Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Unsung Heroes

Hopperational details
Tuesday 2 November 2010 at the Boundary Stadium, Oxhey Jets 3 Hertford Town 2 in the step 5 South Midlands League.  I am here because I needed a local ground for this particular midweek ‘hop.
This match in one sentence
With the half-time score at 2-2 and having allowed Jets to equalise twice, Hertford Town conceded an own goal just after the break and then missed a penalty before an end-to-end final half-hour.
So what?
Oxhey Jets put a bit of space between themselves and the relegation battle after some variable recent results.  Hertford Town remain in mid-table.
Who caught the eye on the pitch?
It was hard not to notice a certain Pablo Ardiles wearing the #4 shirt for Hertford Town.  I spent several minutes trying to work out which Oxhey player was Chris Killer.  It turns out that he looks as if he has come straight out of a boy band, though he was decisive enough with his side’s second goal.  Jets’ top scorer Lewis Putman had scored the first equaliser, but arguably his strike partner Tim O’Mara created more trouble for defenders with good runs and a willingness to receive the ball.  I will be charitable and not name the Hertford Town player who missed the target altogether with a shocker of a penalty.
This match had the same effect on my pulse rate as …
… welcoming Gareth Malone and a film crew to nearby Bushey Hall School as part of the creation of the BBC series “The Choir: Unsung Town”.  The South Oxhey Community Choir, brought together during that series, has not dispersed since the cameras disappeared and many people have had their musical and personal horizons widened through their experiences.

My own historical links with the area stem from the fact that neither Oxhey nor South Oxhey have a secondary school, and BHS was one of several schools to which pupils travelled.  BHS closed as planned on 31 August 2009 to be replaced by The Bushey Academy, and I stepped aside after two interesting but successful years as headteacher of the transitional period, to take up, as it has turned out so far, almost full-time groundhopping!  The evidence above right confirms that Mr Malone is much more comfortable in front of cameras than I am.
A snippet from the programme
The programme pulls no punches in its assessment of the team’s previous performance.  “Jets really look down and beaten before they start these days … players are lacking in confidence and the “hot potato” effect on the ball makes the situation worse.  The side needs to unite more as a team, but the only thing that had less support today than the Jets players had for each other was the Club’s fundraising Halloween disco.”

To be fair, the Jets showed some desire this evening.  Their heads did not drop at any stage, and they had several half-chances for a fourth goal.  This really was a good game for any passing neutral, with the result in doubt until the end.
What I learned today is a really excellent website compared with most step 5 clubs and a refreshing change from the identikit “hosted” ones that are often seen at this level.  The clarity and standard of photography are exemplary. is rather good too.

I therefore now know that a recent former BHS pupil, Michael McRoberts, has made several appearances for the Jets’ reserves and has come off the bench twice for the first team.  He therefore joins Chris Neal (Shrewsbury goalkeeper) and Ricky Perks (Slough goalkeeper) as players that I particularly look out for in match reports.
Modus Hopper Random Talking Point
Like in many matches at this level, there was a good deal of audible dissent and backchat, leading to several needless bookings, especially towards the end of the game.  A shout of, "He's gotta go, Ref, if only for that haircut!", kept things in proper perspective.

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