Lauder: No-one knows what’s in his system after his urine melted the sample jar.

A decade on from my Albion debut, there are only two sides still plying their trade in our league. Brixton Town, currently languishing in the depths of division 3 and Westminster Wanderers. So I like to think of Albion vs Westminster Wanderers as the el Classico of the Southern Sunday League. A footballing fixture steeped in history and tradition, so old even Steve wasn’t alive when the two teams first locked horns.

I was late, so I missed the usual changing room bollocks. No doubt this included Stew sweating nervously as to whether he was going to become embroiled in the Lance Armstrong doping scandal, some sort of surreal monologue from Jade, complaints about the socks, and lengthy questioning about who exactly has got spare tape.

I did, however, arrive in time for the gaffer’s lecture on the need to include jokes in the match report. I can’t say I paid much attention, at least not until someone asked who was writing up this week’s match, “I think it’s Will” someone replied. Ballbag.

At the last minute Jade tucked away his dog-eared copy of the Karma Sutra and opted for the good old fashioned missionary position 4-4-2. Line-up: Blanes, Dunc, Barns, Lance, Slater at the back. TheDonfather, Buff Ralph (Dave role), Matt and Evans in midfield. Ben Button and Johnny up top, with Will C and Dan on the Judi Dench.

Keeping the gaffer company on the touchline was Dave ‘Dave role’ McPhee who’d come down to see how the latest incumbent in his specialist non-running, one footed midfield role was faring.

McPhee: Arguably got up and down the pitch more as a spectator than he ever did when playing

The game started strangely. Strange in the sense that I thought we looked alright for the first 10 minutes. But then our level deteriorated and it quickly became apparent that the biggest joke in the match report was going to be the description of our defending.

Headers, tackles and clearances were all missed and simple passes played were hopelessly astray. Having said that, we weren’t exactly covering ourselves in glory in other parts of the pitch.

Despite this we still carved out a couple of chances. Had we got a goal we might have settled down, unfortunately, the opening goal went to Westminster. Can’t remember much about it, but it was probably soft. 1-0.

We did manage to get back into the game. Someone stuck a ball in from the right. Johnny was underneath it and went for an overhead kick just as the Westminster centre back came in for the ball – causing Johnny to fall and miss the ball as he fell in a heap on the floor.

The cry went up – penalty ref! After a tantalising delay, the ref pointed to the spot. Westminster were livid. Back in the day, this sort of challenge was euphemistically called “doing enough”. Unfortunately in the ‘modern game’ such black arts are no longer allowed. Rather like coloured boots, under-armour, protein shakes, tiger balm, gloves, tights and dynamic warm ups that’s just something you have to accept these days. And anyway, I spoke to Nick Evans and he’d said he’d definitely seen them given, so a penalty it was. Johnny despatched the kick and it was all-square, 1-1.

Now was the moment when we really should have knuckled down and got ourselves into the game. Instead we decided to let in a few more soft goals, including a Peter Tatchell penalty. In other words – Stonewall. I went to speak to Nick. He didn’t say anything and just shook his head. I could tell from the look in his eyes that this was a man who had definitely seen penalties like that given.

Half-time. And world famous Albion were on the wrong end of a 4-1 scoreline. There was a good a chat amongst ourselves about what we needed to do second half. A few instructions from the gaffer and Stew and it was back out for the second half.

Evans: Has seen every conceivably penalty given.

Things immediately looked better. We got to grips with Westminster in midfield and promptly took over the game. Steve and Johnny were hustling their back four and we were winning the ball back cheaply, whilst our defence were keeping Wanderers quiet up top.

Then a tactical substitution. The gaffer clearly feeling my talents would be better employed in the crucial linesman role brought on Will C in centre mid. Matt moved out left, Evans to the right, with the Donfather dropping into full back. I picked up the flag, I was ready to get Albion back into game.

Our improved showing was rewarded with a goal. Or at least Matt rewarded us with a goal, as it was mostly his own work. With my flag ready to signal for infringements, Matt slalomed down the left cut inside onto his right foot and took a shot. I don’t know where the keeper was positioned, as despite diving to his right, the ball seemed to go in the centre of the goal. Bizarre. Anyway, 4-2 and game on.

Now it was all Albion. We were having to work hard for it, but galvanised by our dominance, we continued to press. We desperately needed the third goal though, but the damn goal wouldn’t come. A ridiculous goal mouth scramble saw two point blank shots blocked, a ricochet off the post, before a final shot was blasted wide. It seemed to signal this wasn’t going to be our day. But we kept pushing.

Westminster started to come back into the half and we got away with a few chances at the other end. Towards the end Johnny pulled up with a hamstring so Dan came on right wing with Nick moving up front.

With a minute or two to go, Nick hit our third, lacing one in and over the keeper from 25 yards. The ball clearly went into the goal, but flew through a hole in the back of the net. There was a horrible, confused moment, where it wasn’t clear whether the ref had seen what’d happened. Fortunately, the goal was given and that was it for the game. Final score 4-3.


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