The Barton Story
By Tom McLean
Points Mean Pints
In sport, there are always stars. Charismatic. Talismanic. Enigmatic.
Think of Bryant & Jordan. Ali & Fraser. Pelé & Maradonna. Lomu & Habana. van Barneveld & Taylor. The list goes on. Heroes forged through unforgettable performances that have shaken the sporting world to its very core.
Little did Woking know on Saturday morning as they travelled to a small corner of South London that a new name would be added to that list.
After the Boys in Blue’s big win against Horsham last week, optimism was rife throughout the side.
The return of William Manawanadingdong and Stefan Von Trapp only furthered Woking’s belief that they could do the unthinkable and win back-to-back matches.
After the bizarre experience of having Coach Kochar deliver his pre-match instructions in a classroom, Woking started the blustery encounter on the back foot, with London Academicals forcing the away side deep into their own half. The Goldsworth Park boys, however, are no longer the pushovers that they perhaps were earlier in the season, and the impenetrable combo of Andrew “Eyebrow Idiot #1” Barton and Robbie “Eyebrow Idiot #2” Faulkner remained unflustered.
The tide began to turn slightly as Woking began to find their feet. Some controlled possession allowed them to move further forward and offer “Insufferable” Andrew Pike a first shot in anger on his reverse which was comfortably saved or went over… (Seriously, hockey matches are so long.)
The deadlock was broken after 19minutes, however, when unflappable care bear Max Deeley’s intial penalty corner save wasn’t enough as Accies’ calmly placed in the rebound through Joe Melley.
This would have been a problem for the old Woking. Imminent collapse and a bad defeat would almost be certain, but now they are fighters; modern day warriors in an avalanche of spineless snowflakes.
Kat Deeley kept his defence mean and lean and clean, handing out crystal clear instructions and stepping up when needed. When he was rounded by a London’s sides attack somewhere near the halfway line, Dr Michael Emes was there to make a vital, crunching last ditch tackle.
That moment seemed to flood Woking with the adrenaline that had thus far been missing, and it was all them for the rest of the half.
Stefan ter Stegen went close with a well saved effort from the top of the D, before an equaliser was disallowed after Insufferable Pike crossed for his brother-in-law and known friend of James Coney, Dr Emes, to deflect in. Alas, the umpire adjudged Pike’s cross to be dangerous and it remained 1-0 at half time. Sometimes, umpires are wrong.
Disappointed to be losing, but encouraged by the final phases of play, Woking renewed belief with a rousing speech from Captain McLean and a few adjustments from Kochar.
In truth, the second half was a tight, scrappy and cagey affair. An early yellow card for Academicals saw Woking take a grip on possession, but few chances were created with the approach perhaps being too direct.
In turn, Tom “KFC” LEggé also received a momentary sit-down for a violent assault on the opposition with his left nostril, but Woking held out through determined defensive work.
An opportunity did arise for the Londoners to seal it from the spot, when Mani Kochar was blown up for his friendly attempt at GBH. Woking didn’t need to worry, as the ball was so scared of Max “Wilkinson Sword” Deeley that it rolled harmlessly wide from the stroke.
With a quarter of the game remaining, Woking started turning the screw. Pheven Wilkman, clearly frustrated with Woking’s long ball tactics, went on a one-man wander from a side-line hit. Using his devastating pace, he fooled exactly no defenders before running off the very same sideline 4 yards further up field. A real maverick of the sport, that one.
With time running out rapidly, space and time suddenly stopped. The angels in the heavens above put down their harps to gaze over the City of London Academy’s astro, whilst the demons in the depths of hell began wrapping up warm, for it had started to freeze.
A sideline ball deep in the home side’s territory was passed back to Barton in space, who used the clever lead of Kochar to find Scotsman Valentino Pollock in space. Unfortunately, due to this reporter then making a devastating lead into the D, I’m not sure what actually happened, but when I turned round Will Wanamanabingbong was plodding towards goal.
Barton, fully 75 yards out of position, looked up and met Mainwaring’s gaze. Just for a moment, all was right in the universe. Trees were green. Roses were red. Skies were Blue and clouds were white. And I thought to myself, what a wonderful world.
Anyway, Mainwaring ruined the moment by smashing the ball into the D, despite Kochar time and time again telling Woking to be patient. Honestly, some people?!
Fortunately, Barton – known for being shy and humble; a passionate philanthropist and keen researcher into how alcohol effects people with only one kidney - saved his friend from a certain drop to the 2s by expertly deflecting the shot into the bottom corner.
Barton has played for every team in the Men’s section over the past 6 years – including the Pitts, such was the difficulty of his paper round – and had never scored. In the blink of an eye, however, he now finds himself just 279 goals short of legendary onion-bagger Andy “You have to go down on the South League website as Andrew, Barts, because otherwise it gets confusing” Pike’s record.
There was still time for the home side to hit back, but school friend of Jesus of Nazareth, Jamie Hutchin, was on hand to provide a dramatic goal-line clearance – using his zimmer frame to good use.
The emotional celebrations were a bit screamy, disorganised and snotty, but the meaning of that goal could yet prove more important than cementing Barton’s place as a national treasure. It gives the Boys in Blue a chance to catch up Slough in next week’s showdown and potentially avoid the wooden spoon.
After the game, Man of the Match, Dick of the Day and future Knighthood recipient Andrew Barton said, “When the seagulls follow the trawler, it's because they think sardines will be thrown into the sea.”
Centre-back partner Robbie “Sambucca” Faulkner then said, “Barts has been my hero since I started playing the men’s section. To be there when he scored his first goal was amazing, so much so that when I remembered it 24 hours later I nearly passed out in his kitchen.”
Moore & Hurst. Wilkinson & Johnson. Richardson-Walsh & Richardson-Walsh. Trescothick & Vaughan. Best & Beer.