The “new look” fourth team faced the second league game of the season with another “new look” fourth team. Last week we travelled with 16, this week it was to be just the trusty 11.
At the start of the week we had the luxury of two keepers, come Saturday morning we had the worry of a kicking bad back should Pete be delayed flying in to Luton.....fortunately sleazy-jet arrived on time and we were able to take to the pitch fully equipped.
Our adversaries were from across the county, Potters Bar 3s, just recently relegated from the league above. They were a well appointed unit with some slick finishing. Our team? Five old ‘uns and five young ‘uns, plus a guest appeareance by Hugo, who looked like his hair was a cross between, Crystal tips, side-show-Bob and Rocky Savage in the 80s!, together with three non-playing old crocks, Carlile, Gardener D and Kaye, two made it to the side of the pitch and one was left in the bar! Try and guess who.
With the bare 11 warming up, Jules was heard to muse “ I might get a full game this week!” “not necessarily Jules...not necessarily!” came the curt reply.
As I mentioned earlier, we had to fly in Pete from Croatia to play in goal, and in front of him, we line up with Jules and Gary at the back, both big men, who make big tackles, they had their work cut out today, both featured on the man of the match nomination sheet, a reflection on their hard work and goal saving stops and tackles. In front of them, Andy H with the youngsters, Ben, Alfie and Rhys, a mid-field unit that is finding its feet, through wonderful short passes and one-twos, each player working well with those around him, covering and supporting the energetic Alex, who holds the support strike position behind Jackson, Hugo and Tom.
The game started well for both teams, good interplay and running off the ball, was met with hard tackles and neat dribbling. We had several chances, sharp interjections into the D were met with cheeky touches from Tom and Jackson that, on any other day would have found the backboard, but today just seemed to slip wide. Against the run of play Potters Bar potted into the net, so we were one –nil down, but not downhearted. A couple more chances for us, which we were unable to convert, and suddenly we concede an unfortunate penalty corner which they convert on the half time whistle.
An unlucky blow to us, but a correct blow by the umpire.
The second half produced more of the same, some good goal keeping from Pete, a wonderful goal line stop by Gary, loads of reverse stick tackles by Jules, and a couple of Potters Bar players sent flying, courtesy of Alfie and Gary. We won several shorts, a firm strike by Alex produced our only goal of the day, from a crisp, sharp interjection from Rhys, he has learned well from good coaching, thank you Nigel Edwards! a great training session a few weeks ago.
We are largely, an inexperienced side, although we grew in stature with every second of the game, and we will continue to do so. Fine running from Tom, dribbling confidently and maturely, gives great promise for the coming season. Ben, playing in a new position of joint centre-half hassled and hustled well, combining well with those around him. He was, quite rightly, awarded the man of the match.
With a slight nod to that other sporting competition that is happening this weekend, The Ryder Cup, we developed the ability to have a couple of air shots, there is nothing funnier than a hockey player takling a full swing at the ball, completly missing and falling on his face, and to have two players do it in the same game, caused much mirth on the sideline...sorry, no naming and shaming this week!
There is much to be positive about with this new crop of players. The final score has to be recorded, a five-one defeat, which somehow doesn’t quite reflect the general balance of the game. After two matches, we remain pointless, but far from it in reality, as the enjoyment on the faces of the players shows, that playing hockey is far from pointless. Well played. A big thanks to Peter Karmali and Gary Swampy for umpiring us, every week, Peter K. does wonders for our club, and its great for Swampy to go into the chilterns without getting a nosebleed....its a longway from the flatlands and badlands!