1st May 2016: Hills Farm Lane FC 7 Diss United 2 (HT: 4-1)
Hills Farm returned to Vets football after a seemingly endless winter with the first Vets fixture of the year, 5 months in! A convoluted League programme, the weather and the usual complications involved in trying to co-ordinate 22 players and a ref to meet at a certain time, at a certain place and with the blessing of 'her indoors' meant that despite Trev's best efforts and lengthening phone bills, matches were simply impossible to stage before now. Well this one was certainly worth the wait!
The teams lined up in glorious sunshine on a pristine pitch, with Hills Farm proudly displaying every bulge and muscle in their tailored, 'Italian fit' (ie, snug) blue kit. The line-up was fine-tuned by Tommy and it wasn't long before the gamble paid off. Hills Farm were finding lots of room in and around the opposition box and Murph, who had been switched to his coveted left mid position at last, was finding himself as part of a front three with Dan and Reemo. Several half chances came and went before Kevin Taylor, making his comeback in the team, placed a superb curling ball towards the far post where Murph got between the keeper and the defender to put his laces through the ball and ram it home for the opener. A rare goal indeed but typical of the far post ghosting that is a big part of the vets stalwarts' game. The lead didn't last long however as a hopeful clearance skimmed off the top of Tommy's head into the path of the otherwise offside United striker who strode on to plant the ball firmly past Dan Evershed in goal. A shock, but it only served to awaken the home team's attacking intent and Hills Farm camped out in the Diss Utd half for the rest of the first period. Two exceptional corners from the right, taken by Reemo, curled into the roof of the goal despite the keeper's best efforts, and still the home team rampaged forward. Michael Haydon, Matt Lickie, Tony Giles and Kev Taylor kept it tight at the back and kept the ball moving forward through the midfield duo of Gareth Jones and Tommy Burnside and out to the flanks where Kev Boyle and Murph were still finding space. At last, Dan Purchase found the net after several near misses and the blues found themselves with a 4-1 half time lead.
Changes were made at half time as the hot sun took its toll and Reg Harris came on to the right wing whilst Trevor Evershed took up his usual roaming role of anywhere on the pitch. Liam Kelly was enjoying a fine game at left back but as the game went on found himself being pushed further forward as Murph tired and sought the relative peace and quiet of his usual left back position. Still Hills Farm took the offensive and it wasn't long before Dan Purchase scored his second to make the game seemingly safe. But Diss Utd are a spirited bunch, as they prove in their previous victory against Hills Farm, and rallied with a fine goal hammered in by the fast striker who found space in the box when the ball wasn't cleared properly. Normal service was resumed minutes later when Dan's richly deserved hat trick goal deflated Utd's brief spell of optimism but the game was still awaiting its grande finale! Another Hills Farm attack saw the ball traverse the opposition box and fall at the feet of Reg Harris who crossed back across the box towards Trev. The gaffer seemed to steel himself and as the ball sat up, gave it an almighty leathering and sent it rocketing into the far top corner beyond the keepers despairing, full length, dive! Suddenly, Trev morphed into a gazelle and raced the full length of the pitch to celebrate with his son in goal as the Hills Farm players surrounded the ref trying to get the goal overturned, to avoid months of endless earache but the goal stood, and deservedly so. It was a beauty and would win any BBC goal of the month since Graeme Sharp's bullet flew past Grobbelaar back in the good old days!
The game ended peacefully and lots of tired and foot sore vets shook hands with good humour and enjoyed the bacon sarnies cooked by Mrs Evershed and a welcome cool beer. All in all an excellent and exciting game played in the true Vets spirit, (give or take the odd rumble from the boy Giles) and no-one could predict the scoreline given the quality of the opposition. Special mention to their big centre back who pretty much steadied the ship throughout and the tall centre mid who graces these games with skill and panache. Also thanks to Paul, the excellent referee who let the game flow despite no linesmen and despite allowing Trev's goal to stand showed great judgement for the full 90!
Finally, a big thumbs up to the HFLFC chairman Phil Gibbs whose dedicated work on the TD Shipley ground is beginning to pay dividends. The pitch and the walking football area behind the goal are looking in fantastic nick!
Man of the Match - Dan Purchase - a hat trick and a non-stop attacking display.
Mark Murphy (1)
Paul Rymarz (2)
Dan Purchase (3)
Trevor Evershed (1)