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Sunday, 25 April 2010

Oxo bids farewell with stirring win

Bob Dylan’s Neverending Tour has been on the road since the late 1980s, and it must seem to the 4th XI the current season has been nearly as long. With two matches still remaining it is likely to overlap with the early rounds of the summer leagues.

But Saturday’s 4-3 win over Surbiton marked the end of the career of Oxo as he leaves for Australian during the summer. Slightly worrying, given where he is heading to, is his opening line ...

4th XI 4-3 Surbiton

Blimey it was hot.

The 4th team found themselves tasked with playing the recently promoted Surbiton on a hot and arid Saturday in Thames Ditton. As a kangaroo hopped by, and dingo climbed out of a nearby billabong the whistle went to start the game.

Surbiton were ‘strong’ to say the least and the OCs found themselves 2-0 down after 20mins. Their honouree captain Oxo had been slightly less than inspiring in centre forward. However, he showed himself to be a mastermind of tactical play as within moments of sacrificing himself to the bench Dom scored to put the OCs back in the running, and 2-1 at half time.

The first 25mins of the second half were a whirlwind of goals. First a goal from Bents, followed by one from Surbiton, then one from Ado brought the score to a tense 3-3. The OCs can be proud to have kept their heads at this point, especially in the searing heat. Lesser players would have lost it slightly.

Dressed as if he had just sailed back from the south of France an apparition in white and khaki appeared at the sideline throwing insults in all directions. Sporting a ‘hello sailor’ look rather than his usual ‘nurse harmer’ attire – Captain Harmer appeared at the sideline to offer ‘support’. Using ingenious reverse psychology, he ensured every OC player got a suitable sledging.

And then a breakthrough. Bents, apparently spurred on by the news there was an all girls hockey tournament taking place at Surbiton’s home ground (we should point out here it was an Under-10s event, but that might have been known by Bents already), decided to finish things off. It was once again the old faithful of the fourth team – Howy, Trinder, Ado and Bents linking up to bring the score to 4-3.

Most of the attacking in the final 5 minutes was in the direction of Jonker, who had kindly offered to umpire the second half. For the author, after 6 years of playing for the OCs it was a shame to finish with toys thoroughly thrown out of prams. Although it was great to win. As the final whistle went, OCs took the win graciously – and with cake.

As the sun dropped below the burnt orange horizon, pints of fosters could be heard clinking in celebration of a fine season and a fine team.

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Ladies' awards wrap up successful season

On Friday, April 9 the ladies celebrated the end of season in style with a small gathering of 16 lovely ladies and one male coach in Surbiton. As you can imagine Goalie was in his element! Copious amounts of alcohol were consumed including shots for every single player for fines and positive reasons.

The highlight of the night was the Whetherspoons race. This involved each member of the team, being time, running, high heels and all, out of the bar down the road to Whetherspoons buying a jager bomb and sprinting back. Initially times were quite lame - about six minutes - but then it turned serious and the tactics started. Ana was our overall winner with a superb time of 1 minute 19 seconds, anyone would think it had been life or death.

There was a serious side to our night with words said from both Sarah and Goalie and a few Awards given out and were as below;

Players Player - Rosie Marriott

Most Improved - Emma Varley

Coach's Player - Jackie Waite

Most Goals - The retired Vikki Mottram

Also on a very sad note the ladies said goodbye to a brilliant player who has been with the club for 14 years and produced some outstanding hockey. Vikki Mottram aka Gadget you will be missed.

As a leaving gift, Gadget was given a little pressie, two mugs with her name, number and the OC crest on them (one for home and one for work) and a pink umpire shirt. Gadget quickly picked up on the hint and made it clear the shirt would be worn but not on the pitch as she refuses to umpire. In response to her gifts Gadget produced from her pocket an A4 sheet of paper and recited a poem which she had created and in honour of her here it is:

The season's over, time for me to go
But first I wanted to let all of you know
Playing for the OC's has been a ball
I want to thank you one and all.

Starting back in 96
We were still playing with banana shaped hockey sticks!
Mel was captain, Ladies OC founder too,
And in a moment of madness asked me to fill the captains shoe.
I wore the armband at all times with pride
But if I said the job was easy, I must have lied

Finding an umpire could be quite hard
And you never you knew if Martin would show you a card!
A few greens we've had a long the way
And I think a few yellows, well, what can you say!
We always play with the aim to win,
Even if it meant time spent in the sin bin
We've had cuts and bruises, bloody noses, black eyes too,
But we wear our OC shirts proudly - the orange and blue.

And a huge thank you to Hels, Jax and Manny too.
Captains past and present, we'd be lost without all of you.
You've built this team up to be a team to fear
and I have no doubt of you getting promoted next year.

And thank you our Coaches – hubby Dunx and Goalie too
Where would we be without both of you.
You always put up with our constant chat
But you had our full attention, I promise you that.
Even when we were discussing Strictly Come Dancing
You got us to listen at the fourth time of asking

To thank you all would take too long
And I'm sure you've had enough of me waffling on
So I'll stop now and please raise your glass
A toast to The OC Ladies – a team of pure class.

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Saturday, 27 March 2010

Match report March 27 2010

The 1st XI gained the point needed to secure the league title, beating Andover 3-2 to give retiring captain Eds Copleston back-to-back promotions to end his tenure. The Ladies bade farewell to Vikki Mottram with a 7-0 drubbing of Tulse Hill & Dulwich, Vikki and Jax Waite both scoring hat-tricks, while the 2nd XI clinched their own league place with a spirited 4-2 win at Oxted. Only the 4th XI spoilt the party, going down 1-5 at Aldershot.

1st XI 3-2 Andover
Click here for match photosEnd of an era at TD with Eds possibly playing his final home game for the 1s and David Cresswell his last as coach before he cuts his Cranleigh links in readiness for the new challenge at Radley but a day that heralded another win and the securing of the league title. Southampton drew so we are now a huge 8 points ahead with a game to play. Eds said just after the break that we had to continue to win as others would drop points but none of could have envisaged Yateley and Southampton dropping so many so quickly.

Although not a vintage performance it was enough to excite Mani Kochar next year's coach watching us for the first time and we did just enough to see off a spirited challenge from struggling Andover. This time round their keeper did not produce the heroics that kept us at bay last game but equally we did not produce as many clear-cut chances. Andover did look dangerous on the break, which is how they caught us out twice in the first half, on each occasion to draw level.

We were a little depleted with Gavin looking and feeling very off colour, Cookiey seemingly unfit but at the 11th hour indicating he could have played and the Woods away in South Africa but still had enough to win the three points on offer. In the first half we were extremely disjointed, but from our first corner Knapp rolled home only for Andover to draw level when we were caught high up the pitch. Rory deflected home Eds off-target shot to put us 2-1 up, but before the break Andover scored the goal of the game finishing off a four-touch move that carved us open.

Having quite rightly been told by DC that we looked like a bunch of spoilt bickering school boys we played with greater patience in the second half, knocking the ball about and eventually scoring via a fierce CV shot from a right slip at our last short - the correct move that had been called ahead of our last three shorts in the first half. Although less troubled by the swift counter in the second period, Andover did have a couple of half chances at 2-2 albeit our squandering a series of chances.

A 10% increase in our fitness levels will more than likely increase our playing ability by 20% and provided we set out a clear plan and strategy from late June onwards we should be confident of being able to challenge the top teams in the league above next season.

Thank you David Cresswell for your coaching that has brought successive promotions but more importantly to Eds who seven years ago took over the captaincy as we slid down the leagues, wore his heart on his sleeve for those seven years and has been rewarded with skippering two promotion sides, and thus far an undefeated side in this season's campaign. A fitting end to his leadership will be to win the last game on April 10 v City of Portsmouth and be the first OC hockey skipper to lead a league side that remains unbeaten for the whole season. David Knapp

Ladies 7-0 Tulse Hill & Dulwich
Click here for match photos
Although there was nothing at stake – we were guaranteed third place before the start – the side was as up for this game as any during the campaign, wanting to round off a superb season with a win as well as give Vikki Mottram, retiring from full-time hockey after two decades (sorry Viks) an appropriate send-off. And that they did, in some style.

Tulse Hill must have wondered what on earth was going on as they found themselves six down within 17 minutes, on the receiving end of some of the best passing hockey seen at TD all year. Jax Waite, pushed up front for the day, scored a hat-trick in four minutes, and either side of that Vikki signed off with a hat-trick of her own. Her third goal was so typical of the skills that had made her such an outstanding player, a mazy dribble that left defenders floundering and then a rifled shot past a bewildered keeper.

Tulse Hill, to their credit, kept fighting and as Goalie made constant changes – only one forced on him when Emma departed with blood flowing freely from what turned out to be a minuscule gash on her nose, another as punishment for Sarah Mann for one reverse flick too many! The defence held firm, Rosie Marriott as utterly commited as she has been all season – she has cuts, scars and black eyes that would leave Knapp wincing – and Helen Hawes determined if slightly hungover. But credit to Hels; with her husband and Zac sent away, she enjoyed a night on the tiles, a 2am fishfinger sandwich, a 4am wake-up having poured water all over herself and her bed, and yet she was still there before almost anyone.

In the second half we again dominated and could have added another dozen, but Tulse Hill’s keeper pulled off some good saves, Snoopy, Hels and Vikki fired wide from close range, and the only addition to the score came from the patched-up Emma, while Tux and May caused constant problems with their running. All in all, a delight to watch.

At the end a tearful Vikki was presented with flowers and was hugged into submission by team-mates. We have to hope her promise to play the odd game if needed will be utilised more than she has planned. She's simply too good to spend Saturdays at Tescos.

A final note. I have umpired close to half the girls’ games this season and I would like to say what a pleasure it always is to do so. Relegated last season, its was always going to be tough, but under Sarah and Goalie they have played some exquisite hockey, the occasional period of horrible stuff as well, but have always been cheerful and friendly, and their commitment to training and socialising puts the men to shame. All in all, they are a real credit to the club. Martin Williamson

Oxted 2-4 2nd XI
We finally cast aside any lingering threat of relegation with a spirited victory away at mid-table Oxted. Aside from the first five minutes in which our customary slow start saw us go one down, we actually turned in one our best performances of the campaign and ended up comfortable winners.

We went into the game with a brand new front line consisting of our youngest OC, 15-year-old Giles and Cooky (welcomed back with open arms from 1s duty), who gave us a real edge in attack. Cooky with a brace and Giles with a calmly taken penalty stroke. Our midfield was also bolstered thanks to new HR-and-recruitment-manager Tom Merry who brought in Tom Quy and the ginger Ferret. Ferret, although short of match fitness, was a clear asset, controlling much of the game either in central or the right side of midfield. He will be kicking himself for not getting on the score sheet himself after a couple of clear chances.
Thankfully we scored immediately after Oxted and were 2-1 up by the break in what was a fairly tight first half. The only other key incident to note in was an awesome hissy fit between myself and Selbs. I’m embarrassed, olive branch offered and accepted, we move on.

It was crucial to score the next goal after the break and we did after, dare I say it, a slickly-taken short corner, deflected in by Ferret. With confidence rising we started to play some pretty attractive stuff in parts and managed to pick up a fourth after a sweeping move through Cooky. To be honest if we had attacked more down the flanks we probably could have had a few more goals given their best defender was doing a fairly good job of blocking us off down the centre, but I am nit-picking. The more pressure we applied the more unstuck Oxted became and their frustration boiled over near the end with their key playmaker receiving his marching orders for sustained petulant chat. Tut tut.

We did concede towards the end which was unfortunate as we defended for the most part pretty well – especially when you factor in the nutter who was playing up front for the oppo – scary stuff I tell you. So once again well done to Jon Heard and the brothers Merry.

All in all a very good display, with our league status confirmed we must now start looking ahead to next season and what we need to do to be more competitive in this league. If we can hold on to some players and bring a few new faces in then I don’t see why we can be in the top half of the league next year.

Men of the match = ferret/giles/cookiey

Dicks – me for the hissy / Nick for getting sent off meaning Tom only got the 10 minutes under his belt. Chris Porter

Aldershot & Farnham 5-1 4th XI
An overcast day in Farnham saw the fourths struggle to find their groove. A tactical change saw Robin "usually central defense" Crumby moved to centre forward to mix things up a bit.

The first half saw the "Shots" score 2 well worked goals on the break. The second half saw injuries to Howard's ankle and Oxo's head (he hit himself in the forehead with the ball leaving a Harry POtteresque scar).

Three more goals on the break followed with only Dom managing to get a consolation goal for us. Not a great day for the fourths but all credit to a well disciplined opposition. We will contemplate our remaining fixtures whilst enjoying an easter egg or two over the break. Back to the defense for Mr Crumby ...

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Saturday, 13 March 2010

Match report March 13 2010

The 1st XI maintained their title push and gained promotion with a rousing 6-1 win over Southampton II. The Ladies cruised to a 2-0 win at Reigate, a result which does not reflect the one-sided nature of the game, and the 2nd XI gained a much-needed 2-1 win at Barnes. The 3rd XI fought out an entertaining 3-3 draw with Sanderstead, but the 4th XI went down 1-2 to second-place Sunbury. The Vets beat Tunbridge Wells 5-0.

1st XI 6-1 Southampton II
Another emphatic win that, with Southampton 1st XI losing, guaranteed promotion and left us four points from winning the league with three games to go.

Welcome Norman, our fifth keeper of the season, only three left in the club who have not played - could just squeeze them all in.

The early exchanges saw us forcing the play and off our game but from midway in the first half until midway into the second we played some sublime hockey during which we scored six. Hunts opened the scoring from a short corner and Rory tapped home the second following an excellent strong run from Gavin down the left that set up the goal. Our purple patch came early in the second half with four well-worked goals from Cookiey, Gavin, CV and Knapp that put the game to bed. Even when Rory recedived a yellow we did not lose our way.

For the last 20 minutes we pressed forward but did not play quite the same clinical hockey we had been playing but still created enough chances to have had double figures. The Southampton keeper made a number of saves but some of will look back at the chances we had and will say that we should have done better. Souhampton scored a consolation at the death following some very good interchange of passes themselves. The 2s also won the crucial points as did the ladies so a good day all round at the top of the club.

Woking away next week who gave us a hard game last time round so nothing for granted until we have won the league. David Knapp

Reigate 0-2 Ladies

Barnes 1-2 2nd XI
In the battle to keep relegation at bay all our games have become ‘must wins’. Able to raise a strong team we fancied our chances and despite them scoring in the first five minutes (a good drag flick from their first short corner) we retained that confidence. This was built from a solid performance at the back where we were equal to everything that was thrown at us. Meanwhile Nick Lewis, Eds Copleston (on his return from mumps), and particularly Chris Porter looked dangerous on the break – injecting pace and linking well with everyone else. Andy Selby marked their play marker out of the game and proved an effective link. Up front Andy Farquhar and Nick Phillips were effective holding up the ball and we created a number of chances.

By half time we had drawn equal and looked comfortable, but we knew the next goal would be crucial. The second half we looked even more dominant and took advantage of one of their key men being sin-binned for raising his stick above his shoulder by taking the lead. We were denied taking a further lead by some excellent goal keeping and a great save on the line after we had lobbed their keeper. An uncharacteristic moment of panic in the dying moment lead to a short corner at the death but we held firm – Tom Merry managing to get to the striker before he had a chance to shoot and JP Davidson, who had an excellent game, shelled the ball of the pitch.

It was clear from our reaction how much this game meant to us. We are still not out of the woods – we are low on numbers next week but if we play with anything like the heart and indeed the skill we will once again stand a good chance of putting more space between us and the foot of the table. Our congratulations to the 1s on their promotion - a fine achievement, especially given their promotion last year too. Rob Merry

3rd XI 3-3 Sanderstead
A very entertaining match where a draw was a fair result, and where we had to come from behind twice and survive the yellow carding of our keeper. We exchanged goals in the first half as both sides switched the ball around skilfully, but on the stroke of half time Nigel Hawes mistimed (or quite possibly knowing Nigel, timed) his slide and wiped out the Sanderstead forward. His grin said it all, but the yellow card was a minor punishment compared to what awaited him when he got home. The flick was converted, Jock was held responsible for not saving it, and we went into the break a goal down. Jock bizarrely explained he was less mobile as he had kneed himself in the face chasing a sheep the day before. No, we don’t know either.

We survived the five minutes until Nigel returned (and the ten minutes it took the Laurel and Hardy duo of Hawes and Vickers to exchange the kit) and then drew level when James Armitage, 30 tomorrow, rifled home a short corner. A moment to reflect on Armitage who alternated between the excellent and the excruciating. His goal was crisp, and there were the usual powerful runs and important tackles. There were also some dreadful passes – he got an assist for Sanderstead’s third when he gifted them the ball inside their own D from which they scored within 20 seconds as Armitage still lay on the ground berating himself. His highlight, however, was after his goal. From the restart, Sanderstead attacked and all 11 of our players crammed into the 25 to defend with their lives. Well, ten actually. Armitage was spotted on the opposition 25 posing for a photograph taken from the sideline by his fiancée.

After going 2-3 down we had our worst few minutes, clinical passing giving way to wild hitting. But we gradually rediscovered out touch and eventually our pressure paid off as the tireless Bruce, who is clearly powered by Duracel, bundled home the equaliser. A scrappy goal to beat the visitor’s keeper who had kept them in the hunt. We finished the stronger but the draw was just.

Subruy 2-1 4th XI
The two foes lined up in the well groomed pastures just to the North of the Thames. The sun poked through the clouds just prior to combat - the omens were good and the smell of revenge pervaded the ranks. The Cranliegh army, swelled by the late arrival of a platoon of reservists, lined up with the advantage of sun at their backs. Lord Tucker laid out the strategy - there was also a healthy balance of trades and experience across the troops. Just before the first blows, there was much commotion and sabre rattling from the Sunbury ranks – they knew the importance of this clash to their entire Anglo campaign.

During the first salvos it became obvious that with sound tactics and application – ‘this was a battle that OC’s should win!’. The opening exchanges were frenetic, the OC infantry gained valuable territory, surging repeatedly at the heart of the Hampton ranks and almost breaking through the line several times. The Hampton defence continued to hold firm under great pressure, until, after some 20 minutes, the Hampton cavalry cleverly outflanked the OC masses, dealing a severe blow to the Cranleigh cause by almost wiping out the King’s special guard (1 – nil).

Cranleigh retreated, re-assembled and returned to the fray with continued hope, purpose and vigour, but still relying primarily on the energy and courage of their infantrymen. Once again OC made great territorial strides, but the threat of the Sunbury long-bow archers remained from afar. Half-way through the struggle OC delivered a vital blow, a well aimed volley of crOXObows, resulting in the Sunbury leader taking a bolt through the heart (1 – 1). The balance of power remained with Cranleigh through the rest of the day and the battle descended into a morass of blood and guts, but alas the determined foe just held their defensive structure.

Then - just as the sun was setting on the scene, another horse-backed Sunbury raiding party struck again at the beleaguered King’s guard. Sabres clashed and the King took a devastating fatal blow (2 – 1). The news spread quickly through the OC ranks and the retreat was sounded. The retreat minimised unnecessary casualties - Cranleigh re-grouped to assess the damage and re-fuel the unbowed, but weary troops. They would be back to fight another day! Nick Jocelyn

Veterans 5-0 Tunbridge Wells

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Saturday, 6 March 2010

Match report March 6 2010

Rory Alexander scored all four goals in a below-par performance against strugglers Southampton University, but it was enough to secure us a 4-2 victory which keeps us at the top of the table. The Ladies turned in an excellent display to beat second-placed Wimbledon, keeping our outside chance of promotion alive. The 3rd XI won 2-0 at Surrey Old Boys, while the 4th XI put their early-year goal famine behind them by trouncing Addiscombe 7-1, but the 2nd XI were on the receiving end of an 8-2 stuffing by Merton.

Southampton Uni 2-4 1st XI
As well as we performed last week this performance was poor and but for Rory's sharp shooting which bagged him all four and Paul's excellent debut in goal we would have been in trouble.

Southampton Uni may well be wondering how we are top and undefeated, but top and undefeated we are needing four points out of the 12 remaining on offer to confirm promotion. Today was probably as much as expecting to win and being too casual - something we talked about ahead of the game. A number of us were off our game and we were too slow in bringing the ball out of areas. Although we had the lion's share of possession we squandered chances, choosing the wrong option, and only won one short corner.

The half time score was 1-1, Rory deflecting home a cross from Wobble where we had brought the ball out from the right hand side, two touched it to the left with Wobble putting the ball into the D. In the first few minutes Cookiey and Hunts hammered a ball goalwards and Gavin was in good positions on a handful of occasions when wrong options were chosen. Ever dangerous on the break the Uni created some good chances but Paul was on hand to keep the goal intact making three top-drawer saves. There was however nothing he could do to prevent an equaliser 20 seconds from half time when the ball was given away by our defence two yards out.

Early in the second half we made the most of what the Uni thought was a fortuitous decision for our only short with their keeper making a Horlicks of Rory's shot and we were two up. Although we scored two more to go 4-1 up, Rory whipping home two shots from the top of the D, we were never comfortable in our play and gave the Uni a sniff with 8 minutes to go conceding another sloppy goal.

Fair to say that our attendance at training over the last few weeks has been poor and this is reflected in performances like today. We are too one dimensional and lack legs in certain parts of the pitch, both of which can be sorted by a more committed training regime.

Southampton seconds next week so will be interesting to see what team they put out. Do they bolster the 2s at the expense of the 1s to try and turn us over or ensure a strong first XI who are playing Wanderers to keep their promotion rather than title designs alive? David Knapp

Ladies XI 2-1 Wimbledon

2nd XI 2-8 Merton

Surrey Old Boys II 0-2 3rd XI
The 3XI drove down the A3, beyond Thames Ditton to the last game at The Varsity Centre which is due to be knocked down at the end of the season. Playing against a team that we dished out a 11-0 spanking to earlier this season, we had a strong line-up (and Jock) anticipating a challenging game.

The game started with confident play and solid movement of the ball through the team. Surrey old Boys (SOBs) however started picking up the game after 10 minutes and pushed the defence to some innovative play. Stu and Tim held the centre well and although some attacks were more threatening, it was Mr Hawes that kept the team in with a shout. It was however another attack that Tim 'twinkle-toes' Judd felt that using his feet instead of the stick to keep the ball out that Nigel really stepped up. A penalty flick, Nigel, theatrical to the point, deflected the flick away with his stick keeping the OCs in the game. The 1st half evolved with some better play in the last 10 minutes with CD holding the right defence and distributed the ball through to Tissy and the centre midfields, Armo and Bruce. Preston dropped back a little to provide a point man and the OCs started to control the end of the first half. In one of the attacks, a ball crossed in and SOBs defence weren't able to clear and another foot on the line. Preston stepped up and calming put the ball away into the right side. Half time.

The second half started with better play and the midfield started to have better control of the game. Although SOBs weren't giving up, the distribution and team work in the second half was greatly improved. SOBs attack however came with occassional breaks that the defence handled well but it was Mr Hawes that held his own and made several excellent clearances. Ross and Chaz were linking up well upfront and starting to move the ball quickly but a moment that no one likes to see, Stu in a shot at goal, shot from the back of the D and a SOB defended put his head onto the end of Stu's stick and came off the worse. Paramedics arrived, Jock told the injured man to man-up and off to Surrey A&E on a saturday afternoon. We wish the player all the best.

The midfield started to take control of the game in the final 5 minutes and some strong breaks played out and although a goal almost seemed inevitable, some excellent skills from Preston drew the keeper out to the ball, passed to Chaz whos sweep was going slightly off course and it was Ross from 2 inches that closed out the game with a 2-0 win. Man of the match, Nigel Hawes, DOTD was however Tim who turned up without a stick and shin pads! Whatever he thought was going to happen with these minor resources remains a mystery. A good win and well played to the OC defence, another clean sheet. James Armitage

4th XI 7-1 Addiscombe

Wimbledon Vets 0-2 Vets XI
OC Vets arrived in dribs and drabs for the evening fixture against Wimbledon in Motspur Park, somewhere north of Siberia. The footballers on the adjoining pitches had long since packed up and gone home before our game had even started. The setting sun dazzled for one half but gave out no warmth. We were cold before we even started, frost-bitten by half time and by the end had all sensation in our extremities. But nevertheless we left New Malden in good spirits, with the glow of satisfaction of a fine win warming our hearts.
There were eleven of us and about fifteen of them. We were blessed with the presence of Ollie, rock solid at the back and full of class. Shanks had another stormer between the sticks, and the spine of the team was strong; Trinder, Howie and Rowlands running midfield, were, as they always are, very very good. But above all we had Andrew Eve and Andrew, as the song goes, ‘well, he was something else’.

A rather scruffy first half came alive when Rowlands slipped his man, got down the line and knocked a dangerous ball to the top of an empty D. Eve, with a defender in close attendance, raced each other to the ball but the winner of that contest was emphatically our balding super-skipper. Arriving half a yard before his opponent he unleashed a fierce first-time shot from fifteen yards out that bulleted into the top right hand corner. The Wimbledon keeper was good enough to get a hand on it but the shot was too strong and, courtesy of this wonder-strike, we got to half time one up.

Very few of us listen to Andrew’s half time talks any more, but anyone who had would have heard him suggest that we have a ‘big first ten minutes and get a second goal’. Well ten goalless minutes of the second half were nearly up when Andy took it upon himself to implement his own half-time advice. Another dangerous OC attack looked to have been stifled as the ball was shovelled away from goal by a defender. Luckily for us it fell to the mighty Eve who smashed a bouncing ball just inside the far post. Eve 2 Wimbledon nil and for a while it was party-time.

Then with 10 minutes remaining our luck seemed to run out as our hairless hero decided to intercept a fast moving Wimbledon clearance. He charged at the oncoming ball just as a Wimbledon stick lifted it head high. There was a sickening, bony thud as the ball hit Eve square on the forehead opening up a deep, nasty and bloody wound. There then followed a period of intense medical activity (i.e. chaos) as various Vets demonstrated their caring skills. Trinder took charge but was tender, you might say almost maternal. Rowlands was enthusiastic but, with respect, largely incompetent, crowning his eccentric surgical efforts with an attempt to apply a large plaster without first removing it from the packet. The author of this report demonstrated a medieval ignorance of micro-biology and germs by producing and applying a grubby bandage that had been languishing in the bottom of his kit bag since 1997.

Thus was our beloved leader repaired and, bless him, was he was determined to play on Terry Butcher style, bloodied but unbowed. Common sense prevailed however and Wimbledon kindly lent us a player and we battled the last ten minutes, with Eve consigned to helpful remarks from the touchline.

Within seconds however Wimbledon won a flick and we all had that nasty feeling that the game might yet slip through our fingers. But we reckoned without Shanksy who leaped cat-like to his right post to beat out the well-placed stroke. It was a great save from our in-form keeper and much-needed. Our self-belief was thus restored and Wimbledon’s soon faded and we were able to keep them out until the final whistle.

This was a great win between two very evenly matched teams separated only by two moments of brilliance by the ever-young Andrew Eve. David Burles

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Saturday, 27 February 2010

Match report February 27 2010

The 1st XI eased over a potential banana skin with a rousing 6-0 win against London Wayfarers, and the 4th XI came away from University of Surrey with a 3-2 victory. But the 3rd XI went down to UCL 3-0 and the Vets, without a win in four months, were hammered 7-0 by Oxted.

1st XI 6-0 London Wayfarers
Click here for match photos
An interesting and frustrating week that ended with our biggest and most emphatic win of the season against London Weyfarers who had proved their ability in drawing two weeks ago with Yateley. In fact we scored one goal for each person at training on Wednesday.

Mumps for the skipper and work committments saw us down to 10 players on Thursday, including Coops with a bad back, until CV answered the call for a return to the fold and Jock agreed to sit on the bench. Thanks Jock, much appreciated. Apologies also to Rory who was Man of the Match last week and to Hunts who made a goal in October with credit going to someone else.

With the LW first team riding high in the Southern Premier B division this game was bound to prove a stern test and the first five minutes illustrated the benefit of guys training with their first team squad with the ball being knocked around with confidence and our not touching the ball whilst 20 or so passes were put together. Playing a formation we had not played for a few years prevented LW from making in roads and slowly but surely we came into the game.

The danger we created came predominantly down the flanks and our first goal came from an interchange down the right, a great run from man of the match Cookiey who drove down the by line and Rory was on hand to pop home the loose ball. LW still threatened but other than one short corner did not have any shots although Coops was alert to clear a ball that rolled through and which could have caused a problem. Their pressing was ultimately LWs undoing when we broke quickly, Hunts ( I can't remember who did release the ball but let's redress the balance ) released the ball up field to Rory who converted after a strong run, cutting inside and cracking the ball home. 2-0 at half time possibly flattered us with the third goal going to be the crucial one of the game.

Again we broke well out of defence and in stopping a through ball to Gavin illegally LW were reduced to 10 men, an advantage we used to our benefit with Knapp flicking home the ball from a well worked short corner, our second of the game. By this stage we dominant using the space created by hard running from our midfield and forwards and Rory scored his third being superbly set up by Cookiey. Our next short produced our fifth with Cookiey deservedly scoring the goal and with five to go fortune favoured Knapp whose miss-hit reverse stick shot looped over the keeper into the goal.

We could have had more but crucially kept a clean sheet and boosted our goal difference. This week we stuck to our second half plan and it paid dividends. The work rate was exceptional from everyone on the pitch and we fully deserved this big win.

Five games to go against teams in the lower half all of whom are desperately scrapping for points so no easy pickings. Southampton Uni next week who gave us a tough game back in November that we squeaked 4 - 3.

Old Georgians 2-0 Ladies XI
A Sunday match against a side languishing at the bottom of the table (the alternative offered was 5.30pm the day/evening before) coming into the match on a run of seven straight defeats during which time they scored four and conceded 21. On paper we should have won this with ease, but we failed to make the most of our chances while OGs scored from their two short corners.

Sarah Hills reports: "The game started off a little shaky, the pitch was very bouncy and the weather was extremely off putting. However shortly into the beginning of the match Manny hit an OG player with her stick, this gave us enough time for a quick team talk, back on side we pulled ourselves together and started playing as a team, with strong passes and good communication. The torrential rain finally stopped which aided our play and with us dominating the pitch we were definitely the better team.

"At half time the team gathered their thoughts and with a few minor adjustments to the team we were back on track to try and win the game. Back on the pitch we managed to gain some short corners, however the OG team and their spectators on the side line screamed and shouted as Rewa pushed off the back line, this was at times very distracting.

"Towards the end of the second half OGs gained two short corners which resulted in two goals, leaving the score 2-0 to OGs, this made us even more determined to get a goal before the game was over, with several attempts made to score we were unfortunately not able to do so."

Wanderers III 0-1 2nd XI
After last week’s disappointing loss (and to be frank utter capitulation in the second half) it was vital that we got back to winning ways against a resurgent Wanderers 3s – one place below us and therefore also in the relegation tussle. Last time we played them we won fairly easily (6-0) in the pouring rain but this time it was a very different side. The game started frenetically, both sides struggling to take control. The first clear cut chance fell to Wanderers but Paul Watson, who has looked better with each game he has played, made the first of a number of very sharp saves – denying them and keeping us in it.

We did look threatening when we played short balls – Andy Farquhar, another much improved player, showing silky skills up front and Neil Grimes looked a class above the rest as he consistently does. Half way through the first half both sides had missed chances with our back four and in particular Peter Jacobs and Jon Heard making important last ditch tackles. Nick Lewis injected pace throughout, and it was his quick thinking and crisp, accurate pass that picked out Jon Heard in acres of space on the left side from a free hit on the right touchline. Heardy crashed it in and we finished off, via the goalie’s helmet. 1-0 and so it remained at half time.

Last week, after being in total control the first half, we threw it away in second. Andy Selby, the stand-in skipper, made it clear that we would have to fight for it in the second half and then led from the front, man-marking their playmaker. The second half was a nervous watch from the touchline with sustained pressure from them and a couple more fine saves from Paul and the post denying Wanderers. They were still in our d when the 2 minutes was signalled but we managed to break and really should have converted a guilt edged 2 on 1 with the keeper. However that allowed us to camp up their end for the dying seconds and grab a vital victory. Our thanks to Preston who stood in for us at the last minute after we struggled to get an 11 out – not for the first time this season.

That said we now have a young side, who are improving and are increasingly enjoying their hockey – which bodes well for the season. We now lie 6 points above the relegation zone (although Wanderes have a game against their 2s, so we only effectively have a 3 points buffer). We have showed that we can cope in this league, despite some disappointing results, and as a young side finding our feet should be able to hold our own next year if we stay in this league.

Finally, congratulations to Chris Porter on his recent engagement to Jo Deacon (also an OC) – we expect to see a much calmer Ports on the pitch now!! We also wish Dodie, who has been much missed, all the best with his continued recovery. He hopes to be walking again by Easter and if all goes well back running by next November. Rob Merry

3rd XI 0-3 UCL

University of Surrey 2-3 4th XI
This week saw the Mighty 4th team take on bottom of the table strugglers University of Surrey seconds. But anyone expecting a 10-nil stroll in the Surrey sunshine was in for a surprise. Despite having shipped 60-plus goals this season, Surrey Uni were disciplined and not short of pace and talent. But as Herr Goebbels-Harmer ordained in his stirring pre-match oratory: ‘Meine Herren: Zey may haf six substitutes and der youth on their zide, but we have guile and experience. Never forget: “Erfahrung über Jugend, experience trumps youth, as I am fond of zaying zometimes”. Desperately short of goals since Christmas, spirits were further lifted by the return of all-time legend and 100-club super-star Tony ‘the tash’ Jones with the continued absence of last season’s top scorer Mr Louis Strover (injured), Bertie Bance (tax exile) and Smeer (traffic surfing and dodging articulated vehicles in the south-side massif).

Surrey started brightly setting up wave after wave of organised attacks featuring celebrity lookie-likees Napoleon-Dynamite and Fantasy Island’s very own pint-size manservant Tattoo (‘Hey boss, the plane is coming’). All thwarted by a solid first half performance by Stefano, Harmer and Kevin, with Howie, Sushi and Rob Jonker controlling the midfield and stifling some surging runs from Surrey’s playmakers.

We finished the first half with a two-goal lead thanks to short-corner conversions from Harmer and Howie but Surrey looked more than capable of pulling back that deficit and scoring on the break. The second half was well contested with end-to-end moves, including some mesmeric runs down the right from winger Dom and chances for Surrey requiring solid saves from Mr Smith. Surrey’s six-man bench were well used with rolling subs and fresh legs causing problems but ultimately confusing themselves as much as us. However, Surrey grabbed a goal from a thunderbolt strike from another short corner and the game was again finely balanced with Surrey pressing for an equaliser at 2-1.

But cometh the hour, cometh the man. Step forward Tony Jones at the near post to deflect an angled drive from the edge of the D into the roof of the net to restore our two goal advantage at 3-1. But with five minutes to go, Surrey raised their game again and scored from a short-corner scramble via the boot of yours truly, to make it 3-2. Cue frantic final 90 seconds with time enough for a final short corner for Surrey to level the score but not converted.

In the end, a good game, and 3-2 a fair result. The win takes the 4ths back to 5th in the table with 30 points after 18 games, just ahead of a chasing mid-table pack. Robin Crumby


Saturday, 20 February 2010

Match report February 20 2010

A huge win for the 1st XI as they beat promotion-chasing Yateley 3-1, a result which puts us in a commanding position at the top of the table given Southampton's draw at bottom-placed Woking. The 3rd XI had a Jock Vickers goal 90 seconds from time to thank for earning them a 1-1 draw in an entertaining game against Horley, while the 4th XI also drew, 2-2 away at OMWs.

1st XI 3-1 Yateley
Click here for match photos
Three huge points in another entertaining encounter against a Yateley team who come and play good and aggressive hockey. A point behind having played a game more than us made this a must-win game for Yateley and certainly one they could not afford to lose. As it was we ran out winners scoring two key goals at points in the game where we were under pressure.

We dominated the first 20 minutes playing some excellent hockey but only had Cookiey's goal to show for our efforts, with his picking up a loose ball from a short that had broken down and coolly slotting the ball home by lifting it over the diving goalkeeper. Playing patient hockey we built from the back and posed constant threats down the flanks. The work rate was exceptional but we could not convert the chances we created so giving Yateley a sniff. A mix-up at the back enabled the away side to break and they should have made more of the chance. In between times Coops made two great saves to keep our noses in front. We perceived that the danger would come from the Yateley short corners but we managed to deal with the threat whilst not making the most of our corners.

As the first half entered the last 10 minutes we were being pinned in our own half as the pressure mounted, but a break out of defence saw the ball fall to Rory who used pace and strength to cut in and roll the ball under the advancing keeper, a goal against the run of play. The last play of the half ended with us winning a short and although Cookiey flicked the ball into the goal Woody was correctly adjudged to have used his body to bring the ball down before making the pass.

After the break Yateley continued to press giving us no time to build our attacks but we held firm until we conceded a short that Rob Lowe converted to bring Yateley back into the game and deservedly so. Coops continued to hold firm however but midway through the half we lost Danny to a yellow card for breaking play down and Yateley sensed they had a golden opportunity to draw level. As it was a superb ball from Rippers to Cookiey opend up the oppo's defence and a crashed ball was touched in by Knapp at the far post to make it 3-1. Two minutes later we were down to nine when Eds received a yellow but again the away side were unable to benefit as one of their players received a yellow for a similar offence. Arguably this card was harsh but gave us the fillip we needed.

Our defence prevented any further clear cut chances until 10 minutes from time but Coops was again on hand to thwart the oppo perhaps being fortunate as the ball lodged itself under his pads but seeing the decision going his way.

Aaron and Tony umpired what was a potentially tricky game very well although we probably had the best of the marginal decisions.

Probably the most encouraging aspect to come out of the season thus far are the performances of Cookiey and Rory who have taken their being dropped on the chin and come back with real character.

Always difficult to pick a man of the match after a team performance like today's but if there was one it had to be Coops.

Our win has also done Southampton a favour but with six games to go we cannot afford to be complacent. London Wayfarers at TD next week who will be another tough nut to crack.

OMWs 5-1 2nd XI
A very disappointing result, especially given our dominance in the first half. At times it has to be said that they seemed to want it more than us. If we want to stay in this league then we must win on Saturday. We beat Wanderers 3s 6-0 at home, but they’ll will put up much more of a fight this time - they beat London Eds 7-0 on Saturday. A further blow came with news that captain Rob merry is likely to miss the remainder of the season after sustaining a broken hand during the game.

3rd XI 1-1 Horley
An entertaining game played in a good spirit with more than enough goal-mouth action to keep a decent crowd entertained on a cold and sunny morning. Both sides showed some excellent touches, with the youthful Marshall brothers (Surely some mistake), playing together for the first time, in excellent form. We created some good chances, Simon Marshall going closest when his point-blank nudge was pushed wide and then creating another with a crisp angled ball across the D which somehow avoided all three OC strikers.

Horley were not short of opportunities either, forcing Nigel Hawes into several diving saves and even allowing him the chance to wipe out one of their forwards. His smirk as he feigned interested in the flattened striker’s welfare was clear even from the sidelines.

Horley looked more dangerous as the game wore on but our defence held firm, and in the middle Duncan, Armo and Bruce ran their socks off while Stu played well without ever threatening to run anything off. Horley took the lead when they finally converted a three-on-two ten minutes from time, and that appeared to have knocked the stuffing out of us as we followed with some of our worst hockey of the day. But with two minutes to go we won a short corner from which Jock Vickers dragged the ball from the top of the D and it ambled through a sea of sticks before apologetically puffing into the goal. He claimed topspin. Everyone else knew better.

OMWs 2-2 4th XI
It has been said that when John Terry chose which of his team-mates' wives to do the dirty with he should have ignored Wayne Bridge's WAG and looked no further than Mr Cole's. Not only is Cheryl a bastion of pop and judge of fine music, but she seems to be a lot more available these days ....

In the OC fourth team the incest is even more rife. The love triangle between the three captains (Dom, Harmer and Archer) has been hinted to before in this column. This week the news broke that Dom and Harmer had disappeared to Barcelona for the weekend, leaving Archer alone to lead the team. Not only was he alone, but a late 'sickie' text from Smeer left the team one short at 10am. (Sorry Smeer, hope you are feeling better).

Cometh the moment, cometh the man - and Andy Eve was there by 11am to save the day.

An arguable first goal (had it gone five yards, had it not, do we know the rules yet ... probably not) left us behind after 15 minutes. This was countered 20 minutes later with a bullet of a cross from Jonker that was deftly placed in the back of the net by Howy.

The second half went in a similar manner. This time, however, it was definitely a goal from OMW with a cunning short-corner routine. Again Howy was there soon after to equalise. Finishing at 2-2, it was probably a fair result.

The game at best could be described as scrappy and at worst it could be said that Tommy, Howy, Evo and a bunch of 14-year-olds on the opposition gave us a lesson in experience and skill.

Post-match cakes, however, were a fine array of baking. A night at the oven had produced a near Tesco standard of confectionary from Oxo.

Thanks to all everyone who made the game possible even though two of our captains have let us down this week by being on a 'mini' break. But similarly to John Terry, as long as they play well next week I expect all will be forgotten. Mark Oxbrough

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Saturday, 13 February 2010

Match report February 13 2010

A good week at the top end with the 1st remaining in a promotion spot after a 3-1 win over Epsom and the 2nd XI recording their first win of the year with a 3-0 victory over bottom side London Edwardians. The 3rd XI went down 0-3 at Epsom while the 4th XI paid dearly for a lack of a striker in losing 1-2 to Old Reigatians. The Vets drew 2-2 at St Albans.

Epsom 1-3 1st XI
As expected a tough game against an uncompromising Epsom side whose results had in the main been excellent since Christmas other than a drubbing from Yateley last week. Their recent performances and that of today belied their league position and they should surely retain their place in the league come April.

Great to see a Hampshire umpire controlling our game with the 2009 Loveland most-improved umpire Susie Redshaw at the other end, an award richly deserved. We were at last able to make the presentation to Susie in the Epsom club house after the game.

Fair to say we were slow out of the blocks having had a languid warm-up. We missed Hunter in the centre of the pitch even though Ripley and Nick Wood caused all sorts of problems in the middle especially towards the end of the game. Danny was solid and ensured that no ball was given away. The initial exchanges went our way but Epsom had the best early chances with Coops making two top-drawer saves at 0-0 whilst we failed to put the Epsom keeper under any pressure. We were guilty of not shooting when perhaps we should have and not capitalising on the good positions in which we found ourselves. Winning shorts is something we failed to do and so nearing half time it was anyone's game as Epsom looked dangerous on the break with our trying to force the game to too great an extent.

As it was we won our first corner three minutes from the break and Eds with his best strike of the season drilled the ball home albeit the line man deflecting the ball into the roof. Epsom felt the initial strike was too high but the umpires disagreed. Rory and Cookiey were again buzzing around and their hard work was paying dividends as the half progressed. Nick Wood made a series of strong runs through the heart of the Epsom defence but we only had the one goal to show at half time. James Wood was solid at left half.

The half time team talk centred around being tight and playing commercially so it was disappointing to concede a well worked Epsom goal early in the second period when we went to sleep. From here on we battered the Epsom defence but could not find a way through. Their keeper made an excellent double save at one of our shorts with the line man casually taking another Eds rocket off the line. As the game progressed Rippers and Woody drove through the top of the 25 setting up good plays and we started to win a number of shorts. Some of the Epsom tackling became desperate as we stuck to our task and eventually from our sixth short Rippers was on hand to fire in a rebound that touched Knappy's stick on the way in. Wobble can count himself unlucky in last week's game after two pushes on our aging forward who had unceremoniously been dumped on the ground went unpunished but Knapp had the last laugh scoring the third when unpicking the Epson sweeper who dwelt too long on the ball with six minutes to go, making the game safe.

Great performances from Rory and Cookiey both of whom have showed real character in bouncing back from the disappointment of being dropped to the seconds before Christmas. As always Cato and CB were tight at the back with the two Woods mopping up all that came their way.

Three very important points with Yateley up next week at TD. A massive game for both sides and let us hope that we bag the three points on offer. David Knapp

2nd XI 3-0 London Edwardians
This week's match photos
It may not have been a connoisseurs’ delight – Bertie, who had travelled from Merton to stand alone in the freezing cold to assess the umpires certainly had views on the quality – but there will be no complaints at our first win in three months to end a run of seven straight losses. Pretty it might not have been, but London Edwardians could have few complaints in a match they rarely looked like getting back into after two goals midway through the first half has settled our nerves. We controlled the first half, dominated the second, but somehow failed to add more than one after the break, while the rare Eds’ breaks were superbly snuffed out by the assured Jon Heard. The season could hinge on matches against teams either side of us over the next fortnight.

Epsom 3-0 3rd XI
Not wishing to use a cliche but it was definitely a game of two halves. In the first we turned up and looked really good everyone playing to their strengths and stroking the ball around nicely. Our new recruit Dan at left back put in a superb display (even if he did lower the average age of the team by a full two years). Unfortunately the 2nd half arrived, possibly our worst half of the season (mine definitely!!). This meant that our first-half 0-0 draw scenario (which should have been a better situation as we had plenty of opportunities), was changed into a 3-0 loss by the end. You will have to excuse me if I don't go into any greater detail. Hopefully next week we will get back our mojo and string together two good halves. Thanks go to Cooky for Umpiring for us. Nigel Hawes

4th XI 1-2 Old Reigatians
A cold day at TD saw the game start with just 10 men - fortunately on both sides. Some solid play in the centre of the pitch from Howard saw us build towards the opposition’s D on several occasions in the first half. As we continued to push forward the ORs picked up on a few uncharacteristic errors at the back giving them two soft goals in the first half, against the run of play. Not very often is Robin Crumby beaten when left one on one at the back – all credit to the ORs’ forward (No. 9). That said we rallied and a Nick Jocelyn buried the ball after some scrabbling following a short corner two minutes before the break.

At the half time break we had the usual rousing team talk from Dom – “only two goals needed and we win the match”. Wise words – but only if we could capitalise on them with accurate shooting. We surged forward and dominated possession for most of the second half, but our finishing made the goal drought – one in two months - understandable. A disallowed goal from another short corner (too high) and a few missed chances went begging across the D in front of the goal. To be fair the ORs’ keeper had a good game and kept them firmly locked down at the back.

So the final whistle came and another defeat (1-2) – the goal drought must clear up soon, I just pity the team that finally plays us when the floodgates finally open. Post-match white chocolate and cranberry cookies baked by Grant Archer slightly lifted the frustration. Grant Archer

St Albans 2-2 Veterans

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Sunday, 31 January 2010

Match reports January 30 2010

A last-minute goal from David Knapp helped the 1st XI draw 4-4 at third-placed Southampton, a result which leaves us in second with a game in hand on leaders Yateley. The Ladies also maintained their promotion push with a 1-1 draw at home to Purley Walcountians, but it was another disappointing day for the 2nd XI who went down 1-4 to leaders HAC. The 3rd XI game at Leatherhead was called off minutes before the start because of frost, while the 4th XI beat Old Georgians 1-0, their first goal in seven weeks. The Vets drew 2-2 at Cheam.

Southampton 1st XI 4-4 1st XI
Another tight game against Southampton but a result that is more use to us than for our hosts. Once again we could have come away with all three points, but so could Southampton.

Missing Rippers, DP played in the mid field role. We controlled the first 15 minutes without reward only to go one down against the run of play and having not made the most out of six short corners we had won before their first goal. For some reason our heads dropped a little and Southampton had their best spell of the first half in the ten minutes after they scored. We did however pull level when Johnny Hunter with his best drag-flick of the season scored.

We missed a couple of good chances in the second half and gave away a careless short corner which Southampton fortuitously squeezed home. At this point the game was going from end to end but we equalised with Danny's goal of the season and then took the lead when Cookiey slapped home a loose ball from the short from a tight angle which was an excellent finish. We then had a guilt edged chance to wrap up the game with 10 minutes to go but Knapp inexplicably put the ball wide when it was easier to score. Two more careless defensive errors gave Southhampton two more short corners that they converted, with the second of these and their fourth goal coming four minutes from the end.

We upped our game and with 30 seconds left, Knapp deflected home a short corner strike to give us a share of the points. Perhaps we were too anxious as we didn't play with the same control as last week but by not losing our destiny is still in our own hands. David Knapp

Ladies XI 1-1 Purley Walcountians
With snow on the ground on waking up, I thought it might be back to a boring Saturday with no hockey but luckily we got the go-ahead to play on the incredibly hard, concrete-style, astro. Good thing we had the skill to control the bouncing balls.

The game started with some argie bargie and protestations on umpire decisions from the opposition, which Martin dealt with in true form and nipped in the bud early. We came out hard, having been pysched up by Goalie. We pressurised Purley and kept pushing up. They had a couple of breakthroughs in the first half which Julia dealt with like a pro. Our constant high work rate paid off near the end of the first half when Gadget caught Nicki's eye and made a sweet pass from just outside the D which Nicki picked up and cleanly executed to put us 1-0 up.

Unfortunately a slight lapse in concentration in the first minute of the second half meant they quickly equalised with a slickly-taken goal. Though we had a large measure of play and there were several opportunities, including a cracking shot from Snoops, we couldn't capitalise on our strong hold. The game finished 1-1.

...oh and we musn't forget that during this battle Gadget took a green card not just for our team but for the oppo too when Martin finally got fed up of everyone ignoring the 5 yard rule...Cheers Gadget!! Sarah Tucker

2nd XI 1-4 HAC
Report to follow.

4th XI 1-0 Old Georgians
The now-traditional post-match cakes failed to materialise (Nick Aston’s spluttering excuses failed to convince anyone) and although the game was played in glorious sunshine, the rock-hard surface made controlling the ball hard and neither side came to terms with the conditions. There were only three shots all match, all from us. One midway through the first half was well saved by the OG keeper, but the second prouced the only goal when a short-corner strike was only half saved and Atsushi was the quickest to the rebound. We defended solidly, Steve Harmer, in an unfamiliar position up front failed to make his usual impact, but in the end it didn’t matter as we took the points. The goal was our first since December 12, but since then we haven’t conceded one either. An interesting stat until you remember the cold snap meant this was only our second game since then.

Cheam 2-2 Veterans
Report to follow.

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Saturday, 23 January 2010

Match reports January 23 2010

The 1st XI returned from the extended Christmas break with a 3-0 win over Wanderers to maintain the promotion chase, and the Ladies did likewise, a goal from Jax Waite 23 seconds from time helping them to a 3-2 win over Epsom. The 3rd XI went down 1-2 to Oxted in a tight game, while the 4th XI ground out a 0-0 draw at NPL.

1st XI 3-0 Wanderers
Without doubt our best all round performance of this and many years in a crucial game at the top. Wanderers have had the wood on us for three or so years but today we laid the ghost. We welcomed back Wobble and Mini C made his home debut in goal.

The most difficult decision of the day was the choice of Man of the Match with a number of candidates, Rippers eventually squeezing out good performances from Gavind, Danny and Cookiey, the latter showing what we missed against Andover before the break. My dick of the day award was decided on an off the pitch incident of some three weeks old but clearly now changes the voting criteria. Happy though to win 3-0 each week and win d of the d.

This result could however have been so different had Wanderers taken their chance in the fourth minute when it seemed easier to score than miss following a superb interchange of passes that cut us open. Indeed, we hardly touched the ball in the first five minutes but other than the one scare our defence was resolute and played with greater confidence than for a number of seasons. The games between us are always tight and hard fought and this was no exception with our two umpires blowing excellently throughout ensuring that a good game of hockey ensued. We began to dominate as the half went on and took the lead when Knapp was set up by Adair but we could not add to the one goal, not making the most of our corners. Wanderers pressed for the last five minutes of the half and won their one corner in the dying seconds but this was taken off the line.

The game was killed off by the 50th minute with two Hunter goals, the first from a powerful flick, well called by Eds and a tap in having again been set up by the impressive Adair. From our point of view it was crucial not to concede and this we did but should perhaps have added a fourth but we did squander a few chances. Cookiey was a thorn in the Wanderers side with his pace and Danny had his best game of the season so far. Wobble provided us with a get out at left half that we used well on a number of occasions.

Southampton next week so three more vital points at stake. David Knapp

Epsom 2-3 Ladies XI
As coach Andy Howell said afterwards, you need a bit of luck to go your way if you are to get promoted. That we won a hard-fought match with a goal from Jackie Waite in the final half minute might be vital at the end of the season, and it was certainly hard on a battling Epsom side who looked much better than bottom place. For the first quarter they were all over us, and deservedly went ahead, only for Vikki Mottram to level within 70 seconds. In the second half we gradually took more control and appeared to have broken Epsom's resistance when Katie put us ahead on 50 minutes, but within a minute Epsom were level, punishing some dreadful defending as we went to sleep. The draw appeared likely - we had chances, and on another day could have had two flicks - before Jackie's strike gave us the win.

3rd XI 1-2 Oxted
A well-fought match against a good Oxted side well worth their second place in the table. For the first 25 minutes we were under the cosh, struggling against slick and quick passing. It was not overly surprising when we went a goal down on a quarter of an hour, but DOug MacKenzie levelled, against the run of play and after a run through a pourous defence, two minutes before the break. The second half was much more even, and we survived a yellow carding for the goalkeeper who inexplicably kicked the ball five yards outside his D - the sight of a helmeted Jock Vickers as kicking back was enough to persuade Oxted to keep away. Oxted regained the lead ten minutes from time and held on with few alarms, helped by our inability to get any shorts on target. A fair result but a decent performance.

NPL 0-0 4th XI
Finally the snow has cleared and the second half of the season commenced for the 4th XI. A cold and damp morning was matched by equally drab surroundings for the game in Hounslow. Someone was even overheard referring to the grey concrete building next to the pitch as something that would not have looked out of place in Prisoner Cell Block H.

The seasonal festivities seeming long ago as we pushed back against a well-disciplined NPL side. A change to our formation created plenty of space, however this was utilised by both sides. Neither side really challenged the goalkeepers in the first half, a few short corners went begging and one strike on goal was neatly swept away by their keeper led us in to half time with no score on the board.

The second half brought strong displays from Robin “The Wall” Crumby at centre back ably assisted by Nick Aston and Kevin Smith presenting a strong back line preventing many of the NPL Bees counter attacks. Then a sprawling Steve Harmer got unlucky in his positioning on the back of a short corner giving away a penalty flick! Nigel Smith chose the right way to dive and once the ball finally dribbled up to him he cleared it away (fortunately not the sharpest of P-Flicks ever taken).

The final minutes saw wave after wave of attacks fizzling out in the oppo’s D and many counter attacks being shut out by our strong defence. An short corner nearly broke the deadlock with Nick Jocelyn’s bullet-like strike hitting the post and rebounding, with the follow up from Jamal also hitting the same post and bouncing away.

So a 0-0 draw was probably a fair reflection on the game, with either side having looked capable of sneaking a goal - but neither actually managing to do so…

Post-match cakes were provided courtesy of Jamal – (Death by Chocolate) – and as this was as close as the team got to warming-down it may even prove to be the case!

Room for improvement all round for next week. Grant Archer

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Saturday, 16 January 2010

TD cancellations explained

The pitch at Thames Ditton on Thursday afternoon

In the light of some abusive comments sent as feedback in relation to the decision to call off this weekend’s matches – typically, anonymously - I thought I would explain the background to it.

I appreciate the pitches today are playable. However, we had to make an inspection on Thursday afternoon as there was nobody available on the Friday, and then make a decision based on conditions then and what was expected. Hindsight is a wonderful thing.

The pitch at 3pm on Thursday was completely covered in snow, with patches underneath still frozen (see photo). The car park and approach road were also very icy and the area next the club was dangerously so.

We consulted with the club management, and based on the situation allied to the forecast, we took the call to cancel all matches. We were fully aware this was a risk, but the only alternative was to inspect again on Friday night by which time it would have been too late to call games off. Ideally, we would have checked again on Friday but that was not an option as nobody was available.

All of us want to play hockey, so such decisions were not taken lightly. It might be worth noting that City of Portsmouth called our 1st XI match off on Thursday night and the Ladies game against Tulse Hill & Dulwich at Cranleigh was also called off the same day. I would hazard a guess those pitches were also playable today.

Everyone involved in the club does so in their own time. While disappointment is an understandable reaction to another blank weekend, anger and email comments such as “thanks for ruining my weekend you ****ing prick” are not. I only hope that was from an opposition player.

In future, when we again have a full-time presence at the club, this kind of decision will be taken out of our hands and will rest with the OC Club manager.

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Thursday, 14 January 2010

Another blank weekend at TD

For the second week running all matches at Thames Ditton on Saturday have been called off because of the weather.

Heavy snow on Wednesday fell on top of that lying there from Sunday, and although rain on Thursday helped to reduce the covering , it was not nearly enough to allow us to proceed with the games. The 1st XI’s match at City of Portsmouth was called off late on Thursday, as was the Ladies game at Cranleigh against Tulse Hill. The 3rd XI away at Merton is all that survives.

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Sunday, 3 January 2010

Loveland Bowl snowed off

Unfortunately the second staging of the Loveland Bowl match between the OCHC and the School was cancelled after snow which fell earlier in the week failed to clear in freezing temperatures.

The news was a particular disappointment to the spectators who braved the weather to support the side. "Eds Copleston decided on a lie-in and forgot to let anyone other than the players know," said one unnamed OC who went home after an aborted snowball fight. "We'll make sure he pays in full at the OCCC Dinner this Friday."

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Saturday, 19 December 2009

That's it for 2009

The club’s last game of 2009 fell victim to the weather as the 4th XI match at Oxted was called off on Thursday after overnight snow and a wretched forecast, which proved accurate.

After a two-week break we return to action on Saturday, January 2 when the Veterans take on all comers at Thames Ditton. Andy Eve has all the details. On Sunday, January 3 we take on the School for the Roger Loveland Vase.

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Saturday, 12 December 2009

Match reports December 12 2009

The 1st XI slipped up against Andover in the last game of the year, drawing 2-2 but still reaching halfway unbeaten and at the top of the league. The Ladies also bounced back from last week’s loss with a 5-1 win at distant Tulse Hill & Dulwich to reignite their promotion campaign. The 2nd XI finished a miserable first half of the season with a 0-5 loss to Oxted, but the 4th XI beat Aldershot and Farnham 3-1.

Andover 2-2 1st XI
Three months ago would we have settled for an unbeaten first half of the season with us topping the table? Yes, we would have. However our top position is possibly only until Southampton play their game in hand and by dropping two points today we have lost our cushion gained from the Wanderers results involving Southampton and OMWs. Two points certainly dropped but for the first time ever we reach Christmas unbeaten in the league, having won eight and drawn three. The league is still in our hands so at least we are not reliant on the other teams around us dropping points.

We could not have started better with a wonderful flowing move, a ball cracked in by Jonny H for Gavin to deflect home his 8th of the season. Criminally Andover were allowed to score an equaliser in minutes with what was an untidy goal from our perspective but all credit to a young Andover team who were not prepared to be rolled over. For the next 10 minutes the game became scrappy before we exerted some pressure, won a series of shorts and regained the lead when Rippers flicked home a well worked corner. From this point on we created chance after chance but the home keeper was in inspired form, saving well from Gavin and Knappy and dealing with the other six or seven corners we forced with ease.

Much of the same in the second half but even though we had 80% of the game Andover equalized scoring on the break with a swift interchange of passes that left James in goal stranded. Knapp and Adair again had vicious shots well saved and try as we might we could not force a way passed a resolute keeper. Another eight or more corners produced nowt, we lost out structure and for a period were guilty of trying to win the game as individuals instead of playing our usual fast passing game. Andover did look dangerous on the break when we over committed but we could and should have won.

Ten years ago we came down to Andover having won 10 out of 10, dominated from start to finish, came up against an inspired keeper and went away tail between our legs losing 4 - 3. At least this time we left Andover bloodied but unbeaten. Great defensive play from our hosts who fought hard and well when they could easily have rolled over. Yes, we missed a number of good chances and did not choose the right option in the D on occasions but we did play some top hockey and created a hatful of chances.

Not all doom and gloom with us still being the side to beat. David Knapp

2nd XI 0-5 Oxted

4th XI 3-1 Aldershot and Farnham
Warning - this report was written by the galloping medic, Steve Harmer
Friends, hockey players, country men, lend me your eyes!

In the words of Elton John, ‘the bitch, the bitch, the bitch is back, and stone cold sober as a matter of fact!’ That’s right, Harmer’s column returns this week to bring all its loyal readers, the best in social, political and hockey commentary. Go on, admit it, you have missed me!

It seems a life time ago since the start of the hockey season, when this column brought you the highlights of our season opener against the ladies team. From which a number of the 4th team concluded that we were going to be in for one hell of a trying season. The match was hard, laboured and as ugly as the off spring conceived from a one night stand between Wayne Rooney and Kerry Katona.

Thankfully dear reader, under the leadership of our carrot topped commander, Dom ‘Ginger Nuts’ Tucker. The ‘Mighty 4th Team’ have continued their Terry’s Chocolate Orange Revolution from last season and have charged up the league during October and November quicker than Simon Cowell sucking up to Cheryl Cole! ‘As we say in the Mighty 4TH team ‘The future is bright, the future is ginger (cake)’ and we have rarely found ourselves outside of the top four.

So this week, as you can imagine the pent up frustration from last week's match focused the squad’s minds ahead of our encounter against Aldershot and Farnham (A&F). In fact at one point we had so many players, the captain had to request one or two players step down. Thankfully Bish saw the light and realised that his wife might want him around to help move house this weekend, Crumby was dying from swine flu (we all know he ate too much cake as his son’s Starwars themed party last week!) and Adam found himself moved onto a different Surrey Police shift.

Unfortunately what brought most consternation, worry and fret between those chosen few that form the Mighty 4th Team squad was the injury to the OCHC club very own David Beckham. Steve ‘Golden Balls’ Harmer was scheduled to return after two weeks out due to his sponsor’s photo shoots in the Middle East and Caribbean. Alas due to an early morning automobile related incident outside of his South West London mansion on Tuesday, said Harmer found himself with an ankle injury. Due to a UK media injunction which came into effect on Friday night, the column cannot report on the details. However we can confirm that no fire hydrant was involved, Lady Harmer was not found holding a golf club over his body and there are absolutely no naked pictures of him with any blonde Las Vegas hostesses! Even with this considerable set back the Mighty 4th team were not worried as it was confirmed that Golden Balls would be on the touchline, prowling, gesticulating and directing like ‘Don’ Fabio Capello during an England international.

As the golden generation of players that form the Mighty 4th team assembled on the hallowed astro turf at Thames Ditton. We were joined by a number of lovely and charming ladies that form the core of the OC 4th’s WAGS, with special mention to Sarah who was attending her first hockey match ever after her engagement to Atsushi. The opposition brought two jail bait CHAV’s with them who spent most of the match smoking fags in the stands. Our WAGS were delighted to meet them, just as much as when they realised that winter had finally arrived, with the wind whipping across the playing fields making us all feel colder than a penguin’s chuff!

Complementing our existing squad players this week we were joined by the mercurial talents of James ‘Armo’ Armitage, Tommy ‘Gun’ Trinder and Howard ‘The’ Duck. Just like a fine wine, we had been well rested, decanted with care and ready to be enjoyed. Well apart from Nick Aston and Jamal that had been at Christmas parties the previous night and frankly smelt like mobile Stella Artois breweries!

The first half started with the Mighty 4TH team finding their feet in a busy midfield space however with the opposition only starting with 10 players we started to take advantage. Thankfully it was not long before some excellent passing between the midfield players down the left found the ball pinged across towards the right post with Howard finding the deft touch to put the ball round the stranded keeper.
At that point the flood gates should have opened however A&F held firm and somehow managed to snuff out all of our shots on goal. Credit has to go to their keeper who was a literal brick wall blocking multiple strikes from Jamal. As our frustration grew we started to lose our structure and concentration. This resulted in many of our midfield trying to dribble rather than pass their way up the pitch and not use the natural advantage of width.

In a rare counter attack by A&F, the ball evaded our backline (probably they were freezing cold due to lack of action) and somehow the ball ended up past Big Smith in goal. He was about as impressed as Mrs Tiger Woods reading the USA tabloid press. We managed to avoid any other disasters and came in at half time at 1 -1.

Reshuffling the pack at half time found Oxo returning to midfield, Atsushi finding a home at right back, Howard moving to central midfield with Tommy Trinder providing a wise head at right half. Smeer found space on the right wing and Nick J came into his own on the left touch line. Fabio would have been proud!

The second half was a lovely example of a full press by OC’s in the A&F half with the opposition rarely getting across the half way line. In fact, Grant Archer (at centre back) was so cold (as he had nothing to do) that he was signalling to his respective WAG to hand over her gloves. This request was met with a direct rebuff and Grant spent the last 30 minutes with his hand in his pockets.

Alas whatever we did, we just could not break down the A&F defence and slot one past the keeper. However as we maintained the constant pressure cracks began to appear with the opposition using more desperate tactics to prevent shots on target. On two occasions ‘Nurse Harmer’ was summoned from the sideline with a first aid kit and a bag of ice to attend to opposition players (we hope they recover soon).

To break the deadlock the OCHC touchline team decided to mix things up by subbing off Jamal, however he had one final magic trick up his sleeve before leaving the pitch and found himself at the top of the D in front of a charging keeper with space to shoot. He unleashed a strike with such power that if the A&F keeper had the temerity to get a body part in the way, then that limb would be removed with the ease of a hot knife going through butter. Alas the keeper did and nearly killed himself (I am not joking!) only to see Jamal pushing the rebound into the net.

From then on it was one way traffic with Oxo, Smeer, Armo, Howard and Tommy taking total control and all going close. At times the passing creativity and combinations of Stefano, Oxo and Nick J down the left were simply beautiful. Smeer went close several times before Nick J found the space to unleash a Louis Strover (supporting from the sidelines) type strike that flew past the keeper catching the top of the back board with a resounding crash.

At the final whistle, we had won the game 3 – 1 against a well drilled, motivated and competitive A&F side who we look forward to playing in the New Year. We celebrated after the match by feasting on homemade ‘White Chocolate & Macadamia Nut Muffins’ by Lady Harmer and Chocolate Chip Cookie by Sarah (fiancé of Atsushi).

Muffin recipe below.

• 2 1/2 cups biscuit and baking mix
• 1/2 cup sugar
• 3/4 cup coarsely chopped white chocolate chips
• 1/2 cup coarsely chopped macadamia nuts
• 3/4 cup half-and-half
• 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
• 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
• 1 large egg, lightly beaten

1. Combine baking mix and sugar in a large bowl; stir in chocolate and nuts. Make a well in center of mixture. Combine half-and-half and remaining 3 ingredients; add to dry ingredients, stirring just until dry ingredients are moistened.
2. Spoon into greased muffin pans, filling two-thirds full. Bake at 400° for 11 to 12 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted into center comes out clean. Remove from pans immediately
On behalf of the team, many thanks to Martin for umpiring and all those that supported on the side line Strover (and family), Tom Pollard, Rob Jonker’s, Chris Bents and our lovely WAGS Sarah, Sarah, Amy and Stephanie.
A well worked win that lifts us back to 4th in the league behind the leading pack. Next week, our last game before Christmas away at Oxted which should keep all of us away from present shopping.
So dear readers, we have come to the end of this match report, it has been emotional!
So good night beautiful people (not you Armo), may your god bless and see you in 2010!
Harmer’s Column signing off.

Tulse Hill & Dulwich 1-5 Ladies XI

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Saturday, 5 December 2009

Match reports December 5 2009

A wretched weekend with five defeats and only the 1st XI managing a win to keep themselves top of Surrey/Hampshire Division 2. The big disappointment came with the 2nd XI who squandered a two-goal lead with ten minutes remaining to go down 2-3 to Old Kingstonians. The Ladies' slipped down the table with a 1-2 loss to Surbiton, and there were also defeats for the 3rd, 4th and Veterans XIs

1st XI 4-1 Woking
Another win although far from our best performance with Woking proving to be a far better side than their league position suggested.

Indeed, the game could have been completely different had Trickster not saved a penalty stroke at 0 - 0 although for Woking's perseverence we did have most of the play. Profligate in front of goal we were 2 up at half time with a crisp strike from Eds at our first short corner and a rare goal from Rippers who deflected home Woody's cross after his strong run in to the 25. For the first time for a while our short corner drill looked effective and no surprise there after the practice we put in last week.

Woking fell down by by passing their midfield with the continual crash ball out of the back with our having given Woking space and although both sides continually gave the ball away we did so less dangerously than Woking and really should have had 2 more goals before half time and Woking were the first to admit that they should have had 2 strokes awarded against them, one against Gavin and another for a foul on Eds.

Our worst patch followed the restart and Woking were unlucky not to pull one back when the umpire blew too quickly with a goal bound shot at their first short of the second half with the ball finding its way into the goal, awarding another short which we cleared and to rub insult into injury adding our third a few minutes later. A break down our left saw Knapp set up Gavin who tapped home with a suspicion that the ball had gone out of play in the build up.

One must admire Woking for throwing a number of quality youngsters into this game, with Chris and Sam Way in particular looking like players to watch out for in the future.

Hunter rounded off the scoring with a fierce drag flick, Woking deservedly scoring their goal in between times, our failing to clear our lines. This was a disappointment in Trickster's last game as a clean sheet would have been a fititng way for him to sign off for the Navy but a goal that did not stop him from winning the Man of the Match award. Best of luck Trickster and keep in touch.

One more game before the break v Andover, a team that have consistently caused us problems in the past, and another must win game. David Knapp

Ladies 1-2 Surbiton
Unfortunately our run of success took a dive this weekend with defeat against Surbiton. They took an early lead while we were still sorting ourselves out. Then off a short corner Jax put a beautiful strike past the keeper drawing us level. In the second half Surbiton scored again with a great short corner. Although we were looking good and despite some good play and some great effort by all, we could not pull back to draw level ending the game one goal down. With one more game before Christmas the ladies are hoping to get back on track. Sarah Mann

Old Kingstonians 2-3 2nd XI
The build up to this game was less than ideal – we went through five different line ups in two days and as it was we then lost Bruce to food poisoning on the morning of the game. Eleven men to 6th placed OKs 13 men, and away from TD, was a tough ask. To compound matters Duffy managed to travel to the wrong ground and JP was involved in a five-car pile up just before the game.

However it was us who seized the first half. Rory scored early on, after a well worked move. We remained completely dominant for the rest of the half – dangerous in attack and very organised in defence. We zipped it round the back at will – Duffy was particularly impressive and Rory’s pace up front was what we have missed so much in the last two games. Should they have had a yellow for some deliberate breaking up of the game – probably. Should we have scored more than one goal – definitely.

However, having played probably the best hockey of the season we weren’t unduly worried at half time. Whilst we weren’t quite as dominant in the second half we scored again fairly early on in the second half. One for the press – Oks transferred it round the back but then left it by their goal and Rory ran in and pushed it in.

Possibly the turning point of the game came when yet again another very poor challenge ended with just a free hit, but Rory probably overacted and the game became unnecessarily edgy. With less than 10 minutes, and two goals clear, we completely lost our composure. Some daft mistakes, a poor challenge by Jimbo (resulting in a yellow card and a short) led to us conceding three goals (all from shorts, for the record we scored none from at least 10) and losing a game we should have won.

At the end of the season let us hope that these three points aren’t the difference... 5th placed Oxted next week. Rob Merry

3rd XI 0-2 Old Kingstonians
After five matches unbeaten we went down by two goals ... and as Nigel won't comment on any games where we don't win by at least six goals, nothing this week.

Old Reigatians 1-5 4th XI
As the 4th team slowly gathered at a cold and damp St Bedes School in Reigate it soon became evident that we were low on numbers. Unfortunately whilst managing to get 11 players there just in time for pushback, with a twelfth man / umpire still on his way, we started on a gentleman's agreement with the opposition to provide a second umpire as soon as the 12th man arrived.

After 5 minutes of play and still no sign of our twelfth man the opposition asked for us to stop play and provide an umpire from our existing team thus taking us down to 10 men... Immediately putting us on the back foot we rallied round and battled on eventually conceding a goal but valliantly gaining one back to level 1-1 at half time.

Alas our twelfth man still failed to materialise and the prospect of a full match at 10 men was sadly realised. Fitness and structure failing us Reigate, on a confidence high, put together some well worked passing exposing our defiicit in players. They continued to slot home four more goals during the second half. It has to be said that one of their goals was truely first-class (if a little lucky) screaming in to the back of our net.

Whilst a shame to lose the game, the manner of the defeat was the most dissapointing. Whilst we can not be entirely be blameless, as our heads dropped and tensions rose, the attitude and behaviour from some of the more senior members of the opposition was unfortunate - particularly as they are supposed to be mentors and role models to their clearly very able and talented youngsters. We hope next time we can all just get on with the hockey...

The high point came on the final whistle with both carrot cake from Smeer and tales from Robin Crumby of Crumby Junior's looming Star Wars-themed 7th birthday party (to be honest after losing at hockey we all fancied playing pin the X-wing on the Death Star). Grant Archer

Tunbridge Wells 8-0 Veterans
No report.

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