Waking up at 8 o’clock on Saturday morning, I was filled with excitement. For months on end, I had been looking forward to this day. 189 long days since the last league match at Long Road. 189 days since the ups and downs. 189 days since the thrills, the drama & scarcely believable scenes. I gazed lovingly at my bedside photo of Tom Anns, looking magnificent in a revealing satin kimono, and I could barely wait to watch the M2s in action once again.
Before the wait ended, the M1s had a match to play against Wapping 4s. Captaining the team in a league fixture for the first time, my mind was occupied with dreams of Churchillian leadership. As a result, the warm up started off badly as I failed to remember any more than four stretches. After the short warm up, former captain Jim Hockley inspired the troops with tales of former battles with Wapping: “They’ll be feisty,” he said. “They’ll go hard in the first ten minutes,” he said. “We must go hard in the first ten minutes,” he said. And that’s exactly what South did.
After around ten minutes, Paresh turned the ball over and made a trademark bullet pass for Shin to pick up. Attacking top left of the D, with his trademark trickery, Shin shot across goal where Wizard forced a save from the keeper, with a trademark deflection. In charged Jim, with a trademark burst of power, on hand to put the rebound away. All in all, a trademark goal. One-nil.
What followed was a highly competitive and enjoyable match with, contrary to the pre-match warning, a decent bunch of blokes. The score by halftime remained the same and the message was to make the most of the space on offer in the middle third. For the first twenty minutes of the second half we were in total control and continued to create lots of opportunities, with P pulling all the strings. We set up camp on Wapping’s 23 but failed to finish the game off.
As the match went on, Wapping become increasingly dangerous on the counter, getting the ball high up the pitch quickly and swarming forwards. A resulting short corner ended with the devastating equaliser. The following ten minutes saw Wapping put us under lots of pressure, so it was a relief in the end to weather the storm. A nerve wrecking last five saw both teams create chances, but ultimately ended in a draw. The general feeling was that we deserved to take the three points, but regardless it was a very good team performance with lots of positives.
Colin didn’t throw a single squaerial and gives the best high fives.
Owen didn’t get a third green in as many weeks.
Jim still has the best reverse strike in the club.
Paresh sorted out the match teas (resulting in Man of the Match).
When subbing on, Jon charged on to the pitch forgetting to take his training top off. After he realised his mistake, he shouted, “I’m in disguise.” The whole debacle resulted in Lemon of the Match.
In other news, I am now a proud possessor of The Science of Hockey by Horst Wein, published 1973 (loaned by M2s skipper, Simon Cooper). The inside cover describes the book as, “A penetrating and provoking analysis of all the skills of hockey.” With a detailed explanation of the offside rule, as well as Chapter 17: “The point of Limbering up”, I’m filled with optimism about where this book may take us for the rest of the season.
Our season had started in inauspicious fashion last week. Moments before esteemed chairman, Mr Greaves, published my Jim Telfer rip-off (a call to arms for the M2s, in an attempt to thrust us forward to the heady heights of Div 3NW this year), we had been out-muscled by a St Ives XI that showed considerable improvement from last time out and may well be challenging at the business end of the league table when March rolls around. Meanwhile, the M3s were comprehensively outplaying St Neots. They then went on to back this up with another point in the midday push-back on Saturday and we were already four points behind. The Div 4 contest was suddenly looking to be a one-horse race.
Our 3pm match saw us welcome Wisbech 2s, who had just come down from the league above. This promised to be another tough test, for which we’d surely need all of our big guns on the field.
The action now pauses for a moment to consider the following excerpt from the recent James Menzies biography, written by one T. Anns.
James awoke, feeling a trifle squiffy. He was fairy sure he’d taken Biffy at that last game of Ring Hook, but the old upstairs department was proving a frightfully tricksy devil at the moment. He popped in a couple of figs and waited for his foot bath. Today was going to be a good day. He thought fleetingly of his hockey chums and their ‘big game’. Weren’t they all big games, he pondered, as a bead of syrup congealed on his luxuriant beard? The question, as always, was one of perspective.
Back at Long Road, ‘intensity’ was the word of the hour. We resolved not give our visitors anything for free. We chatted intensely. We got changed intensely (an interesting sight). We warmed up intensely.
It was intense.
The game began with a pre-planned solo foray from Jack Chalk. Jack carried the fight to the massed Wisbech ranks with all the gusto he could manage. Spurred on, the rest of us followed this forlorn hope up-field, setting the tone for the rest of the game. We were up for the challenge.
What followed was an old-fashioned, sleeves-rolled-up contest. With the older hands engaged in a proper arm-wrestle, youngsters Max Holgate and Tom Steed glided around skilfully, mostly managing to evade the clumsy rough-stuff. Barney Studdart had been re-cast in mid-week from a reluctant midfielder to an auxiliary right-back, and he took to his new role in some style, even managing one full-frontal reverse stick block. Non-Beardy Matt threw in a couple of trademark infinity pokes to thwart Wisbech attacks and Walsh was proving consistently effective in the middle of the pitch, shuffling left to right and back again in his typically low-slung style, an energetically doughy combination of elbows and cheeks. It was all going well.
Half time was so positive that Oven even forgot to hand out the Haribo.
The second half saw more of the same, with both sides fighting for supremacy but neither establishing a convincing argument for it.
It was the away team that struck first; a short corner slipped left and then hoodwinked past an unsighted Anns.
There was no question of the South boys crumbling though. Polge had warmed up his hamstrings by this point and started to fizz around up top, aided and abetted by Mathews’ willing running. Several penalty corners ensued as the pressure mounted, before Steed ghosted in to slide home a deserved equaliser. Incredible scenes followed as he streaked off to the sidelines, to be duly mobbed by an onrushing management team. Eyes were tight shut. Mouths were wide open with bellows of defiance. Chests were thumped. Oven had gone full Mourinho.
As the stakes were raised, so were tensions. Jack’s stick went for a quick airborne trip. A pair of Wisbech players in quick succession were invited to take a breather. We had a short corner awarded just as a ball was being struck goal-ward. It was all kicking off.
As it was, either side could have claimed to have done enough to have won the game but neither did. Our visitors were happy enough with a point, which took them to second place in the table (one place behind St Ives, who are the only team with two wins from their first two games). It promises to be a competitive league this year but if we can match the heart and courage shown today then we should be in good order.
This report shall follow the M3s’ naming conventions as laid down by Dom in the St Neots match report – first names only, no quarter given to the reader in telling between the various Matts, Alexs and Doms in the M3s squad. You are on your own!
The game opened explosively, as within the first few minutes Dom had put us ahead and Dom had got himself green carded.
The opening goal was actually inside twenty seconds. And for the first fifteen of those the ball was in Nomads’ possession after they had taken the opening centre-pass… They went backwards and then attempted to shift it across their backline. Simon intercepted this and immediately fed the ball into the circle, where Dom lunged to get a faint touch which beat the stunned keeper. Cue our subs on the sideline, distracted by sorting out water bottles, stop watches and the like, turning around asking “What just happened? Did we score?”
Maybe this was all too easy, as the side it seemed to settle most was Nomads! They pressed us very hard for the following fifteen minutes. We struggled to clear halfway or even our own 23 at times during this time, as the pace the hosts were playing the game at was proving too intense for us to cope with. An early sign of this pressure came with a free hit given against Dom, much to his annoyance. He complained to the ump as it was given and then complained again after the subsequent move had broken down. The ump saw this as lime-worthy and we had our lemon for the day, and that despite stiff competition later in the match.
As the half wore on we adapted to the speed of the game and begun to threaten ourselves, with the Nomads keeper pulling off a very good save to deny Alex (fed by Joe, who may in turn have received the ball from Alex or Alex) and keep the gap at one. So it was somewhat frustrating that this was the point when our hosts equalised. Two missed tackles were the root cause, allowing an overload that Nomads worked efficiently.
Though this was clearly deserved given the prior pressure we had been under, by the time of the goal the balance of play had already started to shift, and the half culminated with play mostly at the Nomads end of the pitch. That continued to be the case throughout the second period as we were the side looking much the more likely to claim the three points. At one point some players remarked that it felt like we now had significantly more space to work. That probably had something to do with our opponents being down to nine men at the time of this observation, after a yellow was quickly followed by another Nomad seeing green.
Whilst we didn’t really make the most of our numerical advantage, half-chances in the Nomads' D were coming, shorts were being won and, from those, shots were zeroing in on goal. The most notable were two flicked efforts by Dom that the keeper padded and kicked wide. We were pushing for the winner. Well, most of us. Neil appeared happy with one-one, as he held the ball in the far right corner with still a good five minutes on the clock. Twist, turn, dribble; he wasn’t going anywhere or even trying to, but getting the ball off him was proving difficult as five times Nomads jabbed it away but over the sideline, leading to repeat performances. The home defenders were getting visibly frustrated at this, which eventually induced one of them to not retreat five from the next sideline and give away a short. Neil suggested after the game that this had been his plan all along. Hmm. Such play was deemed worthy of a lemon vote (and also a MoM vote) on account of ball hogging.
Maybe Neil was right that it was safest on his stick, if Joe’s tomahawk attempt in the closing minutes was anything to go by. Joe had jinked well to give himself space to pirouette and fire, but the shot that followed had a trajectory better suited to a rocket launch. Around the same time, a Russian spy satellite that was above Britain mysteriously ceased communicating with its controllers [don’t worry Joe, I’m sure Theresa May will take the blame – this is a woman who can be taken by surprise by a General Election that she called. She surely can persuaded that she ordered the use of a highly secret new weapon and has simply forgotten about it]. Joe subsequently claimed that his success rate with such attempts would be around one in three (shots at goal that is, not clandestine warfare). Highly dubious. And yet even this couldn’t quite displace the Hulk…
Once a new orb had been sourced, the remaining time could be played out for the draw. It means we have four points from our first two games, and currently sit third in the table, one of just three unbeaten teams left in this league after two rounds of matches. Encouraging is the word, I think. We will look to maintain that start next week when Alford 1sts visit Long Road.
Mr Jan Brynjollfffsssen's predictions for a close game were true for the first ten minutes of this competitive but friendly…friendly fixture against an unfamiliar St Ives team reinforced with a couple of Umpalumpas (aka brilliant 4ft high youngsters).
Both sides started energetically but it was midfield maestro, Oli Anderson, who showed how it should be done with a spellbinding dribble ending with him slotting the ball into the net from close range. This encouraged the rest of the team to join in the fun. After winning a series of long corners it was calm Dr Marshman sending a corner to Wilco Dijkstra, who made room to fire the ball into the D for John Greaves to smash it into goal from ten yards out on the volley. This was deserved reward after a few good crosses from his new right wing position
By this stage Cambridge South were on top, snuffing out St Ives' attacks by tight defending with Ho/Williamson/Rosenzvaig/South prominent, and sensible passing upfield. After half time, that man Greaves grabbed his second via a goalmouth scramble, once again after a Wilco hit into the danger area. Demon goal hunter Rob Barton decided it was now time to show his wares and, having been unlucky with various efforts (just outside the post, blocked by over-talented GK etc.), he latched on to yet another through pass from General James to sneak the ball through that keeper and gently over the line into the goal. Four-nil.
The home team stuck to the masterplan and further reinforced their superiority with a final move started and finished by our overseas signing, Mariano Rosenzvaig, who gleefully forced the ball into goal from about one metre.
It could have been a good few more had we got a stick on to some booming hits into the D, and had that St Ives keeper not made a couple of spectacular diving saves at the top corner of his goal, particularly from in-form Oli Anderson.
Today we had skill, enthusiasm (maybe a little too much of the latter, as Jason James sought to squash an umpalumpa or two, but they gave as good as they got), fine team play, and a well-functioning formation. These give us hope for the start of the league season next week. Bring on Kettering.
An almost flawless victory for Cambridge South M5s’ team this week, with Andi Caddy kindly volunteering to be in goal.
Having played the game as a race to see who would score first, both teams were neck and neck until towards the final moments of the first half when a short corner was awarded. Howard Steed pushed the ball with pinpoint accuracy to Captain Creed, who whacked the ball with might, hitting the backboard with a satisfying ‘clunk’ so thunderous that it sent a shiver down one’s spine. One-nil, and half time.
With South emboldened and energised, more goals came in quick succession after the break:
Nick Georgiadis made a quick pass to Stuart Creed, who made a fast sniping pass to Peter Creed, who, upon seeing an opening to Shahbaz Ali, sent him a cross inside the D. Shahbaz skillfully lifted the ball above the players’ sticks and keeper’s limbs into the high parts of the net. In contrast to the previous goal, there was no sound to be heard, which took even the umpires by surprise as they took a few seconds to gather their confidence and award the goal. Two-nil.
We made quite a few break-throughs towards the opposition D, thanks to a partnership between Alex West and Oliver Weston on the right, and Simon Kitchen on the left, paired with Adrian Granger Brown, who menaced the opposition at both ends of the field. There were a number of shots on goal, but the opposition’s goalkeeper did a great job of keeping them out. Shortly after, Adrian positioned himself superbly, finding a wide space inside the opposition D with a good shooting angle. Received a cross, he hammered the ball across the ground into the opposition goal, making it look effortless. Three-nil.
Winning another short corner meant that Mr Steed got to show off his push-out skills once again - this time towards Stuart Creed waiting with his stick across the ground, ready to perform a dead-stop, with Shahbaz Ali poised beside him for his signature-special drag flick. Ball pushed out, Stuart stops it dead. Shahbaz runs up, lifts and drags the ball into the air across the flat of his stick and slings it into the corner of the opposition net. Once again, complete silence mixed with awe, while the umpires took a few seconds to compose themselves after wondering what the heck just happened. Four-nil.
The M5s’ final goal comes as Peter Creed receives the ball at top D, dribbles it around a player and skillfully shoots it at a surprising angle straight into the bottom corner - How did…? What? When?… No-one knows; well done lad! Five-nil.
The opposition did break through the front lines on a number of occasion, but Garth Wells and Man of the Match, James Piper, skillfully put a stop to most incursions. Such was the strength of the duo that through the entire game, goal keeper Andi Caddy only had three touches of the ball. On one such encounter, a ball was unfortunately deflected by one of our players into our goal. A simple spot of bad luck. Five-one.
The tremendous win contributed to a great atmosphere during teas, where sandwiches, crisps and chocolates were gulped down in celebration.
Over the hills and far away, the Ladies Twos were set to play. A treacherous journey for some lay ahead, it was the stuff of legend, or so it is said. The lemon endured buses, taxis and marathons to meet; alas, the team were away, St Ives they did seek.
The sun shone down and the battle began. "For glory!" Louisa cried, and off they ran. The game was ferocious, with attack from both sides, but Annie scored early, a blow for St Ives. With Emma-Rose, Izzy and Eimear as wingers, South looked dangerous, and their praise we must sing(-ers…). Earning MoM, Mel had a knockout game, dribbling left, right and centre, we all tried the same. Coordinated teamwork amongst our back lines, meant back and around switched the ball between sides (I'm pretty sure that one doesn't rhyme).
A hard press from opposition, meant the score became level. Fear not! for Alice fired into the goal, and the team they did revel. The rest of game was much the same, and superstar manager Serin deserves the name. Facing strong opposition from the ladies in green, who really put forward an impressive team. Fatigue setting in with not long to go: a short corner, from where I don't know. St Ives defence in the goal and ready to pounce, a clever slip from Emma-Rose out right was worth every ounce. One last goal by Katie secured and the cheerful, yet tired, purples endured.
Realising poor grammar and lack of ability to rhyme, I've decided to make, the next my last line.
In conclusion, we won three-one, tough match, lots of impressive teamwork and ready to start the season happily ever after.
This week the L3s had a really great match, beating St Ives very confidently with a final score of five-one. Coming out strong from the start, Cambridge South held possession of the ball for the majority of the time, constantly harrying the St Ives D. Defenders Laurie, Jenny, Ani, Lauren and Hannah did some fantastic passing around the back which opened up tonnes of opportunities.
Eventually, our constant pressure in the opposing D led to a short corner and the first goal of the match. While the initial short corner plan didn’t exactly come to fruition, the team kept their heads and improvised beautifully. The ball was expertly passed from the injection, around the edge of the D, down to the baseline, across the keeper and on to Rosie’s stick, who expertly put it in the back of the goal. Strong team effort on this one for sure!
Following that, a goal from a very determined Hazel and a goal in return from the opposition brought us to two-one at half time. Re-fuelled by Haribo and jelly beans, the team came back out strong for a cracker of a second half. Goal opportunities were created left, right and centre, with excitement when Hazel tried to flip the ball over the keeper, Kath wacked a short corner strike inches from the post and Jenny came up from defence, dodging at least four players to take a shot on goal. Not to be denied though, the first goal of the half came from Emily neatly putting it away in the corner. The next goal came from Sally, with a stunning hit from the edge of the D causing the ball to blaze past the goalie, forming the most spectacular goal of the season so far. It was beautiful. Well done Sally!
Finally, Rosie rounded off the match with another goal, once again from a short corner! We know the near post is in expert hands with Rosie when it comes to short corners! Man of the match went to Sally for her fabulous goal but she was closely followed by Jenny for her fantastic work in defence. Special mention also to Lucy, who ran like crazy to man-mark the pesky, super fast player on the opposing side, expertly marking her out of the game. Lemon of the match goes to Rebecca for passing back to the opposing side from a long corner. Overall, this week the L3s retained possession of the ball really well, worked around the back to switch and linked passes expertly. It bodes well for the season to come and will hopefully result in success for the coming matches.
Another excellent start for the Ladies 4s, with a two-one win against Bury St Edmunds 4s in this pre-season friendly. The teams were well matched, with South taking possession of the ball in the attacking half for most of the match.
Congratulations to Charlotte Wilson for her debut as a goalkeeper, having never donned a kit before.
Goal scorers were Elaine Paterson and Liz Dunsby, who was also awarded Man of the Match. L4s captain, Laura Edge was nominated as Lemon simply for not being at the game!
Thank you to Bury for providing the L4s with some sideline support and tips. All in all, a great match and a promising start for the commencement of the league season next week.