VETS CHAMPIONS ! !
Jets Vets 2
West Herts Division 1
6th May 2017
Sixteen years ago, on Oxhey playing fields, Colin Jenkins skippered Oxhey Jets to what was the start of a whirlwind period that would see them climb up the FA ladder through four FA steps to the Spartan Premier Division.
Today the same skipper with six of the same players in the squad went back to the same venue to clinch the West Herts Division One Championship crown against all the odds as “vets” and being made to play just 40 hours after their draining Cup final defeat.
Gary Page (all time Jets leading goal scorer), Ian Holdom (no2 on that list), Colin Jenkins (who took over second place in the all-time appearances list topping Benny Higham’s 755), Gary Quinnell and the much younger Marc Ayres and Wayne Gladdy all took part in the original and today’s Championship victory.
Today’s ages added up to 685 years and the appearances 6546 matches, will we ever find another group of lads as committed and loyal as these, the heartbeat of the club, and let’s not forget boss Tony Marren and assistant Mark Simmonds along with the whole squad who although not in the first championship side do clock up hundreds of those appearances as well.
The match was winner takes all, the winner on the day would be deserved champions as the two ran neck and neck all season, Jets losing to their opponents earlier in the season, but a morale-boosting win at their pad in the cup semi-final gave Marren’s old crocks hope and belief.
They hurt and their legs hurt badly after Thursday’s defeat and Wayne Gladdy emerged looking like an advert for the tape company, saying he’d spent his rent on the stuff to get through another game!
Jets chose the smaller pitch and it helped peg back the much younger Engineers but it took two superb saves by Steve Duce to keep Jets level and in contention as the visitors attacked Jets at speed to break down some that were old enough to be their dads.
Jets stabilised and a looper hit the post as Jets retaliated and then the Engineers thought they had the breakthrough, but it was rightly ruled out for a foul on Duce by the no-nonsense referee Tony Hobbs who was well in charge of the match for the whole game.
Half time 0-0 and Jets superior goal difference had the edge on the title.
The edge went fast as just minutes into the second half Engineers broke and Jets appeals for offside were ignored, then the pinpoint cross was excellently executed into the net past the diving Duce.
Even the Jets supporters feared the worst now and for ten minutes Jets struggled, then the wise use of the FA roll-on roll-off that without a doubt keeps these lads playing was to swing the game.
Antony Shepherd came on and was strong and an immediate threat. Some superb refereeing first trying the advantage, then pulling it back gave Jets a free-kick but a good 25 yards out. It was a strum and a half by Sheppy that as the photo shows had everyone looking back as it hammered into the top of the net and Jets were back in it.
Kick-off and the ball back, Gavin Hart chased the lost cause and a mix up let him toe-poke it past the keeper and the defenders hopeless chase saw them in the back of the net and Jets had their noses in front, a minute swung the game from one down to 2-1 up and they had the draw in their favour so Engineers needed two goals.
Old tired legs, no none of it now. They burst into life like creaky teenagers and worked and ran and chased and saw out the last half hour to be crowned league champions. I saw kids that were not born, or even thought of when dad won the first title, running onto the pitch to their Dads in joy at the victory, true tearful stuff for me watching on for sure.
So from the young Wiggy at 30 to the Tony Marren at …. well older, they all did their bit and how proud the club is of these loyal and committed lads to men.
Man of the match was hard but it went to the old fox, the midfield maestro Ian Holdom, joint with the skilful Gavin Hart, who made Colin Jenkins, without doubt, the most successful skipper in this club ever as yet another trophy was handed to the gentleman with the armband respected by players, officials and all in the game, this lad is a one off for sure to Jets.
So praise galore and fully deserved as we say for the first time for a while now, “We ARE the Champions!”
Jets Show Future Promise in Finale
Oxhey Jets 2
Spartan South Midlands Premier
29th April 2017
Jets landed for the summer completing their league programme at Mickey Hazard’s in form Hadley, playing Jets for the first time at their own home having been able to get the work and permission done for the deserved return home for the first time since the clubs Herts county league games.
Jets suffered the almost normal withdrawals from people but Jets are growing again now and it was time and place for Wazza’s kids to earn their spurs and show how far and well they have progressed under Wazza’s excellent coaching.
Four of the pups stepped up today and Jets and Hadley both safe seemed to forget there was nothing at stake except pride and they both went for the victory.
Jets set up a tighter rear guard to help protect young Billy Hayward on his debut in goal and Jack Robertson was a man mountain in the back four while Liam James mopped up the through balls.
Jets, skippered by Scott Pugsley, wanted to contest every ball and throw-in as the loyal skipper gives his all for his club, and it’s clear the blue heart runs deep, the type of commitment that is fundamental to the club.
Jets lost John Smith following a reckless challenge early on and without the screams, rolls, and howls the skilful midfielder was lost to the hip injury. On came another Warren Production, Dylan Eady, and wow, what a skilful performance the blossoming youngster put on for a first team debut.
Hadley had a goal ruled out, no dispute there as way offside, then went mad when Hayward and their forward had a coming together screaming for the penalty, while Jets were equally screaming for the foul on the keeper but either way it stayed 0-0 until David Martinez opened the scoring, poking the ball past Hayward for the lead and it stayed like that till the break.
The big game changer was tactical as Chris Blunden had little support in the first half. Chris, along with John Smith, has been a big part of Jets changed fortunes as the pair, along with the team, suffered just one league defeat in the final eight games, and that was over the Easter weekend when almost the whole lot flew to the Malta bop !
Sim Armstrong was pushed up to twin with the lonely striker and Jets were far more dangerous and attack minded and went at Hadley in a far more meaningful way.
Jets levelled when Chris Blunden swivelled and shot and it shook Hadley and a second by the striker, his third in two games earned the points.
Jets had their scares and three stunning saves by young Billy Hayward kept the home side at bay and gave Jets the perfect summer ending to the league campaign. It’s always good to get that last day win.
Man of the match was left to the three hecklers and they proved not to be the muppet show with the excellent decision to give the Carlsberg present ( but not the beer I’m afraid pup) to Billy Hayward on his debut, just from Dylan Eady on his !! What a credit to Warren his four were today.
So the season ends for much-changed Jets, at times a struggle and at times fun and promising, some new friends made and unfortunately some good friends lost, but that’s life in sport and football.
Big thanks to Leigh Stevens in his last game for us before going back to Bournemouth University. A most competitive and lively player willing to support everyone, a real workaholic on the pitch … good luck, thank you and come back soon!
A safe mid-table position would have been the early aim for Lee Stedman and his staff at the start, but they also know that with just a little more commitment and the availability needed at Saturday SSMP and above level they really could have achieved more, much more but for various reasons some just would not commit enough to that high match play season that Saturday leagues bring. Hopefully, the climb and improvements will show people what is possible as a starting point.
Reserve / Dev league
The season finished Sadly at Risborough Rangers when a very serious injury to a home player led to the game being abandoned just before half time.
The emergency services response was far from fast and the referee called a halt as the player could not be moved. The home side led 1-0 and Jets, whatever the committee’s decision with either 0-0 or the 1-0 will not be contesting to replay the game out of total respect for the lad and club.
So just two matches left in the senior part of the club, both West Herts games, on Thursday our vets play in the cup final at Hemel Hempstead FC in a 7-30 kick-off in the Webster Cup Final, then they must play Engineers in the final league match in a winner takes all game for the league title probably just two days later after three weeks off, which is just madness.