Fans of the late Val Doonican [Editor’s note: are you serious?] will remember his song about Delaney’s Donkey, a brilliant but stubborn race horse who could not be cajoled, bribed or bullied into winning, until finally, with the aid of some dynamite, he crossed the line in first place.
Sometimes life really does imitate art. The men’s 5th team have been due a big win, with a series of frustrating losses, then a narrow defeat to the mighty phwoars [Ed: please check terminology still in use?] and a gritty draw away at Rotherham. The performances have certainly been improving, but the results just weren’t going our way. Finally, on Saturday, it all came together. Inspired by the women’s 2s in the match before us, and frankly scared at the thought of being shouted at by Woody, we had all the dynamite we needed to get across the line.
The Huddersfield Dragons, like us, had youth and experience, but what they didn’t have was the searing speed of the orange attack. We may only be the humble 5s, but we’ve got pace to burn, with Stef, Matty, Fin, Tom and Max tearing into the Dragons’ midfield and slicing through the defence with fast passing and close control. When Huddersfield got possession anywhere in their own half, they were immediately under pressure from two or three Adel teenagers. It was men against boys, but not in a good way for the team in purple.
The first goal came from former teenager Andy Hedge, with a simple reverse tap in after a flurry of activity in the D. His slo-mo forward roll celebration earned a 5.7 from the judges; it was almost a perfect 6 but his hat fell off. It’s these fine margins that make all the difference. Soon after that Max got a scuffed second; the fourth game in a row that he and Hedgie have both scored. We earned and then wasted a succession of short corners. Then another long-range effort from Hedgie, at least a yard out…. 3-0 at half time.
It was quite hard to keep track of a manic second half, but let’s just say we turned on full gas and it felt pretty good to be on the pitch in an orange shirt. Imagine Rorke’s Drift on astroturf with sticks instead of spears, and you wouldn’t be far wrong. Stef got two goals, hit the post with a screamer and could have had three more, but he thought it was more sporting to shoot straight at the keeper. Max poached another, and Finlay rounded things off with a classy seventh, shooting low into the far corner to complete a human chain of passes that began way out on the opposite wing.
There were at least as many chances that went begging, and somehow neither Tom nor Matty scored, despite their superb running, passing and shooting. At the other end Murf was an unsung hero with some tight marking, great tackles and calm distribution under pressure. Mikey in goal had very little to do, but one exceptional diving save drew a ripple of applause. Tony, Dave, and Skully used all their ancient wisdom, and also their feet, to keep the ball out of our D, and John fell over a lot. The Dragons scored from a short, which was a fair reward for their effort but looks flattering on the score sheet.
So, 7-1, fully deserved, about time too, great for morale. Tom, who is 14 and in his first senior season, got MoM for a stupendous work rate that probably raises a couple of safeguarding issues. Hedgie got DoD for his sad gymnastics, and also for asking how many you have to score to be officially classed as a “goal machine”. Let it go, Andy.
Former teenager (and wannabe “goal machine”) Andy Hedge receives the prestigious DoD medal from Stef