Mens 4’s – Draw at Trinity but win at the races (sort of)

AndrewM Match reports, Men's 4th xi

Today the main event was clearly the legendary Epsom HC Race night, but before this, a warm up was required in the guise of a game of Hockey vs Trinity 3’s who had a good win vs former league leaders Leatherhead last week.

Ever prepared, before setting off to sunny Croydon I checked the weather, but was rudely interrupted at 9.30am by a phonecall from a panic stricken Captain Email (aka Maj the Panther) – had his broadband finally broken, had he forgotten how to email, had we forgotten to advise how many foe teas? No seemingly our Keeper had been stolen by the 5’s and whilst Maj would be bringing Tucks from the 5’s game to our own, we could be lining up for first 15 mins with 11 outfield players until they arrived!.  As usual I comforted him, ignored the concern and carried on with my day, and sure enough by 11.30 all was sorted as the 5’s game was cancelled and we were back to ‘as we were’.

Anyway, whilst the weather forecast was not on our side, seems someone higher up was, as we arrived in freezing cold rain, decided to warm up whilst sitting back in the cars, the weather amazingly dried up for our game, and as we came off the pitch it started raining again – so thank you whoever you are.

Match started, and immediately clear this was going to be a tough and close game. Trinity had gained some quick and keen players and those that weren’t decided just to barge people or kick the ball without being seen. But a good close game followed and whilst hard fought, would say Epsom had the flow of the game. Indeed at half time, we decided we had done nothing wrong or bad (yet) and all that was lacking was some goals.

We started well for the second half and kept pressing for a goal, but completely against the flow Trinity scored from a short corner (something we haven’t quite mastered yet) – whilst a very weak goal in the end, to be fair the short corner routine was reasonably well planned just the finish was weak, but they all count and we were 1-0 down (did Maj kick the ball in the D to give away the short corner – think so). Epsom battled on and some great play from all the youngsters including the returning Jamie Perkins (fresh from his wrist injury – apparently done whilst playing some other ball game – or 2), Jack D (despite getting carded by his training buddy Chris Breese), Jack R (just keeps on running and so unlike his Dad), Matt Breese (good solid game), Rob Sydenham (found his mojo again – and welcome back mate), and Rob Pringle who looks young to me, but anyway had a brilliant game – battled hard, ran his legs off, and provided some really good attacking crosses into the D – just we could not finish off.

Our dominance continued, and finally we were rewarded with a through ball to Dan the man, who calmly slipped the ball between the keepers legs for a deserved 1-1 position. We pressed on for the win, and in the dying seconds of the game the ball came across to yours truly, who let the ball trickle into the D before absolutely cracking the ball in – it sounded great, looked fantastic and was definitely the last minute match winner – that was until it pinged off the inside of the post and somehow managed to bounce out – and not into the goal.  Dan tried to reverse the rebound back in, but hit side netting only, and it finished a 1-1 draw.   Glad to have at least earned some points today and strongly believe we were unlucky not to have come away with a deserved win.  But that’s hockey for you.  Man of the Match – Rob Pringle.   TFC – no one played bad, or did anything particularly silly, so the award goes to Tuckers who has a hot date lined up for the Race night, but got blown out because she had a new laptop to play with, and think Tucks owes some people at least £3.50 for failing to pull Saturday night.

Returning to the main event – the Epsom Race night courtesy of the 1st 11 (thanks guys – a great night).  Yes it was a great night, some good laughs and occasionally the odd jug (or two, or three) of beer got drunk, but what stood out more (and more than Jamie’s pants) was the real team spirit the 4’s now have. A fantastic turn out by the 4’s and growing friends of the 4’s and this is definitely the team everyone wants to be in.  I know some 1st 11 men would like to join, but we do have high standards – see me if interested. It is a team where we have a laugh, support each other, have room for mistakes, bring youngsters through and you know what hold our own in Division 1.  Highlight of the evening was the final auction race, where it became clear our cumulative £12.78 bid, plus a Nando’s loyalty card (this is the issue with having lots of students playing) was not quite going to win a horse for the race, so we dug deep raised the pot to at least £25 (plus Nando’s card), and then received some anonymous donations from around the room and somehow ended up winning a horse with a combined £60 bid.  Horse 7 it was, and with the cheering from the 4’s we encouraged our horse into first position at the final corner, but like today’s game failed at the end and rolled in 3rd – doh.  But like the weather earlier, luck was on our side and the winning 1st 11’s kindly donated the prize money to 2nd and 3rd place, meaning we had somehow won again.

Kindness should be rewarded, and we did try to share the winnings with our earlier donor’s, but they were all either hiding, wanting to remain anonymous or just too kind again, and keen to see such a great bunch win, that we were allowed to keep the winnings.  One more jug to celebrate and rest will go towards our own fund raiser – need to discuss next week guys.  A great weekend, capped off with a great race night, and as always a great bunch of guys to spend time with. Thank you one and all.