the lads are buoyant, things go your way and any hiccups are only minor road bumps, easily surmountable. However at Hamilton Wanderers it’s been more like the worst of times this semester, with a long list of players who have departed the team, an exodus of personal you’d only expect if some dodgy looking geezer tossed a suspicious bag into the changing room and legged it.

Included in the absentee list have been four players who have headed for career-enhancing prospects in foreign climes, three who have suffered the dreaded ACL-knack, three others who have had less serious but long term layoffs and regularly suspended players who have blotted their copybook and been suspended. Yep, more than a teams worth of absentees. No wonder the blue machine has stuttered like an old tractor and struggled for points, particularly throughout the latter half of the season.

Wanderers taking the lead

Wanderers on attack

And that brings me in a circuitous route to the point I alluded to earlier in my first sentence, about players that find it hard to cope and in our case one individual who announced that he was finishing the season after the defeat today, allegedly to get ready for a summer season Really? That’s showing scant respect to your team mates who are battling to stay in this division. The real sign of character is to put ones head down and work together to grind a few good results out.

Wanderers started quite well. Snapping into tackles the lads forced an early goal which I nearly missed while trying to set up a video of some of the action.  I did catch the ball flying into the corner of the net but was unsure who had hit it. An own goal I was informed.

The marquee player at FHM is Ryan de Vries who moonlights on the Shore for a reported (snip- Rod’s lawyer) per week. He earned his wages (what ever they are) this week with three goals that sank Wanderers’ hopes and this hat trick, plus one from Abdulla Khalisy, put FHM 4-1 ahead before the hard working Sam Redwood clawed one back for a 4-2 final score.

The two FHM scorers were the key difference in the game. De Vries possesses what all good players do, a sense that he has all the time in the world when on the ball while mere mortals tend to rush things. UK hardened Curtis Robinson is an honest and effective centre back and tough to beat, but De Vries skinned him for his third goal in the second half.

And Khalisy was deceptive, seemingly skipping past players at will, the ideal foil for De Vries.

Sam Redwood and Sunny Singh are not the superstars of the Wanderers line-up but both had effective and hard working games with Redwood putting in a good shift at the back then later on was pushed up front where he was rewarded with his goal. Following the brief that coach Shane Comber had laid out for them the midfield were usually effective but the team was a little impotent up front. De Vries type strikers are not easy to find. Young Jonno Tobias at right back battled manfully in a Jordan Shaw fashion and Jordan Shaw himself worked his socks off. But it was another tough day at the office.

So what is required?  A few ounces of luck and perhaps a dose of application, the tough really do need to get going.

Wanderers take the lead 2

A Wanderers goal hitting the back of the net

[Rod de Lisle is the Hamilton Wanderers first team manager (in the UK that means coach, here it means dog’s body) and a Leicester City former tragic.]

Categories: NZ Northern Men's Premier

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Enzo Giordani

A grassroots sports photography enthusiast based in Auckland, New Zealand, and a fan of the most magnificent football club on earth - A.S. Roma.

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