The warm weather and generally pleasant playing conditions could only mean one thing: the end of competitive hockey after what feels like a very short season for Cambridge South 1st XI. This postponed fixture would see recently-safe South take on very-much-unsafe Wapping 4s away.
Having already secured their position in the league for next season, the day got off to a slightly distracted start for South and with some notable absentees. With captain Stu and VC Harry both finding other ways to spend their weekends it was left to third choice captain, Jim, to organise a troop with little to play for. Captain Stu had recently been overheard boasting of his efficient method of sending out the weekly team email, by copying and pasting previous weeks’ information. But this would come back to bite him, as multiple addresses were listed as the setting for the season’s finale. Although the majority of the team managed to use their knowledge of English hockey to find the Lee Valley national stadium, a lonesome Shin decided to revisit the site of a famous 1-1 draw with the soon-to-be-promoted Potters Bar, causing him to lose all hope of a place in the starting line up of the thirteen man squad.
When the conversation did eventually turn to hockey and the day’s game, it was very much with a focus on the disastrous effect an away win would cause the relegation-threatened Wapping rather than any real interest in three points or ending the season in style. Jim produced a rousing speech to emphasise this point, however, while Colin desperately searched his hockey bag for sign of a long lost wedding ring.
Unfortunately for the visitors, the home side really did seem motivated and tried very hard throughout the game. South struggled to find a footing in the contest and came in at half time one-nil down. The message at the interval was to communicate and also attempt attacking down not just one, but both sides of the pitch.
South started the second half strongly with Joel finding time in between umpiring enquiries to switch the play nicely through the middle. Paresh began crashing strong drives up to the forward line at such a consistent rate they could surely be used as a unit of time. An admittedly dribbly midfield pairing of Tom K and Mike began to do their thing at the right end of the pitch, connecting with the hard working forwards.
But none of this came to anything and South conceded three more goals to lose four-nil.
After the game, man of the match and lemon votes were collected while enjoying superb match teas that Bhav summarised well as, ‘Salt with some lasagne sprinkled on top.’ The man of the match contest was dominated by votes for the Toms, with Tom R getting credit for a strong return to defence but narrowly missing out to Tom K for running around lots and, ‘A strong improvement in tone of umpiring disagreements.’ Shin ran away with the lemon vote, managing to reach double figures for his Potters Bar adventure. The surprise of the day though seemed to come with a man of the match vote for Dave for, ‘Just generally being a good guy’…
With that, the season is over and the insanely long summer break begins. Five months before a ball will be hit again in anger but, when it is, South will surely be looking to improve again on the season’s finish and challenge for promotion.
As the club’s twitter account said, "Hockey after Easter feels a bit weird". Why were we playing, then? Well, a re-arranged match against fellow mid-table side, CoP 6ths, couldn’t be fitted in prior to the holidays due to a combination of March snow and an early fall for the spring renewal festival in 2018. So after Easter it was, despite the risk that, "All the chocolate eggs we’ve eaten in the last week prob aren’t going to help our game much." Speak for yourself, sir!
There wasn’t an awful lot riding on the outcome as neither side could gain or lose any places in the table, with South locked in for sixth and our visitors eighth. Pride in your own performance can be a good motivator though, the game being played at a good lick and intensity throughout. It was still identifiably a league game rather than a friendly in its mode. And that despite some tactical freestyling from v-c Nev, which had such absurdities as George on the wing and Jan in midfield. Though, actually, both did OK in their unfamiliar roles…
Even wilder experimentation had been planned for the second-half, carefully laid out on Nev's usual laminated tactics sheet (the ability to wipe clean is essential). However this got quietly abandoned as we found ourselves turning around a goal down following a misplaced pass in defence, a flat stick being beaten and a reverse stick shot taken early that dribbled agonisingly in off the far post.
The second half saw us dominating territory and possession as the visitors relied on their strong and experienced defence to see them home for a win. We needed to try and take advantage when they were out of position by doing things like not dawdling over setting up for free-hits and sideline balls. Or (see Lemon) attempting to hurl the ball back and skewing it miles right, off the pitch and into the Football net. And then, in a desperate rush to retrieve the situation, getting one’s stick caught in the net, abandoning it, rolling the ball back and then heading back off the pitch to try and untangle the blasted thing. So yeah, that wasn’t great.
On the occasions when we weren’t trying to re-enact Keystone Cops’ comedy routines and did manage to move the ball around quickly enough to bypass rather than go through Peterborough players, we discovered they also had a very handy bloke behind them in the pads! Despicable. Short corners were the way forward, then. And it was from one such that we finally drew level with just over two minutes to play, Dom’s straight strike beating the keeper then taking a couple of deflections but ending up in the net. Ollie tried to claim one of the touches on the way was his, but the goal seems to have been given to Dom, so that’s what I’m going with.
The M3s’ season in numbers, with Dom’s goal responsible for ensuring three of the following stats are true:
More wins (9) than defeats (8)
More goals scored (50) than conceded (47)
More teams below us (6) than above (5)
Scored in every game
Took at least one point off every other team in the division
|St. Ives 2nds||1 - 2||4 - 2||3|
|Wisbech Town 2nds||1 - 4||3 - 3||1|
|Long Sutton 2nds||1 - 0||4 - 3||6|
|M2s||1 - 4||1 - 1||1|
|Cambridge City 5ths||1 - 6||4 - 1||3|
|Bourne Deeping 3rds||3 - 4||3 - 2||3|
|City of Peterborough 6ths||1 - 1||1 - 2||1|
|Cambridge Nomads 2nds||1 - 2||1 - 1||1|
|Alford & District 1sts||8 - 1||1 - 3||3|
|Bourne Deeping 4ths||2 - 2||2 - 1||4|
|St. Neots 2nds||4 - 1||2 - 1||6|
Not bad for a newly promoted side operating as high up the leagues as it has ever done. The table above does highlight something unusual with scope for improvement, though: if the home record (3-2-6) had come close to matching the away one (6-3-2, unbeaten on the road against the top 5) then it would have been an even more successful season! Next year, eh?
What a final game for the Ladies' 4s. With some on point, calm and collected play that reflected the quality and hard work put in by the 4s this season, South took the game against Ely 3s with a 4-1 win!
South didn't have the most ideal start with Ely awarded a short corner within the first few minutes… However, with this kick up the bum, South went on to take the first goal of the match. South's excitement pushed the team a little too far forward and the nice Ely team trickled their solo goal into the net. With this warning in the back of their minds, South took another three goals to win the game… It was a lovely end to a fab season.
MoM was awarded to Catriona, Liz and Steph for excellent play, and Charlotte, Laura and Jasmine were also nominated. LoM was awarded to Emily for her excellent fall and roll in the D.
Thank you to Laura from the team for the fantastic season and here's to the next! :-)