Blatantly currying favour by collecting the captain's shoes.
I come to write this some one hundred hours after the match itself. Given that I couldn't really remember what happened on Sunday evening when I first fired up the laptop, what follows is, by necessity, a touch meandering.
Ahhh…Tom Anns. A man that contains as much hockey player as an Aldi fishcake contains fish. Truly, he must be 95% potato.
Still. Like many, he benefited from the way that, having swept in from Rutland in the early 2010s, I revolutionised Cambridge South's M2s. The first problem was the betting ring, which I solved by promoting Colin Trollman to the 1s. Clearly though, my main issue was going to be the diet of the players. A full English breakfast to start the day, washed down with two John Smith's and a cig, was never going to cut it. 'Modern Life is Rubbish!' I heard Chris Walsh cry, as Jack Chalk quietly seethed in the corner, filled with simultaneous envy and respect for the way in which I could appear both youthfully urbane and gnomic-ly wise.
My approach was relentless:
Cones, cones and endless cones.
Perhaps a spot of limbering up?
Why not try a tomato?
The similarities with Arsene Wenger's career are not lost on me, I assure you.
The results were instantaneous, as we stormed to 6th place in EML Division 4(NW) at the end of the 2014/15 season in a blaze of free-flowing attacking hockey, defensive clangers and houmous.
The glory years followed, as we went on to secure top-four finishes in 2015/16 (4th) and 2016/17 (4th). Champions League hockey would have been ours, if only you could qualify for Europe by finishing in the top four of EML Division 4(NW).
Alas, an inevitable entropy has now struck. Arsene and I have been overtaken by hungry rivals, spunky with youth and zinging with fresh tactical ideas, whilst we struggle increasingly with our zip-up coats and look ever more like an owl. As pundits clamour for our removal, we hunker down into our own self-referential bunker. Why does he need Sol Campbell when he has Rob Holding? Why do I need Robert Pires when I have NBM? Meanwhile, former great hopes which had been eventually written off for good seem to flourish under new management (see Oxlade-Chamberlain under Klopp and Kern under…Kern).
Against this backdrop, Alford arrived in Cambridge.
Those in the cushioned seats at Long Road have grown accustomed to us starting in soporific fashion, but here we actually sprang from the blocks. No-one was more surprised than Max Holgate when he slipped home the opening goal.
The away side's blind turn-whacks were proving uncomfortably effective though and no-one was less surprised than absolutely everybody that has ever watched the M2s when the equaliser went it.
The second half followed precisely the same pattern, with the optimism of Chalk's rusty-bladed finish being almost immediately cancelled out in remarkably well-taken fashion.
As therein lies the M2s' season in a nutshell. Grimacing on, but all the while nursing the most awful hernia. Time and tide wait for no man.