When the skipper approached me with a mission, I was thrilled - missions are fun, especially top secret missions. And after my brief, and blurry, appearance on national television I was ready to be back.
He said, "Colin, I'm concerned about these rumors that MDad are looking to take over MWon. I need you to infiltrate their ranks and see if they are going to attempt a coup."
Way ahead of you, Stu.
Nine months later my investigations are going well. I've managed to successfully become a member of MDad with the birth of a baby boy. The ringleader, "Average" Aston, has welcomed me into the clique with open arms - but I fear Stu's concerns are misguided: all MDad do is wake up early and talk in ever-increasingly poor puns. No, MDad aren't a concern, something else is looking to take over the MWon squad. My investigations have led me to this point, and a possible lead into a new breed of MWon player.
October 27th, MWon Vs Bourne 2s; on paper a simple game - second against bottom of the table, but MWon like to make it look more interesting than it actually is. I settle into my trademark bush to keep an eye on the match - my old team are doing well, 3 wins, a draw and a loss. Promotion looks a very strong possibility.
The game starts well, South have all the pressure - good stuff. My ex-wingman was partnered with Stu at the back and they were mopping up anything that Bourne came through with. Dave and Joel (an adopted member of MDad) were also tidying up well, Joel making a mid-air deflection on a short to prevent a certain goal. A quick break from the back led to Tom K getting a lucky deflection from a Bourne player, sending the ball into the back of the goal. One-nil.
Lots of young, fresh and fit new players in the MWon squad, always talking about their park runs and double doggies. I should make a note to keep an eye on them.
Bourne equalize from a short corner that slips past Darren, who makes up for the mistake by saving the next three drag flicks that come his way. South have all the possession, bombarding the opposition D with crosses and getting plenty of short corners. Eventually Harry Lewis converts. James and Harry in the middle are working well, a new combination. Both like to relinquish the ball and create chances.
Second half, South push on for more goals but only one comes: Pearson buries a short corner on the second attempt, Some cards get distributed to both teams and everyone is happy.
This is very troublesome indeed. MDad have never been the threat. I must inform Stu of my new findings. I get a call, the line is distorted. "Colin, we have much to discuss *oink* *oink*. Let's meet later outside the Blue." The voice sounds muffled, and there are faint squeals in the background. Nevermind, must be in my head.
Outside the Blue while I'm waiting for Stu, the previous call troubles me. I mutter a reassuring "Ready" to calm my nerves. Out of the mist of the night three figures emerge, oinking and squealing and all wearing dungarees.
"Ha, funny guys. It's because I'm a copper, right?"
I mutter another reassuring "Ready" to myself.
"Colin, we can't have you messing up our plans." As they get closer I see…pig masks, horrid bloody pig masks, and the stench of latex.
"Colin, MDad were a diversion, we needed to keep eyes away as we took over." Three of them surround me, all dressed the same; the three little piggies.
"But, Stu sent me to save MWon!" I shout as they close in.
"We. Are. M-Won"
The nights are drawing in. A chill has descended. Dr Who is back on the telly.
The summer is over.
And so our unbeaten run, like all good things, has come to an end.
But let this match report not be a paean to the halcyon days of our two-one win over a decent Kettering outfit, or our four-one triumph over a struggling Wisbech XI. We need to look forward. Find strength. Set new challenges.
Spalding 2nds had always threatened to pop our balloon, coming down as they had done from Div 3 last year. Still though, we had assembled a squad that, on paper at least, had looked very good indeed, even if in reality it looked more like a Boden catalogue from the mid-2000s.
We had the better of the opening exchanges, but after coughing up the ball in the upper left corner, fell behind to a well-executed break.
Baggers drew us level, tonking in a cross-come-shot which a defender helpfully prodded in.
Our visitors re-took the lead after twenty minutes or so, flicking in a rebound after an initial short corner save, but as half-time approached, we did like-wise. Bhav Virdee was the scorer after Ash Artaman had tested out the keeper's chestguard.
The second period was similarly competitive, but always played in a good spirit.
Midway through the half, Spalding took the lead for the third and final time, again after a short corner which was initially repelled.
We tried what we could to find another equaliser, first subbing defensive lynchpin Tom Anns and then Jason Mann in goal, but despite Jon Mann, Mark Williams and Matt Kenzie going close, it wasn't to be.
It remains tighter than a badger's nadger for the promotion spots in Div 4, so we move on to next week's trip to Cambridge City with motivation a'plenty.
This is how the game went in my head, we took a very very short drive to the seaside, had carpool karaoke competition on the way up. The car sunroof was open with the sunglasses on, it was a very hot day. As a team sitting on the top of the table after winning every game we went into this full of confidence, we were definitely going to win and win well. As everyone in our team really wants to play and no one ever drops out on the day.
But this is all lie.
Yes we did play car pool karaoke, but no one knew what Nev was singing, and yes I was hoping to put sunglasses on but I felt it was a bit cold for that, plus it was pouring down. Our car “the Essex boys” me Nev and Sev were clearly the healthiest in the team as we passed up the opportunity to have McDonald’s, as we are dedicated athletes (we had more time in bed instead).
When our car arrived perfectly on time as normal, we were surprised to see the unhealthy guys there early, and warming up, I naturally wanted to join in as it was bloody freezing!!! It was a really good warm up. But this didn’t last long, as HE WHO WILL NOT BE NAMED hit a ball at my arm meaning I had to start the game with an ice pack tape to my arm, what FUN. The most annoying bit about this was the fact it was my first time in arm pads in years.
The game kicked off at a slow damp pace, the team looked really good at marking but for some reason forgot that a defensive play needs someone to go and press the ball, unfortunately this took us some time to remember. In the first half they scored a goal.
At half time we had a chat, I moaned a bit.
In the second half we started to run off the ball, it was good to see this as this led to us getting a lot more of the ball and lots more shots. We had them pend back in there half of the pitch for decent spells, then the moment happened it was a awesome!! fantastic!! worldly of a......tap In after a goal mouth scramble, well done Tom whatever your surname is?? Blair? Dave?? Then shortly after this South used the wings for another well worked chance, this would definitely have be goal of the season (probably not) but somebody took lessons in shooting from me and kicked it, oh [dear]. So that was that, the game ended 1-1, to my astonishment we finished a game without any injuries, apparently my injured wrist doesn’t count, as was most likely caused by me marking furiously on my own.
The showers were very very hot, I’m not sure if this was because i was very very cold or not. The rest of the team got to hear Nev's singing voice too. We in the 3s are a helpful bunch and when Matt told the team he had a bad back and couldn’t pick anything up from the floor, we gave him pain killers. The pain killers were put on the floor. We are helpful not intelligent. The teas were in a small pub decorated for Halloween definitely very scary. We had some kind of soup, I was being very helpful and handing them out to the team. I didn’t hand out the bread as this was for both teams. I guess I should have now, 'cos this got me my lemon vote.
Riverrun, past Eve and Adam's, from swerve of shore to bend of bay, brings us by a commodius vicus of recirculation back to Howth Castle and Environs.
Self-doubt, double questioning when these things creep into one’s head and game it’s pretty much game over. This weekend’s game was tough. Man, we got schooled. It was a lesson in so many ways, e.g. man marking, channelling, not dive-tackling, quick one-touch passing, all the basics really. Our opposition were seasoned players as individuals and as a squad, and by seasoned I mean senior. Yes, we had pace and youth but so what, you don’t have to be fast to play good hockey. Yes, athleticism counts but playing smart hockey trumps exuberance every day of the week.
Bourne Deeping 4s Beat us fair and square. We have no one else to blame but ourselves. The opposition came out strong, scoring three very quick goals and by the time the half was done we were one for their five goals. The team, clearly upset by proceedings, took a collective decision to baton down the hatches and limit the number of goals in the second half, which worked perfectly: the final score was six-two. Bourne 4s, a team that had been relegated from the league above and a team that had been playing together for a long time, definitely won the first half but we made sure we came back by drawing the second, which as far as I am concerned shows true character and grit… Just you wait, Henry Wiggins, just you wait!!!!
I don’t know any lucid person that wakes up wanting to lose a gam. Everyone wants to win, right?! But as life would have it, there’s a winner and there’s a loser and if your sole aim in life is to win, well, then you’re going to be pretty disappointed most of your life so finding the silver lining in every game, win or lose, adds foundation to what I believe is a brilliant squad of players with a long, bright season ahead.
Past games mean nothing; future games are everything, and I’m looking forward to traveling to Horncastle this coming weekend.
Having spent a significant chunk of time on the touchline being patched up following my head-on-stick collision with an Ely mis-hit I felt safe in the knowledge that I could delegate the task of writing the match report to this week's LoM… Little did I know it would be me as a result of the said incident! So in caveat, I take no responsibility for any factual inaccuracies in this week's report due to a combination of mild concussion and only being able to see out of one eye for most of the match thanks to the Jack Sparrow-style eye patch hastily fitted by the home team manager/first aider.
The day started well despite the usual Siberian wind blowing in from the fens. Our CTO (Chief Tactical Officer), Rob B, gave us a briefing on the day's tactics and the slightly unfamiliar 3-4-3 formation. We started well, pressing deep into the Ely half from the push back. Within minutes, Steve B managed to get a deflection on a Jo D cross, which had the keeper beaten but just sneaked outside the post. South continued to put pressure on the Ely defence and it wasn't long before Steve B found himself on the end of another perfectly weighted cross, this time finding the net. The away team continued to press but it was Ely that re-discovered their mojo and equalised shortly before half-time. This definitely rattled the visitors.
Lifted by the half time talk from our CTO, South pushed hard to break the deadlock but, despite several shots on target from Rob B and what would have been a 'goal of the season' candidate from Jo D, it was the home team who found the target to grab a closely fought three-one victory. South continued to push right until the end with several promising attacks, but couldn't close the gap on a well-drilled Ely side.
MoM was a three way tie between Micheal G, 'Rock' Radford and Simon K, the latter taking the captain's casting vote. There were several other MoM-worthy performances however, including a confident league debut for James Y and Jo D with his excellent 3D skills in front of goal.
LoM…had to go to Captain Sparrow!
Next weekend we have an intra-club friendly, which will be a great opportunity to get back to basics and perfect our 16s, short corners, pressing, etc. in a full match environment, so please try and make it if you can.
Forget Harry Potter, the L1s faced adventures far scarier and much more magical than any escapades Hogwarts has to offer this October weekend. The chilling wind and frighteningly cold autumn morning saw the L1s head up the road to the Abbey. A pitch and a team to be reckoned with, the prospect of which was just too much of a commitment for some, as they left their shin pads behind to ensure they could make their way back, à la Hansel and Gretel. That’s why you left them behind, Nic, right?
The match started with an intense fifteen minutes, with the girls rallying against the scorching (but not in a warm kind of way; just annoyingly bright) sunshine and imposing themselves heavily on the Nomads team. There was some wonderful play through the centre line with the forward trio wreaking havoc for the Nomads defence. Triangles everywhere and short, sharp passes earned the girls triumph over the first half. There were some strong counterattacks from the Nomads, particularly using the width of the pitch. One could even say they used this to their advantage, pushing us out wide on a number of occasions. Not as Far and Wide as Katie G liked to travel, thinking outside the box and playing well outside the confining limitations of the sidelines. Oblivious to the actual rules of the game, she threw caution to the wind and challenged the Nomads in uncharted territory, i.e. she dribbled the ball out. More than once. This pumpkin-haired giant was not one for sticking on the safe side. Despite valiant efforts to remain within the pitch, she survived the forest (of fallen leaves on the side of the pitch) and returned relatively unscathed but knighted as LOM. Robyn McLean earned votes for MOM with a stormer at centre back, holding the fortress that is the L1s’ inner turret (a.k.a. our goal) against attack. I’ve suddenly gone all castle and scary tales. Perhaps as that was the event on the girls’ minds, keeping them going against the forces of Nomads’ attacks. Enter, a few knights in shining armour into our tale of fight or flight.
With everything a muddle the author has forgotten the order of the goals but not to fear because you can’t cast shadows on stars, and Alice WRIGHT shines far brighter than any Alice Walker I know. Working hard alongside Alice H and Laura L, they secured our two vital goals. One was formed first by a cracking shot from Laura which rebounded and was polished off by Alice WRIGHT; and the second a slick penalty corner, fired into goal from the left hand edge by Alice H, initially fed in by Alice WRIGHT.
Nomads rallied and stole a goal from the South side in the second half. The nerves of the Purples were tested throughout the second half. All jittery and unsettled, the pace changed and Nomads put up a good fight. Almost literally except, when you think about it, no swings were taken, no cross words exchanged, only that all of a sudden it was an ‘all legs in the air martial art themed’ escapade with Robs Murray and a Nomad player. Still not sure anyone knows the moral of (or reason for) that story. Valiantly she fought on and her efforts were recognised with MOM votes heading her way.
All in all a good day rounded off with a fun match, wonderful teas, and great chat. Nomads were out for a win but, as with every good horror story, it was all ok in the end and South prevailed. So calm yourselves.
The morning started with a series of complaints about how cold it was. Four degrees to be precise, but two degrees warmer than it was in Royston. This week H has decided to be a weather(wo)man. We all arrived at Long Road on time, joined by the ever-excited team mascot, Harley-Joe, who decided that laps of the changing room was an appropriate warm up for him.
Lucy’s pre-match warm up involved babysitting a young boy whose parents had forgotten there was no basketball as it was half term. He was, however, very excited to watch his first ever game of hockey. He was also picked up by his parents and isn’t still at Long Road.
We started strong and scored within the first five minutes. Dani played a bit of tennis with the keeper before pushing the ball past her right foot to put us one-nil up. After this, we got a little complacent and couldn’t convert again until the second half. Jess was joint Lemon and when asked to cover the first half of the game, her contribution was, ‘It wasn’t great.’ She’s not wrong. While we worked hard and created chances, we couldn’t convert. One such example was when Sam made a great run up the wing, crossed it to me only for me to kick the ball instead of scoring. Had this only happened once, I may have avoided Lemon. Unfortunately, it did not. Aoife, in a Man of the Match-winning performance, made some fantastic runs up the wing and fed ball after ball through to the mids and forwards. She, H and Lucy also closed down any threats at the other end of the pitch.
We went into half time still only one-nil up. Paul gave us a pep talk and we all agreed that we hadn’t taken control of the game. It was time to start again and play our game.
We went into the second half a lot stronger and quickly won a penalty corner. After a reverse box, Eimear slipped me the ball back on the P spot and I flicked it over the defender’s stick and we were two-nil up. Our third goal came from a ball slipped to Dani from Aoife and charged down the pitch. Dani drove into the D along the baseline and passed me the ball to make it three-nil. Sarah rocketed a ball into the D shortly after this. I picked it up, put it through the keeper’s legs and made it four-nil. Our fifth and final goal came from a ball into the D from Jess and a deflection from Dani through the keeper’s legs again.
Jess took a ball to the head (she is fine for those concerned)
Jenny ran her socks off as usual
H’s sanity is intact (questionable) now that we have beaten Royston
Paul is also happy that we beat Royston
Lucy went one-on-one with one of Royston’s best players and beat her every time
Kicking the ball more than three times in a game doesn’t stop you getting Lemon even if you score a hat-trick
Sarah, Jess, Grace, Sam and Rebecca cleaned up in midfield all game
Louise touched the ball four whole times
Eimear, Hannah, Dani and I made life difficult for Royston’s defenders
We’re quite good at hockey when we pass to each other and not to the opposition
Overall, a relatively solid team performance and one more win ticked off.
Fresh-faced from break week, we were primed for action and a spellbinding performance against Haverhill, for a crucial three points to secure our now-seventh place in the league. However, more importantly, we needed to wrap the game up ASAP with a win to really get us pepped up for the night’s spooky social… Asking a group of women to be ready to look like the living dead within an hour really is an ambitious request.
The arctic conditions and late start really took its toll on the girls’ dead minds. Hannah tried to buy her parking ticket from a bin, Olivia thought it was a great idea to warm up still carrying her backpack then play the first half of the game shinpadless (Olivia, are you training for some hardcore military operation we don’t know about?) Then Janette and Maria both thought a sit down in the middle of the game was required and Tuffers ONLY scored three goals. It seems the days of double-digit victories are long behind us.
The girls had a wonderfully strong start when, less than ten minutes in, Tuffers grabbed her first wicked slice of goal-pie. In such strong spirits, and with some splendorous passing along the wings, Lauren C’s textbook drive up the right wing, like magic, beautifully set up Tuffers’s anticipation on the flick spot to smash a cheeky second goal in. Proof that sometimes we do actually listen at training when not gossiping. Emily’s strong positioning and press formation helped to gel the team up front and Hayley was making some spooktacular tackles and stealing the ball off Haverhill. All in all, the 3s were killing it and two-nil up at half time had us in high spirits.
The second half saw the tactics slightly deviate in the team along the backline, inspired by the genius of Lydia, who secretly wanted a bit more action as frostbite was setting her with her stood in goal. After Tuffers secured her hat-trick for the game, Hannah thought it was a great idea to practise her whale calls in an effort to scare off the opposition, a ploy which was quickly imitated across the rest of the back line.
Janette won her Lemon award for a lay down in a manner of protest in front of the opposition when they came near and ready for battle, chanting that she’d be on strike until they gave the ball back to her. Even Haverhill’s goalie thought his was a great idea, as she decided to lie down and crawl about for about five minutes like a zombie. Ultimately these tactics worked and Lydia got in some paranormal saves, securing herself tied MOM alongside Lauren C for her terrifying tackles. Unfortunately, the plan slightly backfired when Haverhill managed to get a ghoulish goal in the last five minutes, bringing the final score up to three-one.
With MOM votes divided across six different players, it was clear how hard the team as a whole worked in the match. So, after our tumultuous victory we had the tightest turnaround known to man to gore-up and get ready for the social. Ultimately, the L3s’ experience of Halloween was summed up in blood (and lots of it), (alcohol) sweats, and the tears of Laurie’s victims who were subjected to being prodded by her very large stick. #teambonding
Despite having a rumoured two hundred short corners about about one hundred shots on goal, the Ladies’ 4th team “only” had a two-one triumphant victory over Ely L3s.
With ten attacking short corners within ten minutes (confirmed by the umpire!) we continued to dominate the game with a wonderful press on every Ely ball. It took its time but Anna C got a wonderful goal after hard-fought work in the D.
After agreeing to have a go at whacking the ball into the back of the goal, we set off in the second half with a wonderful aerial from Lou which Bex converted into our second goal. With Nicole and Harriet working well in the midfield we continued to control the game, with Ely only getting out of their own half a few times. Unfortunately one of these did result in a goal for Ely, but nonetheless the game was throughally enjoyed by all, regardless of the cold! Despite teas not actually being a legal requirement (as stated by Harriet on the way there) we did enjoy the homemade brownies made by the Ely captain!