This is the season known to journalists as silly Season. Often so called because everyone is on holiday and there isn’t much news to report on. Such things become all great publications at one time or another. The SHC newsletter is no exception. Thus when there is no news as we found last week, the team at the newsletter forged a plan to make some news.
So it came to pass that at 7:30pm on the dot the editor of this esteemed publication arrived at the original birth place of Southgate Hockey Club , Ye Olde Cherry Tree, in whose ancient beams and hallowed bar stools our forefathers met one chilly October day in 1886 to ratify their visionary notion of making a hockey club in Southgate.
So the somewhat hastily formed plan was to re-visit this spot of legend and from there wend our way the many miles down the road to one of our next homes the illustrious Walker Ground. The idea being to step backwards in time and conjure inspiration for the forthcoming season whilst imbuing all who met us with SHC spirit.
In reality Ye Olde Cherry Tree is now a franchise owned by Vintage Inns with a cannily concealed Travelodge behind. Yet this was not a night to be put off by the commercial forces of the present. At 7:30pm on a Saturday this popular spot was filled with the hum of families, some locals and running well behind time at 7:43 came Lucca Bilyard the coach of the Ladies 3’s and U16’s boys. In his well travelled footsteps followed L2 coach and M1 player Charles Hamilton, behind him came the newly shorn 5’s Captain Joe Kelly with SHC World Cup legend St. George and at approaching 9pm came L1 player extraordinaire Milly Berndes-Cade redefining what it means to be fashionably late. It is possible she thought the whole event was more the stuff of idle day dreams and not an actual event.
Now in quorum and having assembled in the form of a hybrid somewhere between the Avengers and Sean of Dead we did struggle to know what to do with ourselves. For won’t of a better plan some drinks were ordered and we formed up for a team photo in honour of those who came before us. George took the photo, Joe Kelly held a rose between his teeth.
Then set we off on the long walk to the Walker Ground, crossing the ancient village green replete with stocks and cattle grazing rights. On our way we bumped into Paul Dongha- a fellow SHC man who must also have felt the call to pilgrimage (and a quiet pint). Surprisingly he didn’t seem so keen on joining our long march- understandably so.
Four minutes later we arrived to the bucolic vista of the Walker Ground- the church spire jutting into the darkening skies and the lights of the pavilion serving as a beacon to guide our weary bodies into port. As we got closer we detected the passing resemblance to a party taking place within, the sounds of music, laughter and the swill of good times rolling around the former home of SHC and down onto the steps and the grassy knoll beyond.
It was in fact Anne Surname Unknown’s 50th birthday. It might be possible that none of our assembled ranks could put hand on heart and say they either knew Anne or indeed any of Anne’s friends or family. Yet we’d come so far and our hearts were gladdened by the history beneath our feet, so we headed in and hoped nobody would notice.
At the bar drinks were ordered, George looked uncomfortable but the mood was relaxed and welcoming. We paid our respects to Anne and stood awkwardly at the bar looking out onto the perfectly formed cricket pitch which must surely have once served as our main and illustrious club pitch the home of many great triumphs through the late 70’s and 80’s. A glass was made to Kim and RBL who met within these walls and without whom their would be no VBL.
Attempting to learn the art of not outstaying ones welcome, 90 minutes later we crept stealth like outwards into the still night air and onwards to a final place for a cocktail and night cap in a well situated Cockfosters Bar.
It was a triumphant night with history and the past swirling around us which was in no way caused by the spirits ordered at the Walker Bar. Toasts were made by the team to players past and present and the plan is certainly to return to the Cherry Tree for a formal club dinner in October, to celebrate the anniversary of the inauguration of our club. For one thing is for certain, however much time passes, however much places change- Southgate Members know how to enjoy themselves. And spin a story when there really probably isn’t one.