Game 8. Season 35. Assistant Gardener finds comfort in Valley with spades and hoes

Bogey side - A team that you stumble against at almost any occasion irrespective of their form or league position.

Bombers are not ones to subscribe to notions that the Bitch Goddess of Football would be so perverse as to create an opponent of such invincibility that playing them for 90 minutes on a cooling Saturday in a settlement with only one road in and out was little more than a Sisyphean exercise in futility.

At the head of Stokes Valley, nestled into a crook in the eastern Hutt hills, sits the Bbodhinyanarama Buddhist  monastic sanctuary, but Delaney Park, the field of dreams for 1960s British immigrants, had none of the radiant solar blessings showering down on devotion that the Buddhist monastery proclaims.

Instead it remained a burial ground of ageing Bombers’ hopes and exertions. A home for a bogey side.

Assistant Gardener usually zealously calls players to order, assign positions, establish an order of substitution for the 19 Bombers, and sprinkle exhortations, strategy and advice for the first 45 minutes, knowing it to be little more than entertaining ritual. The 19 Bombers humour him.

A loose 4-4-2 formation with Dr Tim at right back for the first time this season congealed into an even looser 4-2-1.5-1.5-1.

After 20 minutes the signs turned from ominous to calamitous. A Stokes Valley hobbit, for such was his height, girth and hairiness, who was to prove a torment all game, cut through to the backline and as Nintendo closed on him, struck a shot that deflected off the hapless defender with the Asst Gardener toppling the wrong way, offering no more than a flailing hand as resistance.


A goal down with 70 minutes to play is not such a hurdle to players of resolve, commitment and courage. Soon two of the 19 Bombers were free of defenders with only the keeper to beat, one-all beckoned until the Bitch Goddess chose to subvert Ragboy into a panicked flail several suburbs wide of the goal.

A half time talk that might have once  lifted spirits and effort faded in much the way the sun started to hide behind the hill.

A second half came and went, punctuated by waves of attack, resolute defence, and a second goal that came from a clever free kick that was never a free kick.

Damned Valley Hobbitman again, and he had the temerity to take kicks with the outside of his boot, a trick never resorted to by 19 sporting Bombers.

Three damn years since Stokes Valley last conceded a point to us. That’s a bogey team.

The Bombers gracious in defeat and too frightened to seek other drinking premises in a strange land joined the victors in their clubrooms. They supped on a range of beers -- Tui, DB Export and, god forbid, Lion Red -- last seen in soullessly decorated barns smelling of hops, nicotine, and domestic violence that passed for pubs in 20th century New Zealand. 

Then they melted away in ones and twos into the mist and gloom, contemplating five chilling words: Time to bring back Wriggles.