On a cold wet February evening sixteen fine warriors assembled at RAF Halton to do battle against the enemy, WGC 2s. Our foe who had earlier defeated us 6-2 at their own battlefield, north of the county.
Our battle cry had gone out far and wide, our hockey soldiers coming from all corners of the globe, and with a nod to Gallipoli, we eagerly accepted the help of Jules’ antipodean nephew, who we flew in especially for the game.
With Gary Atkinson still out, Patrick his son filled his boots and showed he has all the talent and skill of his Dad. So two new boys and a bevy of older guys, some of whom had had a bevy or two, and fancied a run out lower down the club swelled our ranks to the maximum allowed in our platoon of the day.
So we were off, with field Marshall Tupper Hodges, making good work of early skirmishes, ably assisted by his changing mid-field sergeants. WGC were no strangers to the fight, filled with an experienced team they patrolled their own lines effectively and calmly. End to end stuff resulted in a quick sharp shot from their centre forward, and our defence was breached. 1-0 down, I would like to say it was against the run of play, but it wasn’t, we were under attack from a good, well drilled team.
It was the start of a good 15 minute run of play by WGC, our keeper Pete kept us in the game with some fine saves, one notably palmed over the cross-bar, left the oppo shocked and amazed. It was a great moment, surely a battle won by the keeper over their centre forward.
Half time came, still one adrift, the usual stuff from the captain was punctuated with advice and words of wisdom from Tupper, Twitters and our coach for the day Gary. The main theme being, don’t give up, enjoy it, and keep moving the ball.
With the light fading, the ball being increasingly difficult to see, we can only thank our umpires for their diligent work, it was more umpiring and playing under search lights than flood lights! So the customary appeals from both teams fell on deaf ears, as the game rumbled on, No one knows quite what happened, but the second half saw some wonderful play by Joel, Jody, Iwan and Will, to name but a few, and one particular skirmish started by a cracking cross from Joel, saw Iwan and Will mix it up at the top of the D, with a shot from Will, clumsily defended by their keeper, only for the ball to trickle over the line, 1-1 and relief through the team. We did it, they felt robbed, and quite rightly, for they had penalty corner after penalty corner which they couldn’t convert, put off by the speed of Iwan running out 1 and their own clumsiness. The man of the match was well contested by Pete W and Will, with Will taking the honours again, 5-4, so well done to him.
So thanks to all who stepped in at the last minute, Rog, Paul, Alex and Ben added welcome expertise and calmness to the side, the youngsters playing amongst the hockey Gods of the club, will have learned a great deal today, and seen how movement of the ball is far more important than a fancy 15metre dribble.
So we look to next week, another tea time start, this time away to Letchworth, we may have Jon Below back, if Ed Goodwyn, the warlord of the threes releases him, so we look forward to him, although we know next week's team will be very different from today's, Jules turns 50, in the week, so will be out at his surprise party next week (let's hope he doesn’t read this, wink wink), Iwan is off abroad again, and who knows what else the week will bring. But that is hockey in the fourths, and it really doesn’t get much better than this.
A brace of Whitby's, a brace of Hollows, A brace of Hodges, Patrick Atkinson, Jim Carlile, Nick Cave
Alex Gilmore, Richard Korn, Chairman Payton, Iwan Roberts, Pete Walker, Ben West and Joel Withey.