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Tuesday, 28 October 2008

Dates for mixed matches announced

There is a mixed match against the Flashers at 11.30 am Sunday, November15, which should be the ideal way to recover from the previous night's bar crawl. We are looking for up to a maximum of 16 players from across the club to make up the side, so if any player is interested, they need to make this known to Rosie Marriott asap.

For the diary, the following mixed match will be away against Epsom on December 14.

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Bar crawl on November 15

On Saturday, November 15 there is a Mixed Team Bar Crawl which, confusingly, is open to everyone and promises to be a night you won't forget

The suggestion at the moment is that we meet at the club house for the last autumn international of the day (Ireland V New Zealand), which starts at 5.15pm, and go from there. If anyone has any great ideas as to where we should crawl or what a theme might be, they should let us know.

Contact Dodie Khurshid or Rosie Marriott for more details or watch this space for updates.

Sunday, 26 October 2008

Match reports - October 25, 2008

The 1st XI remained top of the table despite making hard work of beating Addiscombe 2-1, and for the second week running the 2nd XI had to dig deep to defeat Surbiton 3-1. The Ladies squandered a lead against Merton to slip to their first loss of the season, and the 3rd XI suffered their third straight drubbing, 1-8 at Goan. Goal machine Louis Strover made it seven in two games as the 4th XI beat Staines 5-0.

Addiscome 2-3 1st XI
Addiscombe always prove to be a sterner test than we think they should and today was no exception. We knew it would be a tough game and but for an inspired series of saves by Robbo in the first two minutes we could easily - and probably should - have been one down. As it was we found ourselves 2-0 up after 20 minutes, Knapp with the deftest of deflections and Cookiey slotting home when loose in the circle. From this point onwards from what should have been a routine victory we contrived to make hard work of the final 50 minutes with Addiscombe quite rightly finding themselves level five minutes into the second-half.

Both sides forced a series of short corners with the home side's far more threatening than ours and it was no surprise when one of theirs was squeezed home. Prior to half time we were guilty of missing a series of good chances to wrap the game up and the Addiscombe keeper began to make some saves that kept the home team in the game. As the game wore on the quality of his saves increased and one wondered if it was going to be one of those days. Five minutes into the second half another short corner was our undoing but at that stage Addiscombe were well worth the 2-2 scoreline.

The introduction of Chris Valentine settled our formation and he began to dominate down the right and when we played the type of hockey we talked about the chances came thick and fast. Eventually we scored from our last short corner of the game with Paul Acutt deflecting home a well worked move but instead of closing the game out we made some unforced errors and insted of coasting to a win it felt as if we were hanging on. A number of good chances came and went with more top draw saves by the Addiscombe keeper and it was with some relief that the final whistle blew.

This performance was better than the scoreline suggests with some excellent hockey and very good preformances from Ed Breton, Chris Brewer, Chris Valentine and man of thematch Ed Copleston. Four wins out of four is as good as it gets, but we had the same record last year before we went into a run of one point from nine. Our nemesis Bank of Boks are next up and we cannot afford anything but a win. Disappointingly our availability is again far from 100 % next week so a good opportunity for someone to grab a place and keep hold of it for future weeks. David Knapp

Ladies 1-2 Merton
This week the ladies played Merton, which give last week’s great result we had a lot of confidence to take the points in this game … but the thing about Merton is they are unpredictable.

With a full squad and pumped up we started the game hard and held the possession. Given our previous games against Merton this seemed to be slightly easier than normal as they only appeared to have a couple of strong players. In the first 20 minutes we took advantage of this, clearly taking the game to them and get a number of shots on goal. Eventually persistence paid off and from a cross from the right Steph mashed the ball past the goalie to take us one up. And while for the remainder of the first half we continued to hold possession, we allowed Merton to get a fluke equaliser as we failed to clear our back line. Bollocks!

So into half time it was all to play for … but there are times when things just don’t go your way, especially when you have no control over some things! The second half saw us loose some of our confidence and allow Merton back into the game. Things then turned slightly worse for Tux as Martin pulled out a green card (harsh!), for a dodgy tackle… this wouldn’t have been so bad but Mr and Mrs Tucker had turned up to watch their daughter for the very first time! Martin how could you!!

It was soon after this that Merton caught us on the counter and produced their second goal to take the lead… arse! Even though the final score remained 1-2 to the end the squad never gave up trying to get the equaliser but lady luck wasn’t on our side. The result leaves us mid table but with the league so tight at the top we can get straight back up there! Helen Hawes

2nd XI 3-1 Surbiton
The 2nd XI maintained their 100% record on Saturday evening, registering a third consecutive win against a poor Surbiton outfit. All in all it was a decent performance considering the amount of new faces that we drafted in, having lost Chris and Paul to the 1s. We could, and probably should; have scored at least two more goals to put a bit of gloss on the score-line but some wayward finishing meant that we found ourselves defending doggedly for the last quarter of the match.

After a sluggish start (no change there then) we began to grow in confidence and put together some fluid passing moves with Neil Grimes finding space and distributing effectively. Our defence also gave us a solid platform with new recruit Mike Grindy looking assured at right back. Another feature of the game was our movement and pace in attack with Bruce, Rory, Alex and Tissy interchanging regularly and giving their leaden footed defence a torrid time. Rory Alexander clinched our first after 20 minutes to give us a deserved lead. Although it should have been his second after one of the most inexplicable misses ever seen at TD (and there have been a few) just moments before. Confidence grew and we hunted down our second which came before the interval. More good work from Grimes set up a swift counter attack which culminated in Tissy cleverly squaring to yours truly to slot past the keeper - cue wild celebrations from me, which on reflection was a bit embarrassing, my apologies!

We began the second half on the front foot and dictated the play for extended periods with Bruce eventually applying what turned out to be the final nail in Surbiton’s coffin, his second in successive games. Surbiton, it must be said; were limited opponents whose attacking approach consisted of firing long balls in hope rather than expectation. They did however pull one back through a miss-hit short corner which cruelly wrong footed our keeper. The goal had a destabilising effect on the team and we lost our shape towards the end. But some no nonsense scrapping from Jon Heard (a rock all afternoon), Henry, Andy and Duncan ensured that we limited them to the one goal. By the end Surbiton's frustration boiled over and one of their players was sent to the bin by Sheriff Williamson (it was a pretty awful tackle and that’s coming from me) to confirm Surbiton's demise.

On to Spencer next week with a spring in our step, after a much improved performance. Well done lads!
Chris Porter

Goan 8-1 3rd XI
Report to follow ... or more likely not!

4th XI 5-0 Staines
This weekend saw the 4th XI take on Staines 5s at home. Tom Pollard re-appeared from university to make a welcome return to a defence that was missing Robin Crumbly; Nick Jocelyn returned from injury and Peter Shanks made his first appearance of the season for the 4th team.
The opening minutes of the fixture were evenly competed by both teams. We made a composed and solid start which, once we settled, allowed us to impose ourselves on the game and push forward in pursuit of the opening goal. Oxo and Bertie ‘Don’t blame the credit crunch on me’ Bance, linked well down the left flank, whilst Adam Justice battled tirelessly for the team in an unfamiliar midfield role.

The deadlock was broken towards the end of the first half. A free hit just outside the opposition area was struck hard towards the goal. Louis Strover stuck out a stick to get the all important touch of the ball before it struck the bottom right corner of the goal (1-0). Shortly afterwards, Smeer did well to connect with a similar drive (but from open play this time), deflecting it narrowly wide.
At half time, the difference between the two teams couldn’t have been more marked. As we discussed the first half there was an air of determination about the 4s who were clearly looking forward to play resuming. A glance at the other end of the pitch told an entirely different story. Staines were slumped in their goal and looked defeated already.

The second half picked up where the first half ended, with the 4s pushing forward. Oxo once again provided the drive down the left flank which led to three goals being scored in quick succession. Louis struck an early second goal with a typically powerful finish from inside the area (2-0), before Dom pushed in from close range (3-0). Louis then controlled a loose ball on the edge of the area, turned on a sixpence and smashed home a 4th (4-0). At 4-0 down, the opposition brought a previously unseen determination and aggression to their game and were clearly determined to get something back. This new found urgency was to no avail though as Grant Archer skilfully denied the Staines forward line any opportunity to settle in the area (one such occasion is shown in the photograph above).

Late on, Smeer capped a typically tenacious performance with a goal from close range (5-0), and whilst the game may be remembered for the five goals, the result was built upon a resolute defensive performance in which Steve Harmer commanded play as pivot, Grant Archer put in some memorable moments of skill as sweeper, Tom Pollard played as if he hadn’t been away and Darren Pouts made another strong display. Thanks must also go to Nick Aston who dragged himself out of bed with flu to take his starting place in the team.

The result leaves us second in the league and looking forward to a 2nd v 3rd place showdown with Old Reigatian 2s next weekend. Thanks to Duncan and Rosie for umpiring.

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Sunday, 19 October 2008

Match reports - October 18, 2008

Another generally good week with a comprehensive win for the 1st XI over Walton & Weybridge Hawks (who have as much affinity to Walton or Weybridge as MK Dons do to Wimbledon) to go top; the 2nd XI beat a feisty/moaning UCL Academicals 2-1, while the 4th XI saw off a feisty/physical Barnes Beavers 5-3. The Ladies came back from Battersea with a 1-0 win over Wanderers, while the only blot was the 3rd XI’s 1-5 thumping by a classy Leatherhead side.

1st XI 4-0 Walton & Weybridge
Click here for match photos
After their previous results we expected a tough game against Walton and Weybridge, our nemesis two years ago. Ultimately our fears were unfounded after a clinical performance with a very effective second half in which we stifled the opponents.

We welcome Trickster Smith in goal after his outstanding performance last week at TD for the seconds and for the second week running he kept a clean sheet albeit with little to do other than in the last couple of minutes.

Walton had difficulties in picking our system early on but it was when David Cresswell changed the formation by putting Ed B in front of the back three that we began to create most of our chances. As so often the case we did not make our short corners count until Gavin Adair picked up a rebound from one and finished with aplomb to score what he described as the all important goal. 1 - 0 at half time became 2 - 0 after half time when Gavin's run opened up the Walton defence allowing Paul Acutt time and space to finish well with a dipping shot. We now began to dominate completely with the back four soaking up whatever was thrown at them, Ed B bringing the ball out of the back with good effect and Cato buzzing around in is usual way. As the game wore on we created a great deal more and could have scored on a number of occasions before Cookiey clipped home our third. We rode out our bad spell without allowing Walton any clear openings on goal with Trickster's one touch coming from a sharp free hit and deflection that came through a crowd of players but was dealt with in an effective and efficient way.

One minute remained on the clock as Nick Lewis finished off a well-worked move starting in the right corner of our half when Ed B beat two and slipped the ball up the line to CB, who fed Gavin, whose cross field pass found Nick in the clear, whose shot from the top of the D rattled the side board.

An efficient performance with Duffy the Man of the Match and a game that saw us missing Rippers, Bruce and Pies. Next week we are light of Pies, Lewis, Duffy, Trickster and Cato but such is our depth that we will be able to fill the gaps with selection becoming interesting when everyone is available. David Knapp

Eds Copleston outnumbered

Wanderers 0-1 Ladies XI
Saturday saw us playing away against Wanderer’s 3’s. They had come down from the premier league and were joint top of our league, not having lost a match yet, so we were ready for a tough match! Our bench was loaded with subs so we went out hard knowing we had fresh legs available, and for the first 15 minutes the match looked pretty even with neither team really having any real chances on goal. We were playing well keeping possession, stepping up to the ball with some good attacking play which eventually won us a penalty corner. We failed to do much with it but only five minutes later a lightning quick run from May down the right side had Wanderers on the back foot. She passed it to Jax in the circle. The keeper went down and Jax pushed it passed her towards the bottom right-hand corner with May following it up and making sure it went in. We were 1-0 up after 15 minutes. We knew Wanderers were a good side so were by no means complacent. We continued to play hard with lots of subs to allow us to keep the pace high and rest when we needed. The midfield of Gayle, Vikki, Steph and Caz were doing a great job of supporting each other and passing the ball around with Tux having a stormer as centre back/centre forward, mopping up any loose balls and driving forwards, playing high and pressurising the Wanderers forwards. We held onto our lead at half time.

The second half again was evenly matched with both teams having some good attacking moments with Gayle, Sarah H and Nikki all seeing near misses and forcing the oppo to defend hard. At the same time Wanderers were fast on the break which saw our defence of Rosie, Lucy and Tux having to work hard to get back and cover and Muriel as sweeper having to step in and make some brilliant interceptions. The umpires both of whom supplied by Wanderers were firm but fair and I have to say many decisions seemed to go our way – which makes a change!!!! About half way through the second half we conceded our first and only penalty corner (again which makes a change from the previous matches!). Rosie running No. 1 and fearless (many may say kamikaze) as ever intercepted the strike and and Tux cleared the ball and the danger, for the time being was over. We were aware how close the game was and were keen to get another goal to secure the win. Our forwards of Nina, Liza and Snoops were working hard with lots of movement and supporting play when attacking but then also pegging it back to defend the Wanderers defence now playing high. With 10 minutes to go we nearly lost our lead, another break from Wanderer’s and saw us defending hard in our circle, Steph in goal having to pull off a save and the defence clearing an onslaught of shots from the oppo. We managed to scrabble the ball to safety and for the last five minutes the play was pretty much end to end with those on the side line barely able to watch as we hung on to our lead and secure a good 1-0 win which sees us climb to 4th in the league, and also makes us the only unbeaten team ……..not that I want to jinx us………..Well done ladies a well deserved three points! Jackie Waite

2nd XI 2-1 UCL Academicals 2
It is perhaps positive that despite beating one of the top sides in our league, who the previous week had put six goals past Merton, there was a collective disappointment at the end of the game.

The opposition started strongly and it was a good five minutes before we managed to string some passages of play together and give ourselves some breathing space. UCL generally played three men high which kept the back four busy throughout. When they weren't quite as high they also looked dangerous on the break. Whilst we defended well, aided by some good saves by Mike Norrington, we struggled to get the ball away at 16s - as UCL pressed right up the pitch. Andy Selby replaced Dodie in the middle at the back and grew into the role throughout, making some good tackles and growing more comfortable on the ball.

When we strung together passages of short passes we looked dangerous - Neil Grimes and Chris Porter picking up where they had left off the previous week - linking up well. Chris Tiss and in particular Chris Valentine began to cause their defence some trouble and a good run through by the latter created the first goal, a converted deflection of the post by the former. The pressure form UCL did not relent and eventually Mike was drawn out from goal to make a save. Rob Merry had sagged in to cover and was unable to prevent a shot from coming off his foot. The result was an undisputed penalty flick and slightly more controversial yellow card. As the skipper departed UCL slotted their penalty flick. 1-1 with a tricky 10 minutes before half-time...

We regathered whilst we had 10 men but were still under constant pressure. At half time we talked about getting strong on the ball, keeping our structure and keeping the passes short. Unfortunately the opposite was true for most of the second half. Ironically it was a crisply struck long ball from Tom Merry and an equally crisply hit strike from the top of the D by Bruce McNeil that broke the deadlock.

Some of the structure was lost by the changes necessitated by our two rolling subs. Unfortunately we then descended into some of the indiscipline that we saw in the friendly. Constantly questioning umpiring decisions and berating team-mates rather than concentrating playing hockey. However, there was no lack of effort and we eventually managed to see out the game, despite a very tense last minute with UCL in our D.

They say that the sign of a good team is to win even when not playing well - we have a stronger squad than last year, bolstered by some new comers, and we should be confident in improving our performances, whilst maintaining the winning habit. Out thanks go to Martin for umpiring and Dave Cresswell for turning up to the game and coaching. Rob Merry

3rd XI 1-5 Leatherhead
Firstly I would like a apologise if my memory is a little hazey (I blame Nige for letting me know after the game that I was writing the match report) . When we arrived I think we were all shocked to hear that we had 16 players, some who I won’t name (Ollie) looked a even more relieved than the others as he was suffering from a serious hangover. This week we had a tough fixture playing Leatherhead who had not lost point so far in the season.

The game started with Leatherhead moving the ball very nicely. Our defence - Tim, Stu and Stefano - all putting their fair share of tackles in. We were not passing the ball as well as them and only had a few breaks. With mounting pressure we conceded. Leatherhead came straight back at us and soon slotted a second. After this a change in midfield we started to move the ball, with Preston holding the ball up well and Rich Dave making some good runs.

Unfortunately we let in another couple before half time, with two goals that left Nige helpless, and Nige unfortunately injured his ankle on the stroke of half-time. I remember a shout coming from the sidelines “Stu, Nige is down can you give him a hand you can’t miss him, he is that big orange thing lying on the ground”.

With obviously another good team talk, we looked like a different team. The midfield held strong by Rory distributing the ball to CD, Armo and Chaz. This led to opportunities. We eventually got a short corner. Rory finished is well with a good strike pass the keeper right hand side, but Leatherhead continued to move the ball round well and slotted a fifth past the crocked Nige near the end.

“We would be doing much better in the league if it was only the second half that counted towards the result,” observed the captain at the end. Chris Bents

Barnes Beavers 3-5 4th XI
Dear reader, hot footing it back from its fitness training camp in the UAE, Harmer’s column has returned to bring you the highlights of the Mighty 4th team’s frightening and bruising encounter from the Surrey Open League this week. Frightening and bruising, why is that? You may ask. Well let me tell you dear reader, there is nothing as frightening as a bleach blonde or muscular shaved beaver going straight through you at pace and knocking you backwards on your arse. Just ask Robin Crumby or Grant Archer.

Most of you will know that I am talking about our second least favourite team in the
league, that’s right the pink clad Barnes Beavers. For those that have not played them before their players fit into two categories either they are muscular, aggressive, heavy set, bald bruisers. Alternatively and this only really applies to their centre forwards, they are bleach blonde midgets with an alarming orange aura (poorly applied San Tropez tans) and seem to be closely related, if you get my drift. We nicknamed this pair of prats ‘The X Factor rejects’ but that’s probably being too kind!

Our previous encounter with the Beavers at Dukes Meadow in Chiswick back in 2006 was christened ‘The Battle of the Duck Poo Pitch’ which was due to some genius pumping Thames river water onto the water based pitch, it had become a rancid, algae infested surface from which Captain Dom’s white shorts have never quite recovered. As you can imagine the Mighty 4ths were looking forward to playing on this pitch as much Guy Richie used to look forward to his macrobiotic dinners and kabala sessions with Madonna. Thankfully a new pitch has been laid we all looked forward to another dazzling encounter at Dukes Meadow.

As per normal the OC pre-match preparation was fraught as a number of players struggled to find the pitch in time but thanks to Helen Hawes AtoZ, Nick Aston and our new recruits Seb and Richard found the pitch. Special mention has to be made to Robin Crumby who was admitted to hospital last Sunday with a serious kidney infection, spent most of the week in bed but not only turned up to play this week but cycled from Wimbledon to Chiswick to do so. What commitment to the cause you will cry out loud and we all cried on the pitch ‘Robin Crumby….what a guy!’. Alas there is always one cock-up and no one cocks-up more that Bertie ‘Don’t blame the credit crunch on me’ Bance with his cryptic e-mail to our beloved captain regarding his match availability. However that, as they say, ‘Is a story for another time’.

As you can imagine with the Barnes Beavers lining up, OC players arriving late, a poor warm-up and a very bouncy pitch to boot, we were all a little nervous. We needed a secret weapon, we needed someone we could get behind, and we needed a hero to show us the way. Come’ith the moment, come’ith the man. Now some say, that he keeps his aging body supple by sleeping at night like Madonna in a plastic airtight body bag and covering himself in an anti aging cream worth £500 a pot. Others suggest that his lighting reflexes come from intensive training with Bruce Lee and when he lifts his stick to strike the ball, it is energized by the ‘Power of Grayskull’ itself. Frankly, we don’t believe in any of that crap but all that we do know is that his name is Louis Strover and he is a GOAL SCORING MACHINE! Blessed with the presence, muscle, ball retention and lay offs of Emile Heskey but thankfully with a nose for goal like Wayne Rooney, we knew we would have the upper hand. It was time to bash some beaver!

Now dear reader enough of the foreplay and lets strip off these well crafted pros and get into the action. For the first 10 minutes after the pushback the OC’s struggled to find a rhythm as the new water base proved to be a bouncy as Jodie Kidd’s chest in Strictly Come Dancing. With limited ball retention we struggled to control the quick moving beavers from trying to get round the back of us and pounding our box with crosses. It could have been suggested that Grant Archer (our left back) was struggling somewhat, as the birth of his first child ‘Bethan’ has caused him to drop his four hour a day Madonna-styled fitness sessions. Grant would argue that he has never been fit, so two weeks of sleep deprivation has made no impact on his at all.
Just as the OC’s started to find rhythm and ball control a breaking beaver streaked down the right flank and unleashed a cross that our defence was just unable to repel. One of the X factor rejects, let’s call him Gareth, nipped in at the back post to push one past Nige. At one down we did not panic and got back to the job in hand, in fact it almost acted as a spur for our team. As the midfield four started to find their feet the passes began to flow like wine and soon we were running like a well oiled engine. Smooth interplay down the right and left wings started to ask questions of the Beaver’s back line which frankly they did not want to answer. Before long, the beavers cracked and gave away a penalty; the resulting short corner saw slick interplay between Strover and Oxo, which ended up with Louis firmly striking the ball at the goal which pounded the back board. At 1-1, we started to take the Beavers apart and it was not long till Louis got his second after some sweet passing between Seb and Richard gave him space at the top of the D. Before half time we got our third with a cross that skimmed the goal line from the left which found Captain Dom unmarked who swept it into the goal.

So at half time, the Mighty 4th’s were on the front foot and the Beaver’s were fuming and frustrated at being placed firmly on the back one. At the start of the second half it was clear that the beaver half time talk concluded that they needed to take the battle to us by fair means or foul. They obviously chose foul as they attempted to intimidate us physically but dear reader the fourth team are not Sunday School teachers and we taught the beavers as lesson in focused aggression. While the OC back line of Nick Aston, Crumby, Archer and Harmer were dumped frequently on there bottoms by Beavers trying to bash there way through us. All that happened was that the defence released the ball to the midfield who powered up the pitch. On one such occasion the ball was released by Archer, to Oxo, who slipped it into the middle to Seb, who in turned released it to Strover who found Richard with a short pass on the left wing. As Richard showed a clean pair of heals to the Beaver right back, Strover made way into the D. An inch perfect pass from Richard gave Louis the time to turn and strike the ball past the petrified keeper.

Our fifth and final goal came from a similar break down the left with Oxo and Harmer displaying some great interplay that ended with a ball being caressed into the D to find the ever present Strover lurching behind a bald beaver. You know what happened next and it just ended up with the Beavers becoming more frustrated. The ball obliterated the back board and we did not only have daylight but frankly a whole lunar cycle between the Beavers and us.

In the final 10 minutes the Beavers resorted to pounding our D with long range passes for their forwards to run onto which our defence of Nick, Robin and Grant dealt with showing grace and aplomb. Even though both Archer and Cumby were upended by both the of X-Factor duo after they realised they could not win the ball so tried to go through our defensive line. It started to get nasty and the Beavers brought out their handbags to take out their frustration out through limp wristed aggression. Although they pulled two goals back in the second half we knew that we were home dry even with Robin Crumby attempting to do a decent impression of an Ashley Cole back pass by playing in beautifully one of the tango tanned twosome. Thankfully the hockey gods were smiling on Old Apple Crumble as Grant dived to save the Beaver’s shot and managed to step on the ball, which stopped play for a short corner. Crumby although relieved held his head low and wished the pitch opened up and pulled him beneath to escape his team mates demanding ‘Why did you do that?’

At the final whistle we had dispatched and bashed the Beavers 5-3 in a match that we all felt proud to have played in. More importantly we had learnt that if you want to bash a beaver use a Strover and Madonna is one weird lady! Led by Captain Dom this victory lifts us into second place in the league with a game in hand. The ginger revolution marches on! Next week Staines. Steve Harmer

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Thursday, 16 October 2008

Remember, remember the eighth of November

The first social event of 2008-09 is the annual fireworks night which will be held at Thames Ditton on Saturday, November 8. Tickets can be bought from your team captain or from behind the bar at the club.


Saturday, 11 October 2008

Match reports - October 11, 2008

The 1st XI made it two in two with a 3-1 win at Merton, two goals from David Knapp securing the points, and the 2nd XI made it a double with a 1-0 win over the same opposition. About the only good news this week for the Bank of England came with a 5-3 win over our 3rd XI, and the 4th XI had to come from behind to draw 2-2 with ten-man Wanderers. After two draws, the Ladies’ first win of the season came with a 3-1 success over Old Kingstonians.

Merton 1-3 1st XI
An important victory against a side who we anticipate will be in the mix at the end of the season.

Playing some good hockey against a very defensively-minded Merton team we made the early running but neither side created much until just before half time. We were a touch unlucky not to win a stroke when a Merton defender appeared to stop the ball on the line with his chest … but the umpire thought otherwise. Aaron asserted his authority on the game early on ensuring that any back chat was punished by the forfeiture of 10 yards but we took some time to learn the lesson. Both sides had a couple of shorts but it was difficult to establish who had the poorest routine.

Five minutes before half time we conceded a shocker, allowing the ball to be brought into the D along the baseline on the left and somewhat softly run across the goal for the easiest of tap-ins. Fortunately, there was time for us to equalise with Ed B setting up Knapp whose cross found its way to Eds who rolled the ball home.

The first 20 minutes of the second half saw us take control with Merton receiving a couple of yellow cards for questionable tackles, and during that time a loose ball from a short corner was converted by Knapp who then had the easiest of tasks to slot home No. 3 after excellent work by Cato, whose incisive run and pass, aided by a super decoy run from Adair, took out the whole of the Merton defence.

From that point on we began to struggle and Merton dominated the last 10 minutes, hitting the post and missing a couple of chances with Bruce earning his Man of the Match award with 2 big tackles. Cato and Ed Breton pushed Bruce hard and with Duffy making a solid appearance we suddenly have options at the back.

Walton and Weybridge next week who have been impressive so far and so another must win game. David Knapp

Ladies 3-1 Old Kingstonians
We went into the match against Old Kingstonians undefeated but looking for our first win. They had just come up from Division 2, and we were well aware as the week before this didn't mean an easy match.

We had the bench loaded with subs and we went out hard, planning to run our little legs ragged until coach Mot called us off. We dominated the first 10 minutes and pretty soon a goal came from a well drilled (practice five minutes before the match) penalty-corner. Vikki injected, Sarah slipped the ball to May on the right who drilled the ball into the goal. So far a much better start than the week before. We were playing much slicker hockey, keeping possession, holding the ball up and passing it around the back to create space and movement. OK's were keeping the pace high and taking free hits swiftly which was also our goal for the match too so we were glad of our five subs! OKs kept the pressure on us and towards the end of the half we lost our stride a bit, conceding several penalty corners, which Georgie, Muriel, Rosie and Tux did a stella job of defending, Steph in goal having to pull off a couple of good saves and OKs hitting the post. We went into half time 1-0 up but OK's were by no means finished.

Again we came out hard after half time and nearly scored immediately with several shots from Gayle scraped away by the OK defence, and then one hitting the post. Within five minutes we had secured a 2-0 lead with May driving into the circle passing the ball to Sarah H at the top who hammered it home. OKs however it seems are used to coming back from behind and kept pushing hard but our midfield of Steph, Vikki, Nikki and Nina and forwards of Liza, Snoopy and Caz were working their socks off - we were not about to let this lead slip and 15 minutes from the end we put a third away, May once again driving down the right at her lightning speed and passing it across the circle for Jax to slot home. The game didn't finish there. OKs were determined and managed to get a goal back after a spate of short corners, but we held on to our first victory of the season and the game finished 3-1. Job done. Well done girls! Jackie Waite.

2nd XI 1 - 0 Merton 2nd XI
Great result, end of story. This really was a hard fought result on a baking hot mid-October day in England (never thought I would be writing that!). We had a long chat before the game and set out exactly how we wanted to play and pretty much everything went to plan with everyone applying themselves as requested and crucially as a team. Sure, there was the occasional negative comment but overall there was not to much to be negative about. We had to learn from last week (and season!) that we and the umpires make mistakes and there is no point whining about it, and today we got it right.

The hockey itself was sensible and controlled, if not inspirational, but it is early season and we are learning how to play together and it was good to see us using our heads rather than last week's headless chicken act. The goal itself came from a loose ball that Paul drilled in from the top left side of the D. We did have other chances with Neil, Duncan and Bruce all having decent efforts importantly on target saved - even the short corner routines were well worked. On balance though this was more about the defensive set up and a great clean sheet, with Mez epitomising the effot putting his body on the line and coming away with a split chin for his efforts. Our midfield helped with defensive duties - exceptional work rate from Duncan and Grimesy - and Tissy held the ball up perfectly when we broke from the back. The back 4 protected by Ports were very solid and organised and new kid on the block Richard was superb in goal pulling off a number of varied saves that protected our one goal lead.

If we can build on this momentum and structure we will be well set for the season ahead. Most importantly thanks to Eb (from UCL) and Helen for helping out and umpiring very competently at very short notice. Paul Acutt

Bank of England 2nd XI 5-3 3rd XI
There are some match reports where you think what happened in that match? What shall I write about? This was not one of them!!! To say that it was eventful would be probably an understatement. We had turned up to the salubrious surrounding of the Bank of England Sports Ground and had to admire the setting for this away game. We all just hope that it still the same after the Credit Crunch.

We welcomed back our ex-captain today and are glad that Armo has finally returned. In addition, we continued to increase our influx of new players with Ross joining us this week and a number of our other new players continuing to attend.

The match started off with Bank pressurising from the whistle. This unfortunately seemed to be the way the half was going to proceed as I don’t think we actually had the ball outside of our half for the first 25 minutes. The makeshift defence of CD, Tim, Armo and Ewan, which we had formulated due to certain missing players, stood strong throughout and with the half time approaching the score still stood at 0-0. Unfortunately though with two lapses of concentration from us and a bit of good play from the Bank we ended up shipping two quick goals and the halftime score was 2-0.
Well I hear you say “where’s all this eventful action?” Well that was just the first half the fun was just about to all get going. Unfortunately we decided to put a seasons worth of bloopers into one half.

The second half started with us pushing a lot harder with Tom and Ross starting to take more of a control of the midfield. In addition it seemed that Rich’s hangover had started to pass and with Andy on the other wing we were making better inroads into the Bank’s half. This good work eventually culminated in a cracking goal from Dave who took the ball and then on running into the D before scaring the oppo keeper by cracking it into the right corner (an early contender for goal of the season). Unfortunately though The Bank came straight back at us and were able to make it 3-1.
We were then reduced to 10 men for a short period as Ross received a yellow for deliberate use of the back of the stick. Ross called it ineptitude!

This was followed a few minutes later by another strong attack by Bank who after rounding Nige in goal had a clear strike on goal. Just as we thought we were about to concede again Ewan dived in with a last ditch tackle. Ewan did take the ball but unfortunately the umpire thought he took the oppo’s stick and as Ewan was the last defender he gave a flick. Thankfully, justice was done though as Nige made the save. It has to be said that it wasn’t the best flick though and it would have been very disappointing to have gone a further goal down from it.

With Ross back on the pitch unfortunately the relentless pressure from the Bank eventually paid off. Ewan was obviously not happy with giving one flick away so he thought that Nige needed some more penalty practice. The ball was flicked up by the Bank into the D and Ewan brought it down with his stick above his head. The umpire correctly yellow carded him and awarded a P flick. Just so Ewan is clear on this, the rule book which he has now been given is an early Christmas present, and, yes, he does get our Dick of the Day award.

The Bank changed penalty-flick taker and duly scored to make it 4-1, even though Nige did get a glove on the flick after going the right way. The Bank then issued a sucker punch to make it 5-1 with another pressure goal.

It was at this point with Ewan back on the pitch that our strike force decided to get going. Preston got his name on the scoresheet for the first time this season to make it 5-2. Then Dave not wanting to be out done decided to get his second to make the scoreline look a lot more sensible 5-3.

The match was played in pretty good humour and was generally umpired very well. May we thank BoE for providing both umpires and wish them well for the rest of the season. Nigel Hawes

4th XI 2 Wanderers VIs 2
The 4s season started last week with an impressive 4-0 win over a Walton and Weybridge team who, over the past year, have proved to be a difficult team to beat. A strong all-round team performance saw us dominate Walton for 90% of a game which was clearly enjoyed by everyone involved. Enthusiasm and expectation were consequently high as we looked forward to our first home game of the season against Wanderers 6s.

We welcomed Darren Pouts into defence for his OC debut (in place of new father Grant Archer – congratulations to the Archers!) and Austin Vowles returned to the club after several seasons at sea to impress on the left wing. The 4s started the game the better of the two teams, pushing for a goal for the first 15 minutes. Andy Monkton and Austin pressed well down the left, linking well with Rob Jonker in midfield and Adam Justice alone up front. Following several near misses the deadlock was deservedly broken by Adam who struck from close range to give us the early lead that we hoped for.

Then, chaos struck, the opposition woke up, and Wanderers hit two goals to give them a 2-1 half-time lead. Surely this couldn’t be?

In the second half, the 4s made it difficult for Wanderers to escape their own half, setting a defensive D well and early. This allowed us to push forward, searching for the all important equaliser. Pressure again led to numerous opportunities, culminating in Adam hitting his second goal of the day (2-2); the game was now ours for the taking. Play opened up and we were put through on goal on several occasions, each time being thwarted by a mean Wanderers keeper.

Rob Crumby, Steve Harmer, Nick Aston and Darren dealt with almost everything that came their way in defence; when Wanderers did find their way further towards the goal they found Nige Smith in their way, making several late and very important saves to keep the scores level until the final whistle. Credit has to go to the team for persevering until the final whistle, showing a team spirit that should hold us in good stead for the season ahead.

(I might have forgotten to mention that Wanderers only had ten men, but surely you haven’t read this far down the page?!)

Thanks go to Rob and Martin for umpiring.

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Thursday, 9 October 2008

White heads for Chicago

Adrian White is following up last year's New York marathon by entering the Chicago Marathon on October 12 where he will be running to raise money for Leukaemia Research.

Please support him by checking on his Just Giving website.

The best comes last. "As an added incentive, if I make my fund raising target I will run the Great South Run on October 26 dressed up as Elvis ... proof will be posted on this site and maybe even covered on Channel 5 who are covering the race .... so go on dig deep.


Saturday, 4 October 2008

Match reports - October 4, 2008

The 1st XI left it late to secure a 3-2 win over Old Kingstonians, a Pies goal two minutes from time earning us all three points. The 3rd XI drew 1-1 with Purley Walcountians, the 4th XI routed Walton 4-0 while the Ladies came from behind three times to draw 4-4 at Raynes Park. The Vets were the one loser, hammered 6-0 by Surbiton

Pies fires home our late winner

1st XI 3-2 Old Kingstonians
Match photos
A last-gasp win against the recently relegated OK side in what turned out to be a scrappy encounter containing very little good hockey from either side.

The new season always starts with high hopes and perhaps it is too much to expect us to play well in the first league outing with three points being more important than the style played to achieve the win.

Our Achilles heel is our short-corner defence, and so it proved again today, both goals being conceded from shorts. OKs took the lead from their first corner after David Knapp missed the easiest of chances following excellent work from Cato along the base line. Ed B was unluckily penalised for a fine goal-line stop but the umpire felt there was an infringement, awarded a stroke and we were one down. Within 10 minutes we were 2 -1 up, Knapp converting after a well worked move from defence saw Gav Adair on this occasion running along the back line with Knapp on this occasion slotting home. Two minutes later another move along the goaline set up the chance and Adair's shot was stropped on the line by a foot and Knapp put away the ensuing penalty stroke. Instead of continuing to play the short ball game that was causing the opposition problems, we went back to the long ball through the middle and were unpicked when we gave away a short, did not clear the pads and it was 2 - 2.

The first period had been spoilt by an early yellow for a clumsy stick tackle by an OK player which was followed by one for Bruce for a not very malicious tackle, but one that gave Clive no option but to follow his colleague's lead and issue a yellow - only one way for the cards to go after such an early yellow.

The second period was an excellent advert for watching league football as both teams descended into hockey ping-pong with the resultant 60-yard shuttles. Neither side had the nouse to slow the game down and be patient, and it became very stretched. The two attacks both had great chances to take the lead but squandered hosts of opportunity. Robbo made a number of good saves but it was Pies from our last short corner who cracked the ball home with a pin point shot with two minutes remaining that enabled us to run out winners. The main positive from the second half was a much safer looking defensive play and some good runs from Cookiey who looked dangerous when running at the OK defence.

Neither side on today's showing will feature in the top two on this performance but another day, another game and at least we took the points.
A last-gasp win against the recently relegated OK side in what turned out to be a scrappy encounter containing very little good hockey from either side.

The new season always starts with high hopes and perhaps it is too much to expect us to play well in the first league outing with three points being more important than the style played to achieve the win.

Our Achilles heel is our short-corner defence, and so it proved again today, both goals being conceded from shorts. OKs took the lead from their first corner after David Knapp missed the easiest of chances following excellent work from Cato along the base line. Ed B was unluckily penalised for a fine goal-line stop but the umpire felt there was an infringement, awarded a stroke and we were one down. Within 10 minutes we were 2 -1 up, Knapp converting after a well worked move from defence saw Gav Adair on this occasion running along the back line with Knapp on this occasion slotting home. Two minutes later another move along the goaline set up the chance and Adair's shot was stropped on the line by a foot and Knapp put away the ensuing penalty stroke. Instead of continuing to play the short ball game that was causing the opposition problems, we went back to the long ball through the middle and were unpicked when we gave away a short, did not clear the pads and it was 2 - 2.

The first period had been spoilt by an early yellow for a clumsy stick tackle by an OK player which was followed by one for Bruce for a not very malicious tackle, but one that gave Clive no option but to follow his colleague's lead and issue a yellow - only one way for the cards to go after such an early yellow.

The second period was an excellent advert for watching league football as both teams descended into hockey ping-pong with the resultant 60-yard shuttles. Neither side had the nouse to slow the game down and be patient, and it became very stretched. The two attacks both had great chances to take the lead but squandered hosts of opportunity. Robbo made a number of good saves but it was Pies from our last short corner who cracked the ball home with a pin point shot with two minutes remaining that enabled us to run out winners. The main positive from the second half was a much safer looking defensive play and some good runs from Cookiey who looked dangerous when running at the OK defence.

Neither side on today's showing will feature in the top two on this performance but another day, another game and at least we took the points.

Raynes Park 4-4 Ladies XI
For our second league match of the season we were playing Raynes Park Ladies 1's and hoping to secure our first win against the newly-promoted team. We had learned from last season though not to count on promoted teams being an easier match and this was certainly with RP. The whole match ended up being a game of catch up.

With a squad of 15 we knew we could try and keep the match pace high but it didn't seem to happen and for the majority of the first half we didn't settle. We had a couple of good attacksbut it was RP that seemed to have the upper hand with Steph our GK having to pull off a couple of good saves. We conceded several short corners and after defending a couple well, RP eventually managed to convert and took the lead. It was only one goal and we new we were more than capable of winning the match. We seemed to relax more and began playing our game with some good one touch hockey between the midfielders of Manny, Gayle, Steph and Jax, and our forwards of Dora, Snoopy, Liza and May making her usual lightning quick runs. Our equaliser came from a free hit outside the circle taken by Manny passed to an Jax running in unmarked who swept it into the back of the goal. So we went into half time 1-1.

We were determined to keep our momentum up after the break, but it didn't happen. RP piled on the pressure and again we conceded short corners. Our defence of Ros, George, Rosie, Lucy and Daisy did a sterling job of defending them but the inevitable happened. Unfortunately Georgie took a knock to the knee having to go off and RP took advantage of the momentary disarray in the defence to convert their second, well-practised short corner to go 2-1 up. We still didn’t let our heads drop but RP piled on the pressure and scored another off open play within the next 10 minutes to give them a two-goal lead. At 3-1 down though we showed our true OC spirit. RP were begining to tire and we pushed up the pitch, the girls new fitness regimes shining through. After a mêlée in the RP circle, and a few attempts on the goal, Jax eventually managed to score our second. Keeping RP on the back foot we kept the momentum going and within the next 10 minutes had scored an equaliser thought some excellent play coming right from the back with Ros and Rosie distributing the ball wide to and round the back to midfield and eventually into the circle where Dora and Snoops had shots deflected and eventually 'wing back' Helen Hawes found herself in the unusual position of being on the oppo's post to put the finishing touch on our equalising goal (and only her second I believe for OCLHC?!).

We had come back to 3-3. With five minutes to go we still believed we could win the match but did not want to lose the draw. However again we gave away a penalty corner two minutes from time. The first shot was blocked but took an unfortunate deflection into the roof of our goal.

We like to give ourselves a challenge and make life hard for ourselves! And once again, even with so little time left, we were determined not to lose. Some quick play up the pitch passed from Gayle on the left back to Daisy in defence and then to Dora who leveled with less than a minute remaining.

We had hoped for a win but it was a true, determined, gritty team performance, with everyone giving 110% that got us a well earned draw, and saw a team with several new players bonding and growing stronger. Plenty to work on in training, but many positives taken from the match! We look forward to next week, still looking for our first win of the season. Jackie Joyce

4th XI 1-1 Purley Walcountians
When we arrived and looked over at the opposition we were all shocked to find out their average age was only about 14. It made even Chris feel old in comparison. The match got underway, and we started well which makes a change. We exerted some pressure on the opposition with some great distribution from Stu and Rob J linking up well with CD on the left. Some slick passing lead to chances. Then the pressure paid of with Rob J slipping the ball to Chaz. Chaz struck the ball past the keeper into the bottom left of the goal. We were 1-0 up in the first 10 minutes, which is almost unheard of in recent 3rd XI history.

The opposition came straight back at us with the youngsters in their team showing some good skills. Stu held it strong in the centre making some sharp tackles. Tim at the back also holding us strong, although the defence left him the tricky job of marking their quickest player. They started to get a few chances winning a few short corners. With Ollie not seeing eye to eye with Martin. Ollie it’s not a good idea getting on the wrong side of your own umpire. Martin will always win!(isn’t that right Nige)

Unfortunately we could not hold out until half time despite Nige making some fantastic saves! The score was now 1-1. Finally the half-time whistle went we looked like we needed the break rather than them. With a good half time team talk with Stu making some good points we were ready for the second half.

The second half started well With CD making some impact on the left. On the right Tom and Rob J decided it was not worth trying to run round them, as they were a hell of a lot quicker and fitter than us. So they made the ball do the work and played some great hockey.

Andy, Rich and Preston also playing well up front Preston holding the ball up well and distributing it to CD and Tom. Rich had a chance as he took it around the keeper but then in a tussle ended up on the ground. I was sat on the bench and had no idea what went on, but Rich did not look a happy bunny. They also had their fair share of chances but Nige made some fantastic saves and kept them out. In fact at one point the best way to keep them away from our goal was to flatten them. He did ask if the player was OK afterwards (very sporting Nige!). The defence also played well with Ollie, Ewan Stefano making some great challenges and distributing the ball well. Stu worked hard in the centre, in fact so hard he had to sub himself (coming off the pitch he looked absolutely shattered).

In the end we settled for a 1-1 draw a fair result. Well played to all some great teamwork. Thanks go to Martin as well for a very well and fairly umpired game. Chris Bents

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Thursday, 2 October 2008

Baby McKenzie lands

Congratulations to Doug and Beth McKenzie on the birth of a daughter, Kitty Scarlett, on September 19, weighing in at 7lb 7oz.


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