A Tale of Two Halves (2018) is a historical novel by Bhav Virdi. It’s set in Dereham and Cambridge before and during the Promotion Battle to Division 1.
This novel tells the story of the British midfielder, Doctor Joel Harrison, and his 12-minute-long suspension during the Battle of Deer & Ham. The novel depicts his release and then his calmness to pass the ball to Mr Harry Lewis, who would score time and time again.
The story is set against one of the most important matches that led up to the Promotion Battle to Division 1 and the Reign of Red Mist in his eyes.
Virdi's famous opening sentence introduces the drama depicted in the book: It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, and it was the age of foolishness! It was the season of 2018-2019, a season of great hope. We had everything before us, but the doors were locked! When the doors opened we went into the wrong changing rooms!
When the Battle of Deer & Ham started ,Doctor Joel Harrison had his eyes on victory. Little did he know that his friends James & Thomas; were also there to help him out. Together under the Purple flag they marshalled the companies and stood as a wall in front of the Red Army.
Red’s had one weapon and one weapon only; keep throwing missiles straight through the centre. After about thirty minutes, and two minute suspensions to both James & Thomas, the score was 1-2. Thanks to Harry.
Commander in Chief Stuart Rimmer & Joel had pushed the Red Army deep into their own D and they were never going to get out of their deep trenches. In a matter of great bravery, Doctor Joel Harrison would try to run down the opponents with keenness & got caught out in the battlefield. Some say “It's his keenness to find opponent’s knees that got him caught!” He was sentenced to a long suspension. However in the dying minutes of the half, Owen marshalled through and kept the score 2-2.
Commander in Chief Stuart Rimmer marshalled his troupes again and said, “Man to man, we should be winning hands down! Look at my muscles!” Very impressive!
We had to stop the Red missiles; and Mariano Rosenzvaig had an evil plan! Anything that when up, was brought down calmly by him! Some say, he has magnets in his wand; Virdi in his book says – “His philosophy of life is to grown his beard and scare everyone!” Magnets or Beard, who cares; we stopped the Red Missiles.
When Doctor Joel Harrison was released from the Bastille after a twelve minute suspension during the second half battle; he was a changed man! His single mindedness to search for Harry Lewis in Dereham and ask everyone, “Who is on the post?” resulted in a score line of 5-2. Harry Lewis, Oil Lammingator and Shinwoo Kim’s efforts upfront were bringing fruit.
In the backline an Englishman, a Scotsman, an Indian & an Italian were never troubled! They were seen smoking cigars, eating caviar and drinking wine, while Doctor Joel Harrison was trying to find his family friends and Harry Lewis. They really didn’t care! Special mention to The Daring Farmer; who was visionary enough to understand that even if I passed back to the Reds they won’t score.
In the end the Battle of Deer & Ham finished at 5-3!
Commander in Chief Stuart Rimmer was gifted a compass to help him with left & right. He could now successful return to Cambridge with that compass.
James Bailey wore a beautiful jacket.
Joel was gifted a wooden spoon!
Harry Lewis was given the Victoria Cross!
Promotion Battle to Division 1 goes on. Yes, this is just part seven of the novel and fifteen more parts will be published in coming weeks.
The 3s arrived at Long Road on Saturday looking for a first win in nearly eight months. The early signs were good - strong availability, with fourteen players present by not long after the scheduled pushback, a lively warm-up featuring an energetic new recruit who took an immediate dislike to George, and captain Matt K in manager mode on the sidelines running a substitution schedule complicated enough to rival one of Laurie's.
Losing the toss left us playing directly into the late-afternoon sun, but this didn't seem to faze the team (though it might have contributed to the lovely pass that I played to three South players in yards of space on the, erm, touchline). Some neat interplay through the middle created a number of excellent chances, but we were unable to beat Wisbech's keeper, who was having a strong game at the back for them.
The second half proceeded in much the same way as the first, until Matt P came up with a cunning plan. We were clearly shooting too well to score, so he experimented with rolling the ball gently towards the net at a short corner. Somehow, this avoided both defence and keeper, and nestled into the bottom corner. They all count, though, right? With only a one goal lead, and George called off his line to thwart a number of Wisbech attacks, we were in need of a second to close out the game. It duly arrived with a swift break from Simon T, who found Rob in space in the Wisbech D, and Rob coolly slotted the ball behind the keeper. The win lifts the 3s off the bottom of Div 4NW, leapfrogging the three teams above us, so a key three points gained on the quest for mid-table security.
Crack of dawn car park meet blurry eyes still caked in sleep spirits high with nervous tensions. Horncastle here we come!
5hr round trip to play 70min of hockey anyone dippy enough to do that clearly loves the game of hockey and has undying loyalty to both club and team… greatly appreciated guys thank you.
Special mention, Despites Owen’s medical condition the brave boy limped all the way there and managed nearly 70min of hockey, seriously what a soldier, the team really appreciate it buddy.
Breakfast stop over, location nominated by Mr Barton, personally I love nothing more than a diet double cheese burger fries and a coke for breakfast other guys not so much, delightfully described as a grease bowl for troglodytes with no organic vegan water on tap.
Too soften the situation and aid in the digestion of their food JJ with his honest humorous nature thought it a good idea to tell and show everyone how destroyed his shorts were, needless to say the crotch area left nothing covered and everything exposed which resulted in a solid lemon vote.
FWD pitch side
Regular proceedings unfold, Warmup, team talk, captains toss, push back and we are all systems go.
Hit miss pass tackle whistle repeat repeat repeat first half second half the results 1-0 to Cambridge.
What a relief, to travel all the way to the other side of the planet only to draw or lose, oh my days how I cringe to think the drive home would be like.Crack of dawn car park meet, blurry eyes still caked in sleep, spirits high with nervous tensions. Horncastle here we come!
Five hour round trip to play seventy minutes of hockey…anyone dippy enough to do that clearly loves the game of hockey and has undying loyalty to both club and team… Greatly appreciated, guy. Thank you.
Special mention - despites Owen’s medical condition the brave boy limped all the way there and managed nearly seventy minutes of hockey. Seriously, what a soldier. The team really appreciate it, buddy.
Breakfast stop over, location nominated by Mr Barton. Personally I love nothing more than a diet double cheeseburger, fries and a Coke for breakfast; other guys, not so much. Delightfully described as a grease bowl for troglodytes with no organic vegan water on tap.
Too soften the situation and aid in the digestion of their food, JJ, with his honest humorous nature, thought it a good idea to tell and show everyone how destroyed his shorts were. Needless to say the crotch area left nothing covered and everything exposed, which resulted in a solid Lemon vote.
FWD pitch side
Regular proceedings unfold: warm-up, team talk, captains' toss, push back and we are all systems go.
Hit miss pass tackle whistle repeat repeat repeat first half second half - the result's 1-0 to Cambridge.
What a relief; to travel all the way to the other side of the planet only to draw or lose…oh my days, how I cringe to think what the drive home would have been like.
Horncastle, even though they are bottom of the log, we knew they would put up a solid fight being a home game for them. Hockey being what it is, every match of every week is different, no two games are alike and what it says on paper means nothing. Horncastle battled bravely, they put up a solid fight and to such an extent that our keeper, MSG, made a reactive ninja-like save with his right arm fully extended to block a ball struck at goal worthy of international sports TV broadcast… Abso -£$%^ing- luty brilliant, which secured him the team MoM vote.
Our very own Rock at centre back, AKA Jan Bm also made a stellar save at the post during a short corner routine. The modest man described it as merely doing his job. Well, thanks Jan but to be fair, man it was disgustingly brilliant. The ball literally smashed hard enough to dent the back board was gracefully blocked and dispatched like he was replacing the toilet roll on the holder: just an everyday chore with little or no strain at all, gently denying Horncastle an almost certain goal. Brilliant job, squire.
Now while everyone put in a solid performance and while it would be nice to mention every situation/encounter worthy of such, I can’t. It would make this report far too lengthy*, boring and a pain to write. So, sorry guys but let it be known your efforts are very, very much noted and appreciated, as your skipper and fellow teammate I am very proud to be so. Collectively we played good hockey and we did so having fun.
Special thanks to Rob Barton for joining the squad and to the drivers for making the arduous trip and delivering everyone back home to civilisation.
* Editor's note - We can, I think, find space to describe the only goal! Owen mugged their left back of the ball, drew the last man and slipped it on to Tom. Tom's shot beat the keeper, but hit the far post. Fortunately, Owen was first to the loose ball and flicked past the scrambling defenders and keeper.
Horncastle even though they are bottom of the log we knew they would put up a solid fight being a home game for them. Hockey being what it is every match of every week is different, no two games are alike and what it says on paper means nothing, Horncastle battled bravely, they put up a solid fight and to such an extent that our keeper MSG made a reactive ninja like save with his right arm fully extended to block a ball struck at goals worthy of international sports TV broadcast… Abso -£$%^ing- luty brilliant which secured him the team MOM vote.
Our very Own rock at CB AKA Jan B also made Stella save at the post during a short corner routine, the modest man described it as merely doing his job, well thanks Jan but to be fair man it was disgustingly brilliant, the ball literally smashed hard enough to dent the back board was gracefully blocked and dispatched like he was replacing the toilet roll on the holder just an everyday chore with little or no strain at all gently denying Horncastle an almost certain goal, Brilliant job squire.
Now while everyone put in a solid performance and while It would be nice to mention every situation/encounter worthy of such I can’t, it would make this report far too lengthy*, boring and a pain to write, so sorry guys but let it be known your efforts are very very much noted and appreciated, as your skipper and fellow team mate I am very proud to be so, collectively we played good hockey and we did so having fun.
Special thanks to Rob Barton for joining the squad and to the drivers for making the arduous trip and delivering everyone back home to civilisation
* Editor's note - We can, I think, find space to describe the only goal! Owen mugged their Left-Back of the ball, drew the last man and slipped it on to Tom. Tom's shot beat the 'keeper, but hit the far post. Fortunately Owen was first to the loose ball, and flicked past the scrambling defenders and 'keeper.
2 Goals (not ours!)
2 Green Cards (Only one was ours…)
An unfortunate two-nil loss for the Ladies 1sts today despite a good team effort from the girls; with the opposition scoring two early goals in the first half, it was looking to be a tough game. With a rocky start, we did well to hold our own with Emily doing some great tackles and keeping the work rate up, as well as Blythe keeping her determination throughout.
Come the second half we managed to hold our own, with some good saves in goal and man marking in defence, great work from Laura and Maddy B for attacking up the pitch with strong drives forward; this was looking to be a more promising half with our side having more of the possession. However, due to an unfortunate amount of stick tackles throughout the game two greens were given in the second half, one to the opposition and one too Maddie W; subsequently leading to her winning Lemon of the match. Man of the match was a joint win between new Maddie and Emily.
It was an interesting weekend, starting off with the resurrection of the hockey team breakfast - yes, this is where I fell asleep on Izzy’s armchair after my previous late night out, earning me Lemon and the joys of writing this match report.
After overeating (and a good nap if you’re me), we set off to Newmarket to play a team that were fairly high up in the table, and who until last week had remained undefeated. The journey consisted of a few U turns; H is a very impatient driver and somewhat impatient with other drivers also. After a few missed turns and some bad navigation by Izzy, we made it to Newmarket with a lot of time to spare.
The match began and we started with good intensity and ball pace. Hannah drove the ball forward and put it across to Izzy, who pushed it past the keeper for our first goal. After this our gameplay dropped a bit, causing a break from Newmarket and me to make saves on the edge of the D. However, we won the ball back, with Alison giving a reverse sweep through the keeper's legs and us a two-nil advantage for half time.
We ate the jelly babies that Izzy remembered to buy that morning and spoke about how to improve the gameplay. The main conclusion was intensity; we had got a bit lazy and a bit sloppy.
Then back onto the pitch we went, looking straight into the sun but marching onwards anyway. Despite the sun, we gained a goal through a short corner where Hannah injected to Jess, who hit it back to Hannah on the post, who had a little scuffle with the keeper but eventually scored our third.
At this point the umpires called over Izzy to tell her that the next person to stick tackle would be sent off the pitch, and unluckily for Dani her first stick tackle of the game got her green carded. There was also a slightly hairy moment in which Dani nearly had her head taken off by the Newmarket centre back with a very high ball hit from a sixteen. The carding also didn’t stop with Dani: back in my D, Nichola got carded after a questionable tackle and we received a short corner against us. Newmarket slipped it right and received their only goal.
Final whistle went with a three-one result to us despite not being our best work. MoM ended up being a tie between Alison for outrunning the Newmarket defence about ten times, Hannah for her skills in the D and Annie for her great runs and distribution. While there were many possible options for LoM (especially after Hannah tried to play off the back of the pitch and Nichola and Dani took a little green break), the unanimous Lemon with ten of the fifteen votes evidently landed on me.
Photo evidence of Louise’s nap
The L3s arrived at a sunny but blustery Long Road sixteen women-strong and Feeling Fierce, For what Felt like our First home game in Forever. Pre-match prep involved huddling in the changing rooms away from the wind and people traipsing back and Forth to the shed for things Laurie had left there (thanks for taking one For the team, Lauren E!) and discussion of putting in lots of what we have been practising in training - FIERCE, FIRST, FORWARD, FAST, FIERCE.
First goal came in the middle of the First half, somewhere between the Fourteenth and twenty-second minute according to the rainbow subbing plan, when a cross from Irina found Jasmine well placed on the left post to Finish neatly. South continued the pressure For the rest of the First half, Full of Fierce passes and Fast runs but couldn't build on their lead. Some Fiesty enthusiasm in defending some South Free hits saw two St Ives players receive green cards.
The second half started with a series of short corners to South, the only short corners of the game all happening to come when all the injectors were simultaneously off the pitch! Need to rethink that subbing plan! St Ives upped the ante in the card stakes and got themselves a yellow. Feeling left out of the action, South got involved in the card fun with Irina taking one for the team.
South could have extended their lead with a Few good chances late in the second half, with Kath putting a couple of shots wide and earning herself some LOM votes. There was a nervous end to the game with St Ives winning a series of short corners but some Fierce defending from South saw them off. This defensive solidity earned Charlotte, Hannah, Lauren and Ana, who put in a Fab keeping display in the glare of the autumn sun, MoM votes and the L3s' First clean sheet of the season. More importantly it was another well earned three points that sees the L3s comfortably mid-table as we enter a series of anticipated tough games, with morale high.
MoM went to Lauren Eddy for her solid defensive performance, integral to that hard-earned clean sheet, with Erin also recognised for some Fab play on the right wing in her First game for South. Lemon went to Emma for hitting her head on the Football goals when retrieving the ball and not mentioning it until teas, where a peach of a bump was impossible to hide, adding to her bum action along the sidelines. Honourable mention to Alan for breaking Janette in the midweek lead up to the game - get better soon!
In a fast paced and high energy game, South played very well against the top of the league opposition, St Ives.
St Ives managed to score straight from the push back, which wasn’t an ideal start but South responded positively and reset strong.
The ‘defence heavy’ team selection meant that several people were playing higher than usual but everyone did a fantastic job, including an awesome performance on the front line by a usually defensive mid, Nicole…despite her protests! (note in previous match reports we called for Nicole to lead us up front; our dreams are coming true)
Zara had another great game with consistent strong runs and shared a well deserved three-way MoM vote with Nicole and Ellen.
St Ives had a handful of short corners but South’s defence was strong and confident, preventing any of the shorts from being converted into goals.
Ania made some good clearances and there were some vital and skilful saves from Cassie.
Very unfortunately, Phil face-planted after colliding with an opponent, giving her the Lemon vote!
A great overall performance from South and an enjoyable game despite the score. Some great competitive spirit from the girls also, especially as the word ‘S***y’ has been banned from our team!
The Purples version of events… by Howard 'Assassin' Steed
The combined squad of thirty made up from a mixture of L5s, M5s and Seb assembled for the final match of the day at Long Road. The Greens (aka L5s + guests) immediately formed a huddle to discuss tactics, whilst the Purples (M5s + guests) were still exchanging formal introductions. With tactics agreed and names already forgotten, the match pushed back under the watchful eyes of umpires Adam C and Louise W.
The combined objective of 'playing our best team hockey' was immediately evident, with both teams making good runs off the ball and passing freely and accurately. One such pass (I can't remember who from) found John G lurking at the post ready to add to his goal tally for the season with a trademark Greaves strike which had debutante Greens keeper, Emily, beaten.
Shortly afterwards a pin-point accurate pass out of defence from Wilco found the Purples' captain deep in the Greens' half and facing a one-on-one with the Greens' keeper. Shouts of, 'Go to the left,' were interpreted as, 'Hit it straight at the keeper,' and ended up with the ball in the right hand corner of the net, much to the surprise of the scorer!
Another pin-point pass found Jo D lurking at the the top of the D, which was coolly dispatched to give the Purples a comfortable margin at the break. After more half time introductions, everyone agreed 'more of the same' was what was needed in the second half.
Both teams continued to play with intensity and spirit. Substitutions worked well, apart from a couple of occasions where the Green team ended up with only ten on the pitch! There were plenty of scoring opportunities which unfortunately neither team were able to convert, leaving the final score at three-nil, and no reflection on how close the match actually was.
There were plenty of candidates for 'MoM' including Kat, Katy, and keepers Emily and Shahzad, but Alan 'Rock' Radford just sneaked it with an excellent debut in midfield.
Seb was clear LoM winner for single-handedly demolishing half a pizza and attempting to secure MoM without having played!
In summary, a thoroughly enjoyable match with plenty of great hockey played by both teams, and lots to take to our next league games. Let's do it all again when league commitments allow!
Shahzad Ali; Garth Wells, Howard 'Assassin' Steed, Pauline Musembi, Tess Skyrme, Alan Radford, Tendayi Rwambiwa, Harriet Stanley, Sammy Borcoski, Polly Lockyer, Ian Maximus Marshman, Wilco Dijkstra, Jo Dant, John Greaves, Anna Crucefix
And the Greens take, courtesy of Liz Dunsby
The newly-formed L5 squad turned up at Long Road looking forward to a mixed friendly. The combination of the L5s/M5s were split to form two mixed teams. Positions were agreed and introductions were made, though let's be honest, most names were rapidly forgotten once the starting whistle had gone.
Both teams fought hard to keep the ball in their possession, with some great passing and tackles from both teams. Despite a couple of opportunities in the D, the Green team were unable to find the net.
Half time and three-nil down, there was a motivating team talk and a slight re-shuffle of the structure. While (sadly) unable to score, the green team played a lot better and gave ourselves many more chances, and more importantly, prevented the purple team from scoring any further goals.
Despite the score, the game was a fairly evenly contested, friendly match with good intensity and skilful play through out. We all look forward to the next one!
Emily Boyd; Sean Gardiner, James Yu, James Piper, Laura Edge, Nick Georgiadis, Eloise Borcoski, Stuart Creed, Liz Dunsby, Bex Jackson, Stephen Browne, Stuart Skyrme, Jess Foord, Vicki Georgiadis, Katy Leonard