Champions in crisis
Grafton 4 PFFC 2
(In place of a match report, here are e-mails sent by the Acting Gaffer and Absent Gaffer after this defeat.)
The unbeaten run is over.
Creaking under the strain of 10 absences, a makeshift PF team were beaten in a 10-a-side game on a tiny junior-size pitch in muddy, blustery, distant Dulwich.
We only managed to get 11 out thanks to the very late introduction of three new faces: Kieran Alger, Paul Gibbins and Jim Boyle (who got the call at 10:50 on Sunday morning). Resources were stretched even further when Rob limped off after 15 minutes with a torn calf muscle. First Ian, then Joe, filled in between the posts. We went 2-0 up with goals either side of half-time. First, a beautiful volley from Kier that curled into the roof of the net. Then Kieran struck an unstoppable drive from outside the box. That was as good as things got and things began to unravel. Two identical headed goals by Grafton within the space of three minutes lead to PFFC falling apart and conceding two more sloppy goals in quick succession.
There was no lack of effort, but with a makeshift side and people playing in unfamiliar positions, it was unsurprising that when we were on the back foot we didn't have the cohesion we've worked so hard to build up over the last two years.
So, first of all many thanks to Kieran, Paul and Jim for playing at such short notice. Finally, we can still retain our title but will have to win every remaining game to do so.
Yesterday was waiting to happen. All season we have had trouble getting a team out. In previous years we always have 3 or 4 unavailable for every game; this has now become 7-10, which sooner or later was going to bring problems, and yesterday’s defeat against a team we normally beat was the result. We have to ask why we need a squad that is twice as large as any other team in the league, and bigger than most in the premiership. Too much of a burden has been put on too few and people who were there yesterday obviously did their best. We have always accommodated people’s needs - work, family, culture, religion etc. - and have changed kick-offs accordingly. It has now gone too far the other way in my view. We need more commitment from the squad as a whole.
We still have an excellent chance of winning this league if we win our remaining matches. In order to do it we need to have 14 players at EVERY match. We will bring in a couple more new faces to go with yesterday’s debutants. But we also need more from the squad. Remember; we are the champions and we are defending our title. We now need to regroup and stand together more and fight for the cause. OK