Despite a recent name change, the influence of the old London League lives on in hockey folklore. Fabled tales of matches between Hounslow and Southgate on grass at Church Meadow and The Walker Ground, live on alongside more recent legend of encounters between Titans and Vintage at Spencer.
Legend describes awful journeys, followed by extreme first half Spencer pressure, doggedly determined Southgate comebacks with games finally being won by Southgate using the trusty Zigzag short corner. Excellent teas always follow.
So it was to be again.
In the first half, Spencer had all of the pressure with the pitch map showing that the game was concentrated between the halfway and the Southgate defensive 25 yard line. It was no surprise when they scored following a period of extended domination.
Later, in a moment of defensive brilliance on the goal line, Laurence prevented Spencer going into the half time break with a lead of two goals with an exquisitely performed pull stroke. All that was missing was the Billy Bowden signal for four from the umpire. His name must now surely be added to the list of world class hookers and pullers alongside that of Gordon Greenidge, Desmond Haynes, AB de Villiers and Rohit Sharma. Chapeau Lo!
Half time 1-0 to Spencer. Lots of people spoke words in the huddle. Some of them made sense!
One thing was for sure, it was important that we scored the next goal (© biffi clichés 2015).
The next goal came from Jatin, last season’s top scorer. Played in by Tony J, he found himself with the ball on the end of his stick all alone in the D. He was 10 yards out. The keeper looked calm, with his body language saying, “Let the ball come, let the ball come.” He was ready. The ball did indeed come but unfortunately for the keeper it went screaming past him at extreme speed, high into the net. His body language was still saying, “Let the ball come!” 1-1.
Legend dictates that all Titans needed now was continued hard work and a corner.
Considerable hard work followed and lo and behold, the corner was duly won. The Zigzag was perfectly executed. A fine injection by Malcolm, a dead stop by Joergen, the ball Zigged to Wiz and a perfectly timed Zag left biffi with a straight forward finish. 2-1 to Southgate with 15 minutes left.
In an attempt to get back into the game, Spencer committed men to the attack but a dogged, determined rear-guard allied to superior fitness levels saw the game out with a highlight being Joergen hitting the post.
In addition to this superbly solid team effort, there were two really encouraging league debuts from Malcolm and Julian. Malcolm with his confident dribbling and well-organised skill set and Julian with his tenacious defending and his low flying Scud missile aerials!
On to next week. Let’s hope the London League folklore gets forgotten for the visit of Reading!! That one usually has a different outcome …