fisher for compliments

 
 
 

Fisher Athletic  1   Tottenham Hotspur XI  3   (Half-time score : 1-1)

Friendly
Venue : -  Champions Hill, Dulwich Hamlet FC
Tuesday 1st August 2006
Kick Off :  7.30 p.m.
Crowd :   ,
Referee :  - (-)
Weather :  -
Teams : - 
Fisher Athletic :

Pullen

Hearn (L Piper 87)
Hocking (Clancy 69)
Lorraine
Deen (Ball 87)

Scannell
Riviere
Kitamirike
Robinson

Griffiths
Watts (Healy 79)

Unused subs: 
Davis
Nicholls
C Piper

Tottenham Hotspur :

Forecast

Ifil
C Lee
Gardner (Defendi 74)

Daniels

Lewis
Jenas (Njie 61)
O'Hara
Ziegler (Maghoma 46)

Barcham
Dawkins

Unused subs: 
Button
Mills
Riley

Colours : -  
Fisher Athletic

  Tottenham Hotspur
Scorers : -  
Fisher Athletic

Griffiths 13

 Tottenham Hotspur

O'Hara 9
Barcham 74
Barcham 78

Cards : -  
Fisher Athletic  

       

    

Tottenham Hotspur 

       

     

Match Report : -  

I don’t do friendlies – the club get enough of my money as it is and I object to paying through the nose for the privilege of watching a practice match.  But it’s almost three whole months without a lilywhite fix and the anticipation of a new season is building up a head of steam inside my scrambled brain. Nothing if not inconsistent, the Spurs XI fixture against Fisher Athletic was too good to miss. 

Fisher are my non-league team for reasons obvious to those of you with surnames such as Kilmarnock, Dunfermline and Yeovil.  It’s a narrow, sad universe I inhabit, but, hey, it’s mine and I like it here.  They were also for many years the team closest to my then home in south-east London, their compact little ground tucked hidden away in the depths of Bermondsey.

The attraction of the lower leagues lies in the close connection between the fan and the club, rather the football itself, much of which is enthusiastic but frankly dire.  Games are an occasion for socialising, with a beer in the bar, which in non-league grounds often overlooks the pitch, and players chat to spectators before and during the match.  A far cry this from our relationship with the premiership demi-gods.  We fans feel we are an intrinsic part of the football experience but in reality premiership clubs make strenuous efforts to keep us at arms length.  

This proximity provides enormous entertainment value.  The first time I went to Fisher they were roundly abused for the opening fifteen minutes from the back of the small main stand.  When I turned round to identify the culprit, I discovered it was in fact their then manager, the former Millwall centre half Keith ‘Rhino’ Stevens.  Those new fangled management and motivation courses were not his style.  This onslaught was however nothing in comparison with the language dished out by the players towards the referee during the entire game.  Hugely amusing to fans, why anyone wants to take that every Saturday afternoon is beyond me.  They must genuinely love the game.  

Sometimes this intimacy between crowd and players becomes too close for comfort.  A couple of years ago the Fisher full-back exorcised his frustrations at a 3-0 defeat by scything down his opposite number in the closing minutes.  The winger lay still amongst a cluster of concerned team-mates and the ref blew early to end the game.  Exiting Fisher fans felt compelled to share their doubts about the voracity of the injury in the strongest possible terms, with the result that the opposition players waded in to sort them out.  Now that’s what I call value for my fiver’s admission.  

Fisher are on the up now, having been promoted into the Conference South under the guidance of their new manager, Justin Edinburgh, whose links to Spurs were celebrated in the programme by a few blurry photos of his finest hour in our colours, namely his sending off in the League Cup Final against Leicester.  The game represented a useful test for the Spurs XI, which comprised mostly young reserves plus a few of the first team squad who are working their way back towards match fitness, notably Jenas, Gardner and Zeigler.  Fisher play very much in Edinburgh’s image, hard working and energetic without too much finesse.  

Spurs started brightly, moving the ball round well and creating space.  O’Hara opened the scoring after eight minutes with an excellent goal, driving through from midfield and holding off a number of challenges before curling the ball into the top corner.  His league experience on loan last year was evident in a strong first half performance.  Like Ifil and Defendi, he has something to prove this year as a young fringe player, who must have the confidence of the management in that they have returned from loan spells with new contracts and for O’Hara and Ifil a squad number.  

We continued to look the better team even though Fisher equalised with a cross that neither defence nor goalkeeper dealt with and it drifted apologetically into the net.  Jenas seems to just enjoy running, assiduously polishing his timing with a series of runs in the box from deep, but crosses failed to find him, and in general the busyness of players like Barcham did not translate into a quality final ball.  Ziegler was frankly dreadful, with even his own captain telling him to hold onto the ball  - “eight times Reto, eight times” was the count of him giving the ball away and the first half was nowhere near over. 

He was replaced at half time by Maghoma, about whom I know absolutely nothing.  He was our best player in the second half, skilful and poised on the left of our 4-3-3, using the ball intelligently.  Just as the game was drawing to a close, Barcham moved to a more central area and took two similar chances in quick succession, stroking the ball past the keeper.  One was set up by Maghoma.  Defendi replaced Gardner for the last 15 minutes. 

It’s tempting to extract pointers for the season.  Ziegler was poor and Gardner was scarily unsettled by strikers who play in a league five tiers below the Premiership.  Maybe 4-3-3 will be adopted throughout the club – we certainly have the squad to put this into practice.  Spurs' best player was captain Charlie Lee at centre half, but I’m not sure on this showing that he’s ready for the first team and the same can be said for other hopefuls like O’Hara and Ifil.  Lewis did a solid job in front of the back four and it will be interesting to see if Defendi is ready to step up after a year in Italy.  

In the end, though, such speculation is unfair.  It was after all just a pre-season friendly, although both teams took it seriously.  Clive Allen was warned by the referee for comments he made to a linesman after a dreadful tackle on Daniels, whilst last week Edinburgh kept his team locked in the dressing room for three hours after another friendly because they were not trying hard enough.  

It was a pleasant, comfortable evening.  Park ten yards from the ground, sit where you like and the players happily signed autographs and posed for photos, Jenas being commendably generous with his time and attention.  Just before the game, I glanced sideways and saw a bear of a man, tanned, relaxed, a little slimmer perhaps, smiling as the team took the field.  Unnoticed at this point by the crowd, I nudged my son and after a moment’s hesitation in the presence of greatness, he slid along and Marin Jol happily signed the programme and warmly shook his hand.  Like I said, non-league is different.  

 ALAN FISHER

 

 

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