32 Goals Against the Run of Play
Whilst the great minds of Welling were mulling over the latest WPC Quiz Night, deep in the heart of Essex three men met to discuss the immediate future for Welling United before the vital league match the following day against Grays Athletic. Manager Paul Parker was joined by his assistant, Nigel Gurney and amateur football analyst, Mr W.Socks.
PP: Thanks for coming gentlemen although Mr Socks I might have to fine you for not wearing a suit. Right after that cup game I have signed three players for tomorrow.
WS: Another threeÖ that makes 29 already this season. I take it we are going for defensive reinforcements.
PP: Well, one is a defender (allegedly), one a midfielder and the other a striker: Amarteifio, Heselton and Revell. They come via Wealdstone, Bishops Stortford and Cambridge United stiffs.
NG: Sounds like a posh solicitors boss. Are we sure they are up to it? I donít recall any of them playing for Chelmsford, or Dover, for that matter.
WS: I suppose the lads will have had a couple of training sessions to get used to each other.
PP: Oh no. Barrie only registered them this afternoon. The new boys will meet the others at the game tomorrow.
WS: Marvellous. Anyway we have to look at the defence first as it has been a disaster all season. We have already conceded 32 goals in twelve league games which is just ridiculous. Perhaps we need to put the team coach in front of the goal.
PP: We havenít got a coach. Tosh has left and Iím not sure what Liam Daish is up to.
NG: No boss. I think he means the vehicle. We canít do that anyway Mr Socks as most of the lads will be travelling to Grays by car...
WS: What about a keeper? It is a bit much to chuck Danny Skinner in at the deep end again. The poor lad has already conceded 12 goals in only three games. His confidence will be shot. **
PP: I thought about another keeper but Iíve already tried three so far this season. We canít just sign players for the sake of it you know.
WS: You canít? Anyway... what about these set pieces? We are conceding goals every week from free kicks and corners. Donít you work on that in training?
NG: Training, whatís that?
PP: Well, we are going in for this zonal marking system where every player covers a space in the area.
WS: I think the supporters call that musical statues, Paul. Only someone forgot to start the music.
NG: What about recalling that ex-Dover chap Andy... er... erm... Andy...
PP: Arnott. No, I think heís injured and besides which he has been a liability so far.
WS: Smart move to give him a two-year contract then.
PP: So what can your scouting trips tell us about what to expect, Nige?
NG: Well it is just up the road for us boss. They are doing their ground up at the moment. The burgers are a bit ropey but they have a nice bar...
WS: I think he means the team, Nigel.
NG: Oh yeah. Right, they are a decent side that have a good blend of experience and youth. They are dangerous at set plays but I think the lad we really need to watch out for is Eastwood up front.
WS: He joined Southend on loan earlier in the week, Nigel.
NG: He did? Well I never.
PP: I need to think about a skipper for tomorrow. With Lew still injured and Spills suspended, we will need another captain.
NG: Why donít we do that West Brom thing, boss, where the lads have a vote on the skipper before each game?
WS: I thought that was how you picked the team. Well, gents, I must go now but Iíll come back tomorrow night to discuss the game.
24 hours later the three sages met again to discuss the latest humbling after Welling had gone down to a 4-2 defeat that afternoon at Grays Athletic.
WS: Right chaps. How long did we keep a clean sheet for?
NG: Oh... er... well... erm... about three minutes.
PP: Yes, we conceded a soft goal from a corner. I really canít understand it.
WS: That must make double figures from set pieces and corners already this season. Soon the opposition will be turning down penalties in favour of having a corner.
PP: It was a poor start. We conceded another soft goal and the lads werenít at the races at all. There just doesnít seem to be any continuity.
WS: I wonder why.
NG: Yeah and if it hadnít been for Darren we could have been dead and buried in the first half.
WS: Itís Danny, Nigel. Darren is in Cyprus.
NG: Oh yeah. Well, we got a lifeline before half time. Hazelnut knocked a good ball in from the right and Tommy found space to head it home.
WS: Great. I expect all that space he gets in training helped.
PP: 1-2 down at half time and it could have been worse. Then we got a second from Jamie Gould to bring us level. But we had lost Bernard at half time and then Wilesy.
WS: Fair enough we were stretched defensively but the regulars have hardly excelled have they. At 2-2 we should have pushed hard for more goals. What happened?
NG: Well, they scored two in three minutes. The fourth was the killer. A free header from a free kick. I just canít put my finger on it.
WS: Geez. Never mind your finger. Get one of your Ďdefendersí to put their f****** head on it.
PP: Thereís nothing left, Nige. I will just have to resign.
NG: Resign? Are you sure, boss?
PP: Yes. Re-sign... Burgess, Riviere, Berkley, Lorraine...
NG: What about Aboagye, Sodje, Edwards?
WS: How about Bartley, Townsend, Ransom and Horton?
Parker's mobile phone rings.
PP: Yes ... oh hello ... yes ... right OK ... shame ... plenty more fish in the sea. Oh right ... sounds interesting ... yes ... get them to call me ... Cheers.
NG: Who was that, boss?
PP: That agent I rang earlier: good news and bad news. The bad news is those five lads we asked about, Nige, have all turned us down. Two want to hang on with Chelmsford, two are staying put at Dover and the other one just laughed. But apparently he has a couple of defenders who might be worth a go. One is called Coco and the other is a Ronald McDonald.
NG: Coco. Mmmm... sounds like a South American with a name like that. The name of the other lad rings a bell... perhaps he played at Chelmsford.
WS: Iím going. I need a drink.
** WIE acknowledges that Danny Skinner was one of the very few decent performers at Grays but the point made is still valid.