When Sunday came
When Saturday Comes 3 PFFC 7
I wrote a report for a match in Willesden at the end of January this year in which we encountered a vicious Siberian chill; a week later London experienced its worst snowfall for 18 years. Thankfully at the Old Deer Park in Richmond on Sunday the contrast was stark as brilliant sunshine bathed the pitch and the PFFC Legends reconvened in hope of a bright new beginning.
Owen, Andy and Kieran arrived early with Damo, Big Brian and Neil later joining them for a warm-up that seemed to last at least an hour as we waited for WSC to show up. On close inspection, the pitch made the current Wembley look perfect. It was hard and bumpy and the grass far too long, but PFFC was making a welcome return to the hallowed turf and that was what really mattered. The rest of the PFFC team arrived with warm handshakes, enthusiastic greetings after long absences and a copy of Barry Davies' autobiography, Interesting...Very Interesting, for Damo courtesy of the amicable Cornishman. Even Joe turned up just before kick-off but declined to give us a motivational team talk, perhaps haunted by the spectre of Roy Keane. He did wish us luck though before heading back to the valleys.
WSC had arrived in dribs and drabs, so we agreed to start with 10 players each and allow the others to join later. We also started (and finished) the game on a pitch with no netting for the goals, corner flags, linesmen or referee, but this slightly anarchic start mattered little and the game was played in a competitive but friendly spirit. PFFC were first on the score sheet when Neil, after hard work beating a couple of defenders, slotted neatly past the oncoming keeper. However, PFFC were worryingly disorganised and a little hesitant as they sized up their opponents. WSC took advantage and raced into a 3-1 lead after PFFC lost possession, conspired to create an almighty mix-up from a long free-kick, and some expert dribbling from the WSC forward line boosted their confidence. By this point PFFC had brought on Rina to satisfy our eleven man quota, the dynamic Italian also grabbed a second goal for PFFC just before half time, cutting in from the left and firing from close range.
Some home truths and forthright encouragement came from Big Brian at the interval and PFFC took the game to WSC right from the start of the second half. Kieran grabbed arguably the goal of the game with a sweet right-foot shot from 25 yards on the half volley well out of reach of the despairing claw of the WSC keeper. In the second half PFFC were defensively well organised with better all-round communication, great handling from Marco and Andy patrolling the right full-back position tightly. Wave upon wave of PFFC attack was grinding the WSC defence into submission. Cornish Al in particular was leading the charge with some runs down the right flank which gave the impression that he'd never been away from the top flight – although one searing run past three defenders ended with Al collapsed in exhaustion at the by-line, too knackered to complete the cross. Goals from Ally and Mauro from close range, another flick past the hapless keeper from Neil, and a precise header from Dodo, a second-half substitute, following a pinpoint cross, completed the seven-goal haul after WSC wilted in the sunshine and PFFC’s greater fitness levels told in the latter stages.
This was a match played in the right spirit and a first sight of a potential opponent in the new league. The day was rounded off with a convivial trip to the appropriately named Sun Inn for some after-match drinks and some large bowls of chips (enhanced by Mauro, interestingly, with Colman's mustard!) and for a seat in the afternoon sunshine deliberately shunning the charms of the grim mid-table Premiership squabble-fest that was Blackburn Rovers versus Wigan Athletic.
PFFC (4,4,2): Marco; Andy, Big Brian, Rina (1), Owen; Ally (1), Damo, Mauro (1), Cornish Al; Kieran (1) ( Dodo 1), Neil (2)