Category Archives: mens Vets reports

Magpies O’50s 3 ISCA O’50s 3 Magpies through on strokes

Harleston Magpies Over 50s 3 ISCA Over 50s 3 magpies won 5-4 on strokes

With Richmond eliminated for failing to abide by the regulations, Magpies faced ISCA who had narrowly lost to Richmond in the previous round. The venue was the National Sports Centre at Bisham Abbey.

Magpies were lacking Clyde Camburn, now in rehab following an op and Jon Wells who has been kidnapped and taken away under duress to Dominica. These absences were offset by both Blackmores being available.

Magpies started of brightly and it was no surprise when they took the lead when a speedy break ended with Jim Stather deflecting a Cobbald cross past the hapless ISCA goalkeeper. The lead was doubled when a direct shot from Philip Cobbald at Magpies first short corner thudded into the back board.

Magpies failed to maintain this lead as a poorly pushed out short corner confused the defence and an ISCA forward would have been surprised with the time he had in front of goal and scored despite a valiant effort by Murray Graham.

ISCA now had much more of the game as Magpies struggled to keep possession and the game was turned around when two more short corner goals saw Magpies fall behind. If you thought the vultures were gathering then you were close as Red Kites hung in the air above the pitch.

As the game went into its final minute Magpies won a short corner and then another
Either Philip Cobbald deliberately aimed wide of the goal and Jon Aldridge was in exactly the right position to deflect the ball into the net.

Or Philip Cobbald pulled his shot which was going wide but then struck the stick of the unsighted Jon Aldridge and the ball gently lobbed into the net. The equaliser came with 50 seconds left.

The game went to strokes with each team scoring four from the initial five. Then Philip Cobbald scored to send Magpies ahead and this was followed by a save by Murray Graham. It was then explained to Murray that since we were now into sudden death strokes we had won.

Thanks to our supporters (three) who out shouted those from ISCA (0) and to Keith Alexander.
Magpies are now through to the semi final. Draw tomorrow.

(Dave B you owe me!)

Harleston Over 50s 4 Ipswich over 50s 0

Harleston Magpies over 50s Ipswich over 50s

Two weeks after The Rolling Stones take to the stage, the Magpies equivalent took to the pitch. They have a surprising lot in common; both have had to wait a long time to gain any sort of acceptance by society at large, both attract audiences who come knowing they might never see another performance and both have seen better days. Peter Finnie wore a fetching white hair band in an attempt to resemble Keith Richard. Peter maintains this is necessary after a recent head injury but I think beneath that silver exterior he’s really all rock an roll.

After arriving early for the previous round despite coming direct from France, Jon Wells reverted to type and postponed his entrance to the last possible moment. This means he missed the team talk and its message of passing the ball around. Would he have taken any notice? I leave that dear reader up to you.

Others arrived with the scars of the previous day’s exertion but in the words of the song- ‘yesterday don’t matter anymore’ and all had the motivation of playing against Ipswich so everyone was able to start themselves up for the game.

In fact, Magpies did start well and it was no surprise when they took the lead. It was also no surprise that the scorer was Jon Aldridge who was tormenting the opposition defence. Two short corners lead to goals from Bob Skinner and even half way through the first half it was all over now for Ipswich.

The only tactic in response from Ipswich was to try and play long balls through the Magpies midfield and usually off the ground. One such strike took Jon Aldridge out of the game as it struck him below the knee and forced him to surround his leg with ice for a while.

The fourth goal came before half time and showed that with increasing age one’s perception of space and distance can play tricks – a shot by Philip Cobbald was generally agreed to be going nearer the corner flag than the goal before striking a defender and deflecting into the goal. However Philip was convinced it was ‘going just inside the post’ and claimed the goal.

Comfortably in front Magpies made numerous substitutions during the second half which disturbed the rhythm of the team. One substitution was delayed as the oncoming player could not find his stick – the reason being that another Magpie was using it having mistaken it for his own- not that it was difficult to tell the two sticks apart as one had a red handle and the other a black one. Of course I will not reveal the name of the player- suffice to say we will put it down as a blond moment.

Ipswich did appeal for a short corner when with Magpies moving the ball across the back without an Ipswich player within 25 yards, the ball rebounded off Dave Blackmore’s stick-losing his touch, the umpire said ‘don’t stop’ and Ipswich were disappointed but then you can’t always get what you want.

It was a measure of how comfortable the lead was that a certain spectator commented how boring the second half was. Magpies had a lot of possession but few shots. They now progress to play both Bromley and Beckenham on 20th January at home.

Thanks as always to Kirstin for the post match sustenance and to the hardy band of spectators who this time did not boo the home team.

Harleston Magpies Vets

Harleston Magpies over 50s 12 Broadland over 50s 1

After all five matches played last year were, Magpies supporters were at last given the chance
to see the over 50s inaction- sorry in action. This brought in a large crowd that was largely a gathering of the Blackmore clan. One wonders about the motives of some of the others especially when one was heard to say that if he wasn’t watching hockey he would be standing on street corners near Newmarket Road in Norwich causing trouble.

Magpies took control from the start in the best possible way by scoring before the opposition had touched the ball.

Captain Cobbald’s pre-match instruction was to move the ball quickly though the left midfield forgot that an element of direction was also required as the ball went in a somewhat random direction. A second goal soon followed when Jon Aldridge beat the goalkeeper with a reverse stick lob. This drew praise from magpie forwards but a comment from a team mate playing in defence that could be translated as clever backside.

Within minutes Magpies had a stroke which really for over 50s sounds quite serious but did, in fact, give the writer the chance to score from seven metres (as he has no chance of scoring in any other way) which he duly did, much to the disappointment of a section of the crowd who led by the same trouble maker referred to in paragraph one started booing.

Philip Cobbald and Jon Aldridge scored more goals and Broadland did reduce the margin by converting a short corner and half time came with the score 6-1.

Jon Wells and Bob Skinner got their names onto the score sheet and Philip Cobbald scored some more. A spectator arriving mid way through the second half would have thought that a shock result was about to happen as the scoreboard read Home 0 Visitors 1 but the lack of a digit in the tens column disguised the true 10-1.

However the best moment for the spectators was still to come when Keith Alexander expertly passed the ball into the goal for Magpies eleventh and was given a standing ovation before Cobbald scored the final one.

Haleston Magpies Over 50 0 Richmond Over 50s 1

Harleston Magpies 0 Richmond 1

HA Over 50s National Final

Most of the portents were good; none of the team was suffering from hypothermia after a team photo shoot on Monday, all arrived safely on the Saturday night at the hotel in Walsall and Pete Finnie managed to make it there without triggering off any roadside cameras. The environs of the hotel ensued that no members of the team went out on nocturnal strolls though manager Robert Stimpson took it upon himself to check this. In the morning, two magpies flew over the M6- so far so good.

Anyway to the game, Richmond started strongly and pressurised Magpies from the start who struggled to keep possession and so created more pressure on themselves. However the defence allowed few clear chances other than from short corners. Here Murray Graham made exceptional saves Richard Organ’s drag flicks. Magpies struggled to have any meaningful possession in the Richmond third of the pitch.

With two minutes to half time Richmond were awarded a fifth short corner and after switching the point of play several times Mark Precious scored with a rising shot.

In the second half, Magpies gradually got themselves into the game and Richmond became less enamoured with the umpires, themselves, us and life in general culminating with a both a green and a yellow card. Magpies gained their first short corner with 15 minutes left and then three others and for the first time there was real pressure on the Richmond goal.

With minutes left, Magpies took off Murray and played with eleven outfield players but to no avail.( I was requested to put in a note at this point to state that Jerry Blackmore spent longer on the pitch than Murray but I won’t). There could be no faulting the effort and Richmond were relieved to hear the final whistle.

The heavens now opened as if weeping at our demise and we all got very wet at the presentation.

On reflection were we beaten by a very good team and perhaps our path to the final had been too easy as at no time had we been put under anything like the pressure that Richmond did.

Thanks go to all those who travelled from Norfolk to cheer us on. As always Magpies supporters outnumbered and outshouted those of the opposition- thank you Mike.

Also thanks to Philip for his organisation etc etc and even washing the kit.

Bowdon 1 Harleston 3

Bowdon Over 50s 1 Harleston Magpies Over 50s 3

Since I have been almost as slow over writing this report as I was in taking a free hit, I now see there is a comprehensive report on the web site already.

All it is left for me to say is to thank our two supporters Lorna Stather and Mike Denham for their attendance. I hope the angst Mike felt when asked to pay for a cup of tea in the clubhouse before the game disappeared as he tucked into his quiche, salad and chips afterwards.

Tunbridge Wells over 50s 0 Harleston Magpies over 50s 7

Tunbridge Wells o50s 0 Harleston Magpies o50s 7

Harleston moved into the last eight of the over 50s cup with an efficient rather than sparkling performance. To begin with passes were often underhit on the slow surface but Magpies generally were in control.

The first two short corners each led to goals with Philip Cobbald converting a penalty stroke after his shot was illegally stopped and then Bob Skinner deceiving the defender on the line with the lack of power in his shot after the goalkeeper had saved the initial strike.

The two highlights of the first half were a sideline hit from Keith Alexander from deep in Magpies 25 which managed to travel sixty yards down the pitch without going more than two inches away from the sideline and then in the final minute Jim Stather chased after a through ball, the Tunbridge goalkeeper came from his goal and then convinced the ball would go out of play let it pass him, only for Jim, with all his experience from playing on Denes Oval, to reach the ball a yard out from back line and, first time, score from an absurd angle.

In the second half a fine run and reverse stick flick by Jon Aldridge increased the lead to 4-0. Tunbridge did have the ball in the Magpies net but after a goal had been awarded the umpires consulted and the result was a 16 to Magpies.

By now Tunbrisge were running out of legs and Magpies scored three more in the last six minutes – another corner by Cobbald and Jon Aldridge added two more by robbing players inside the Tunbridge D before shooting home. Surprisingly the players he robbed were in white shirts.

Magpies are now through to the last eight and have been drawn at home against Reading who Magpies played in the HA Cup twenty years ago. Five of those who represented Magpies then are now in the Over 50s squad. This is to be played on February 12th.

Colchester Over 50s 2 Harleston Magpies Over 50s 7

In some ways, the hardest part was finding the ground and negotiating a maze of roundabouts. Being of the age we are, some of us would far rather be given an OS grid ref than rely on a sat nav especially when the ground doesn’t have a post code.

With the strike force of Cobbald and Aldridge in the far east- way beyond Lowestoft on international duty, Magpies recruited Jim Stather who has all the required qualifications and the added bonus of being a forward.

Magpies dominated from the start and moved the ball around quickly in all sorts of directions bar one which was into the opponents’ goal. Missed chances were spread throughout the team with Dave Blackmore playing top of the diamond, missing the goal twice from close range. He then had to leave at half time to deliver daughter to airport. I hope for her sake he had better luck finding Stanstead than he did the goal then after all its big enough. (Though I am duty bound to say that he did finally give Magpies the lead-though chimps, typewriters and Shakespeare spring to mind)

Clyde Camburn managed to do what the Welsh rugby team should have done in their World Cup semi final and clear the crossbar from open play.

Half time came with Magpies two goals up. In the second half, Colchester tired and gaps appeared. Magpies eased to six goals with two from Bob Skinner, two from Jim Stather and one from Jerry Blackmore before conceding two themselves.

Finally a precision pass from Clyde to Jon Wells via a spot four up on the right post gave Jon the final goal.

Magpies are drawn against Tunbridge Wells away on Sunday 20th November with the winners going into the last eight.

Bishop Stortford Vets 3 harleston Magpies Vets 2

Bishop Stortford Vets 3 Harleston Magpies Vets 2 Veterans KO 1/8 final
First the good news, there were clear signs that the recession is over as Magpies could afford coffees at Stanstead services as their pre match meeting place.
The early moments of the game showed that Stortford had youth on their side and the opening exchanges were even. A number of Magpies hits had to be retaken because (a) the ball was not where the offence had been committed and (b) because the ball was not stationary. Despite having a lesser share of the possession Magpies took the lead when Martin Reader beat one defender and for the second time in a week a goalkeeper was beaten at his near post and while his effort lacked the pace and power of Van Persie the net result was the same.
Shortly afterwards, Magpies had a defender yellow carded for interfering with a Stortford free hit. This seemed rather harsh as the ball had not been stopped before the hit was taken [see para 1 section (b) above] and was taken from well in advance of the point of the offence [see para 1 section (a) above]. Magpies held out with ten players quite comfortably but could not take advantage of the opposition gaining a yellow card of their own.
Stortford equalised when Kevin Ridley brought off a superb tackle on a forward in a good shooting position only for the ball to fall to another Stortford player. Stung by this reversal magpies retook the lead within two minutes when Roger Kent deflected in a shot/pass.
At the start of the second half, Magpies had good opportunities especially on breakaways but the final pass lacked accuracy. Gaps opened up in the Magpies defence as Stortford were able to get more players into advanced positions and lead to them scoring two goals in quick succession.
Magpies were not out of it and a mazy run from Roger Kent took him into the circle beating three or defenders before his shot and deflected across the circle, Jon Aldridge controlled the ball, manoeuvred past a defender and shot. A full back on the line was hit on the foot and the umpire raised one hand vertically in the air. The writer, expecting the award of a penalty stroke had glanced to see if any of the other likely stroke takers were on the pitch or the bench and on looking back saw that a free hit had been awarded to Stortford apparently for third party obstruction during Roger’s initial run.
Undeterred or perhaps spurred on by this incident Magpies spent the last minutes in Stortford’s half and forced several short corners. Phil Cobbald beat the keeper but the ball was fractionally over the back board. From another a defender cleared the ball from the line but there was to be no come back.
In the end, Strortford’s youth did tell. To show the age difference some of their players were not born when the oldest Magpie was playing first team hockey and the entire Magpies back five can now look forward to the over 50s competition in the future.
Thanks to the band of supporters for travelling and to Stortford for a post match meal served with wine and for providing a crowd of Weybread size proportions.

Harleston Magpies Vets 6 Indian Gymkhana Vets 2

Harleston Magpies Vets 6 Indian Gymkhana Vets 2 (Vets KO)

It was difficult to say whether preparation would be enhanced or otherwise by the lack of hockey in previous weeks. Being the professional outfit that they are various fitness regimes were used including one player joining an aerobics class. I do not intend to name this player for obvious reasons but to find out look to the east of Sussex.

It was expected that there would be a contrast in styles with the opposition having individual stick skills against Magpies passing and teamwork.

It was a portent of what was to come that prior to the start Magpies did a series of running and stretching exercises whereas Indian Gym were round in a circle talking.

Magpies who were at ‘full’ strength other than Jerry Blackmore who was reducing the turkey population of north Suffolk., started with the aged combination of Dolton and Wells on the bench where they were joined for a short time by young Kieran Peters. Kieran was then asked by the umpire to move to the other side of the pitch for health and safety reasons – quite why the one with youthful reactions and agility is thought to be in any sort of danger from an errant hockey ball while the two elderly gents are not is difficult to comprehend.

In the opening minutes, Magpies moved the ball fluently from flank to flank but lacked the precise pass into the circle. While Indian Gym attempted to reach their front players with long passes and missed out the midfield.

Roger Kent did make one run into the D which was brought to an end when he was in an uneven competition with the force of gravity. His protestations that he was tripped allowed him to be awarded the first card of the game (a green). For what its worth, Roger was wronged. There is a totally fallacious follow up to this in Mike’s Musings.

Against the run of play Indian Gym took the lead following a deft piece of control that went unpunished as hot spot has not yet been installed at Weybread. This brought about an immediate response from Magpies with Phil Cobbald scoring direct from a short corner. Again Magpies fell behind when a long pass into the D was sweetly struck giving Murray Graham no chance only for Magpies to equalise within minutes from their second short corner with Jon Aldridge deflecting in Phil Cobbald’s shot.

Too much chat – see bit above about their warm up routine reduced Indian Gym to ten players. The award of a third short corner just before half time initiated a discussion group from the offending team. This only delayed the inevitable and Phil Cobbald hit an even better shot than previously to give Magpies the lead for the first time.

It was stating the obvious to say that the first goal in the second half would be crucial. Magpies comparative youthfulness and fitness now gave them a considerable advantage. Players had more space and gaps appeared. A superb passing movement that involved most of the team took the ball from one side of the pitch to the other then into the circle where the final pass picked out Roger Kent who administered the final touch.

Magpies dominance of possession increased as did the opposition’s frustration and some of their deft stick skills took place further and further from the ball. Stuart Peters and Martin Reader added more goals. Another yellow went to Indian Gym, the player in question defended himself saying he had not hit the Magpie marking him very hard.

A final Indian Gym short corner came to nothing- in fact the push out came to rest six feet from the injector who was then lost for words. Magpies progress into the last sixteen and will have to wait a while to find out who they meet in the next round as a number of the other fixtures are yet to be played. We will be hoping for another home tie especially so the old chap who appears at the end of tea to finish off the left overs can have another meal.

Thanks go as always to the umpires, to the supporters and to Simon Bardwell for his culinary delight.

Men’s 7ths & Vets

Men’s 7ths 4 Felixstowe 3rds 1

In this top of the table game with first playing second, Magpies started off slowly unaccustomed to being denied time and space as Felixstowe attempted to take advantage of youthfulness that was definitely on their side.

Against the run of play Magpies took the lead from their first short corner through a direct shot by Jon Wells. Felixstowe had a chance to equalise when a short corner as illegally stopped on the line but Murray Graham dived to save. The lead did not last long as a further corner was converted.

Half time arrived and, for once, on field tactician Simon Bardwell could not use the line about starting the second half as if the scores are level because they were. At this time a Grey Wagtail flew over calling.

As the second half progressed Magpies better ball retention enabled them to exert more control. They took the lead from a well worked short corner move or an errant shot from Jon Wells depending on your point of view was turned into the goal by Joe Walker. Joe then added a second when a fine run along the goal line by Simon Bardwell had the keeper stranded at the near post and Joe’s shot was accurate into the unguarded net though it did take a long time in execution.

The two goal cushion was put at risk when James Smith miscontrolled a ball into Magpies circle and allowed the ball to gently come to rest cushioned between his ankles- a picture reminiscent of a King Penguin incubating its egg on the Antarctic ice pack. The corner came to nothing and then in the very last minute James ventured into the opposition D and the ball entered the opposition goal. These two events were obviously related but it was difficult to see quite why or how.

Magpies have no game next week as the opposition have withdrawn from the league. Indeed there are only three more league games between now and January 15th 2011.

Broxbourne Vets 2 Harleston Vets 3

HA Vets Cup

It was a glorious late autumn day with the golden tints on the trees approaching their zenith, there was a clear blue sky and a vestige of warmth from the middle of the day sun then we reached Broxbourne.

Showing intent Magpies arrived in good time to prepare and warm up but the sight of a team in Broxbourne colours, though some twenty five years short of the qualifying age to play in the Vets cup, taking to the pitch some 45 minutes before our expected start time did not auger well and there was very little pitch time available before the start.

Magpies welcomed Duncan Cogdell into their ranks for his debut. After a sluggish start, Magpies showed patches of their quick passing game but were thwarted by various means by the Broxbourne defence until a move down the right ended with the ball reaching Martin Reader who netted. Then Jon Aldridge managed to evade several challenges until left with an open goal for number two and then almost at half time a long pass into the circle was bravely deflected in by Roger Kent.

Magpies had received two green cards in the first half – in both cases following on from fouls by the opposition and the general opinion at half time was for discipline and control. It has to be said that after a number of poor decisions it was highly likely that there would be a yellow shown in our direction and this as the case but surprisingly not to the more expected candidates when Alistair Williamson was penalised for playing at the ball while not 5 yards from a free hit. There was an element of inconsistency about this.

Broxbourne did get one goal back, then each team hit the post with Duncan Codgell deprived of a goal against his previous club. A penalty stroke was conceded- answers on a post card please but for the second time in the weekend Murray Graham made a save. With five minutes to go a scramble produced a second goal but Magpies rode out the remaining time to progress into the next round. This takes place on Sunday 5th December against Indian Gymkhana at Weybread

Mens 7s, Mens Vets, Reports

Harleston Magpies 7th 6 Norfolk Nomads 1st 0

Taking seriously the captain’s midweek text exhorting that the team be prepared mentally and physically for he game the Magpies pre-match preparation was thorough and meticulous, so much so that there were ten Magpies ready to play at the agreed starting time and others on their way.

Nomads did come into the game with a similar record to Magpies of two wins from two matches- was this to be an early season six pointer?

Magpies soon settled into their passing game and dominated possession. Three goals came in the first half including two from Jon Wells.

The occasional Nomads attacks were well defended by Rat Dad and David Brooks such that Murray would have been able to concentrate on his accounts for much of the first half.

An observer unused to watching this team would have been impressed with the constant switching of positions and might put this down all team members being aware of everyone else’s tactical responsibilities and a finely tuned team ethic whereas in reality it is merely a fine example of chaos theory.

A highlight of the second half was an interpassing move between Jon Wells and Roger Kent which ended with the former completing his hat trick. An unkind thought would be that Roger had lost control of the ball and was fortunate it ended up on the end of Jon’s stick. But as I said that is being unkind.

The other highlight was a Crossbill that flew south to north over the pitch giving its characteristic chip chip call note.

Nomads did force a short corner but this was cleared ensuring that Magpies have still a zero in the goals against column.

A late goal ensured that there was a Federer like score line 6- 0.

Thanks again for Graham Ramm (and Mark Legg) for umpiring and for explaining the new Respect code before the start of the game. Pity Roger Kent was late arriving and didn’t find out about it until later.

We now expect another text prior to next week putting us on our mettle and urging sobriety and dedication throughout the week.

Harleston Magpies Vets 6 Norwich City Vets 3.

Magpies progressed through with a comfortable win against Norwich. The game was notable for 4 goals from Jon Aldridge and not much else.

Norwich did take the chances that came their way well with Jon Kidner getting two either side of an enforced sabbatical.

Norwich City 6ths 3 Harleston Magpies 7ths 11.

Harleston will be well disappointed that their previously unblemished goals against column now has the number three in it. I could at this point say that Chris Humphreys was making his first appearance of the season but in case you draw a false conclusion from the last two sentences I won’t.

However the ‘goals for’ total is now a healthy 31 after 4 league games.

Norwich were certainly better than other opponents faced so far this season by this made Magpies work that bit harder which paid dividends. Joe Walker scored two goals including one from a very narrow angle before he had to leave early to attend a wedding –probably not his own, Roger Kent poached three, Jon Wells struck home two short corners and even Simon Bardwell netted -deflecting in a superb pass from Roger Kent. I’m sorry I’ll write that again in case you missed it first time ‘deflecting in a superb pass from Roger Kent.’

This week’s ornithological highlight was a flock of 15 Fieldfares passing over in the second half.

Southgate Masters

Masterful Magpies

Magpies travelled to take part in the inaugural Southgate London Masters Tournament at the end of July and returned after a very enjoyable three days as winners. Teams from Belgium, Italy and England took part in what is scheduled to be an annual event leading up to the Olympics in 2012. The hospitality and organisation of the hosts at Southgate was first class – save perhaps for asking Magpies to play at 9.00am on all 3 days! Thanks must go to Simon Bardwell, Jonathan Aldridge and Philip Cobbald for the organisation of the team and inviting one or two guests to swell the squad numbers during the weekend. Also thanks to Murray Graham for providing the very smart playing shirts.

Preparation for the first game started at the ridiculously early time of 7.00am for breakfast, followed by a full hour warm up on the pitch from 8.00am. Our opponents, Leuven (Belgium), took a more sensible and relaxed approach to pre match preparation and arrived at 8.30am. After starting well and taking the lead, Magpies struggled with the physical demands presented by the opposition and went into half time 2-1 down. After an evenly contested second half Magpies were happy to come away with a 2-2 draw. The afternoon game against Bra (Italy) was a different matter with Philip Cobbald completing a hat trick by the 13th minute and Magpies being 6-1 up after 15 minutes. From this point on the game settled down and some particularly charitable defending from Magpies, coupled with equally charitable shooting from the tallest player in the squad, produced a final score of 10-4.

In the morning on Saturday, again 7.00am breakfast, but fortunately a less extensive warm up, the team produced a clinical display to defeat Southgate Pirates 7-0 with some excellent flowing hockey and much improved finishing from one forward. The afternoon game was predicted to be the tightest of the tournament against Ultimo Legio (Italy). The team were delighted with the transfer market activity of the management who replaced the homeward bound Alistair Williamson with Robert Clift. In a high quality game played at a quick pace, honours were shared at half time – one goal to each side (Aldridge) and both teams playing with 10 men either side of half time. In the second half Magpies gradually gained the ascendancy and further goals were scored by Cobbald, Aldridge (penalty stroke) and Martin Reader to leave the final score 4-1.

With a depleted squad (several players having to leave on the Saturday evening), a couple more guests and a thankfully re-arranged start time of midday, the match on Sunday against Southgate Jesters was comfortably won 5-1 and with it the tournament.

Highlights of a thoroughly enjoyable weekend were numerous:

i. Kevin Ridley locking himself and his keys inside his room at the university halls of residence and needing to be rescued by Jerry Blackmore.
ii. Bob Skinner playing the first 10 minutes of the first game under the impression that we were playing football.
iii. Alistair Williamson putting back Anglo-Chinese relations about 10 years during our meal on the Friday evening.
iv. Jerry Blackmore apologising to his opponent and the umpire when being carded for a late tackle by saying “sorry I got there as soon as I could.”
v.  Jon Aldridge being heckled for poor shooting by a group of umpires with a regular cry of “that will cost you a jug!”
vi. Simon Bardwell ghosting past three defenders and scoring with a rasping reverse stick shot beyond a bemused goalkeeper – undoubtedly the goal of the weekend!
vii. The re-appearance of a familiar designer tracksuit – worn by the player in each match deemed to have earned it most!
viii. The tournament rules stating that players must be between 40 – 55 years of age and that only with the permission of the tournament director would players older than 55 years be permitted. Be warned for next year Mr Dolton and Mr D Blackmore!

Bob Skinner


Pelicans Vet 2 Harleston Vet 2

Pelicans Vets 2 Harleston Vets 2

Question: What has eighteen good legs, twenty arms and ten heads until some are lost?

Answer: Magpies Vets at Pelicans. The Vets arrived with two unfit players and eight not quite so unfit players so Captain Bardwell showed Mouriniho like instincts by playing central defender Chris Humphreys as a striker and creative midfielder Jon Wells in defence.

As an ornithological aside I know that Magpies are named after the pub that was the club’s first headquarters rather than any thieving tendencies. I have never heard anything about the origin of the Pelicans name. I did consult the 1998 edition of the Birds of Norfolk apparently the first record of a Pelican in Norfolk relates to a humerus bone found at Feltwell- that must have been a hard game. I looked in the Collins Guide to the Birds of Britain and Europe and found this under the section for voice of the Pelican and I must stress that I quote this verbatim ”colonies produce a buzzing hum of stifled mumbling and various inarticulate grunting sounds’. Not sure about the stifled bit.

Anyway to the game, Magpies played some neat hockey at the start without threatening the Pelicans goal but the final pass was lacking. Peter Lock was doing the running of two men up-front but support struggled to keep up with him. Shoddy bits of defending allowed pelicans to go into a two goal lead before magpies stirred themselves enough to win a short corner which became a stroke after Jon Well’s shot. Peter Dolton’s effort beat the goalkeeper comfortably but also beat the post by a margin.

The second half was a different story with Magpies getting stronger and stronger. A series of short corners ended with a slipped pass being put into the net but the phrase teutonic efficiency did not come to mind.

With five minutes to go a Pelicans defender under pressure slapped the ball away with the back of his stick. David Blackmore realising that he could do no worse than the first half effort stepped up and scored to give Magpies a deserved share of the points.

Harleston Magpies Vets

Harleston Magpies Vets report for Saturday 6th March.

There is no report to file as there was no game. Vets were farmed out to other Magpies teams to make up the numbers.

Was this like missionaries going to far off places to educate and pacify natives?

No. Did it feel like racehorses being put out to stud. No never.

It felt like an old people’s home where all the residents got on very well with each other being closed down by the local council as a cost cutting measure and being rehoused a long way apart in sheltered accommodation and not being sure whether they would be looked after properly.

We can only hope that the decision will be reversed and we can all get back together again.

Vets Match report 13th February

Bury St Edmunds Vets 2 Harleston Magpie Vets 2.

A strange situation confronted captain Bardwell before the start in that there were 12 Magpies ready to play rather more than usual for an away game but normal service was resumed as two pulled up lame and only ten finished the game.

Without doubt this was a below par performance. After all the cancellations recently perhaps we are not used to having only 7 days recovery time between matches. Whatever it was the team resembled a house that is full of all the available mod cons but the batteries have gone flat in every remote control unit.

Despite an advantage in possession Magpies could not create a clear cut chance in the first half and the break was reached with the game scoreless. The pattern continued early in the second half but then Bury scored from a breakaway. As has happened previously, a setback spurred Magpies on. Peter Dolton scored from what for him was a long shot – approx 10 yards and then within a minute Martin Reader scored with a reverse shot that was quite out of place compared with the mediocrity that had gone before.

In the next ten minutes there must have been five clear chances that went begging and then Bury scored from another breakaway. Nothing went right in the final few minutes so two expected points were dropped.

Harleston Magpies Vets

Harleston Magpies Vets 2 Cambridge City Vets 0.

Should the football authorities consider instituting a mid season break then they might look to Harleston Vets for advice and opinions. Since the Vets last played Portsmouth have had three different owners, Jerry Blackmore’s turkeys have gone from not having a care in the world to not having a world to care in and even Ipswich Town have won a game or two.

Captain Bardwell could either point to the fact that his team was unbeaten in the last eleven weeks or conversely had gone eleven weeks without scoring a goal. Inevitably due to the length of the break those early season questions arise like where did I leave my kit and ought I really to be playing hockey.

It needs to be said that some of the break was of our own making in that despite Simon’s efforts we were unable to fulfil away fixtures (something that John Terry now wishes he could say) and this is not good for the club or the image we give to others.

Mr Denham in his meanderings mentioned that this was a fine display of hockey,though the only individual he mentioned was Roger Kent who had a cameo spectator role. Thanks must go to Roger for talking with the opposition in the clubhouse allowing the rest of us to watch the rugby. We do wish Roger a speedy recovery from his hand injury.

Anyway to the game, Magpies gained revenge for a narrow defeat in Cambridge by moving the ball quickly around and aggressive running resembling a Toyota awaiting its accelerator pedal modification. Angus Watkinson scored the first goal from an astute pass from Martin Reeder and John Wells the second. The margin would have been greater had a stroke not been missed-albeit only by fractions when a post was struck with the goalkeeper well beaten. If I said which post it was, those who know the Vets would be able to work out who took it but I won’t as that would be unfair on David Blackmore.

A measure of Magpies performance was that only one short corner was conceded during the game and Murray was untroubled through the second half.

Such a fun time was had by all it makes you wonder why we don’t do this more often.

Thanks as ever go to Graham Ramm resplendent in regal purple.

Harleston Vets 5 Pelicans Vets 2

Veterans Knock out Harleston Magpies 5 Pelicans 2

It has been brought to my attention that the match report for the recent Saturday league game between these two teams did not go down well with the opposition, so I hope the piece below goes some way to redresses the balance.
Pelicans were very unfortunate that despite scoring two, fine, open play goals themselves with fine inter-passing and running off the ball, Harleston managed to fluke five goals due to a combination of lucky deflections and marginal decisions and for the last 69 minutes 23 seconds Harleston could not score an open play goal.

Now, if you are from west of EastWinch, its time to look away now as they say on the BBC news on a Saturday night for here is the real story.

Magpies made one enforced change from the team that played Ipswich and East Suffolk in the previous round, with captain, Jerry Blackmore, deciding that his avian victims of the day had to be turkeys rather than pelicans, being replaced by Bob Skinner.

From the start, Pelicans only touch of the ball was with a foot as Magpies took 37 seconds to score with Stuart Baker, more confident now that he has learnt this season’s rule changes, taking a pass from Philip Cobbald and in turn his pass enabled Roger Kent to show his lightning reactions to turn the ball into the goal.

In retrospect, this acted as a spur to Pelicans who equalised with a fine individual goal and then took the lead with a more direct style than Harleston’s passing game. A period of attrition followed with several Harleston attacks breaking down on the edge of the Pelicans circle, tackles started to fly in and dissent was rife. (one does feel rather old when the combined age of the two umpires is less than one’s own age).

In the minutes up to half time Harleston scored twice through short corner conversions by Stuart Baker. This ascendancy was maintained in the second half as Harleston’s passing made Pelicans work harder and harder. Alistair Wilkinson had lots of space and time to distribute the ball; Kevin Ridley made inroads down the left and John Young was forceful and resolute (yes, its spot the cliché time). Further goals came from Stuart Baker from a corner and a penalty stroke. A measure of the ebb and flow of the game was that Pelicans had but one short corner in the second half whereas Magpies had some chances that went begging.

Harleston are through to the last 16 and await Tuesday’s draw with interest.

Thanks go, as always, to Kirsten and to the supporters. Mention must be made of the past chairman for his perceptive critical appraisal though whether he meant today’s game or even hockey at all we are not quite sure.

Harleston Vets report

Harleston Vets 6 Pelicans Vets 2

Pelicans arrived having won all of their five previous league matches conceding only five goals in these games. Captain Bardwell was keen that a fit and focussed Magpies took the field. I can write from personal observation that the captain spent one evening last week touring pubs in Norwich ensuring that team members were not overindulging while keeping himself fit by cycling from one pub to another.

After last week, when the number of squad members attending was over counted in a way that would make an Afgan returning officer proud, thirteen names and thirteen different players turned up at varying times before the start.

Magpies made a confident start and passed the ball with an efficiency that their opponents could not match. Magpies went close to scoring on a number of occasions but failed to beat an inspired Pelicans goalkeeper. Then on one of their infrequent forays into the Magpies 22, a cross took a deflection and the ball fell to a Pelicans forward who scored from close range.

Magpies response was immediate and straight from the restart the ball was moved between Martin Reader, Jez Turner before Roger Kent scored. The earlier pattern of the game was repeated with Magpies having the vast bulk of possession. Only to be then caught out by a breakaway to concede a second goal.

1-2 behind at half time became 2-2 within 20 seconds of the restart and from then on Magpies were totally dominant and a rapidly tiring Pelicans team were run off their feet. Further goals came at regular intervals from Stuart Peters, Angus Wilkinson and Martin Reader and Simon Bardwell scored for the second week running so that Magpies were cruising at 6-2.

Pelicans became more and more indecisive and could not decide whether to get ratty with their opposition, the umpires or themselves and in the end managed all three. Magpies then indulged in a game of lets see who can avoid a hat trick by creating chance after chance and proceeding not to score again. Although some of this was down to the Pelicans keeper, there were some absolute howlers.

From Pelicans only attack of any note in the second half, Murray Graham pulled off a fine save at full stretch.

,And, after a week when the Hand of Frog was a sports headline, I can only say what a heavenly place the old astro pitch at Harleston is when the team plays such hockey, it truly is the Sand of God.