All good things must come to an end, and Saturday saw Merton Social’s third team take on title chasers Wallington Casuals in their final game of the season. The Soche were on an excellent run of form, unbeaten in their last 10 and scoring goals for fun. Wallington however, were unbeaten in their last 11 and sat third in the league table - this really was a game they couldn’t afford to lose.
Merton arrived at the infamous Prince Geroge’s Playing Fields nice and early, knowing that star CB Reverend Lovejoy’s Testimonial would be kicking off at 2pm and spirits would be high on the touchline. We weren’t disappointed as we were just in time to see the 1s score twice and seal a victory in their final game of the season, with the likes of Keith and Paul Hart going absolutely mental on the sidelines in celebration.
The day was off to a cracker - the only thing missing was JB and his balls. Turns out he had missed the train so he could hold hands with his missus a bit longer over brekkie. Avocado on toast would you believe, not a rasher of bacon in sight!
Loveday, as usual, was over half an hour late and so the testimonial started without him. Oscar got his first taste of 11-a-side this season, while TK had to ref until Phil shouted he wanted a proper warm up an hour and a fifteen minutes before our game kicked off. Sensing the squad were getting restless, TK succumbed to the ex-gaffer and led his lads across to their pitch ready for battle.
The warm up consisted of a game of bums, much to JB’s delight, but it soon became clear that Chino was struggling with a rib. Our first thoughts were that he’d had one of those dodgy BBQ ribs from Morley’s the night before, but it soon transpired he had genuinely injured one of his own playing earlier in the week. Should have gone to McNeil’s I told him.
Loveday was summoned over to our pitch, which we had been deliberating over for some time, and the game was soon underway. Merton were quickly out of the traps and really taking the game to Wallington in the early stages, and it wasn’t long before they took the lead. A bit of hesitation from their CB invited TK in to apply the pressure and nick the ball away, and the gaffa kept his cool to beat the on-rushing keeper via the inside of the post.
1-0 and Wallington were rattled. Things soon got even better as TK picked up the ball in a wide area and skipped past the full back with TOTAL EASE! He got his head up and picked out @SuperTomLeach in the box and his deft lay-off fell to Dupee who drilled in a second to give Merton a 2-0 lead - nothing less than they deserved. Merton well on top, and the fans getting their money’s worth early on,
It was only tradition then, for the 3s to get a bit complacent, lose their shape and start to give away chances. First Tommy P came to the rescue with a smart stop 1-on-1 (absolute legend), but then it was JB who bailed us out, sprinting back faster than he has all season to pull out a great challenge on their striker from behind. Fair to say more often than not, JB gets these tackles wrong, but it seemed as though all that hand holding and avocado had paid off. Strange thing is it reminded me of a tackle Daniel had made earlier on in the season - maybe he really has taught him everything he knows.
Unfortuantely the barrage of chances eventually led to Wallington pulling one back - can’t really remember what happened, but know Tommy P couldn’t do anything about it (absolute legend).
Half-time arrived and Merton led 2-1. The next goal was going to be crucial and after some delicious oranges and a pep talk from the gaffa, the 3’s went back out and started the second half much like they had the first. It wasn’t long before they restroed their 2 goal cushion either, as the gaffa grabbed his second of the game with a cross-shot that caught the keeper at his near post. Relief for us all while TK celebrated behind the goal all on his own.
What followed was nothing short of an onslaught. Freddie Falafal, DFizz and Bill were all giving the Wallington full-backs a torrid time, with the former going close with a dipping effort just over the bar. The fourth goal soon followed and was a lovely team move - not sure of the exact order, but there were at least four or five tidy passes made before the ball fell to Leachy to smash in his 11th of the season.
Wallington were all over the shop by this stage, and a quick counter attack allowed Falafel to pick out Leachy in the box who turned his man and fired in Meton’s 5th. 5-1 and 13-12 on the golden boot tally (TK v Leachy). The gaffa thought about making a sub to ensure he took the trophy home, but with only big O offering his services on the sidelines he thought better of it.
BANTER - you weren’t on the ref’s list pal!
The ref blew for full time and the 3’s had picked up a massive 3 points. Securing a top 5 finish and de-railing Wallington’s title bid, it soon became clear this was going to be an evening of celebrations. After a cold shower (Leachy insisted they were cold anyway), we were on a train to the club house aka the Fog aka best pub in the world.
On arrival we found Scott at the bar, half way through a bag of ready salted. Looked like Luke and Ciara had taken a leaf out of JB’s book n all, holding hands across the table pretending to be watching the footy. Caroline did her best spread of the season, and she’d also put on a few sarnies for us.
The rest of the evening is a bit hazy, but there were some top notch speeches, a lot of lager and a bottle of patron seen off in the space of a few hours. Players Player of The Year Reverend Lovejoy was on top form and got a 15 pint round in (absolute legend), while Tommy P was seeing off the patron like it was lucozade (absolute legend).
Last thing I remember is Carol telling us to calm down outside as renditions of ‘Merton til I die’, ‘Tommy P’s having a party’ and ‘Loveday is the captain of our ship’ rang out at full volume. Sorry Carol, you shouldn’t have put on such a bloody good spread!
Great way to end a great (second half of) season. Lets carry this form on in to next year and really go for that league title. Next up, Lisbon and the Lord.