Tempestuous stuff as we walked onto the pitch at the Royal Masonic School to take on Rickmansworth - the gale howling so strongly that the goal kept going walkabout.
And some tempestuous stuff once we got going. But we walked off at the final whistle with a hard earned, if a little combative, 1-1 draw.
Once Pete’s goal was safely buttressed with a few kit bags lodged in place, we were underway and - after a bright start - were under pressure from the quick running Ricky team. Our defence of Paul K, Nigel, Lawrence and Sal repelled a succession of short corners until we finally had some traction further up the pitch. The front line of Ben, Paul W and Josh - backed up by Ed and Alex - moved the ball around well and we at last secured a couple of shorts of our own.
On the second, Paul W cracked his shot to see it ping back off the right hand post. The defence statuesque, he launched himself towards the rebound, flicking it high into the net. That one was Paul’s ball, apparently.
Ricky responded positively and the lead did not last for long. A break down the right wing and Nigel turned his ankle. Our man floored, we were overrun for a moment and a flash of an (unseen) backstick brought things level at 1-1.
Nigel retreated to the ice pack and a nasty swollen ankle and Sal dropped into defence, Steve and Andy in midfield. We safely saw out the first half.
By this time, the patience of our umpires was wearing a little thin. Ricky closed us down quickly but, on occasion, the presence of the ball was a tackler’s distraction. Rather too much stick on stick - or in one (unwelcome) case, stick on cheekbone - kept the umpires busy. They cut an increasingly frustrated pair at times, not least since no one could hear a word through the gusts.
The second half, the wind behind us, was competitive stuff. Larry flung a number of excellent aerials over the top to Paul W, Ben and Josh and - with a white shirt at the back post - we might have nicked it. Ricky had their own chances, Pete palming away a strong effort from the top of the D late in the game - but Ed, Cap’n Redman and Alex were excellent in holding firm in midfield.
Hand shakes at the end - if not Masonic - and a well-earned draw. Fine performances all round told in a spread of man of the match votes. After the tabling of plates of chilli (no amendments), the award went to Josh on the first meaningful vote.
M3 line up: Pete, Paul K, Nigel, Lawrence, Steve, Sal, Andy, Ed, Ben, Alex, Josh, Paul W.