Match report by Alastair Whatley
0-6 W

The Flagons reformed this week around a stellar coaching team to sail through round 1 of the EH 040’s cup as they put 6 away against East London on Sunday afternoon.

There has been no 040’s hockey at Southgate since 2021 when the Flagons had their last hurrah in a 10-0 loss to Epsom and promptly folded with all hands lost. It seemed fitting that under new management, under crisp November skies the Flagons remoulded and formed up to begin a cup run we hope they will remember.

M1 assistant coach Huw Stevens has stepped into the vacant shoes of his invisible predecessor and around him he brought his staff to help breed a team of Lions capable of going all the way in this always unpredictable contest. Stevens brought with him M3 coach Todd Lomas, M2 coach Chris Pearce and M1 Manager Simon Parker into his team and formed a striking cohort as they plotted on the side lines of the famous Lea Valley stadium.

The team arrived off the team coach 90 minutes before PB to an eerily quiet stadium, the crowds being kept well back as the stars of Premier League Kwan Browne and …well just Kwan descended the steps and amidst tight security were bundled into changing room 6.

Assisted by team captain Alastair Whatley, Coach Stevens then began a team bonding session that electrified the Flagons as history, vision and therianthropic thought experiments fused a team of (slightly hungover) mature 040’s players into a pride of Lions.

After a warm-up that ran out of steam after 25 minutes the team lined up for a minutes silence. Still the crowds were held back and the stadium remained eerily quiet in the winter twilight as the Stratford lights twinkled in the distance like radiant specks of flagon glories past.

From the opening whistle the Flagons dominated with vice captains Andrew Westbrook and Alessandro Onano calling the press and defensive distribution with clinical precision. Andy Richardson fresh from an epic journey to Suffolk and back took to the pitch like a Spartan warrior and put in the beginnings of a muscular performance which saw him cover the pitch length multiple times in smart overlapping linking play that brought shimmers of light and hope to the black coated coaching staff huddling together for warmth as the temperature dropped.

Yet on the pitch things were heating up, as captain Whatley won the first PC and with Kwan Browne at top D choosing not to take the route 1 approach instead slipped it inside to Rich Martins whose shot was well saved by the East London keeper, lo-Whatley retrieved the rebutted ball, sunk low and delivered a charging ball across the goal mouth for Simon ‘Os’ Bate to collar it home alpha touri and in so doing became the first Flagon on the scoreboard.

Lorenzo Giunta, Andy ‘Robbo’ Robertson and Raj Saha worked like Trojans in the centre of the pitch with Will Hargrove linking the lines with a dash of intelligence and skill. It wasn’t long before the effervescent Rich Martins picked up a neat deflection from a well worked sequence in partnership with former Trinidad & Tobago
International player Dillet Gilkes who became more influential as the game went on.

At half time The Flagons looked comfortable with the 2-0 advantage yet East London showed moments of threat and at one point the Justin ‘The Cat’ Edwards was led out of his cage on a very dance by their centre forward yet fortunately The Cat managed to keep it together and neutralised the attack.

In the second half Dillet Gilkes and Andrew ‘Westy’ Westbrook dominated in the forward lines and soon Gilkes sent a shot from the right hand D high and across the goal with Whatley waiting like a prone gazelle at the rear post. Fortunately for all, an EL defender bundled it into his own goal and the Flagons looked set at 3-0 with 30 minutes to play.

There followed a succession of East London possession and multiple PC’s were awarded- all dealt with with some trenchant defending from M5 captain Jon Huddleston and M1 player Kwan Browne all watched over by The Cat in his goal. Duncan Trathen enjoyed some moments of poetry putting in a colossus like performance and was seen in his playing kit from the the moment he arrived at 14:15 until the early hours of Monday morning, Dillet was soon back into the fray dancing like Fred Astaire into the D past a swathe of opposition forces and with real class put away a scorching strike to give the Flagons more room for manoeuvre at 4-0. When asked for comment on his brace of
goals, Gilkes replied with generosity of spirit atypical of certain attacking players, “I think both were “own goals” one was a back hand shot that may or may not been on target that someone redirected into the top bin. The other was a silky move down the right side followed by a tempting pass to a player from the opposite team.”

M6 captain Hargrove soon replaced M1 flicker Kwan Browne at top D and second time lucky poleaxed the EL keeper with a natty flick that nutmegged everyone. All that was left was for Alessandro Onano to inject to Kwan Browne on the stop for skipper Whatley to strike a ball home past the EL keeper left kicker to seal a memorable 6-0 win.

Thanks to the crowds who supported, to the coaches and management staff for their guidance and to the players for turning up with vigour (and punctuality). It was an auspicious start for this new look team and showed their intent and Lion like mentality to go deep into this very serious competition.

Andy Richardson
Mentioned in Dispatches
Os Bate, Dillet Gilkes