Women return to action
Both the water and hybrid pitches were buzzing with activity on the morning of Saturday April 3 as the ladies’ section returned to hockey.
Some 54 players across all teams from ladies 1s-5s, U16s and U18s as well as representatives from the Flutes (masters) played in small-sided games with goalies leaving their pads at home and enjoying the thrill of playing outfield.
“It was great fun” said Kathy Hammond, a Flute and L5s player who also runs the club’s 18-86 alumni programme. “Each team was a mixture of players from across the teams so we got to play with people we don’t usually and even meet some new youngsters getting their first taste of adult hockey. It was brilliant to welcome back some of our alumnae too.”
Selectors Jo Berndes, Kim Bishop-Laggett and Charlotte Childs organised the two-hour long mini tournament with coach Charles Hamilton also in attendance. “I’m so pleased people enjoyed themselves,” said Kim. “Feedback has been good.”
Photos are courtesy of Jo Price who is also a Flute and L5s player. “It was a great session and well-organised,” said Jo.
Big thanks to the umpires – Charles, Dave, Justin, Magda, Pin, Sarah and Tony.
M1s/2s Mix Up
White team beat Red team 3-0
3s/4s Mix Up – Team Todd (Red) vs Team Alex (White)
Report by Neil Prior
Finished 7-1 in favour of Team Alex.
Despite the score line for 90% of the game it was a closely contested game, at least four of the goals from the winning side coming in the last five or so minutes.
The difference between the two sides was largely familiarity with ones team mates. Team Alex was largely made up of 4s regulars, whereas Team Todd (due to injury and availability) was more of a hotch-potch of players from various teams, with a couple of players having doubled-up from the previous fixture.
That said there was good, free-flowing hockey on display. It was great to see 1s player Charles Hamilton mingling with the 3s, 4s and 5s players and to see Ollie Izzo (back from University for the Easter break) reminding us of his silky skills. Rob Gill was playing with the aggression we have grown used to (not always in a good way!) in the London League Prem – perhaps a slightly more laid back approach could have been adopted for an Intra Club friendly! Harry Haynes was seen playing left back in the second half, such were the personnel issues experienced by Todd Lomas’s team due to late cry-offs! This is not to take anything away from Team Alex – clearly lockdown fitness training has given an extra yard of pace to the likes of Tom Murphy and Tom Davies who both made great use this new advantage in midfield linking up well with Kabir Bowry, Mitch Read, Jackson Trathen and Lik to create numerous attacks on goal, resulting (as the score line showed) in many successful conversions. Defensively, Team Alex were strong with Matt Hawkins and Lucas Jaehnig both standing out for special mention and Alex Jones in goal making a number of good saves to maintain his team’s advantage. Tireless effort in midfield from Michael Collins, Oscar Prior and Noah Lavy for the red team could not hold the white team back in the end, as what started off as an even contest, ended in a rather unflattering score line; but it seems fun was had by all.
Many thanks to Will Hargrove and Nigel Dixon for umpiring the game in their respective usual and different characteristic styles.
4A’S (whites) vs 3A’s (+5’s) (reds)
Report by Jon Huddleston
The return to hockey for the men got off to a cracking start with an engrossing to and fro battle between the 4As and a 3As/5s mash-up.
After a little light sparring in the opening stages, the match quickly settled into a rhythm, with the youth of the 3As controlling possession and the 4As soaking up the pressure and looking dangerous on the break, making effective use of Leo Garner and Jack Levene to create chances. The consequence of this was the cancelling out of each attack by the well-organised defences, Nigel Knight marshalling his young team intelligently at one end, and James Rushton and Jon Huddleston taking advantage of a tendency to just hold on to the ball a little too long at the other. Dave Richardson and Ruben Straat had the best of the chances for the 3As but smart work by Ollie Costelloe and Alex Hyer kept them at bay.
The deadlock could not last however, and in the second half, a combination of players finding their touch after shaking off the winter rust and an all-round limit on fitness began to open up the game. Noah Lavy and Oscar Prior, linking up effectively with Haimish Patel and Dhillon Shukla amongst others, became increasingly prominent, and it was Prior who finally broke the game’s duck with a clinical strike to keeper Neil Common’s left.
This had the effect of waking up the 4As and after great approach play from Guy Garner and his brother on the right 3A’s keeper Sam Levene was forced into a point blank save. The fall fell to Os Bate at the top of the D, who lashed a stunning strike into the top of the net.
Suddenly, the 4As began to dominate and shortly afterwards another great run from Leo split the defence, leaving the ever threatening Jack Levene a tap-in at the far post. It was a lovely goal.
Not to be out-done, the 3As came roaring back and after pulling the 4As back line out of position, Dave Richardson crashed the ball home. A third goal arrived shortly afterwards and with only three minutes left on the clock, it appeared decisive.
But that was without reckoning on the determination of Will Hargrove, Simon Holmes and Alastair Whatley to push for the equaliser. With seconds left they forced a penalty corner, the fabled 4As routine went into action, and, after a good initial save, it was skipper Hargrove who took advantage of hesitation in the 3A defence to lash the ball into the net. The whistle sounded seconds later and both teams were left to reflect on a great game and, ultimately, a fair result.
Although not able to name check everyone in the game, it is worth pointing out that no-one had a bad performance and all looked well set to take advantage of the hockey to come in the weeks ahead. A special thanks too to the umpires, Neil Prior and Paul Creeley. Never easy to umpire intra-club matches but they both played an absolute blinder throughout. Thanks folks!
5A’s/Tankards Mix Up
Report by Justin Edwards
Half-time: 2-1 to team Nigel SK
Great to be back out on the pitch was the refrain from everyone who played in this game; it’s just a pity that the weather didn’t oblige with some sun but you can’t have it all!
A super game to be part of but it’s fair to say that the de-conditioning effects of the COVID lockdown were evident and there’ll be plenty of sore legs after the match!! Reds (team Justin) faced up to Whites (team Nigel SK) and it was a game played in a very good spirit, with some super attacking play from both teams. It was great to see Brian Woolcott back in a SHC jersey after a long period out with injury and he produced some fine touches throughout the course of the game. In addition, a couple of very good debuts from both junior players, Nayan Bhundia & Arun Solanki, for the men’s section; well done and fantastic to have you both on board.
Highlights of the first half of the game included a deft poachers finish from Jez Lavy to put team Nigel SK up at 2-1, some really impressive defensive and distribution work from RBL (team Justin) to keep things tidy at the back, great attacking work from David James, Sajiv Saha, Rafi Rosenfield and Sohan Dhana (team Nigel SK; I was certainly grateful for the final whistle after chasing them for 70 minutes!) and Cameron Clayton-Smith, Cass Rouse & Fergus Comrie (team Justin), all playing across midfield and forward positions. Both keepers, Nigel Dixon and Cliff Peck, kept things tight and produced some fine stops. Half time 2-1 to team Nigel SK
The second half highlights are team Justin getting back to 2-2 (apologies, can’t remember who scored! ed. Cass Rouse ) and this it remained until a forward excursion from team Nigel SK saw Tony Mastroddi in an advanced position, taking the ball at the top left of the D and lifting a shot towards the goal; I am reliably told it was going wide but in my efforts to get a stick on the ball and clear it, it promptly hit the outer top part of my shin pad and deflected left into the net, giving Cliff in goal (falling to the right to cover the shot) no chance; Tony insisted to me after the game that the deflection was all part of the finely executed nature of the shot! Cue celebrations from team Nigel SK and a rather crestfallen team Justin captain!! Team SK up 3-2 but they had committed the almost Spurs like (and I write this as a Spurs fan) error of scoring with 10 minutes still left on the clock! Step forward Chris Rouse to spare his captain’s blushes with a couple of minutes to go: receiving the ball at the top right of the D, he rolled out to the right to give himself some more space and then produced a great strike into the bottom left of Nigel Dixon’s goal; nothing Nigel could do about that. 3-3!
It finished 3-3 and what a great way to get back to playing again. Many thanks to both Brian Cade & Chris James, who both had excellent games umpiring; much appreciated.
Ali Priestley Birthday Testimonial Game
(Flagons/Titans Mix Up)
3 (Reds) – 2 (Whites)
Report by Tony Wizbek
With great joy and anticipation we took the field, with an over 90% vaccination rate we were now feeling free and confident.
The first half dominated by the Titans looking like they had never been away, seamlessly passing through Biff in the middle and utilising Howie Wilson who was bossing the right midfield to great effect.
With endeavor and a splattering on skill the titans powered into a 3-0 lead at half time with The Flagons tamed to 2 or 3 chances.
The second half was a different story, The flagons tactical genius (hodgie) bolstered the midfield with an extra man. This along with fading energy levels made the first 20 minutes of the second half an assault on The Presidents goal, what followed was truly an exhibition . The Flagons moving the ball around the pitch majestically at times created chance after chance however, with some stoic defending, poor finishing, a couple of great saves and the luck of a lottery millionaire it was 3-2 with 10 mins to go.
Enter Jatin and Greg the chosen impact forward pairing to put the game to bed for the titans, it was now end to end stuff with some of the hockey unbelievable in so soo many ways.
Another break by the rejuvenated Titans put Jatin on the ball with only the canny Mike ‘The Cat’ Hadden to beat, totally out of character he squares the ball to the waiting Greg who at this point I can only imagine must have been so surprised he forgot to put the ball in the net.
The tension was now unbearable The flagons with a short corner saved by ‘El Presidente’, another short past the post! It is now so exciting that even one of the umpires started watching.
2 minutes to go the game on a knife edge, again a flowing move by the Titans found the elegant Jatin in the ‘D’ Greg was arriving with the energy and grace of a giselle pleading for another chance to right the wrongs of earlier. Jatin with memories of their last encounter flashing before his eyes again granted Greg the chance he had been dreaming of, of the chance of redemption he rolled the ball square to the advancing and grateful Greg, alas it seemed all too much and he was again unable to secure the 2 goal lead we now deserved.
It all finished with 3-2 win for the Titans a wonderful game played with great fervour and spirt, but mostly a joy not to be on the sofa.