Said a rude word and was sent to the naughty step
Background. Cambridge South M3s are generally characterised by steady, mid-table league performance. However, the loss of players due to head-detaching injuries, sodding off to London and general fear of adverse weather such as drizzle can lead to complications, such as suboptimal turnout, poor form, and decrease in morale. It has been suggested that a trip to Kettering to play their Men's Second XI (referred to as "Kettering M2s" herein) may be associated with improved sporting outcomes, namely victory and goals, though the association is not fully understood.
Aims. To travel to Kettering and play hockey.
Methods. This non-randomised, 11v11, head-to-head trial (referred to as "the match" herein) was undertaken according to a pre-specified protocol, as follows. Patients (n=11, referred to as "players" herein) were recruited via email, online spreadsheet and from other teams within the club. Four cars were arranged to depart from Long Road. Each player had a stick and an assigned position within the 2-3-2-3 formation (also known as a "series of triangles"; "that formation the M2s use"; "4-3-3 in all but name"). The primary endpoint was victory. Secondary outcomes included overall goals, actually scoring from a short corner, and avoiding injuries.
Results. 10 players attended Long Road, with three cars departing; one player (Nev) chose to drive to Stansted airport instead. The weather was poor. The pitch was sandy. Only two balls between ten players hampered the pre-match "smash balls at George" routine. The missing player (Nev) attended prior to pushback, and so was included in the final team. His initial prognosis was deemed “lemon-like".
The primary outcome (victory) was not reached: Cambridge South M3s (one goal: a two yard "Dookun special"); Kettering M2s (three goals: two from short corners). With only one goal scored, the tally was described as "low". At least five short corners were conceded by Kettering M2s; none of these were converted. Match-emergent adverse events were infrequent, though one player (Alex B) experienced a knee contusion from a strongly-hit ball. Despite failure to reach the primary and secondary outcomes, several of the players (Joe; Jonny; Pip) covered a significant amount of ground; their performance was deemed "good" by the investigator (and subsequently by the committee). Player adherence to the rules was generally good, and there were no significant differences in discipline between the two cohorts. Two Kettering M2s' players received cards for tackling, deemed "medieval" by the umpire; one Cambridge South M3s' player (Pash) received a yellow card for a clear protocol violation involving expletive feedback, deemed "profane" by the umpire. The player was later diagnosed a terminal lemon.
Discussion. Cambridge South M3s were shown to be inferior to Kettering M2s in this particular match, failing to reach any of the pre-designated primary or secondary outcomes. Unsurprisingly, no predefined short corner routine meant that execution ranged from "confused" to "dismal". Despite this, several players showed impressive performance over the course of the match and should be sought for future trials. Additional matches, preferably with actual substitutes, are desirable.
Limitations. Lack of substitutes; poor weather; bad language.
Expert Commentary. Bit of a wasted trip, really.