Saved Moles enjoy their Easter Eg hunt
“It’s a funny old game.” One of football’s most tired clichés tends to be trotted out at a range of inappropriate times, generally whenever anything mildly outside of the mundane occurs but often uttered when something entirely unsurprising befalls a match (e.g. a side intent on doing nothing but desperately defend a lead concede a late goal).
A trip to the tenth tier of English football hardens one desire to have the phrase reclaimed – football is a funny game, not just because of its strange coincidences but also because it is permeated with good natured humour and wit, blended seamlessly with an element of farce. Football is ‘ha ha’ funny, as well as ‘oo-er’ funny.
And little is funnier than momentarily enjoying the spectacle of 12 men take on 11, content in the knowledge that the officials, and apparently neither side, were aware of the imbalance. Molesey’s double substitution in the final few minutes was presumably designed to shore up their 3-1 lead as stoppage time approached, yet for at least one of those minutes it must have proved considerably more effective than manager Steve Webb had imagined, thanks to winger Joe Grant’s failure to realise he had in fact been taken off.
The Egham bench momentarily feigned indignation and accusation toward their counterparts, but were silenced when the Moles’ coaching staff correctly pointed out that “you hadn’t noticed either.” Grant eventually trudged off, yet it remained unclear whether the referee chose to discount the period of play that had just occurred or whether we were meant to simply pretend that nothing had happened. With the match all but over as a contest and said phase of play being entirely free of incident, it remained equally unclear whether anyone cared too much.
Elsewhere, there’s something distinctly reassuring about being close enough to the action to be on the receiving end of an official’s bemoaning of the modern game. “Offside used to be so simple,” spoke the linesman after misinterpreting which phase of play a Molesey forward had just entered, eyes cursing the skies with an air of self-pity and resignation. “We just used to call that goalhanging.” I could not muster the words of reassurance that he so obviously craved, my desire to comfort him with an arm round the shoulder outweighed by fear of ejection from the ground.
The game itself was a reasonable watch, most notable for a brutally clinical hat-trick from Moles front man Will Marlowe. The No 9 had few other touches over the course of the match but two left foot strikes across the keeper either side of a looping header into the far corner of the Egham goal were sufficient to see Molesey over the line, the first two goals coming within around 45 seconds of one another. How appropriate that opposition named Egham and nicknamed The Sarnies should be consummately undone by a classic poacher. (Alas, not too many scrambles in the box to report on).
Marlowe predictably picked up the man of the match award, although my pick was the emphatically dominant Molesey number 5 Kris Webb who combined strength, height and power with a positional sense and ability on the ball that suggested that neither central defence nor the Combines Counties perhaps should not be the limit of his ambitions. Egham forward Matt Grave, meanwhile, provided an additional memorable moment early on, albeit one which he would sooner forget, somehow sidefooting wide from around three yards with the goal gaping following a parry from Moles keeper Wester Young. “Torres,” muttered a card in the Main Stand. Some jokes in the funny old game are funny at all levels.
The result helped to maintain what has been a reasonable run of form for the Moles since March which, coupled with Easter Monday’s victory at Chessington & Hook United, has seen them rise to sixth place in the Combined Counties Football League – although with four games left promotion is out of the equation. Nonetheless, you would be hard pressed to find a Mole who would bemoan their current situation – right now, they’re merely happy to maintain their existence. Molesey have suffered at the hands of two unscrupulous chairmen who, despite briefly appointing Neville Southall as coach, have taken the club to the brink of disaster. The club now owes their continued existence to the tireless work of their new ownership and the local Save the Moles campaign.
Local business remarkably fails one and only audition
The culmination of such hard work was the wonderful news at the end of March that Elmbridge Borough Council had approved plans for the development of the land, in partnership with a local housing developer, around the Herds Renault Stadium, a move which at the very least secures their short term future and wipes the club’s debts. Had the decision gone the other way, the Moles would almost certainly cease to exist. I was fortunate enough to meet club chairwoman and true Moles hero Tracy Teague over a half time cuppa in the Director’s box – while delighted with the Council’s decision, she was sure to emphasise that the future remains uncertain and that, for her and her colleagues, there continues to be much more work to be done.
In a town noted for little else other than a Berlinesque divide between East and West (divided not by a wall or political ideologies, but rather an unassuming stone), it would have been utterly tragic to lose the 60 year club that runs five teams (down to Under 13s), actively involves itself in all areas of the community, including Moseley Carnival, supports a number of charities, and even launched the career of former England international Cyrille Regis. And any club that gives you a free coaster with a match programme most definitely earns my support. Lead on Molesey.