Vets at HAC 2024


Goals: Chester & Mornington

As Ramblers, we are truly fortunate to be able to play football in the auspicious surroundings of the HAC, an oasis of sporting pleasure, nestled in amongst the skyscrapers of the city of London. It is worth noting that a match has been played every January stretching back to 1959 between two of the oldest remaining amateur teams in the land, established 1897 & 1882 respectively.

More often than not the HAC have had the better of the Ramblers, although in both 2022 and 2023 our vets had managed to come away victorious. This time, the HAC felt, was to be quite different. So much so, in fact, that they had contacted Ramblers skipper Mornington on more than one occasion during the run up, announcing that they had a VERY strong team ready to do battle.

But this is no ordinary Ramblers Vets side.

HAC dominated possession with lots of neat passing through their defensive and midfield lines. Such fluid play was mostly snuffed out by a solid looking back 4 with Martin and Doherty marshalling the troops and working well as a centre back pairing. Ramblers also rode their luck on a couple of occasions with one glaring miss from their striker being particularly memorable.

Ramblers, on the other hand, played more of a counter attacking style. It wasn’t particularly pretty and sometimes bordered on the agricultural. But it was effective. Drake was a constant thorn in the opposition’s side with his strong running game. One such run and fine delivery found Chester towards the edge of the oppo box. He managed to somehow turn and loop a well judged header over their stranded keeper and into the far side of the net.

Hall was deeply upset pre-match as he was selected to play in a position that requires some running. He felt that having to run whilst on tour would run the risk of spoiling the après-match celebrations. Nevertheless, he managed to play a commanding role in defensive midfield, ably assisted by the hard running Kinsey (who also managed to incapacitate one of their lads with one of his spirited tackles – seemingly concussing himself in the process).

Keeper Prescott suffered an untimely groin strain whilst striking one of his impressive long range goal kicks. He was particularly disappointed as he had plans for a trip away this coming weekend. For the purposes of writing this article I did ask around to find out what his plans were but nobody could remember – seems like he only mentioned it the once and quite quietly, almost in a whisper, as is his inimitable way.

Duffy, playing with aplomb as a Man City style centre back at full back had an unfortunate moment where he (in the view of the ref) appeared to clip the heels of the oppo forward, conceding a penalty in so doing. This was bad timing, as we were under a lot of pressure and we had a partially injured keeper. To the rescue came Duffy. He went in goal (gloveless) and not only saved the penalty but actually caught it – before launching a kick out of his hands upfield. By the time he took the kick Prescott was already stood behind him (in goal). It did look a little odd to the casual observer and, indeed, to the annoyance of the opposition.

Gendall was full of pace and power as usual and played a key role in supporting captain Mornington and also a rejuvenated Lewis, who made a substitute appearance which was full of skill and running, turning the opposition defence inside out.

On yet another run Drake was brought down outside the area. Up stepped Mornington to fire a lovely free kick into the far top corner of the net. A stunning strike and only his 427th shot of this particular match.

By this time Chester was doing the team a service by helping out and playing very well in goal – for the first time ever in a match. McGuckin had been substituted on and was playing with a serene composure in the centre of the park.

Injuries were mounting as the game finally reached its end – and we somehow got the win that our hard work perhaps deserved.

After that it was back to the bar for a drink with a very gracious opposition.

All in all a fantastic day out.

Ramble on.