After what some have called ‘the performance of the century’ away at Bury the previous week, the M1s entered the weekend with two tasks… Win on Saturday, win next Saturday…win the league.
In truth it wasn’t a great performance. No one doubted the effort, but as the nerves in the crowd grew it became clear this was not going to be easy. On another day points would’ve been lost, but not anymore, not this team, not the M1s. This team has re-found its form, its heart, its soul.
Controlling the early stages, South took the lead through James early in the first half. Whilst it remained close, South controlled the game and ball and were unlucky not to stretch the lead. Darren made a fantastic save off a short corner, the rebound going off the crossbar, and the midfield dynamos continued to drive South forward. Eventually the breakthrough came; half time two-nil up, one-and-a-half games to go.
Then came the wobble. Kettering started strong, and with the wind behind their backs the aerial bombardment began. Tom and Stu managed it well at the back but, driving into the wind, South struggled to really get their game going. Eventually Kettering broke through from a short corner and a nervous fifteen mins remained.
South had three or four short corners on the bounce but just couldn’t get that crucial goal to kill the game off. With only minutes to go James decided to test Tom’s nerves and passed backwards when surely anywhere forwards would have done. At times this year South have played the stuff of dreams… With two minutes to go this was more like Barcelona with their backs to the wall on a wet Monday night in Stoke!
Eventually the final whistle blew; South had held on. As results filtered in the reality started to hit… One down, one to go…
The M1s dare to dream…
One of the most mind-blowing, unique, and of course, dangerous board games out there, fell unexpectedly into the hands of the curious young teenager, Simon Cooper, back in 1969. Mysterious and magical, the game captured the unsuspecting boy in the lush and savage forests of the mythical JumAnnsji, only to release him nearly five decades later before the awed eyes of Cambridge South’s M2s.
Constantly, the wild beat of the tribal drums called for the now-adult Simon and the rest of the hesitant M2s players, as he who rolls the dice remains trapped inside until either:
another player finds the board game and rolls a 5 or an 8, or
the M2s achieve promotion from East Division 4NW.
Back in 2013, Cooper took on the captaincy of the M2s to try and use his leadership skills, honed in the bush, to push them up the East Hockey ladder. Some five years later and we were still in exactly the same place.
Specifically, on Saturday the M2s were in Long Sutton, home of ‘The Great Puddlefoot Elbow Disaster’ of 2017. Matt had travelled with revenge on his mind, revenge to be served ice cold.
Sadly it wasn’t to be, as our pre-match game plan of shutting down the big blonde lad resulted in the big blonde lad creating one worldie and scoring another.
We roll the dice again next week.
With relegation battles a distant memory, the M3s found themselves comfortably mid-table, and with little left to play for other than pride and the love of hockey. Captain Matt sent the team out with orders to enjoy themselves and relax. Some of us took that a little too literally, and spent most of the first half lying down. A fairly scrappy game ensued, with neither team quite wanting to take things by the scruff of the neck. First blood went to South though, with another goal from a short (something of a theme in the second half of this season), Mariano deflecting a straight strike from Joe. Bourne Deeping were level before the first half ended - a penalty flick calmly put away after a Deeping shot found Adam on the line.
The second half was probably best described as one for the purists, though both sides had decent opportunities to grab the lead. No-one managed to until the dying seconds, when Mariano took it upon himself to pick up the ball, drive at the D, and bury an unstoppable shot into the far corner. There was just enough time for a centre pass before the final whistle. Another three points earned, and with a record high league points and position still possible, maybe there are a couple of things left to play for in the upcoming weeks.
Nobody likes losing to City, least of all M4s, though the reality is they played better than us, even though we played well at points. But four-nil was not a fair reflection of a competitive game punctuated by multiple moments of horizontalness.
It's probably a sign of health for the club that availability was very high, meaning drop downs were inevitable. Jan, the tactful tinkerman, sent several emails warning of the chop, leaving many of us fearing the Friday phone call. For most of us it never came, though some were asked to strengthen the 5s despite faithful service to the 4s. We all prefer playing for the 4s, much like we prefer beating City, but some things can't be helped.
As the game got going, the 4s looked energetic but lacked crisp, sharp, accurate passing, meaning the ball often drifted out of reach and over the sideline or to an opposition stick. City's combination of wily old competitors and youthful whippersnappers often gave a demonstration of how to build patiently, passing well and looking threatening. Their first goal came from some neat work into the D, but South managed to close it down without clearing it fully. Six or seven sticks jabbed at the ball and George T stepped in to clear the melee, only for the ball to trickle inextricably through his legs and over the line. His body refused to contort into positions that would have allowed him to stop it.
Nev, Ollie W, Stu and Alex were industrious if at times too direct, but earned us a couple of short corners. But with new players, old routines are harder to make work, so opportunities came and went as fast as the Monckosaurus could hit the ball wide and only trouble the fence. City's neat passing led to one of their teenagers taking a crack from the top of the D for the day's first horizontal moment. The shot was sharp, at head height, and probably just sneaking under the bar. Athletic George dived up as all goalkeepers should, deflecting the ball away, ensuring it didn't bulge the net. He came down with a spectacular thump, to lay sprawled and with whip lash from his own weight. But the ball wasn't finished, and fell painfully behind the keeper, who was unable to turn it away as it crossed the line. Two-nil.
John G, playing in place of a nauseous Ollie S alongside JJ, James and Dan in midfield, started to grow into the game towards the end of the first half. Despite being two goals down, the game had never felt like we were out of touch and there were opportunities. Perhaps the best of these came early in the second half as the Pashly pace caught out the opposition, and he raced away towards the opposition D with a teammate either side, waiting for the pass around the keeper to finally get on the board. But the move crumpled to nothing, as no pass came, and City had the opportunity to track back and steal the ball again.
John forgot about the team curry later in the evening and tried to munch on a City stick. James demonstrated his usual committed self, piling in to an opposition player. Quality umpiring, recognising a simmer of discontent at James's over enthusiasm, took him aside to have a word. But all James was told was to look like the umpire was having a word to satisfy rising tempers and diffuse potential conflict (maybe we should suggest Adam plays a role in Brexit negotiations).
Men of the match, defensive duo George and Danny, could often be seen racing up and down the wings, creating openings that on another day would probably have resulted in…a very similar outcome. We've not been a bad team, but we've not often threatened to score and today felt little different. City's third goal came despite their best player heading off to hospital with a broken nose, courtesy of James 'The Wall' Hayes. No-one seems quite sure what happened, but he went off having given away a free hit to South. City passed around again, until the ball came to their remaining teenager who was fleet of foot and passed well into the D. George, not to be outdone, sprinted forward to intercept the ball, to find it behind him. It was going in until heroic Andi swallow dived across the face of goal, collecting the ball with his arm, leg, chest and everything else. A flick but no yellow and South were three-nil down despite not doing a huge amount wrong.
Their final goal came following the Monckosaurus flapping around on the ground having been turned inside out by the teenage prodigy (well, maybe that's overstating it). He swung at the ball, prostrate on the ground, with as much effectiveness as a beached whale trying to shuffle back to the sea. This would not have usually been enough to earn a Lemon but he'd already spent much of the game lying down, arms outstretched swinging wildly at the ball to no avail. The teen found a more senior team mate (could have been any of them), who calmly took the ball and slotted into the bottom corner.
Four-nil. A scoreline that didn't reflect the game, but leaves the 4s in a perilous position in the league, currently in the relegation zone on goal difference by one with the final round of fixtures to play. That should be motivation enough to step up next week, but with the added joy of travelling to St Neots to encounter Area 51 it will be hard not to be.
As the title suggests, the weather around the rather inappropriately named California Road venue was far from clement, with a vicious wind whipping up a small sandstorm as the toss was made. Fortunately it was won, giving us the advantage of playing with the as-yet-unnamed storm.
The visitors started with our usual gusto, making early forays into the St Ives D one of which led to a shot from Ollie R being deflected by the keeper straight to Howard S, waiting on the near post. With no obvious path to goal, the South skipper slipped the ball across the goal where James Y was waiting to bag a long overdue debut goal.
One-nil up early in the first half; this felt promising! South continued to pile on the pressure, with defence and midfield working well together to get the ball out of our half to the forwards. Rookie South keeper, Jo D, had little to trouble him throughout the first half other than trying to stay warm.
Battling the increasingly strong and now head-on winds in the second half, South continued to dominate play. A series of short corners (now wind assisted!) eventually led to a second goal from a Simon T strike hit low and hard towards the near post.
Soon after another incursion into the St Ives D was only partially cleared to Howard S, whose shot appeared to be on track to sneak outside the far post if it hadn't been for Rupert E waiting to finish the move.
The South forwards and midfield continued to pile the pressure on the home defence which led to two further strikes from Simon T for a well deserved hat-trick, but undoubted star of the show (and MoM) was 'Hurricane' James Yu, who just gets better with every game!
LoM would have been an 'Andy T backstop' if it hadn't been for Simon T admitting over tea that he had got into a car with a complete stranger (coincidently called Andy) on the way to the match whilst waiting for a lift from the real Andy T!
To be honest, I really liked Maddie's new citrus-fresh jumper. Brought some sunshine to the otherwise windy, grey, and freezing cold day. I mean sunglasses were a necessity for those around her but I think she pulled it off. The girls left Cambridge prepped (banana crew en route) and ready for a tough game against St Ives 2nd XI, battling skilful players and the wind. Blythe's infamous warm up (life coaching) got everyone in high spirits and keen to show the opposition what we were made of.
The match was kickstarted at St Ives Astro around 12.30 on Saturday afternoon. The first half didn't go as well as we'd hoped, conceding first to a strong attack from the St Ives side, although our defence rallied and made sure that was the only goal stolen from us for the entire match. With some solid play in the centre by captain Robyn, the team in green just couldn't get another goal. Yay!
We ended the first half with a cracking goal from Maddie B. She dived in front of the keeper, putting herself on the line to net a strong pass into the D from Kim. Who, I think, played both defence and forward and maybe a stint in midfield as well throughout the game?! She deservedly was declared (by us and herself) an all round superstar of the match and won MoM, although this was closely contested by Flo who put in another determined performance with commendations for her movement going forward. She was even spotted picking herself off the floor with a clap and exclamation of, 'Let's play.' Talking of picks, Emily also had quite a few noticeable picks and was a real asset throughout the midfield. Although I think she gets minus points for blabbing about her car journey to this far destination. Who doesn't enjoy a whistle stop tour of the Stagecoach depot? There were only two people in my car but I got an awful lot more Lemon votes… Nic also had a moment of madness, leaving her stick in the goals at half time, which then had to be couriered off after her as the whistle went for the second half to start!
The second half was a hard fight with some great runs up the wing by Laura, but alas neither team could score again. Feeling battered and bruised, we ended with a one-all draw and eagerly headed for teas and slush puppies. Somewhere on the way back to the club house, St Ives cleverly moved their pitch round to the opposite side of the hedge, just enough to confuse me (and I bet others who just didn't own up to it). Last time I checked there was a running track by the side of the pitch and it wasn't there when we were at teas. I did geography A Level and know my west from my east, so you may have fooled the rest of the team but not me. I know you moved the pitch. Safe to say, the Lemon votes came flooding in and here I am again on Sunday night writing the match report.
Apologies if it's less than accurate and less hockey than shenanigans but if you wanted the hockey you should've come and watched. All we have to say at the end of the day is, 'Bring it on, Pelicans.' Or Peterborough. Whoever we've got next.
20 games, 20 wins, 113 goals scored, 1 great coach and a great group of girls.
We turned up to a very blustery St Neots at the crack of dawn ready to grab our final win to complete the perfect season. The game and weekend went as follows:
Hannah forgot most of her kit so had to play the game in her Benidorm vest, but she did remember to bring a jam sandwich.
Paul was gifted a blue WKD for his efforts.
Eimear deflected our first goal past the keeper early on to make it one-nil, then got a second in the second half.
Lucy made her return to the L2s and had a stormer.
Our defensive line of Ellie, H, Lucy, Jenny and Lauren held solid at the back to shut down any of St Neots’s breaks.
Lydia had a nice time spectating from her goal.
We went two-nil up after a goal from Dani A, who also scored goal number four.
Izzy scored goal three to put our goal difference up to +100, and also goal six.
H tried to take a sideline but the wind had other ideas.
Jess, Sarah, Dani KS and Rebecca had a lovely time in midfield battling the wind.
We headed off to Benidorm after the game.
We found out that Jenny didn’t know that 999 is the contact number for emergencies in the UK.
If you only sleep for three hours it feels like you have had a whole weekend in Benidorm.
All ten of us have made it back from Benidorm in one piece (ish) - ask Jess about her coach journey.
Overall, a great game and a fun trip to round off a fantastic season for the L2s.
The penultimate game of the season; the L3s set out to play Sudbury at home. Storm Gareth was out to get us, blowing the team sideways before we even started playing. We began our warm-up forty-five minutes before the game started (KEEN BEANS), and ended up cooling down again while watching the M1s.
The L3s started off a bit sluggish but kept Sudbury on their toes with some quick runs into their D by Zara, Jas and Erin. Sudbury managed to bag themselves lots of short corners, but never scored as our defence was on top form. Sudbury were really hungry for goals which showed with their first goal coming from their player hitting the ball while face-planting the floor! And their second coming shortly after. Two-nil at half time…but we weren’t losing faith!
After a Paul pep talk , the 3s came out ready for battle only for Sudbury to score their third goal soon after. This fuelled the fire in the L3s, who were determined to get some goals back. As demonstrated by Emily during her duel with the goalkeeper, fighting for that ball, and Rhi face-planting while chasing after the ball too.
After a L3s long corner, starting from Louisa and bouncing through a few of the L3s in a great team effort, Rhi managed to tap one in! Goooaaaallll - lots of cheering from the sideline and the team! Sudbury were not too happy with a score of 3-1, so they weren’t backing down! Poor Hannah got in the way of them and got knocked down to the floor, but bravely stood up and continued. Laurie then wanted to join in the injuries fun, which resulted in her getting hit in her bad knee and getting chair-lifted by top ambulance crew, Kath and Ani.
The final whistle blew, the game was finally over, and South were happy to get out of the wind and into the warmth for some pizza. The MoM title was awarded to three of our defenders, with four votes each for Hannah, Lauren E and Ani, which shows what a defensive effort the game was. And LoM title awarded to Hannah, for……
The evening was rounded off with more lovely pizza and espresso martinis, and some of us (Erin) continuing on through the night at a UV Bop party!
It was my last game for South and what a great way to end it all! I’ll miss you all so much.
This week saw the L4s get one our best results yet. We scored eight goals in this penultimate match of the season and conceded only one; it was awesome.
Trying out a 4-4-2 formation, we were unwaveringly solid at the back from the outset, and throughout the game Sammy and Katie relentlessly got the ball out of danger and up to our midfield. It wasn’t long before we got a good break and Jess smacked her first goal against the Huntingdon backboard. Lifted by this, Nicole, Anne and Lou kept up the momentum in our midfield. Regularly using the width to get some crosses in to our D saw Jess get another. We kept battling through the first half with Annabel repeatedly wrangling the ball from the opposition and Vicky pressuring their attackers enough to stop any Huntingdon threats. However, seconds before the half time whistle we gave away a short corner which led to us conceding a goal. But our spirits were soon lifted as keeper Zara was caught by a guest of wind and fell backwards through her own goal, feet in the air and helped back up by some laughing teammates. We were up two-one.
Feeling strong, but wary of the reduced lead, there was only one option - Percy Pigs. Fuelled up on sugar, a pep talk from Laura and a questionable combination of E-numbers, we went into the second half with heaps of energy. Some fantastic passing between Alex and Lou and balls up the line to Tess quickly resulted in Jess’s first hat-trick of the game. We had started to suss this team out and were holding our formation and looking increasingly dominant. A dodgy cross from Tess in the D rebounded of a defenders foot into the goal, and after some controversy took the score to four-one.
Soon after Lou found herself charging into the D with defenders preoccupied by Nicky and Jess. In a moment of truly ‘excellent hockey’ she lifted the ball at pace into the net, well out of reach of the keeper. It was sensational and earned Lou MoM.
We ended up spoilt for choice of fab players this week as by the end of second half Jess had earned herself a SECOND hat-trick! The final whistle blew at eight-one.
Despite a smattering of injuries and maladies worrying most of the squad, we pulled off a cracking result, all washed down with a chip butty and couple of J2Os. A great match that made the early 8.30 meet well worth it.