The Big Blue Tournament

Sabres vs Havering

W 2-0 (sort of)

Report by Alastair Whatley

This former Olympic stadium has seen some drama in its short life: from the Germans winning Gold in 2012 to the Euro Hockey Championships in 2015 and now it can add Southgate Sabres vs Havering to that weighty list.

A new team consisting of some 5’s, 3A’s and 4A’s (with player/coach Charles) arrived with the intention of making a positive start to the inaugural Big Blue Tournament. We brought one travelling umpire in the form of Mark Langley and two travelling spectators in the form of Duncan Trathen and Russell Levene who did their best to fill the chasm of empty seats that echoed around the stadium.

It was a game less of two halves but rather of three thirds…

1st Third

The game got off to a physical start with Havering attempting to assert themselves, at one point quite literally as their well boned forward deciding the only way to keep the irrepressible Rory Willmott down was by quite literally sitting on hm. This caused some mirth to the team and some pain to Rory.

Some moments passed but with Rory recovered and the game flowing like lava Lucca was passed the ball by Haimish Patel who missed (dummied) the ball only to find the steely eyed Lucca Bilyard who scored the first goal of the game soon followed by Will Hargrove from a short corner. Then came Charles Hamilton who decided the time was nigh to offer his signature move down the left hand side- the old reverse dribble, muscle twitch fibres on display for all to see. This clearly caught the Havering Umpire’s attention and when he scored a slightly impressive looking goal- Charles and Lucca where soon called over for a conversation with the umpire- both players accused of perhaps being a bit too good for the game. This delighted Lucca who could produce his 5’s identity card- alas Charles had mislaid his and was soon sent to the bench in time for the whistle and the score was 3-0.

2nd Third

After the first interval in play, the score became 1-0. We blamed Charles. Yet Mark Langley made some very good and reasonable points which were swiftly agreed by both teams and on we went. The Sabres picked themselves up and kept on playing and Will soon scored another goal from yet another short corner. The mood was at this point slightly fractious- although it must be said our opposition although a physically strong team were largely very relaxed and playing at intervals some good hockey certainly more than enough to keep Hud Dog, Rory, Joe Kelly and Ravi Chana busy. Yet Southgate were dominant and in control forcing errors and turnovers in play and signing the ball down the right channel with great effect- take a bow Joe Kelly,

Ravi Chana was making his own presence felt with some amazing cross pitch long balls and at times Southgate were beginning to play with a fluency and control helped by Ivan Stark putting in a commanding performance at left mid with Ben Millson accompanying him Ivan’s salt to Ben’s pepper- a classic combo.

3rd Third

It is fair to say that Southgate had not endeared themselves to the opposition umpire. Not our finest hour some could say. To cap matters an unfortunate incident and a red card followed which saw Southgate playing with 10 men for the remainder of the game. The team rallied and managed another goal with Ivan drag flicking expertly to the mid right from a short and taking the game to 2-0. Joe Soper closed ranks with Alastair Whatley up front and worked hard to maintain the press and Will Hargrove continued to command the game well from the midfield. Aside from the cards and on going drama there was much good hockey to be found in fact- Sam Levene had an immaculate game although he was rarely called into action. Rory Willmott managed to seal proceedings by talking himself into a yellow and Southgate ended down to 9 men.

Big thanks (and a few drinks) are owed to Mark Langley for umpiring us.

The Sabres will return on Sunday versus Crosstyx.

MOM nominations came in thick and fast with Will Hargrove taking the yellow jersey by a whisker from Ivan Stark.