Champione, Champione, ole, ole, ole!

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Solent League Champions… unbelievable performance

On Sunday 25th November, just a week after qualifying by coming second in our Autumn Festival, the Many Shades were playing in the Solent League Finals.  With such difficult opposition as Eastleigh Dambusters and last week’s winners Gosport Neanderthals we knew we would be in for a tough afternoon.  Let the match report of our first match against Knightwood commence….

Goal!  Robbing Knightwood straight from their kick-off, swift interplay between James McIlwaine and Pete Brown saw Pete slot home within ten seconds.  What a start!  It got better as well, as Pete added a second before we wrapped it up with a third from Mark Hughes in the second half. In what had been expected to be a tough opener we had exceeded those expectations to win 3-0.

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Ian ensures he keeps one foot on the ground at all times

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Mark teasing the Knightwood defenders

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Jeff on target but thwarted by the Knightwood keeper

Next up we were faced by our old old nemesis Eastleigh Dambusters.  We hit the post.  Eastleigh hit the post.  Then we scored through a  sublime Mark Hughes finish, and nearly added a second. But Eastleigh battled back, pinning us in our own half for long periods, until eventually they found enough of a gap to equalise.  So it finished 1-1, the first time we had ever not lost to them!

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None shall pass – Barry holds firm in defence

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Dave, Mark and Jeff lay siege to the Eastleigh goal

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More solid defending required – this time from Chris

Next up were Southampton Strollers, and this was an equally even match.  But in one of those moments that hints that it might be your day after all, a speculative long shot from Pete Brown wriggled past the floundering ‘keeper for the only goal of the game.  The Special One has said it often enough, if you don’t buy a ticket you don’t win a raffle.

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James keeps a close eye on the Southampton midfield dynamo

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Barry about to get a nosebleed as he crosses the halfway line

Next we faced Bognor Regis Boulders, and quickly got ourselves in front through a good Mark Hughes finish.  Mark got a second before half-time, and then completed his hat-trick shortly after the break.  After Mark had set up James McIlwaine for a neat tap-in we substituted him for being silly and assisting James.  Substitute Pete Brown capitalised on the opportunity by grabbing a pair of goals for himself, wrapping up a comprehensive 6-0 win.

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Mark opens the scoring – probably

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Ian keeping warm and keeping Bognor at bay

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Pete rounds the Bognor keeper to grab his second – probably

Although the league table showed that we were uncatchable at the top with one game to play, we didn’t want to give anything away, and were keen to gain revenge over Gosport Neanderthals for the defeat they inflicted on us the previous week.  Once we had drawn their early sting, we battered the Gosport goal, with their ‘keeper playing an absolute blinder to keep Mark, Jeff, Pete, and James at bay.  As the final whistles went on the other pitches, our ref kept us going, and it was deep into Fergie Time that Pete Brown finally managed to score from a narrow angle to give us a 1-0 win.  It was tough on Gosport who had played well, but it book-ended the tournament nicely for us, scoring in the very first moments of our opening game and again in the last moments of our final game.

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Chris gets friendly

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Dave upsetting the referee about something or other

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A deft flick by the Gosport striker is closely watched by Pete and Chris

The Many Shades of Grey squad was: John Kennett (g), Ian Warren, Chris Poirrier, Barry Ingram, Dave Hall, Jeff Pickering, Mark Hughes (5 goals), James McIlwaine (1), and Pete Brown (6).  Stew Russell once again shouted at them a lot and made some inspired substitutions.

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Back l-r : John the Hat (Choirmaster of the Many Shades’ Ultras), Jeff, John, Chris, Stew (manager), Ian; Front l-r : Barry, Dave, James, Mark, Pete.

Many thanks to those Many Shades of Supporters who came along and braved a bitter wind to cheer the lads on (and hurl appropriate derision as required).

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James keeps a tight hold on the silverware

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Mark and Pete remain modest about their goal scoring achievements

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We all wish James well with his forthcoming operation to have the trophy removed from his grasp

As ever Geoff Maunder has compiled an album of photos from the day at