Happy Days for Wheeler

Sam Wheeler complete with odd socks and sideburns. Picture: Mick Young
Sam Wheeler complete with odd socks and sideburns. Picture: Mick Young
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It was Happy Days for Carlton Palmeras as they beat The Swan 3-0.

And in keeping with the aptly-named 1970s TV show, Palmeras’ own modern-day version of The Fonz proved the hero of the hour.

Those familiar with Happy Days will know that The Fonz, played by Henry Winkler, was quite simply the coolest guy around.

He could fix the jukebox with a tap of his fist and get a girl just by sticking two thumps up and saying ‘Aaay’.

Nowadays, though, the collared leather jacket and motorbike combination, in tandem with some killer sideburns, isn’t exactly in vogue.

Yet Sam Wheeler, of Havant League division two side Carlton Palmeras, is bringing the styles of Arthur ‘The Fonz’ Fonzarelli back.

And what better place to showcase them than in the Havant Junior Cup semi-final against The Swan, who are fighting for survival in the same league?

Carlton manager Ted Sillence has christened his star-man Wheeler as a ‘70s throw-back’.

Wheeler started left-midfield, sporting some remarkable mutton chops, jet black hair and odd socks.

The makeshift winger is a keeper by trade, though, and just as The Fonz was often the hero, Wheeler came to his side’s rescue in this tie.

With Palmeras 1-0 up thanks to an Alex Bates free-kick, keeper Nobby Norris saw red for bringing down Swan striker Stuart Maneely as the forward went through on goal.

Down to 10 men and on the rocks, Wheeler took his place between the sticks and helped his team to a 3-0 win.

As Sillence explained, though, Carlton have a few more personalities than just their side-burned shot-stopper.

‘We’ve got some good characters at the club,’ said Sillence.

‘Of course there is Wheeler but we’ve got a lot of great lads.

Darren Kelly at the back loves his hair dye, he sports a new colour every week. Our winger Chris Beaman is called ‘Dresser’ because he is a hairdresser in the week and an injury-prone midfielder at the weekend. Plus, in the centre we have Batesy, who looks like Robocop with his knee brace on every game.

‘Up front we’ve got Michael Atfield who must be the most hated man in the Sunday League. If his feet moved as much as his mouth, he’d be blinding!’

Atfield didn’t seem to be very popular in this match with every foul committed on the striker being met with cheers from the sidelines, even those playing on nearby pitches.

Yet after Bates had scored one free-kick, it was Atfield’s turn to have the last laugh as he netted another, striking just after the interval to double Carlton’s lead.

If Atfield was looking to make friends, he didn’t do himself many favours with his next strike, a superb right-foot volley from the tightest of angles for 3-0.

His celebration was a little provocative, goading Swan keeper Sean Galmoye and he duly suffered the wrath of most of the goalie’s team-mates.

With Wheeler unbeatable in goal, Carlton booked their place in the final, leaving Swan to focus on staying afloat in division two.

For Wheeler and Sillence, though, the prospect of a cup win at West Leigh Park means the show most definitely goes on.