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Jokers 1 - 0 Wanderers 3s (H)

4th December 2023

By Tony Haycroft

Scorer: “Virgil” Foster

Team: Tony Haycroft GK, Dan Barnicoat, JJ Draper, Jason Foster, Jon Bowen, Martin Ravvers, Jim Hey (Capt), Stephen Hardy, Jim Sayer, Rob Stone, Trevor Mallinson, Scott Walbran, Harry Hodges, Phil Balbirnie, and guest Kevin Grant

Umpires: James Andrew and Matt “Gerry” Anderson (great job as always - thank you)

Thunderbirds Report by “Big T” Haycroft

The Jokers achieved a second clean sheet in succession and another hard-fought 1-0 victory, which fairly reflected the state of play. At the start of the game, the Jokers and Wanderers were equal on both points and goal difference; so it was a “six pointer” of a game. Had Wanderers pinched a draw it would have been earned by their keeper who made a number of great saves to keep them in it. In reality it was always unlikely though with the “impressive” defence of Ravvers, Foster, JJ, Dan and Sayer. Not my description but that of one of our numerous spectators Erica Sanders - ex-Surbiton, GB and England (28 caps) now playing professionally for Hague-based side HDM in the Dutch Hoofdklasse.

Last week we started with 13 vs 15 and finished with 11 as injury took hold of Andy and Bloxie (who may have to go under the knife such is his dedication to the Jokers – stay tough). This week it was 15 vs 16 but we finished with 13ish as the old legs creaked (or lumbar spine for JJ and hammy for Noaksy) as they rolled back the years.

All week long all eyes were on the weather forecast as it was predicated to be frozen off. The oppo, with 16, seemed keen to postpone and messages ensued regarding match feasibility. The Sparticans game, due on before ours, was called off Friday evening and we feared we would follow. However, due to sterling work by the club, orchestrated by Mark Waller, salting the pitches resulted in pristine green fields early morning. Pitch inspections were conducted from 7.30am and the green light given.

Yours truly, the Father Jeff Tracy of the team, posted the gif of “Thunderbirds are Go!” with, as it turned out, the prophetic Thunderbird number “1”. The oppo were shocked at the news and asked for photographic evidence which was duly and immediately provided by Club Captain Sian. Haycroft welcomed the oppo onto the immaculate surface – “Now do you believe me?” Psychological blow landed. The team assembled and prepared their launch. Jim “Brains” Hey set out the strategy – it’s the same sage words most weeks but provides the muscle memory to inspire effort.

The game was very keenly contested with no quarter given by either side. There was the very odd incident of exuberance, mainly from the oppo, which was masterfully dealt with by umpires and script writers “Gerry” Anderson and his co-writer James.

In summary the Thunderbirds soared:

  • Big “Jeff” T was rarely called upon but in the first half swatted away an aerial attack from a PC with distain and precision to Jason “Virgil” Foster to clear the lines.
  • Thunderbird 1. Phil “Scott” Balbirnie (as well as the real Scott) flew horizontally at great speed and accuracy, always reaching the target first.
  • Thunderbird 2. “Virgil” did the heavy lifting throughout and once on scene “injected” his secret scoop/flick into the roof of the net for the precious and game winning goal.
  • Thunderbird 3. JJ “Alan” Draper was our usual deep space rescuer, always the astronaut never a space cadet.
  • Thunderbird 4. Dan “Gordon” Barnicoat was our super “Sub”.
  • Thunderbird 5. Jon “John” Bowen provided the team’s clear communication with his usual aplomb.
  • Martin “Parker” Dye moved the ball around with the grace and ride of a Rolls Royce.
  • Dr “the Hood” Stone, master of the black arts, navigated a second successive game with no enforced pitch absences.
  • It must be said that the Jokers would not be complete without the important contributions of Trev, Jim S, Noaksy, Harry and guest hold-up man Kev Grant just as the Thunderbirds team also need Lady Penelope Creighton-Ward, Tintin and Grandma.

The two minute signal was alerted and expended in some small part by rockets launched 100 yards down field by Parker and Virgil to secure and accomplish the operation to rescue and safely secure the three points.

Such was the post-match joy and adrenaline flowing that the vote for the privilege of writing this epistle was forgotten. Indeed in truth there was no DOD in this game. As such it fell to Father Jeff to record this important win.

Image: GMW Sport Photo