County 6 Legends 0 ; Mike Flynn Testimonial Match 18 July 2014
For weeks there has been a growing sense of anticipation about the football match arranged to honour inspirational former Hatters captain Mike Flynn.
Last night the moment arrived and the event lived up to its billing at Edgeley Park, where a brilliant turn out enjoyed themselves enormously.
For once you got what you paid for in these affairs as the plethora of former heroes turned up in droves to pay tribute to Flynny , and stretch limbs that in some cases you felt had not seen such exercise for yonks!
The first team squad was on duty for County, but for the Legends there was Lee Jones in goal, and he looked every bit as good a keeper as he ever did! Fullbacks were Alli Gibb and Shane Nicholson, whilst Flynny took on the centre of defence with a trim looking Martin McIntosh. The midfield had true legend Chris Marsden running the show, and seemingly enjoying every minute, flanked by Paul Cook( who managed a shirt waving moment) and Kieron Durkan.
Up front Ian ....now Thomas Moore showed he still could do a thing or three, as did Stuart Barlow who I fancied to score at any moment due to a typically energetic showing.
Spearhead was the wonderful Luis Cavaco, who looked no older, or less fit than way back when. It was a joy to see all the players but a particular pleasure in Luis case- a fine/ fine player not blessed with the best of luck!
I could go on forever about the Legends......so I will.....there were decent run outs for Tony Dinning and Alun Armstrong, both of whom came on to terrifically rousing receptions.....Tony Barras( complete with new hip recently installed).....Lee Todd who was simply excellent – still getting well timed saving tackles in, in the 88th minute- top man! Little Willow played as did Andy Preece , Peter Ward, Rob Clare, Gaz Owen, Paul Jones , fans favourite Alan Finlay, and Andy Mutch, but the place erupted in a storm of sound when everyone`s favourite County player Kevin Francis came on.
To just make the journey from Calgary in Canada was great, but for him to turn out as well late on was simply too good for words.
So.......with so much football royalty about, it was tempting to think that the match was going to be an irrelevance, but this was simply never going to be the case. Everyone on board was determined the thing would fly and it did.
Martin Bellis ,doing P.A, flew higher than most with perhaps the most hyper performance with a mike since the heyday of The Who!
Before the off there was much to get through. SCAN presentations and one by the Supporters Cooperative of Life Membership to Mike Flynn and big Kev
.........Mike Flynn`s honour guard welcome........Kevin Cooper`s letter read out by Vernon......sorry Martin , which tugged at the heart strings big time . Then with the introduction of Jan Bergara it was time for a couple of Danny related chants /songs, and I must admit to fighting back a tear at this point, and another emotional moment came when Paul Ware`s daughters Laura and Amy were introduced in another moving tribute to their father.Add Flynny`s amazingly generous gift to County of 50% of receipts from the days proceedings, and anyone still in doubt now knew that this was indeed a very special skipper and an extra special Club!
The initial formalities over the game got underway rather later than expected and I was still busily trying to identify the players some 10 minutes after the names had been announced- the County regulars with their fresh tans and hair cuts being just as much a challenge in identification terms as the now older Legends, and the additional fact that three Legends wore number 8 , two wore 7 and 4 rather added to my difficulty.
No matter ...it was soon clear that AL had told his players to treat the game with all seriousness – evidence a thumping great drive from Chris Sharp that thudded into a post before coming out to safety. County kept pressing and 13 minutes in it was 1-0 to the current team when Scott Spencer drilled a fine strike in from outside the box.
It was 20 minutes in before a response of note came from the Legends and it came via Stuart Barlow down the left, but Hurst kept the cross from Cavaco, which I must admit disappointed me!
Barlow was looking in good nick, and Paul Cook tried his best to emulate him, but he failed to test the keeper with his effort, whereupon he acknowledge the crowds sympathetic cheer by whipping off his shirt , doing his “ go on then book me” bit! Great stuff!
The applause from that last action had hardly died down when the ball was at the other end and the County lead was doubled when Kristian Dennis , found himself well clear , and slotted the ball home.
Nathan Woolfe was looking in good trim again at this point, confirming the favourable impression he has made on me so far, but his shot on 25 minutes went just wide.
This set the Legends off, but Ian Thomas-Moore rather spoiled a neat bit of approach play by him, by firing his shot wide when well placed. Then a peach of a ball from Marsden saw Stuart Barlow scurrying clear, and likely to score, but with the crowd willing the scouser to rattle the ball in the net, the main stand liner ruined the occasion with a ridiculous offside flag. What a complete ########( insert expletive to taste).
Tony Dinning came on at this point to a terrific reception, and the Legends push for an opener continued, but was foiled by Hurst who robbed Luis Cavaco at the last gasp on the charge!
Alun Armstrong meanwhile was warming up and treated to another roof raiser from the EP faithful, as a Kieron Durcan free kick pressurised County ,and a Barlow effort just missed out at the back post!
|Martin Mc Intosh goes close!|
|Luis and Stuart Barlow late in first half.|
With half time nearing, Lee Jones was called on to make two really good saves to keep it at 2-0, the second from Dennis being excellent, but despite the arrival of Alun Armstrong ( for Kieron Durkan) it was soon 3-0 as a free kick teed Dennis up to rifle home a beast of a shot!
Final minutes of the half saw Martin McIntosh go close with a shot.......Lee Jones tip a great try by Woolfe over the bar.........Tony D drill a free kick inches wide, and Tony Barras ( complete with new hip) replace Mike Flynn ,who went off to a rousing ovation!
That had been a decent half, and with Lee Todd, Little Willow, Andy Preece, Rob Clare, Gaz Owen and Peter Ward on for the Legends things looked set for another interesting 45 minutes.
Lee Todd was a revelation....his tackling being as sharp as ever- if his son is half as good he will definitely do us!
Straight off Toddy got a saver in.....then...as the pressure mounted so did Tony Barras heading a goal bound screamer from Jordan Lazenbury out off the line!
Churchman and Dennis went close a time or two after this as with pressure mounting Alan Finlay came on for Tony B.
That was the hour mark reached and passed, and shortly after it was 4-0 when a cross from the left found Lazenbury in space and he buried a shot way beyond the keepers attempts to save!
This served to bouy new signing Lazenbury, who had a couple more efforts on goal to his credit shortly after, but the attention of the crowd rapidly switched elsewhere as true legend Kevin Francis came on.
If the place had a roof......it already would have been off and somewhere south along the A6 at this point....it was loud believe me!
Almost inevitably though, with legendary legs tiring and County still determined to treat it seriously, it went 5-0 when a fine drive from Churchman beat the keeper.
Andy Mutch came on late on, but still the pressure was on the Legends who thankfully had Lee Todd in continued good nick still dishing out the saving tackles! A flood of thoughts from yesteryear invaded my consciousness at this point, only to be interrupted by a shot from Sharp that the keeper pushed over at the last gasp. Then it was 6-0 as another Sharp effort, parried by the keeper, went to Lazenbury, who buried his second in a trice.
Paul Jones saw a worthy effort climb over the bar late on, and Toddy , to no one`s surprise was still tackling as true and as hard as ever in the dying moments.
We just needed the Legends to score one, but with the liners taking matters as seriously as if it were a Champions League affair, this happy turn of events never materialised.
Still.....it was a great event and a worthy way to honour a fine skipper from our former great days.
The evening ended with some time spent in the Insider Suite where more SCAN presentations were made.
I am sure there was more that happened later, but just after 11 I was ready to go and did, but the whole day had been a cracker for me, and even though the early morning rain of Saturday did away with any dust still about, nothing could ever diminish or rob me of the memories, which were brilliantly re-kindled last night, and that I will keep with me until I pop!
This is my best effort at the team line ups:-
Hurst, Lees, Duxbury,Moses, Gregson, O`Halloran, Sharp, McKenna, Spencer, Dennis, Woolfe.
Substitutes; Ormson, Fagbola, Lofthouse, Churchman, Lazenbury, Murray, Barraclough.
L Jones, Gibb, Nicholson, Cook, Flynn, McIntosh, Marsden, Durkan, Cavaco, Barlow, Thomas-Moore.
Dinning, Armstrong, Barras, L Todd, P Williams, Preece, Clare, Ward, Owen,Mutch, P Jones, Francis , Finlay.
|Flynny`s honour guard.|
|County players & staff pre start.|
|Didn`t the old scoreboard look ace- well done Ralph!|