PICKFORD CUP FINAL 2006.
It was a tense Sway social club - several of the Sway players were preparing for the biggest game of their lives by standing in a smoke filled bar. The star striker played snooker alone between trips to the toilet.The management was sipping bitter.
As more and more supporters arrived , balloons were inflated , horns and red wigs distributed and the steward was talked into fetching his “four skin” drum from upstairs.
The coach journey began ( Bill Stride having arrived as the driver warmed the engine ) .Not much happened - if anything the boredom was increased
by Adam Clark’s repetitive and uninspiring cd collection.
Arriving at Chapel Gate saw many supporters run for the trees to relieve beer filled bladders .
Bar opened - few beers - out to the pitch to await the players.
Inside the dressing room , nerves were frayed. Dave Hadnutt constantly rubbed his groin whilst wearing Adam Clark’s cycling shorts (since humanely destroyed).Alex Davis was over using his “play it like a cup final” line - no-one listened.Bill Stride played his favourite track– 2unlimited(no limit)- the players danced and masculinity levels dropped.
The management was all “clichéd” out as the bell sounded.
The Sway supporters took over the main stand with Rob Powell-Thomas
and his drum.It is difficult to imagine how a so called “drummer in a band” can mis-time a few football chants, but he tried hard and the effect was (hopefully) inspiring to the players as they approached the stand for the pre-match line up.
The faces of the players before us resembled French resistance fighters facing a Gestapo firing squad rather than footballers in front of friends and supporters , but their nerves were understandable !
Hands were shaken, tosses were made and cheers went up - the game begins.
The supporters kicked off first with a fine volley of enthusiastic noise ( Chris Sirl once again proving that “care in the community” is not necessarily a good thing).
Sway opened well with Steadman and Hadnutt in central midfield making their intentions known - snapping , snarling and allowing little time on the ball for the Civil lads.The wide pairings of Clark / Gates and Boylan / Aldsworth worked well together, penetrating deep into Civil territory.
The first 25 minutes saw little action in the sway box , with Brook and Foster holding firm and Colverson handling well when needed.Davis made a nuisance of himself , while Stride “floated”.
Around the half hour mark Clark and Gates worked well together and Gates found himself in enough space to deliver a looping cross into the box.The Civil ‘keeper mis-read the distances, and Davis’ attempted control( he’d only slept 4 hours in the previous two nights , bless ’im) saw the ball fly into the net 1-0.The Sway supporters went wild , with a three man pitch invasion which was swiftly quashed by the stewards.The noise intensified, with the Sway fans asking the Civil supporters “shall we sing a song for you?” - they didn’t !
The final 15 minutes of the first half saw Civil come back into the game.A cross found a striker in a good position but his header flashed wide under good pressure from Aldsworth who had tracked him well.The half time whistle blew as the fans fled to the bar.
Half time - Sway 1 Civil Suttoners 0
The half-time team talk involved the management correctly informing the players that they were “45 minutes away from a great result” and Davis trying to find someone who hadn’t heard his cup final line - again he was disappointed with the result.Hadnutt continued his groin rubbing and Clark continued to feel uneasy !
The second half began with the drummer and several of the more noisy elements of the Sway support still in the bar which was a relief for the majority.However , after a verse or two of “where’s the drummer gone ?”,
he emerged to resume his percussing.
The game continued with Sway looking the more effective, keeping Civil at bay with great defending from Foster in particular.
Dave Hadnutt had to be replaced around the hour mark ( troublesome groin !) Ciaran Flanagan entered the game in a straight swap.Chances started to fall to the Sway side - Bill Stride had a shot that had Air Traffic Control at the nearby Hurn airport reaching for the scramble fighters button.Again Stride was put through down the right hand side , doing well to beat the ‘keeper and reach the by-line before cutting inside and driving a fierce left foot shot into the corner flag.Minutes later, the same player found himself through 1 on 1 with the ‘keeper but saw his shot blocked.Barn doors were beginning to be mentioned in the stands , when the management came up with a cunning plan. Andy Brook , who had been struggling with injury, was taken off to a great reception and replaced by Ben Johnson - a striker ?The plan became clear when Stride was asked to fill in at centre back , where missing outbuildings from short range was something of an advantage !
Sway continued to play well, with Dave Foster exceptional in his sweeping roll. Terry Steadman got through an heroic amount of work in centre midfield as did Adam Gates on the right, who by this stage appeared to be breathing through an extra orifice !Colverson handled everything to almost perfection and Civil were kept down to long range efforts on the whole.With 9 or 10 minutes to go , Davis found himself through on the right side.He beat the ‘keeper well and reached the by-line before cutting a ball back to Johnson who calmly slotted into the right corner to send the fans berserk.2-0.
The fans were in even fuller voice now as Sway pressed on. A great strike by Johnson again from 20 yards was deflected for a corner off the Civil sweepers head.
As the final minutes ticked by the fans began to enjoy themselves.Alex Davis’ hair was likened to Alan Shearer’s - a less than complimentary song was sung to Andy Brook (with the utmost respect you understand) and Andy Blackwell was asked nicely to wave to the fans as he came on to administer cold water to Steadman’s cramped calf.
The final whistle went and it was all over. Sway had won their first Pickford Cup for thirty odd years !
Davis tried one more time , delivering his Cup Final line to the Civil defender as hands were shaken . A slight smile? Result!!!!
Matt Letissier materialised to make the presentation and Andy Brook was deservedly given the honour of accepting the trophy after providing great service to the football club.
Champagne was sprayed around the changing room (Civil presenting a bottle themselves which was a nice gesture ) and more beer was drunk in the bar.
Everyone agreed that it was a fantastic night for all involved , the fans playing their part in an entertaining game.Well played lads !