It was a damp old midwinter day at Raroa. Clouds scudded from the North West and there was damp in the air. Across the hillside the last red leaves of the exotics clashed with the green of the endemics. “Onslow colours”, someone muttered, “portentous”. “Pretentious”, muttered someone else. Meanwhile, North Wellington Onslows were already warming up, looking somewhat useful for a near bottom-of-the-table side.
The pitch was examined. Not too bad, all things considered, but definitely the muddiest of the season to date. There were also lumpy patches – ball control would be at a premium. The grass could do with a clip and the surface with a turn of the heavy roller. No FIFA money spent here.
The Bombers assembled at the western end of the ground and hoofed a few balls around in their usual desultory fashion. Most went over the bar, one went over the fence and down the Burma Road. We looked around – with the seasonal weather closing in, just the 12 Bombers to hand. Only 19 Bombers? Not at this stage of the season. And that total included JB, fully dressed including sheepskin lined, distillery sponsored, earflap provided leather headgear – I hesitate to call it a hat. 11 Bombers, then. JB decided we would play uphill & into the wind, and that he would come on in the second half. We lost the toss & remained as we were.
“Come together” said el jefe “Sort yourselves out”. A complete abdication of responsibility. No wonder he’s never risen higher than assistant gardener. Other Bombers straggle in. The usual argy-bargy for positions. Which is remarkable, given that just 12 Bombers were available for initial selection. Hansie said nothing and was shoved into right back, just for a change. Nintendo and new boy Mike (christened “Vespa” after the match) in the middle, someone at left back ... If I’d known I was going to be writing the match report I’d have paid more attention to what was going on.
“I’m suffering from ‘flu” announced Tiberius. Luckily it was of the SS Niagara variety and not the dreaded man ‘flu, otherwise who knows how many Bombers could have been struck down. He went on anyway. As the positions were handed out, Smut had that half expectant, half resigned look on his face – sideline again, or an up-front start? The latter – give that puppy a ball to chase!
Kick off and the ball is knocked around in an unremarkable fashion, with not much of your actual goalmouth action. Without warning Smut is in front of goal, ball at feet – and passes lamely to the ‘keeper. “It was nowhere near my middle section, that’s why I couldn’t put it away” – except he didn’t say middle section. Nothing to warm the cockles of the old biddies lining the balcony at the Malvina Major, in any manner of speaking.
Half time comes & goes. Many opinions voiced, none of them registered. Second half a continuation of the first. One good chance crashes into the NWO upright & bounces clear – echoing the last match we played at Raroa. NWO aren’t much good, we’re not much better.
Then comes the defining moment of the match. A challenge by Nintendo in our box, on a large lumpy type. Nintendo goes down, lumpy type falls on top of him and Son of God trips over the pile. Hubcaps, formerly of this parish but now a NWO, points to the penalty spot. Cue howls of disbelief at the absolute injustice of it all. JP McEnroe had nothing on this Greek chorus. Penalty slotted, zip-one.
Nintendo was incensed - musically, he was uncut funk. Cue shoving, macho posturing in return. Nothing eventuates. Match kicks off again. Bombers press without truly threatening. One move breaks down in midfield, leading to a NWO passing movement down the right & across the face of the goal that is closed out by a clean finish. I’d have been proud of it if it had been ours but zip-two.
And that was pretty much it. Apart from the second goal, defensively sound, midfield OK. Forward line blunter than a blunt thing. The table does not lie – only 9 goals scored. Even bottom-of-the-table Miramar Rangers have scored 11. Nine separate scorers – perhaps this policy of ensuring everyone has scored once before anyone scores twice is not working for us.
Next week – Snakes in a Valley. The joys of Masters football.
Editor's note: Raroa is ra (sun) and roa (long) but translates as 'old age'. How odd. Alternatively, RAROA stands for Risk Adjusted Return on Assets. Also strangely apt. Bombers risk adjusted return on assets is, erm, nil. Just trying to spruce up this match report.