A fine mist of mizzle descended down on Trent Park for a late Friday night push back under the lights for a brand new Southgate team taking on local rivals Hampstead & Westminster.
The team has been forged from the clubs Back to Hockey programme which runs sessions throughout the year on Saturday mornings and encourages people to pick up a stick again be it after 10 years, 25 years or for the first time.
After a fantastic warm up led by Brian Cade we headed out onto the water pitch ready to push back under the watchful eyes of experience in the form of Neil Prior and Andy Richardson.
Southgate came out strongly with Emily and Heather drawing fouls from the H&W defensive unit and Chris Rouse playing centre midfield doing well to distribute the ball through the channels.
Claire was playing her first game not on grass after a short break away and was a dogged adversary on the left midfield driving hard and tackling well linking up well with the defence led by Brian in the middle and supported superbly by Niamh and Sharon who held firm on the Ham & West attacks which came with increasing alacrity through the first quarter.
The second quarter saw us bring on super subs Michelle and Rhi who brought even more muscle to our elbow. Yet even Michiel who moved into midfield and played a stormer of a game both in mid and in defence later in the games couldn’t stop a swift H&W counter which saw the ball fed from the right goalie into the jaws of Justin Edwards goal mouth and alas slapped hard against the Gate backboard. Sending the team 1-0 down on home turf.
Yet far from being discouraged the side rallied hard and went on the attack and just before the stroke of half time saw Chris Ray who pas nicely to midfield colleague Chris Rouse who sent in a John Sterlini style pass into the D for captain Alastair Whatley to slot away and send Gate honour even.
At half time everyone was excitable and enjoying themselves and this attitude continued into the second half. Michelle going close on a couple of occasions and Emily a constant menace on the left. Chris Ray was also a menace attacking from midfield and Southgate appeared dominant. Michiel began to command the distribution from the defensive lines and send ball after ball cross court and to our sticks. Peter in midfield worked tirelessly and exerted great pressure forcing the turnover and on one such moment he found Chris Ray who found Alastair once again cruising the H&W D and a reverse stick shot have Southgate the lead.
The team saw out the game in clinical fashion and all headed upstairs for a celebratory drink with the opposition. It was a game played in great spirits and our thanks to the umpires who did a marvellous job at reminding us all of the rules and to our opposition for making the trip and to Michelle who organised the whole event. A return match has been planned and we can but hope we can continue our winning ways.