I woke up today full on optimism, energy and in an overall good mood. After failing to find Mikey at LolaLo’s at 2am last night, I managed to get a well-rested night’s sleep. My leg was all strapped up and ready for another run around on the pitch. Today was going to be a good day. I put my flip flops on and walked over to Long Road for the drive down.
‘Lee Valley,’ they said. ‘The home of England Hockey,’ they said. You’ll love it, playing in the stadium and hearing the roar from the few supporters making the trip. My dreams were becoming reality, to play at Lee Valley and grab myself a couple of goals in front of the many empty seats. Sadly and annoyingly, this was not the case. Please bear with me as there is quite a bit of stuff that turned this glorious day into a day where I questioned my love for this sport.
Firstly, the weather. God almighty, it was cold, windy and raining. I could see Joel was not enjoying his return to South hockey after gallivanting off on his honeymoon. The cold was taking a toll on my leg; this was not a good sign. But I powered through as I could see the worried eyes of Captain Chalk trying to rally together the team in the cold and the last thing he wanted was me complaining about my leg.
Secondly, we were not playing on the main pitch. Someone had forgotten to mention my dream of playing on the main pitch, which meant we were dropped to ‘pitch 2’. A pitch I regard as nothing special with the beautiful skyline of Asda and B&Q in the background. I have to admit this depleted my motivation for the game - complete lies were said about playing at the main stadium - the only upside was there were actual dugouts to protect me from the rain.
The game was upon us. I was starting up front with Chalk Senior. We started quite well, I could see we were controlling the midfield and putting pressure on their players. I was doing my usual stuff upfront…run around for a bit and act like I’m doing a lot of stuff when actually I’m just watching the game and waiting for the break. After two minutes my opportunity came. A bouncing ball managed to find its way past their defenders and to me, open on goal - just me versus the keeper.
I ran to the top of the D and prepared to strike. This was going bottom left corner; I could already see the ball bouncing off the backboard. I made one last step forward and the worst happened.
*Pause for dramatic effect*
My hamstring went again, feeling it tear back up my leg. I was out of the game. My day went from bad to worse. A one and a half hour drive down to London in the freezing cold and rain had ended in two minutes of play. My game was over, I took my shin pads off and put my coat on. The rest of the game was okay, nothing really happened.
I decided to have a shower at half time. I thought I’d take advantage of the Olympic-standard changing rooms for myself. The showers took a while to warm up, which was disappointing, and there were no booths to hang up your match shirt but apart from that they were adequately nice. After getting changed and making a phone call to my physio I limped back to the pitch to find South two-nil down. Apparently we conceded from a short corner and a p-flick. The p-flick was quite spectacular as Bhav managed to get a yellow and a stick to the head, causing an outrageous bulge on his forehead that made me question his ability to still drive and move into Pearson’s car for the drive home.
The third outrageous thing of the day was the teas afterwards… East London play at Lee Valley if you haven’t figured out by now. But their teas were in Whitechapel! Now for anyone who doesn’t know, Whitechapel is basically in the centre of London a couple hundred yards away from the Tower of London, which meant the convoy of South has to travel through the heart of London trying to find this singular pub that supposedly held the match teas. Captain Chalk had made a poor decision. We were going to miss the start of the crucial England v Wales Six Nations match. After debating whether or not to just leave, the reluctant East London captain informed us our teas were on their way. The teas weren’t that bad, it did put Cambridge South’s pizza to shame by the size of them.
Overall I was disappointed about the game, mainly due to only playing two minutes but also because we lost.
M.O.M: Special mention to Pearson to endless running as per usual but Jason got the vote due to his ‘few’ spectacular saves. (I always find it strange that when we lose a defender or the keeper gets M.O.M).
Lemon: Myself, for quite possibly making the worst two minute cameo of the season.
One Saturday pm in Feb,
South Twos got out of their bed.*
Tom Steed scored a brace,
And hit Max in the face,
Then we went to the pub and got fed.**
The match started with a dictat,
Do nothing for the first ten minat.
And though it was heeded,
It somehow succeeded,
As Nomads seemed to have the same tictac.***
South’s defensive unit was strong,
Playing balls out both short and long.
The midfield was stoic,
The forwards heroic,
The match dragged on and on.
On the whole, South were stronger than Nomads,
Who looked like a load of old dads.
Anns finished without a scratch,
Coops, Graveling, Steed shared man of the match,
And no one got hit in the…
* For literary purposes, this is singular, not plural; we
don’t all share the same bed, in reality.
** Apart from Jon, who went to a shop instead.
*** Sorry, struggled to get that one to rhyme.
Steed, for first person to score two goals in one match without either hitting the backboard.
Coops, for a masterful yet forgettable midfield display.
Graveling, for no real reason apart from turning up.
(Editor's note: Once postal votes were counted, Steed was declared the solo winner)
Steed, for friendly fire.
We arrived at a cold, windy and slightly raining Long Road, raring to take on a decent St Ives 2s side that we had a superlative 4-2 away win against in November.
With somewhat of a player deficiency across the club, we welcomed Oven for his first proper game back from injury. We also saw the likes of Matt Allsopp and big Si joining the line-up. I, unfortunately, had to join the spectators for this one, having damaged my ribs in a street fight earlier in the week (not). Naturally I received some Lemon votes before the game had even started. What a game I was in for though:
Both sides started off strongly and South started to show St Ives what they were made of. It didn’t take long before Oven and Ed produced some magic up front. The move finished with Ed smacking the ball into the back of the net, resembling something more like a cricket drive from Kevin Peterson. Six!
South were now in high spirits and St Ives realised that the M3s meant business. Toby, showing some serious stick skills, made mincemeat of their defence on a couple of occasions, narrowly missing the glory that is a goal. Both teams continued to fight through a thoroughly enjoyable first half. MSG was holding strong in goal until the opposition managed a scrappy one to make it one-all at half time.
Second half. Both teams continued to push forward, hunting for that goal to make the difference. Opportunities at both ends, but still no one could break the deadlock! Entering the last fifteen minutes, it was getting tight. Both sides started showing signs of frustration. Umpires decisions were argued and players started appealing like footballers. Signs of tiredness from South allowed St Ives to slip one through our defence.
Ten minutes to go… South know there is still time to equalise. St Ives have a short corner. ‘READY, READY, READY, OUT!!’, MSG bellows. St Ives offload the ball and shoot. Neil, pumped with adrenaline, sees the ball floating past MSG and leaps across the goal. His acrobatic skills resemble something close to Manuel Neuer’s goalkeeping, but unfortunately he forgets to use his stick and heads the ball away from goal. No flick. Neil’s kept South in the game.
South continued to fight a hard-fought last few minutes. On the sideline, a slightly dazed Neil was under attack from several pitch balls flying into him. St Ives clearly didn’t like his goalkeeping efforts and wanted to add to his already dimply forehead, resembling that of a teenager who’d just hit puberty. The game ended with no equaliser from South, but a quality game of hockey that we can definitely take a lot of positives from.
MOM and Lemon both go to Neil for “using his head”.
Congrats to the South 4th team on our three-one win over the Ely 2nd team - a well deserved win, we kept battling all the way to the end, great team effort. Our Man of the Match was Jimmy, who thoroughly deserved it after an amazing run down the line and acute finish from the byline, followed with a well-rehearsed celebration by slipping to the ground.
Ely then started to apply pressure, which rewarded them with a goal, but if anything this woke the visiting team. Cambridge South got a short corner towards the end of the second half which was fired home by Dave Monck, our star man for short corners (one goal every three shorts). Dave then cleared a short corner off the line at the other end with his cat-like reflexes: well done, Monkosaurus!
With a pumping team talk from the big man, Jan, himself and our goal king, Rob Barton (Rob is number 1!), the second half was more of the same from South with Jimmy slotting home a well worked goal, this time managing to stay on his feet for his moment of glory. Great work, Jimmy!
On another day we could have been punished as the team felt like the game was in the bag. Ely started to apply more pressure which only brought the best out of George Toynton with a couple of Buffon-like saves.
After this the game became more like an ice hockey match, with the conditions worsening and players slipping left, right and centre. An honourable mention to myself, who managed to slip over on the ball with no-one around, only to have the ball played off my elbow by a very comforting defender who was sporting a homemade cap.
With the game in the bag the opposition were getting more frustrated, with one player receiving a green card for a swung stick.
Other honourable mentions for Man of the Match candidates…
JJ - solid in midfield, great movement off the ball all game and nice to see some aerials being thrown.
Pip - outstanding all game, great tackles and very well timed passes through to the midfield.
George - great saves and, as usual, cracking jokes right from the off. Unlucky not to be MoM, (very) lucky not to be LoM with his classic question, "Is Hertford in Hertfordshire?". Yes, George, it is.
Simon - lovely reverse stick skills, work rate was excellent and a well-performed reverse stick aerial!
Andy - great at cutting out passes, solid tackles and Mo Farah-like energy. Truly great stuff.
Dave - powerful hit outs and a thunderous goal (our ears are still ringing).
Rob - shouting positive comments and instructions all game to keep our players calm and composed, especially me. Cheers, Rob.
Jimmy - and of course our real MoM. Very well finished goals, one from almost off the pitch, and solid work rate throughout the game.
Honourable mentions for Lemon of the Match candidates…
Names removed to shield the guilty - handbags being brought out by a number of our team. It's not typical of us… Still, it does show passion and the raised standards we now expect of ourselves!
Rob - for his Neymar-esque run in circles followed by precise hit off the pitch.
Dave - for the majority of his 16s making it all the way to the other end of the pitch and out the gate (time wasting at its best). Apart from the ones which went straight to their forwards.
Jan - for having a little meltdown during the game.
Elijah - and of course Dave's son for getting run over by a parked car during the warm up!
Great win today, lads. We go again!
The 5s squad arrived at a rain and wind-swept Long Road keen to secure victory against St Ives 5s to add to back-to-back wins over the past couple of weeks. The St Ives captain approached with news that their regular keeper was out of action and would we mind if their 2s keeper, who had just helped secure a narrow victory over our 3s, stood in? “Err, well, I guess so.”………“Oh and by the way, he’s good, so you won’t get anything past him.” The challenge had been set!
The home team were quick out of the blocks, immediately putting the opposition defence under sustained pressure, but alas nothing made it past their ‘uber’ keeper. Midway through the first half, St Ives regained their composure, giving the home defence some scary moments. At half time there was however nothing to separate the two teams.
South started the second half in similar spirit to the first, but this time we were rewarded with that elusive goal. A blistering cross from the left-hand edge of the D beat the keeper to find Andy T perfectly positioned on the far post to deflect it into the net. The challenge had been met and in impressive style! This gave the home team new impetus to underline this with more goals. Continually pushing forward from midfield and defence, it wasn’t long before John Gourd beat the keeper again with a blistering shot from close range… Unfortunately, his initial attempt to make contact between stick and ball was unsuccessful for which the umpire rightly awarded an opposition free-hit rather than a second goal.
South continued to apply sustained pressure right up to the final whistle, alas without any further success, but we’d done enough to secure the three points and retain our league position above the away team.
And a grateful thank you goes to the umpires, Tom Steed and, especially, Jan Brynjolffssen, who graciously rushed away from his game in Ely to be able to umpire for us, as well as to Ania Rygielska, who organised the umpiring - we appreciate that it was challenging this week, to say the least.
We arrived at a very wet and windy Long Road for our midday match versus Cambridge Uni 2s. Our motivational team chat from skipper Kim in the changing rooms got us pumped, we were ready to hit the ground running, although there was a problem: we only had one umpire; where is Sneade?! With ten minutes to go before push back, Neil arrives on his bike; he informs us he was late because he was redesigning the CSHC crest and lost track of time, earning him a couple of LEMON votes.
Right from the very first whistle, Uni came out of the blocks hard. They were very fit (average age of 18) and playing nice hockey. We did spend most of the first half defending - hit-out after hit-out, sideline after sideline - but we managed to keep Uni out of our D most of the time, putting in great tackles all over the pitch. Loopy only had to make one save and we didn't concede at all during the first thirty-five minutes! There were too many hit-outs to count on two hands but one to remember was when Robs Mc lifted a slapped ball right into the back of poor Kimbo. Robs, you LEMON, but really who needs kidneys anyway? #sorrybut… ;) Standout performances from George at the back, putting in tackle after tackle, and good defending from Robs Mc and B-Murph earned them MOM votes.
With all this defending we were chomping at the bit to do some attacking, and our efforts were rewarded; Alice Hug had a one-on-one with the keeper, Alison had a good chance on the P spot, Sophie and Alice also having their chances up front. We even managed to win a penalty corner but unfortunately we just couldn't convert. Nil-nil at half time.
The second half was even-stevens. We put on the pressure on Uni, making them transfer around the back, forcing them to make mistakes. We were looking strong, playing some lovely hockey. With ten minutes to go they were playing a lot of hockey in our twenty-three; we were defending hard as a team, Kim got pushed over, Uni's 'manager' got irate on the sideline. We tried but we couldn't keep Uni at bay: with 2 mins to go, Uni won a short corner. We almost managed to clear the ball but unfortunately conceded a second short in the process. Second attempt for Uni, slipping it right they had a cracking shot which we couldn't stop… one-nil to Uni. With less than a minute to go, we reset and a couple of passes from the pass back, the full time whistle went.
We gave it a good go. It was a better performance from South and a better result in terms of goals scored against and possession than the first meeting, so there are lots of positives to take away and be proud of. We have a Saturday off before our game faces are back on for the next big match against City. Bring it on.
It may not have been as cold as PyeongChang, but Long Road was pretty chilly as we arrived for the first match of the day. A biting wind saw some St Ives players keep their hats on, but the hardy South girls were ready and raring to go…apart from Emma-Rose, who had forgotten to bring her mouthguard and needed a quick detour home while the rest of us warmed up…
It soon became obvious that both teams were charged up and determined, if only to keep their circulation working. It didn’t take too long for Izzy to appear on the score sheet, hitting a fantastic straight strike from a short corner: one-nil. The next goal also came from a short, being well worked around the D from Izzy to Mel, then back in to Izzy on the penalty spot: two-nil.
The game was defined by some great passing, including some pocket passes that Dave would be proud of. Everyone was working hard and making the ball work even harder, with play going round the back and some fantastic one-twos in the middle of the pitch. This was coupled with good talking and plenty of encouragement, both on and off the pitch.
The third goal was swept in by Kendra from a pass by Jess, after a pass by Dani: three-nil. By now, St Ives’ heads had dropped which allowed some really fun, attacking play! After some handy passing and a ball at height from Dani, Kendra knocked in a pretty good cricket sweep to take the score to four-nil. The final goal came after Ellie had a storming run up the pitch, all the way to the backline, where she popped the ball back to the penalty spot for Rebecca to knock in a great goal through a surely impassable gap between the keeper and the post – amazing: five-nil!
There was no giving up by South as everyone continued to work really hard right to the end of the game. It’s difficult to single out anyone, as it was a real team effort. However, special mention to the man of the match, Jenny, who was gritty and determined as sweeper and whose awesome persistence rightly earned her the MoM title. This was fitting as it was her final game of the season as she heads back to Berlin on Wednesday – we’ll miss her for our final few matches. Lemon went to Rebecca for running into the goalpost?!
Fortunately, the L3s managed to scramble together enough players for a team. Unfortunately, having only eleven players meant everyone had to work really hard. Fortunately, even though we were tired we kept going and pushed on.
Unfortunately, there were a few new players so names were a challenge. Fortunately, the team came together and communicated well to win. Unfortunately, the score did not reflect the quality of the game.
Fortunately, South started strong and quickly won a short corner. Unfortunately, the ball was stopped on the line by the opposition. Fortunately, that led to a penalty flick which Lauren scored.
Unfortunately, it was raining. Fortunately, Sharnbrook is miles and miles from anywhere so it had lightened up by the time we got there. Unfortunately, the pitch was really slippy which meant a few people fell over. Fortunately, when Megan fell on her bum she carried on and made a great recovery. Unfortunately (or fortunately?), she went on to take out one of the opposition.
Fortunately, the defence of Ani, Janette and Zara didn't get cold today. Unfortunately, the opposition kept checking they were awake. Fortunately, we had Lou in goal to shout directions. Unfortunately, she wasn't feeling well. Fortunately, she didn't see much of the ball.
Unfortunately, Megan and Sarah (veteran defenders) were pushed up into midfield and had to do a lot of running. Fortunately, they distributed the ball well to the forwards of Jess MK, Lauren and newcomer Trina and used the width, which created opportunities in the D. Unfortunately, this led to Hayley nutting the goalie. Fortunately (for the goalie), she was wearing a helmet. Unfortunately, Hayley wasn't. Fortunately, Sarah stepped up to take the subsequent bully. Unfortunately, it had been a while and she couldn't remember how.
Fortunately, we got on with it. Unfortunately, we didn't win many short corners. Fortunately, we couldn't score from any shorts anyway so it didn't matter.
Unfortunately, Laurie was in Manchester and missed us maintaining our 100% record.
Fortunately, we went to the pub afterwards. Unfortunately, the fire was fake. Fortunately, there were chips!
Megan was nominated MoM for: great runs, keeping width, great tackles and ball control. Other nominees were: Jess MK (for great positioning and shots on goal), Lauren B (for being a trooper and playing the entire match) and me (for amazing "midfield skills", being everywhere and great passes).
Megan was also LoM for falling on her butt but recovering well. Zara was nominated for falling over and not wearing astros. Hayley was nominated for nutting the goalkeeper.
The Ladies 4s embraced the cold and windy afternoon against Royston with high spirits. South persisted well against the strong winds, with two new players on the pitch. With strong positioning and well thought-out play, the ladies put on a great performance. South took the lead with the first goal, with Liz and Alicia popping it past the Royston goalie. Royston then went on to take the lead, but not without portraying their frustrations a couple of times.
The second half saw a great short from South, but a lift of the ball made it fly straight into a Royston player's head. After a little time out play resumed and South managed to pop in a second goal- congratulations to Alicia, who was awarded Man of the Match.
Royston unfortunately took the game with a five-two win. South ended the game in high spirits, replenished by Alexine's Smartie cookies. Yum!