Match report by Alastair Whatley
The Lion led the way to the Flagons dressing room in the bowels of Southgate Hockey Centre on Sunday afternoon. A group of lions strong and true gathered at 2:17pm for an epic powerpoint presentation aimed at improving team dynamics and ensuring on point tactics. The assembled learnt a lot about Will Hargrove and the M1 defensive line up for the 23/24 season.
With inspiration from messers Hargrove and Robertson out the lions headed to do battle with the Kent based side known as Old Willies, or in their fuller incarnation as The Old Williamsonians.
The team welcomed new players Allan Dick, Dan McGrath, Brian Cade and Gavin Kay to their pride and all were soon to play their parts in a game that really was a do or die affair. One loss and all was lost in the bid for Lea Valley Glory in May.
The balcony thronged with support (largely for Old Willies) and soon Justin Edwards and Murray (?) blew their whistles and so it began. And it was quite voluble on the pitch and off. Lion Dillet got his fur in a bind with an early tussle with the Willies captain who seemed a little on the irate side of life. The men from Kent, the garden of England and home of Chris Pearce, immediately made an impression as they showcased some pretty wily skills and made trouble for our defensive felines. Some of them may have started passing to their centre forwards.
Elsewhere Irish Lion Dan McGrath was creating mischief in the middle and Lion Gavin Kay was doing things with his stick which impressed coach Todd and manager Simon orchestrating proceedings in the Southgate dugout.
It was defiantly feisty. The skipper got an elbow in the jowl. People were offering their thoughts to both umpires. The crowd kept roaring ‘come on old Willies’. It was tense.
Then the breakthrough as Irish Lion Dan did something with his stick and sent the ball leathered with alacrity and forceful intention at the goal and it went into the goal and Southgate fist pumped their way back to the half way line, 1-0 up and looking very happy about it.
And that lasted for about 3 minutes until a certain Lion passed the ball back to their forward line who passed it to their own centre forward now 1 on 1 with Scottish Lion Allan who was unable to stop the inevitable conclusion and so it came to pass that we went into the half time huddle 1-1 and facing an epic 35 minutes to ensure our 100% win rate (1 from 1) was continued.
Special mention must hereby be made to Lion Jon Huddleston (Hud Dog) who conjured his inner roar and swatted a near certain goal with dramatic flair worthy of a Tom Hiddleston chat show impression. Over the fence went the ball after it connected with HDJ’s stick (and thumb) landing far away in the field behind. Everyone roared. Even DJ Wayne on the decks.
The second half was pretty much exactly like the first half in many ways. Lots more shouting. Allan Dick pulled off save after save. Jon Huddleston pulled off more goal line clearances. Old Willies had a lot of chances. Southgate had a few of their own. There were a few cards. There was a lot of umpiring advice. Lion Raj had a fond moment with the sideline.
And then the hero of Saturday Lion Rich Martins came forth like a Herculean Colossus and moved like Darcy Bustle towards the P spot and with simplicity of purpose so nudged the ball that it went into the goal and everyone was really very happy as it meant the score was 2-1 and Southgate just had to hold on and hope.
The minutes ticked down. Dan got a card. Will got a card to make Dan feel about it. Old Willies peppered the Southgate D. The Pride of Southgate stood firm. Nothing went in the goal. The seconds dripped away like sand in a sauna. There were nerves on the sidelines.
And lo! The Cat blew the whistle and Old Willies sank to their knees in defeat as everyone suddenly cheered up and clapped hands and headed off to the bar.
This epic tussle meant that The Lions roar into the final 16 with an awesome record of 2 wins out of 2. They now face an even mightier task of taking on one of the strongest o40’s sides in the country as they venture away to Old Cranleighans on the 18th February.
Goals: McGrath, Martins
MOM: Hud Dog
Special thanks to Justin for umpiring