Category Archives: Mikes-Musings

MIKE’S MUSINGS – 19 January 2010

RIOJA and ROLL – by order!

I have been asked (correction – ordered!) by the ladies on the Fund Raising and Social Committee to begin this week’s Musings with a reminder of the Rioja and Roll Evening to be held in Tibbenham’s Barn, Weybread at 7.30pm on Saturday 30 January. I’m not too sure what the Roll bit means but the evening is sure to be an enjoyable one so please come along – you will be very welcome. Tickets (£12 each including food and drinks) are available from the bar or from me.

Unless you have been to the club in the last few days you will not have seen the splendid furniture which has been kindly donated by vice-president and former chairman Janet Reader. The whole clubhouse has been given a huge ‘lift’ with new tables and chairs at the kitchen end and new tables, chairs and sofas and a display cabinet at the television end. Thank you Janet for your generosity which I know will be appreciated by everyone who uses the clubhouse.

It was good to be back watching hockey again at Weybread last Saturday (despite the almost incessant rain) following the Christmas and snow break. The thaw – aided by the use of the watering system the previous day – came in time for three league matches to be played. In the first the Ladies’ 2nds, for whom Calianne Clark was in fine form in goal, showed great determination to come from behind to gain a vital 2-1 win over Cambridge City 2nds with goals by Kathryn Bullen and Lauren Barber. With the rain still falling Norwich Dragons 3rds then used their experience and strength to pip the generally younger and smaller Men’s 6ths who did well to battle away in the miserable conditions to lose by the odd goal in three.

The stage was then set for the return clash between the Men’s 3rds and 4ths and when the 4ths, who were in fine form inspired in defence by Andy Palmer (playing his first game in goal since breaking his arm at the end of last season) and the outstanding Bob Skinner, went ahead through Tom Hart a repeat of last season’s shock result became a possibility. However, the 3rds dominated the second half and equalised when a shot by Gavin Cole just evaded the defenders and Matt Brand eventually shook off the attentions of Bob Skinner to fire home the winner for the relieved league leaders. An excellent match played in an excellent spirit. Away from home there was a good 2-2 draw for the Men’s 2nds against Cambridge City and a first class 4-0 win in horrible conditions for the Ladies Development over Yarmouth.

Last weekend our three teams in indoor action emerged with mixed results. The Men’s 1sts, despite getting four points from their four matches in Bristol, were relegated from the Premier Division of the national league due to the outcome of at least two matches being, as I feared, affected by the absence of the England players following the weather enforced rearrangement of the second weekend of the event. This is not sour grapes but a realistic assessment of the situation. Meantime the Ladies’ 1sts gained eight points from their six matches in Div 1 of their national league and in a very tight league (except for runaway leaders Reading) will need a win from their two remaining matches this Sunday (again in Croydon) to be sure of avoiding relegation or of finishing in the top half!

Last and certainly not least the U18 Boys won through to the national qualifying stage of the national club championship to be held in Eastleigh this weekend when they beat City of Peterborough 13-5 in Colchester having earlier lost by the same score to Old Loughtonians in the East Championship which was reduced to three teams by withdrawals due to the two earlier postponements of the event.

Good luck this weekend to the Ladies’ 1sts, the U18 Boys and the U18 Girls – the latter having won through earlier to the national qualifying stage of their national club championship to be held in Sheffield.

Needless to say (but I will nevertheless!) it is also good luck to all our outdoor teams in action this weekend including the U11 and U13 Boys and Girls in the Pelicans’ Minis on Sunday. Please see the Home Page of the website for a full list of this weekend’s matches.

News in brief

§ Congratulations to Rob Goodson and Louise Foreshaw on their recent engagement. I’ve told Rob that they must not get married in the hockey season!

§ It is good to welcome Tom Hart back to the club after an absence of some five years and to see Andy Bedwell and Tom French back after their round the world trip. Unfortunately Andy broke his left collarbone (for the third time) in a practice session at the club last Sunday – after being hit in the face in training last Thursday!

§ I am also sorry to say that due to his back injury Richard ‘Chopper’ Allcock has decided to retire from playing but the good news is that he will continue to manage the 5ths and to umpire.

§ Our thanks are due to everyone who umpires (be they from outside or from within the club) on a regular or occasional basis and their dedication was personified last Saturday when in the horrible conditions the matches were controlled, respectively, by Mike Pepper & John Pestell, John Pestell (again!) & David Johnson and Kevin Ridley & Tiger Young – the latter pairing after playing in the previous match!

With kind regards and best wishes

Mike Denham 01603 506925 19/1/10

MIKE’S MUSINGS – 11 January 2010

1963 AGAIN?

When will we be playing again? I remember back at the beginning of 1963 (yes – I can!), while I was a member of Norwich Union HC, we didn’t play for three months due to the snow and, mainly, the severely cold weather. In those far off days we didn’t have artificial grass pitches or leagues (all the matches were so-called ‘friendlies’) so postponed matches were not required to be played later.

After last weekend’s total shutdown of both outdoor and indoor hockey there must be some doubt regarding outdoor play this coming weekend although the signs of at least a slow thaw are encouraging.

I draw your attention to the following changes brought about by recent postponements.

§ The Ladies’ 2nds, 3rds, 4ths and 5ths will now play their 9 January matches on 13 February when the Ladies’ 6ths will play their ‘lost’ 2 January match.

§ The Men’s 1sts will now play their four remaining National Indoor League (Premier Division) matches this coming weekend at the UWE in Bristol instead of Eastleigh. The matches have been reduced to 15 minutes each way (instead of 20) with no timeouts (good!) and as they are sharing the venue with Division One they play three games on Saturday (Surbiton (11.30), Loughborough Students (2.30) and Havant (4.45)) and one on Sunday (St Albans at 9.45). This change of weekend means that the matches will be played without the England players who played on the first weekend and who will now be representing their country in the EuroHockey Indoor Nations Trophy in Poznan, Poland. As Magpies have already played against the majority of these players in their opening four games it is to be hoped that their absence this weekend will not give an undue advantage to the teams we hope to head in the league!

§ The Ladies’ 1sts who start their National Indoor League (Division One) campaign this weekend at Whitgift School in Croydon will play six matches over the two days instead of four with the remaining two games being played on Sunday week (at the same venue) to accommodate the Premier Division. On Saturday Magpies play Reading (12.15), Barnes HE (4.00) and Aldridge (5.30) and on Sunday Sutton Coldfield (9.00), Old Loughtonians (12.45) and Bradford Wakefield (5.15) with Liverpool Sefton and Sevenoaks on Sunday week.

§ The U18 Boys will hope (at the third attempt) to see action in the East Indoor Finals to be played in Colchester on Sunday.

Hopefully there will be outdoor play on Saturday in which case the top matches at Weybread involve the Ladies’ 2nds (12.30) and the Men’s 4ths who entertain Magpies’ 3rds at 4.00pm. After two defeats at the beginning of December the Ladies’ 2nds need points badly when they play Cambridge City 2nds to help avoid the four relegation spots at the end of the season while the Men’s 3rds, who are top of their division, will be hoping that there is no repeat of last season when in the corresponding fixture the 4ths won 1-0 to help derail their promotion bid. It should be an interesting clash! Meanwhile away from home the Men’s 2nds will do well to complete the double over in-form Cambridge City in their bid to maintain a realistic hope of promotion. Early in the season the 2nds played extremely well to beat their opponents 3-2 with goals from Robbie Kinsella, Hamish Barton and Simon Hipwell. Good luck to all our teams in action this weekend.

I take this opportunity to remind you of the Rioja and Roll Evening to be held in Tibbenham’s Barn at 7.30pm on Saturday 30 January. Tickets are £12 each (including food and drink) and are available from me (or the clubhouse bar when it reopens) so PLEASE give me a call or send me an email.

With kind regards and best wishes

Mike Denham 01603 506925 11/1/10

MIKE’S MUSINGS – 5 January 2010


So much for global warming! I’ve always been a sceptic and the last few weeks have done nothing to dissuade me from my view. And as I write, watching yet another football match on television while comparing football unfavourably with hockey as a spectator sport, the coming weekend’s outdoor fixtures must already be in doubt following on from last Saturday’s lost programme.

Should the weather relent the top fixture sees the Ladies’ 2nds entertaining Ipswich 2nds (12.30) hoping to avenge their 2-1 away defeat back in the balmy days of November while the Ladies’ 3rds welcome Norwich City 2nds (2.15) seeking a repeat of their comfortable victory on the opening day of the season. In other home matches the Ladies’ 4ths play Reepham (12.15) who they beat 2-1 early in the season and the Ladies’ 5ths entertain Norwich City 3rds (1.45) hoping to reverse one of their only two defeats of the season. Of the men’s teams only the Vets are in league action this Saturday with their re-arranged match at Chelmsford (1.45). With the exception of the 1sts the rest of the men’s teams resume league action on the 16th although four of the teams have friendly fixtures this Saturday. Please see the Home Page of the website for more details.

The Men’s 1sts will be hoping that the road conditions are favourable as they travel for the final weekend of the premier division of the national indoor league in Eastleigh near Southampton and with four points in the bag from their first four games in mid-December one more win from their final four matches should see them retain their status. On Saturday the team plays Surbiton (12.30) and Loughborough Students (4.30) and on Sunday their opponents are Havant (9.00) and St Albans (2.30), the current bottom teams.

Good luck to all our teams in action this weekend including, on Saturday, the U18 Boys in the East Indoor Finals in Colchester – the event having been postponed before Christmas.

Members will, I know, have been shocked to learn of the death of Mrs Katherine Aldridge following a car accident in Pulham St Mary on Christmas Eve. Katherine, together with her husband Mike, were proprietors of Aldridge Electronics in the village for many years prior to their retirement a few months ago. Katherine and Mike were good friends of HMHC and our condolences go to Mike and his family on their great loss.

News and comments in brief

§ The media has been full recently of ‘Sportsman of the decade’ debates. Bolt, Federer and Woods top most people’s lists but I would like to suggest Teun de Nooijer of Holland. He has been, in my view, the best hockey player in the world over the past 10 years, as evidenced by being selected as World Player of the Year in 2003, 2005 and 2006, and with his speed, stickwork, passing, movement off the ball, goalscoring and sportsmanship has been, and remains, a joy to watch. What a player!

§ Congratulations to England Hockey’s Barry Middleton, Ashley Jackson and Helen Richardson on being named in the FIH WorldHockey All-Star teams for 2009. Barry was also selected in 2008.

§ England have been drawn in Pool B of the FIH Men’s World Cup to be played in New Delhi from 28 February to 13 March and their opponents will be Australia, India, Pakistan, South Africa and Spain. The top two teams will qualify for the semi-finals. The other pool is made up of Argentina, Canada, Germany, Holland, Korea and New Zealand.

§ The U16 and U18 Girls competed in the Brentwood Indoor Tournaments over the weekend. Congratulations to the U18 Girls on winning their event.

§ In view of the present uncertainty over fixtures and training due to the inclement weather details of the Rioja and Roll Evening, Spring Prize Draw and Auction of Promises have been posted to members instead of handing them out in the clubhouse. The Rioja and Roll Evening is being held in Tibbenham’s Barn at 7.30pm on Saturday 30 January. Tickets are £12 each (including food and drink) and are available from me so PLEASE give me a call or send me an email.

I wish all readers and their families the very best for 2010.

Mike Denham 01603 506925 5/1/10

MIKE’S MUSINGS – 16 December 2009


A good start, two poor starts, two excellent defensive shut-outs and a fluffed late penalty corner sum up the Men’s 1sts opening four games in the premier division of the national indoor league played last weekend in Eastleigh.

The team began the event in fine style taking the game to Old Loughtonians and after two near misses Tristan Baynes, who was in fine form, put us ahead from the penalty spot. Despite going behind the team continued to play extremely well and from 3-2 up at half time, with further goals from Tristan and Andy Hipwell, kept a clean sheet in the second half – no mean feat in 20 minutes of frenetic indoor hockey – to win 5-2 with Tristan and Andy finding the net again. The second game against defending champions East Grinstead, for whom the World Young Player of the Year Ashley Jackson was in sparkling form, could not have been different and after five minutes the team was four goals down and an embarrassing rout seemed in prospect. However, two quick goals from Matt Riches and Tristan restored some composure to the team and an eventual 8-2 defeat was highly commendable in the circumstances with goalkeeper Richard Harms and, in the second half, John Livings in fine form.

After an enjoyable meal at a local Indian/Chinese Restaurant on Saturday night we needed a good start the next morning against a Reading team missing their three Olympians but it was not to be and after four minutes we were three down and again left with a mountain to climb against still very accomplished opponents. To their credit the team were soon back into the game with goals from David Ling and the impressive Andy Hipwell (2) and when we won a penalty corner, after Tim Shelley had reduced the deficit to one goal with seven minutes to go, we had hopes of at least a point. But the chance went begging and Reading rattled in three goals in just over a minute to win 8-4.

In their last game of the weekend against Beeston the team got off to a far better start but were still behind after six minutes but only 3-2 behind at the break thanks to a good defensive performance and some more excellent goalkeeping by Richard and another two goals from Andy. Tim brought us level early in the second half during which the team did extremely well to ensure another 20-minute shut-out before the anti-climax of a fluffed penalty corner in the last seconds of the game.

The team returns to Eastleigh over the weekend of 9/10 January with four good points in the bag looking for a further win from the remaining four games which would almost certainly ensure premier division indoor hockey for Magpies again next season.

Three other Magpies’ teams were in indoor action last weekend through their participation in the East Finals. Congratulations to the U18 Girls on qualifying for the national finals and hard luck to the U16 Girls for missing out on a similar success by the narrowest of margins while the young and inexperienced U16 Boys’ team will have learned much by playing in their event. But it is a black mark to England Hockey for scheduling the U18 national finals on the same weekend as division one of the women’s national indoor league as we will not be the only club having players eligible for both events. This is another example of a failure of joined-up thinking by our governing body.

With the outdoor season in hibernation for three weeks (and no bad thing by the frost outside as I write) it is good luck to the Ladies’ 1sts who play in the East indoor tournament in Cambridge on Saturday in preparation for their national league campaign and to the U18 Boys who play the same day in the East Finals in Colchester.

2010 dates for your diary please –

§ Rioja and Roll Evening
at Tibbenham’s Barn on Saturday 30 January.

§ Auction of Promises
in the clubhouse on Saturday 13 March.

§ End of Season Bash
please note new date of Saturday 8 May.

The column will be back in early January. In the meantime I wish all readers and their families the best possible Christmas and a peaceful New Year.

Mike Denham 01603 506925 16/12/09

MIKE’S MUSINGS – 9 December 2009


Only very rarely am I likely to get an opportunity to start the column by referring to ferrets! So here goes. If you didn’t come to last Saturday’s well supported Ferret Racing and Bangers & Mash Night you missed a treat although I have to admit I didn’t fancy touching our furry friends – unlike some brave members present.

The ferrets raced in four lanes of coloured tubes and over obstacles with the first one completely out of its tube at the other end being declared the winner. But as our genial compere and ferret owner Malachy de Lacy said ‘Anything goes in ferret racing’ and one could see what he meant when some of the ferrets had a good look at the cheering and pleading punters before deigning to fully emerge and some even turned around and went back to their starting stall! It never happens at Newmarket Races – or not while I’ve been there! Our thanks go to Malachy and his wife Helen for providing us with a novel and fun evening and thanks also to everyone who attended.

Earlier in the day an entertaining programme of matches at Weybread included an excellent 8-0 win for the mighty Men’s 3rds (is this their best ever team?) who have now scored 21 goals in their last three matches with none against; a laboured 2-1 win for the Men’s 2nds over lowly Ipswich 2nds (but ‘a win is a win’ as they say); a fifth successive win for the Ladies’ 5ths; a very welcome victory for the Ladies’ 6ths and a hard earned and impressive 3-0 win for the Ladies’ Development over a defensively strong Norwich City side for whom the ‘keeper had an outstanding game.

Away from home the Ladies’ 3rds got back to winning ways and there were also good wins for the Men’s 4ths and 6ths while on Sunday the Men’s Veterans, boosted by a hat trick of penalty corner strikes by a lively looking Stuart Baker, recovered from 2-1 down (after Roger Kent had put the team ahead in the opening seconds) to beat Pelicans 5-2 in the 3rd round of the EH Masters Over 40 Cup. They now meet Holcombe at home on Sunday 21 February. For one of Peter Dolton’s inimitable match reports I urge you to go to the club’s website and click on REPORTS – BLOG. Modest as ever Peter fails to mention that he withstood enormous pressure to convert the late penalty stroke – cometh the hour, cometh the man.

This weekend the indoor season gets underway in earnest with the top billing going to the Men’s 1sts who will be in action in the Premier Division of the England Hockey League at Fleming Park in Eastleigh. This will be the squad’s second season in the top flight and another demanding campaign is assured. On Saturday their opponents will be Old Loughtonians (1.30) and East Grinstead (5.30) and on Sunday they play Reading (9.55) and Beeston (1.35). The remaining four matches will be played over the weekend of 9/10 January. Meantime we have three teams competing in East Finals with the U16 Boys at Gresham’s School and the U16 Girls at Colchester on Saturday and the U18 Girls at Colchester on Sunday. Good luck to all our teams playing indoor and outdoor this weekend. For the full list please see the Home Page of the website.

Congratulations to –

§ Charlotte (Charlie) and Neil Harrison on the birth of Alex.

§ Sarah and James Stacey on the birth of Beatrice.

§ Claire and Charlie Farrow on the birth of Ruby. As many readers will know Charlie is East Hockey’s Regional Development Manager and a frequent and welcome visitor to Weybread.

§ Ashley Jackson on becoming the first English winner of the prestigious FIH Men’s World Young Player of the Year Award.

2010 dates for your diary please –

§ Rioja and Roll Evening at Tibbenham’s Barn on Saturday 30 January.

§ Auction of Promises in the clubhouse on Saturday 13 March. Members will be invited early in the New Year to kindly submit Lots for this auction which is the club’s major fund raising event of the season.

§ End of Season Bash – please note new date of Saturday 8 May.

§ HMHC Golf Day at Bungay GC on Thursday 29 July – if you have a golf handicap (and some of us have several!)

Other news and comments in brief

§ I am pleased to report that Melissa Hunter is recovering well after receiving a nasty hit on the side of her head while playing for the Ladies’ 2nds last Saturday.

§ Please click on the BLOG if you are interested in buying a copy of the Official Hockey Yearbook 2009.

§ Rumour has it that Paul Howland could be coming out of retirement next season. Watch this space.

With kind regards and best wishes Mike Denham 01603 506925 9/12/09

MIKE’S MUSINGS – 1 December 2009


There is no denying that last weekend was a disappointing one for the two 1st teams with the Ladies letting slip a late 2-1 lead before losing 3-2 away to Southgate on Saturday and the Men being beaten 5-2 by the same club at home the next day. The Men had a poor first twenty minutes by which time they were 3-0 down before an encouraging recovery, in front of another large crowd, saw them getting back into the game with two good goals before conceding twice late in the game against a very skilful Southgate side.

Despite their defeat the Ladies can look back on a very satisfactory first half of the season while the Men will need some quick points when they return to outdoor action in early February if they are to avoid falling into the bottom two spots in a very competitive and demanding league.

But it was far from all gloom and doom last weekend. At Weybread on Saturday the Ladies’ 2nds won again with a good team performance rounded off by a sparkling individual goal by Lauren Mickleburgh which gave them a 1-0 win over Ipswich and East Suffolk and the Ladies’ 3rds played really well and deserved more than a 1-1 draw with Loddon who had previously won all their games. The Men’s 4ths did well to hold then league leaders Norwich Dragons to a 3-1 defeat and with the Men’s 3rds winning 7-0 away to Lowestoft Town (for whom Matt Brand scored five goals to take his season tally to an impressive 21) means that the 3rds now top the table from the Dragons by one goal. Meantime the Men’s 6ths came from behind to beat Ipswich and East Suffolk 3rds 3-1 with a little help from promising youngsters Kevin Ridley, Jonathan Aldridge and Jerry Blackmore! And the even younger youngsters in the team did pretty well!

Away from home the Ladies’ 5ths beat Loddon 2nds 1-0 (with Keira Booty scoring her eleventh goal of the season) to secure their fourth successive victory and another impressive win by the Ladies Development, who beat Dereham 7-0, saw them strengthening their position at the top of the league. Unfortunately the Men’s Veterans were unable to field a team for their match at Peterborough due to a combination of injuries and work commitments and for the same reasons this week’s match at Chelmsford has been re-arranged for Saturday 9 January. These inevitable problems once again raise the desirability of dropping the Saturday Vets team and replacing it with a 7th team in the main league structure which would enable the team to draw on a wider base of players. Personally I would much prefer we continue to field a Vets team each week.

On Sunday there were encouraging wins for the U16 Girls, U16 Boys and U18 Girls in their various EH Cups with the highlight being the 9-1 victory by the U18 Girls at home against a young Norwich City team which never recovered from conceding two very quick goals. In the next round on Sunday 14 February the team is at home to Old Loughtonians.

This weekend’s matches include on Saturday the Men’s 2nds entertaining Ipswich 2nds (2.15) and Ladies Development welcoming Norwich City (4.00pm) with the Men’s Veterans at home to Pelicans on Sunday (2.00pm) in the third round of the EH Masters (Over 40s) Cup. Please see the Home Page of the website for the full list of matches. Best of luck to all our teams in action this weekend.

Please come to the live Ferret Racing and Bangers & Mash Night being held in the clubhouse this Saturday (5 December) at 7.30pm and have a bet or two on your favoured ferret! Tickets (only £5) will be on sale at the door.

News and comments in brief

§ Many thanks to keen supporters Rob and Sue Holmes who have kindly had made and donated the fixtures board now erected on the end of the sand-based pitch. We will now be able to see at a glance which teams are playing and at what time.

§ Best wishes to Ben Gowing who in January is off on his travels for several months – firstly to work in New Zealand and then to holiday in Australia and Thailand.

§ Best wishes also to Siobhan Wooltorton who last Saturday had another knee operation following her injury early this year. Hopefully Siobhan will be back playing again at the start of next season.

§ Some members (including some serial laggards) have still to pay their annual subscription. It is to be hoped they soon rectify the matter as this is very unfair to the majority of members who paid on time.

§ A Christmas Shopping and Pamper Evening is being held at the Swan Hotel in Harleston on Thursday 10 December (7.30) in aid of a very worthy cause – the East Anglian Air Ambulance. The air ambulance has been sent at least twice to Weybread – the last occasion to take our present Men’s 1st team captain off to the N&N Hospital.

With kind regards and best wishes Mike Denham 01603 506925 1/12/09

MIKE’S MUSINGS – 24 November 2009


Last weekend was a hectic one at Weybread with seven games on Saturday and the U11 and U13 Girls Minis on Sunday followed by the top of the table clash between the Ladies’1sts and Ipswich.

Saturday began with the Ladies’ 6ths having a tough day against Dereham 4ths but spirits were raised with the Ladies Development going back to the top of their league with an excellent 8-0 win over Pelicans. The Men’s Veterans then gave one of their best Saturday performances in ages to beat undefeated Pelicans 6-2 to record their fourth successive win after a sluggish start to the season. Whatever skipper Simon Bardwell has said to his team is working. Or have they now stopped listening to him?! Next up were the Men’s 3rds and in an incident packed game – which included a red card for one of the visitors – they were soon three goals up against close challengers Pelicans 2nds before finishing 6-0 winners.

Meantime the Men’s 2nds, for whom Iain Cumming had a good game following his promotion from the 3rds, dominated their match against lowly Norwich City but confronted by a resolute defence had only two Hamish Barton penalty corner strikes to show for their efforts in a 2-1 win. After this Saturday’s match against City of Peterborough 2nds Hamish will be away ski instructing for five months. He will be a big loss but the good news is that he will be back next season. Will the returning Andy Bedwell and Tom French be able to fill Hamish’s shoes after Christmas following the end of their efforts to spread goodwill on their world tour? I have no doubt that they will do their best! The day ended with a splendid and much needed win for the Men’s 5ths who beat Holt Harlequins 3-2. The match included the goal of the day when following a speedy and flowing move up the pitch Tom Miller was on hand to sweep the ball passed the visitors’ goalkeeper. Another highlight of the game was seeing Pete Thornett’s failure to brake before slamming into the fencing with his stick flying through the air. Pete – the fencing has been there since 2002!

The good news coming in from our teams playing away included a 1-1 draw for the Men’s 1sts at Oxted, the Ladies’ 2nds beating Bourne 2-0 and the Men’s 4ths beating Sudbury 2nds 4-2.

On Sunday morning the car park was packed and the ground and clubhouse a hive of activity for the U11 Girls Minis won by Norwich City and the U13 Girls Minis won by Magpies. This was a second and well deserved success of the season for the home team. Attention then turned to the Ladies’ 1sts who in front of their biggest crowd of the season went down by the narrowest of margins to Ipswich with only a well struck first half penalty strike dividing the teams. I hope by now everyone involved has dried out following the monsoon-like rain! This swept across the pitch early in the second half resulting in the game being suspended for several minutes.

This weekend the two 1sts teams play Southgate in their first return and last outdoor matches until 6 February before turning their attentions to the indoor game. On Saturday the Ladies travel to Southgate (2.00) looking to get back to winning ways at the end of an excellent first part of the season while the Men are at home on Sunday (2.15), with hopefully Richard Gill back in action after missing two games through injury, seeking a win over third placed Southgate to make their league position more secure at the mid-season break. Earlier in the season the Ladies beat Southgate 3-1 and the Men went down by the only goal of the game.

The home matches on Saturday include the Ladies’ 2nds playing IES (2.15) and the Men’s 4ths entertaining table topping Norwich Dragons (12.30). Please see the Home Page of the website for the full list of weekend fixtures including those involving our youth teams on Sunday. Best of luck to all our teams in action this weekend.

News and comments in brief

· Belated congratulations to David Francis and Debbie McAllen on their engagement. How come I only got to hear of this very happy news last weekend?

· Congratulations also to Barry Middleton who has been named Great Britain Hockey Athlete of the Year. Barry played outstandingly well in captaining England to their triumph in the 2009 EuroNations Championship in Amsterdam when the team beat Germany 5-3 in the memorable final.

· Many thanks to Jules and Harriet Flatt for decorating the clubhouse last weekend for Christmas and to everyone who helped in any way in running the very successful minis.

· Please come to the live Ferret Racing and Bangers & Mash Night to be held in the clubhouse on Saturday 5 December (7.30pm). Tickets (only £5) are available from the bar.

· The recent Curry-Oke Night made an excellent profit of £440. ‘Thank you’ to everyone who attended.

With kind regards and best wishes Mike Denham 01603 506925 24/11/09

MIKE’S MUSINGS – 17 November 2009

Table Topping Tussle

The highlight of the coming weekend’s programme is undoubtedly Sunday’s eagerly awaited top of the table tussle (12.30) between the Ladies’ 1sts and Ipswich at Weybread. Magpies continued their excellent form last Saturday with a 1-0 win (Angie Wheelhouse’s eighth goal of the season) over Old Loughtonians at Chigwell while Ipswich maintained their unbeaten record and one point advantage by beating St Albans 3-2. With just four goals against Magpies have, with Leicester Ladies, conceded fewer goals than all the other teams (men and women) in the national league. It is to be hoped that Sunday’s match will attract a large crowd of supporters to cheer Magpies to a famous victory over our near neighbours.

Before then the Men’s 1sts will have travelled to Surrey on Saturday to take on Oxted who are beginning to show some of the form that won them the league title last year with just one defeat. After matching league leaders Old Loughtonians for much of the first half last Sunday, during which Andy Hipwell scored his seventh goal in eight matches, the team rarely showed as an attacking force after the break to lose for the first time at home since going down to Ipswich 2nds 4-1 on 20 January 2007 – a truly remarkable record.

Last Saturday at a wet and windy Weybread the Ladies’ 4ths played out a 0-0 draw with Norwich Dragons 3rds before the Ladies’ 2nds were extremely unlucky to lose by the only goal after dominating for much of the time against City of Peterborough while the Men’s 6ths played well in spells to beat Ipswich Crane 2nds and the Men’s 4ths went down 4-1 to an in-form Gorleston team. Their cause was not helped when Giles Flatt had to go to hospital after taking a nasty hit in the face. Fortunately he was able to play the next day when the U16 Boys played extremely well to lose by the odd goal in three away to an impressive City of Peterborough side in the EH Cup.

Weybread was far busier, warmer and drier on Sunday when four of our teams were in EH Youth Cup action. The U16 Girls failed to take their chances before going down 3-0 to Ipswich while the U18 Boys played out a cracker of a game against Chelmsford which became a battle of the penalty corner takers. This was eventually won by Ben Wright for Magpies in a splendid 5-4 win but not before some poor tackling by the home defence gave Chelmsford the chance to snatch victory with their ‘shortie’ prowess. Meantime the U18 Girls eased to a comfortable 6-0 win over Dereham and the U14 Boys played well to beat Saffron Walden 4-3 and to come from two goals down at half time to draw 3-3 with Norwich City in their league format event. Away from home the U14 Girls reached the East stages of their competition with a good 3-1 win at Spalding with two of the goals coming from Catherine Kilbourn to add to the remarkable five she scored for the Ladies’ Development on Saturday in their 5-0 win away over North Walsham.

This Saturday the home matches include the Men’s 2nds who play Norwich City (12.30) following their return to winning ways with a 4-3 win at Long Sutton last Saturday and the Ladies’ 5ths who play Sprowston 2nds (2.15) after their 5-3 win over Broadland 2nds. Also at home will be the Men’s 3rds, 6-1 winners over Norwich Dragons 2nds last week, who play Pelicans 2nds (1.45) who are just behind them in third place so a tough game is in prospect. Good luck to all our teams in action this weekend (please see the Home Page of the website for the full programme) including the U11 and U13 Girls in Sunday’s Minis Tournament at Weybread (9.30).

I am very sorry to record the retirement of Tom Sumner from the outdoor game. Tom has been suffering from a back injury since before the end of last season and it has been slow to respond to treatment. However, the good news is that Tom hopes to be able to continue to play for the indoor team. Tom joined the club from Norwich City HC as a sixteen year old seven years ago and he has played a vital role in the development of the 1st team ever since playing mainly as a wing back. He was a member of the U18 squad which won the national indoor championship and as captain he has helped to guide the indoor team from the East championship to the national premier division. Tom has given tremendous service to the club in both forms of the game and it is to be hoped that he will be able to continue to play an important role for the indoor team.

News and comments in brief

· Congratulations to skipper Simon Bardwell who scored the vital first goal for the Veterans last Saturday in their 5-2 win over Norwich Exiles. He couldn’t remember who scored the other goals! Perhaps he will by the time they entertain Pelicans this Saturday (12.15). Simon fancies himself as a cook and I must say he produces some excellent curry and chilli.

· Due to the demands of her new regular job Katy Osborn has had to stand down from her part-time job behind the club’s bar. I take this opportunity to thank Katy for the excellent job she has done and to wish her well for the future. Katy knows that she will always be very welcome when she is free to pop in to see us.

· Please note your diary for the Ferret Racing and Bangers & Mash Night to be held in the clubhouse on Saturday 5 December. Further details to be announced shortly.

With kind regards and best wishes

Mike Denham 01603 506925 17/11/09

MIKE’S MUSINGS – 10 November 2009


Last weekend was notable for the well attended Fireworks Display, the Ladies’ 1sts magnificent 2-0 away win over Chelmsford and the failure of any of the Men’s teams to record a win except for the Veterans and they did so twice with the Saturday team beating Bedford 9-1 at home and the stronger and more youthful Sunday side defeating IES 8-2 away in the EH Masters Over 40’s Cup. On Saturday Andy Palmer made a welcome if tentative return for his first game since breaking his arm very badly playing in goal at the end of last season when he had a run out at right half and on Sunday it must have felt like a return to past first team glories with Stuart Baker scoring a hat trick and Philip Cobbald, back from Hong Kong, chipping in with a brace. The other scorers were Roger Kent, Andy Caston and David Blackmore. In the next round on December 6 the team will be at home to Pelicans.

The thanks of the organising committee go to everyone who supported the Fireworks Display as paying customers or as helpers with the bonfire building and lighting, stewarding, car parking and catering. Unfortunately the weather forecasters got it right and it began raining at about 5.30pm and continued for most of the evening. Despite the weather I hope everyone enjoyed the event and especially the superb fireworks display.

Congratulations to the Ladies’ 1sts for moving to within a point of Ipswich at the top of the league. They have another testing match this Saturday at Chigwell (11.30) when they take on Old Loughtonians and by coincidence the Men’s 1sts entertain the OLs on Sunday (2.15) after being frustrated by a late Indian Gymkhana equaliser last Sunday in the 3-3 draw. Well done also to the Ladies Development for their 4-1 win over Yarmouth and to the Ladies’ 3rds for their 9-0 victory over Evergreens. The young and skilful Development team had to be patient until their almost constant pressure paid off with the first goal approaching half time and the 3rds proved why they have a 100% record after five games with a commanding performance with Frances Taylor in fine form in the middle. Meantime the Men’s 3rds played out a good 2-2 draw with fellow league leaders Norwich Dragons. Unfortunately skipper Mark Lewis will be unable to play this season after sustaining a shoulder injury when he was the innocent party in a serious car accident in the summer. Mark is sportingly carrying out the duties of skipper except for playing as did Joel Nelson, his predecessor, for much of last season.

This weekend will be an especially busy two days for the club as in addition to the usual league programme on Saturday (and the Men’s 1sts on Sunday) we are fielding teams in the England Youth Cups on Sunday at U14 Boys and Girls, U16 Boys and Girls and U18 Boys and Girls levels. The U14 Girls travel to Spalding and the U16 Boys are away to City of Peterborough with the other teams at home. This means that the club is putting out 20 teams this weekend! I wish them all good luck. Please see the Home Page on the website for more details and please come along if you are free to cheer our teams on.

Comments in brief

· Both pitches and internal paths have been given their annual treatment to keep at bay the dreaded algae and moss which can so easily devastate water based pitches in particular and I ask members to wipe their boots before entering the pitches as algae can be spread from grass or contamination from other pitches.

· Honorary Life Member Andrew Longe has been maintaining the floodlights since the first pitch was built in 1991 and I thank him for the recent work he has carried out.

· Congratulations to Cherry Seaborn who has been selected for the England U18 training squad from which the final team will be selected, to the U11 Boys who won the Minis Tournament at Weybread last Sunday and to defender Melissa Hunter who last Saturday scored her first goal for the club for seven years! In fairness I should add that for three of these years Melissa was away at university!

· I apologise to the Ladies’ 2nds (including Melissa) for not giving their first win of the season the headline it deserved last week. I hope to do better next time they win!

· Please note your diary for the Ferret Racing and Bangers & Mash Night to be held in the clubhouse on Saturday 5 December. Further details to be announced shortly.

With kind regards and best wishes Mike Denham 01603 506925 10/11/09

MIKE’S MUSINGS – 27 October 2009

First for Rob – at last

There were several ‘firsts’ last Saturday with, arguably, the most notable being the first goal for five years by Rob Goodson! I’m sorry to say I arrived too late at Weybread to see this special achievement (and subsequent celebration) but I have it on unimpeachable authority that it was the vital and match clinching seventh goal (!) in the 3rds 10-1 victory over Sudbury 2nds. Nearly lost in all the excitement were Matt Brand’s five goals as he took advantage of Martin Field’s promotion to the 2nds to regain the side’s top scorer spot!

Other ‘firsts’ were the first wins of the season for the Men’s Veterans who beat Bury St Edmunds 2-0 and for the Men’s 4ths who defeated Norwich Dragons 2nds 9-3 and Angie Wheelhouse’s first hat trick of the season. And what a hat trick it was as the Ladies’ 1sts beat St Albans 5-1 in front of an appreciative home crowd. Angie’s first goal was a deft deflection at a penalty corner, the second a crunching reverse stick shot from the top of the circle and the third a superb strike from the left high into the top of the net. This treble takes Angie to seven goals for the season one ahead of the in-form Cherry Seaborn – who scored the other two fine goals – and to the top spot amongst the league’s leading goalscorers. This was an excellent win for the squad especially as they were without Anna Toulson through illness and Artemis Clark due to a back injury.

The Men’s 2nds were also in fine form at Weybread with a 7-2 win over Cambridge Nomads to take them to the top of their league. Did I see another well directed mishit finishing in the back of the net? If so long may it continue Robbie! Meantime the Men’s 5ths were unlucky to go down to a controversial 3-2 defeat against North Walsham 2nds. With the number of members in the club this team should not be struggling to find enough players every week and it is to the credit of Richard Allcock and Jordan Ball that they are managing to field a team each Saturday.

The Men’s 1sts, after their narrow defeat at top of the table Canterbury, have this weekend off as do the Ladies’ 1sts, 3rds, 4ths, 5ths and Development while the Ladies’ 2nds, who were unlucky to only draw 2-2 away to Norwich City last Saturday, entertain Long Sutton (12.30). Other matches at home on Saturday are – 10.30 Men’s 4ths v Lowestoft Town, 2.15 Ladies’ 6ths v Thetford 2nds and 4.00 Men’s 6ths v Pelicans 3rds. Good luck to all our teams in action on Saturday.

News and comments in brief

· Last Saturday’s Curry-Oke Night was a great success and thanks are due to everyone who supported the event (we had a really good turnout) and to the members who provided the excellent curries. As for the singing the club clearly has a lot of hidden talent as typified by the several appearances at the microphone of the captain of the Men’s 6ths!

· Well done to Beeston and East Grinstead who have joined Reading in the next round of the EuroHockey League.

· If you are interested in hockey and stamps I recommend Dil Bahra’s excellent website Dil is secretary of the Hockey Writers’ Club and has served as press officer at several international hockey tournaments.

· England Hockey has had a change of mind and from 1 November 2009 an adapted version of the self-pass at free hits and re-starts will apply in all mini hockey competitions.

· England Hockey has also announced that there are ‘some very significant changes’ to the indoor rules with effect from 1 November 2009. These include time-outs for teams and a self-pass option at a free push. Copies of the FIH Rules of Indoor Hockey 2009 are available from

· The England Senior Masters Divisional Tournament for players between the ages 50 – 55 will be held at Beeston HC on May 1-2 2010. Players wishing to attend the trials for the East Men’s team are asked to contact Brian Roberson at

· Tickets for the Harleston Fireworks Spectacular (Friday 6 November – gates open 6.00pm) are available from the clubhouse bar. Please come!

With kind regards and best wishes Mike Denham 01603 506925 27/10/09

MIKE’S MUSINGS – 20 October 2009


A draw was a ‘popular’ result last weekend with five of our teams, including both 1st elevens, sharing autumnal points with their opponents. But as we all know a draw can bring elation, satisfaction or plain disgruntlement! Depending on who I spoke to the Ladies’ 1sts could have won at Horsham but on the other hand 1-1 was a fair result; being 2-0 up with eleven minutes to play the Men’s 1sts felt as if they had lost despite drawing 2-2 against Bromley and Beckenham and despite being on the back foot for much of the match; the Men’s 2nds felt it was a point won and not two dropped (so I was told) with their late deflected 1-1 equaliser at Harpenden; the Ladies’ 6ths did a good defensive job to finish 1-1 with Breckland and the Men’s 4ths came from a goal down to finish 1-1 with North Walsham in an evenly contested match -without captain James Smith who sportingly went to Ipswich to umpire for the 5ths – to secure their first point of the season.

In the other matches the Ladies’ 2nds failed to take advantage of their early pressure against Wisbech before being hit by three quick goals just before half time; the Ladies’ 3rds and 4ths maintained their 100% records with good wins over Panthers and UEA 2nds respectively; the Ladies’ 5ths went down to second placed North Walsham 2nds; the Men’s 3rds (for whom Martin Fields has replaced, at least temporarily, Matt Brand as the team’s ‘goal machine’) beat Dereham 3rds 4-0 to continue their perfect start to the season; the Men’s 5ths went down to Ipswich Crane and the Men’s 6ths played splendidly to beat Sudbury 3rds 4-1 and the 10-men Veterans lost 2-1 away to Cambridge City. Meantime the Ladies Development full squad played a hastily arranged practice match after being given an unwelcome walk-over by Lowestoft.

In case you have no intention of reading any further (!) I remind you now of the Curry-Oke to be held in the clubhouse at 7.30pm this Saturday (24 October). Tickets will be on sale at the door at £10 (£5 for 16s and under). Please come along to enjoy the curry and karaoke.

This Saturday the Ladies’ 1sts entertain St Albans (12.30) hoping to maintain their excellent start to the season while the Men’s 1sts travel to table-topping Canterbury for their severest test of an equally encouraging season to-date and they will need to keep a close eye on Kwan Browne, the highly talented Trinidad and Tobago international. At Weybread, in addition to the Ladies’ 1sts, we should be well entertained by the free-scoring Men’s 2nds and Men’s 3rds when they take on, respectively, Cambridge Nomads (2.15) and Sudbury 2nds (10.30) and by the Men’s Veterans when they play Bury St Edmunds (1.45) and by the Men’s 5ths when they play North Walsham 2nds at 4.00pm. Meantime the Men’s 4ths are away to Norwich Dragons 2nds and the Ladies’ 2nds face another hard test away to Norwich City while the rest of the Ladies’ teams, with the exception of the 4ths who have a friendly away to Broadland 2nds, have the weekend off for half-term.

Good luck to all our teams in action this Saturday.

Last week I reported on the encouraging progress some of our young members have made along England Hockey’s Single System Player Pathways and this week it is the turn of two older members to be in the spotlight (and to be congratulated) with the news that Philip Cobbald and Jonathan Aldridge have been selected to represent England Over 45s and England Over 50s respectively in the Hong Kong International Masters Tournament from 24 to 31 October. The other teams in the event include Hong Kong (as hosts), Australia, Ireland, Singapore, New Zealand, Scotland, and Malaysia.

News and comments in brief

· Belated congratulations to Tom and Donna Marshall on the birth of daughter Neve.

· Last Saturday the Men’s 6ths featured the very welcome father and son combinations of Jonathan and Rory Aldridge and Kevin and Thomas Ridley.

· My thanks to Tony and Sue Williams, John Pestell and Melissa Hunter for their help with the ‘Danish Oiling’ of the balcony last week and to George Hunter for his strimming of the banks etc.

· Congratulations to Nick and Shirley McAllen and ‘team’ for running last Sunday’s highly successful minis tournament and well done to the winners, namely Magpies (U11 Boys), Norwich City (U11 Girls), Dereham (U13 Boys) and Magpies (U13 Girls).

With kind regards and best wishes
Mike Denham 01603 506925 20/10/09

MIKE’S MUSINGS – 14 October 2009


Weybread was a happy hunting ground last Saturday for home points as it was seven games played and seven wins for HMHC. The Ladies’ 3rds set the ball rolling by beating Watton 2nds 4-0 to maintain their fine start to the season and shortly afterwards the Ladies’ 5ths achieved their first win of the season with a resounding 6-0 victory over Old Buckenham 2nds. Next up were the Ladies’ 1sts and with four goals in the first half against Northampton Saints victory was virtually assured but it could have been different had Cali Clark not made a fine penalty stroke save at 2-0. Cherry Seaborn again caught the eye posing some unanswered questions to the visitors’ defence with her speed and two goals in an excellent 5-0 squad victory.

It was then the turn of the Men to get in on the victory act with the 5ths edging out Dereham 4s 4-3 to achieve their welcome first win of the season before the 3rds took their record to three wins from three with a hard earned and incident packed 3-1 victory over old rivals Gorleston; rounded off by a calm penalty stroke conversion by Paul Shelley.

The final two home successes were achieved by the Men’s 2nds who beat Broxbourne 5-1 and the Ladies’ 4ths who beat Watton 3rds 4-1. Both teams are newly-promoted and both now have nine points from a possible nine. From where I stood it seemed that Simon Hipwell put the 2nds ahead with a well directed mishit with Robbie Kinsella doing the same in the last few seconds! No doubt both will claim otherwise! But this was another fine win for the team with the other goals coming from David Francis and MOTM Hamish Barton (2).

Spirits were raised even higher at Weybread with the news of the excellent 6-0 win by the Men’s 1sts at Chelmsford and it was good to hear later of the 5-2 win by Ladies Development over Norwich City.

This Saturday at Weybread – with the Ladies’ 1sts away to Horsham, the Men’s 1sts playing on Sunday and the Men’s 2nds away to Harpenden – pride of place goes to the newly-promoted Ladies’ 2nds who entertain Wisbech Town (12.30) still seeking an elusive first win of the season. Please come along and give your support to the team.

The Men’s 1sts entertain Bromley and Beckenham at 2.15 on Sunday in what promises to be an exciting and closely contested match in front of, hopefully, another big crowd. The bar will be open from 12.15pm. The lucky number programmes will still only cost £1!

Good luck to all our teams in action this weekend.

Congratulations to our young members who have progressed along England Hockey’s Single System Player Pathways – namely Sarah Brook (U15), Tom Graham (U15) and Verity Blyth (U17) who attended a High Performance Assessment Camp last weekend and to Ben Wright, Cali Clark and Cherry Seaborn who will be playing for the Saxon Tigers U18s in the Futures Cup at Cannock at the end of the month. To those members who have not progressed to this stage I urge not to be too disappointed. Ratty Alexander missed out on selection for the Junior World Cup years ago but subsequently went on to play for GB in the Olympics and recently won a gold medal for England in the European Championships!

News and comments in brief

· The club is hosting a series of Mini games (for U11 and U13 Boys and Girls) involving local clubs on Sunday starting at 9.30am.

· Our teams playing away from home are asked to phone the clubhouse with their result as soon as reasonably possible please.

· Last weekend John Ryan Van Der Rief converted five penalty corners for Old Georgians against Team Bath Buccaneers in the national league and still ended on the losing side!

· Many thanks to our teams which regularly post their match reports on the website. If your team doesn’t – why not?!

· Congratulations to Reading on getting through to the next round of the EuroHockey League. Hopefully East Grinstead and Beeston will also be successful when they compete in their first round pools in Paris over the weekend of 23-25 October.

· Tickets for the Curry-Oke to be held in the clubhouse on Saturday 24 October (7.30pm) are available from the clubhouse bar. Please come!

With kind regards and best wishes

Mike Denham 01603 506925 14/10/09

MIKE’S MUSINGS – 6 October 2009


The outstanding performance at Weybread last Saturday was undoubtedly the 3-2 win by the Men’s 2nds over Cambridge City. Last season the teams were two divisions apart but relegation for City and promotion for Magpies brought them together for this high quality match in which the home team came from a goal down to equalise with a rasping shot from Robbie Kinsella before going on to lead 3-1 early in the second half. A second goal for City made the final few minutes more tense than at one time seemed likely and a last gasp penalty corner for the visitors added to the drama. MOTM for Magpies was Simon Hipwell, who gave a typically all-action display, followed closely by goalkeeper John Livings and defender Hamish Barton who it is good to have back at the club following his studies at Exeter University. This Saturday the team entertain Broxbourne (2.15) looking to build on their excellent start to the season with a third straight win.

Another welcome returnee from university studies is Ross Briggs and he was in fine form in goal for the Men’s 4ths who went down to a lone first half strike by Martin Fields for the 3rds. Thereafter Ross was determined not to be beaten again with a string of outstanding saves in a sporting and well contested and umpired match.

A little earlier the Men’s 1sts picked up a useful point against Holcombe. I was happy to settle for a 1-1 draw especially after Holcombe forced two well-defended penalty corners in the final seconds. However, the general consensus after the game that it was two points dropped. Very unusually Magpies failed to win a penalty corner despite getting into the Holcombe circle on a number of occasions. The 1sts travel to Chelmsford this Saturday while the 3rds will be at home to Gorleston (1.45), defending their 2-wins-from-2 record, while the 4ths are away to Dereham 3rds seeking to pick up their first points of the season.

This Saturday the Ladies’ 1sts entertain Northampton Saints (12.30) looking for a third successive win after their 2-0 victory last Sunday away to Cambridge City. Magpies, for whom Emily Wilford made an encouraging debut, enjoyed the majority of the play in front of a good number of their supporters, but were thankful for a couple of smart saves by goalkeeper Lucy Hayman and City’s failure to take advantage of two dodgy back passes before the in-form Artemis Clark and Cherry Seaborn combined for the latter to slip the ball past the City ‘keeper early in the second half. With three minutes to go the team secured a deserved victory when Artemis set up Angie Wheelhouse to add to her highly impressive goal tally for the club. I take this opportunity to make it quite clear that I was not the spectator who suggested to one of the umpires that he pays a visit to Specsavers! I have to confess, however, that I did add that they do two pairs for £75! To his credit the umpire took the joke very sportingly.

It will also be good to see the Ladies’ 3rds and 4ths at home this week as they take on Watton 2nds (10.30) and Watton 3rds (4.00) respectively as they look to maintain their excellent starts to the season with four wins from four games between them. Meantime the Ladies’ 2nds are away again and they will be determined to secure their first win of the season when they take on St Ives.

Good luck to all our teams in action with Saturday.

News in brief

· Congratulations to Sarah and Gavin Cole on the birth of Isabelle and to ex-Magpies Donna Causton and Evie van Poortvliet on their recent marriages.
· Thanks are due to Richard Allcock and Jordan Ball for taking on, respectively, the captaincy and vice-captaincy of the 5ths.
· Well done to the U18 Boys who beat Bury St Edmunds 5-0 last Sunday in the first round of the EH Cup.
· It was good to see Andy Palmer at the club last Saturday. He is making encouraging progress after breaking his arm playing in goal for the Veterans at the end of last season.
· Pelicans 4ths have withdrawn from Div 2 of the Norfolk League and – following the earlier withdrawal of Norwich Dragons 4ths from Div 3 – is another worrying sign of the health of women’s hockey in other parts of the county.
· Congratulations to Jo Baker on her recent marriage. Jo was until recently England Hockey’s PR and Communications Officer before leaving to set up her own design consultancy. There is a photograph of Jo in the clubhouse presenting Kirstin Cumming with one of the several EH hospitality awards won by the club – thanks in no small part to Kirstin’s efforts.
· I am pleased to say that Tricia Heberle, the former GB and England women’s coach, is back in our sport with Hockey Australia as High Performance Network Manager.
· Last Saturday Shefford & Sandy Vets claimed a moral victory over Magpies following their 0-0 draw and a convivial drink in the clubhouse. In my experience there are not too many points for moral victories!

With kind regards and best wishes

Mike Denham 01603 506925 6/10/09

MIKE’S MUSINGS – 29 September 2009


I commence this week’s Musings with two questions – as firmly instructed by two senior lady members who I would not dare disobey!

1. Have you got the no. 3 red Hunton Legg men’s shirt? If so please return it to Kirstin Cumming this week.
2. Did you as a member who is not a team captain take an East Handbook from the clubhouse recently? If so please leave it behind the bar as Jose Tibbenham wants to ensure that all relevant team captains have a copy.

Last week I gave top billing to the Men’s 1sts but this week it has to go to the Ladies’ 1sts following their outstanding 3-1 win last Saturday over Southgate to get their season up and running. They dominated the game almost from beginning to end – as evidenced by goalkeeper Lucy Hayman only touching the ball twice (both times in the first half) throughout the game – and they should have been out of sight by half time instead of being level thanks to a superb reverse stick shot by Clarissa Goodwin for Southgate. Angie Wheelhouse steadied any nerves with a goal seconds after the resumption and Artemis Clark’s second goal in the final seconds gave the team – for whom Anna Toulson had an excellent game following her injury against Sevenoaks – a thoroughly deserved three points. This Sunday (12.30) the team are away to newly-promoted Cambridge City who are still looking for their first points of the season.

Unusually six of our seven Men’s teams are at home this Saturday with the 2nds, after their excellent 4-2 win over Pelicans in which Lawrence Baynes as in sparkling form, entertaining Cambridge City (NB. 12.15) who showed last weekend by beating Ipswich 2nds 8-0 that they intend to return to East Premier A at the first opportunity. Next up will be the 1sts who play Holcombe (2.15) after their encouraging but narrow losing performance away to Southgate. Holcombe, who come from Rochester in Kent, beat Indian Gymkhana 6-2 last weekend thanks in no small part to four goals by ex-England international David Mathews who a few seasons back was a prolific scorer in Dutch club hockey.

Another eagerly awaited game is that between the Men’s 3rds and the 4ths (4.00) with the 3rds looking to reverse their 1- 0 defeat in the second half of last season. The 3rds go into the game in fine form having beaten Ipswich 4ths 7-1 with Martin Fields doing a ‘Fernando Torres’ by netting the first three goals paving the way for Matt Brand to weigh in with the rest with all the hard work done! In contrast the 4ths lost 3-1 last Saturday not helped by a back injury to Colin Wheelhouse who was making a very welcome reappearance having retired as the coach to the Ladies’ 1sts at the end of last season. In other games the Men’s 5ths entertain Thetford Town (10.45) while the Veterans open their league season against friendly rivals Shefford & Sandy (3.15). Last season honours were even with S & S winning at home before having their team talk at Scole Inn on the way to a 3-1 defeat at Weybread! The Men’s 6ths, after their very promising 3-1 win over Ipswich 6ths, are away to Norwich Dragons 3rds.

The Ladies’ 2nds are away to Cambridge City 2nds following their 3-1 defeat at the hands of Bury St Edmunds. The team conceded two very unlucky goals but were cheered by a superb effort (an early candidate for goal of the season) by Jaz Bartlett who ran down the left wing before taking the ball into the circle and firing in from a narrow angle. Meantime the 3rds, encouraged by their excellent 6-2 win over Norwich City 2nds, are away to Pelicans 2nds and the 4ths are away to Pelicans 3rds (hoping to build on their good 2-1 away win over Reepham) while the 5ths are at home to Pelicans 4ths (1.45). The Ladies’ Development entertain Dereham (12.15) after their splendid 9-0 win at Pelicans and the 6ths play Loddon 3rds in a friendly at home (10.30).

Good luck to all our teams this weekend – including the U18 Boys who play Bury St Edmunds on Sunday (12.00 at home) in the first round of the EH Cup.

With kind regards and best wishes

Mike Denham 01603 506925 29/9/09

MIKE’S MUSINGS – 22 September 2009


Pride of place this week has to go to the Men’s 1sts for their splendid win over Sevenoaks last Sunday to mark their return to the national league after an absence of eight long years. A crowd of nearly 200 people were present to see the team make a flying start with Duncan Graves (the son of Stephen the former Cambridgeshire and Cambridge City player) scoring five minutes into his first competitive match for the club and soon afterwards it was 2-0 with Andy Hipwell finishing off the move of the match to sweep the ball past the opposing goalkeeper. Thereafter we saw the team less as an attacking force with Sevenoaks putting our sound defence under considerable pressure despite some relieving aerials by Mark Wheelhouse on his debut. Sevenoaks’ goal three minutes from time caused a few concerns in the crowd as an equaliser would have left us feeling we had lost the match. This was a fine squad effort and this Saturday (2.00) the squad travel to play Southgate buoyed by three early season points.

The Ladies’ 1st also take on Southgate this Saturday (at home 12.30) and they will hope for better luck than last Saturday when, losing 1–0 away to Sevenoaks, Anna Toulson had to go off early in the game after taking a nasty blow over her left eye which required four stitches. Hopefully Anna will be fit to play this weekend as the squad will need her stick skills and goal scoring to help get their season up and running.

Two of our other teams began their league campaigns last Saturday with the Ladies’ 2nds getting a good 1-1 draw away to Long Sutton and the Ladies’ 6ths obtaining an excellent 2-0 away win over Norwich City 4ths. This Saturday the Ladies’ 2nds have a tough game when they entertain Bury St Edmunds (2.15) while the 6ths have a week off. Meantime with the exception of the Men’s Vets our other teams are in league action for the first time with the Men’s 2nds, after their promotion at the end of last season and their 6-0 win over Norwich City last week, away to Pelicans and the Men’s 3rds, who narrowly missed promotion, away to Ipswich 4ths. Both teams will look to get their seasons off to a good start as will our other teams including the Ladies’ 4ths who are away to Reepham at 5.30 (!) and the very young Ladies’ 5ths who are away to Norwich City 3rds.

Good luck to all our teams this weekend. If I haven’t mentioned your team this week I promise to do so in the future as all our teams are important to the club.

News and comments in brief
· It was good to see Andy Bedwell and Tom French at the club last Sunday. They are back in the UK for a couple of weeks half way through their world tour during which they are, allegedly, being helpful to mankind! They intend to be back playing for the club in January – if selected!
· Rugby Union has had its ‘Bloodgate’ and F1 is currently suffering the trauma of the deliberate crash in the Singapore GP last year. Sadly hockey has not been free of the allegations of cheating with a highly dubious game in the 1996 Men’s Qualifier in Barcelona for the Atlanta Olympics (after the GB management speedily rejected an invitation to be involved) and the convenient 0-0 draw between hosts Germany and Korea (the only shot of the game occurring in the first few seconds) at the 2006 Men’s World Cup in Monchengladbach, which I witnessed, and which ensured the elimination of Holland. Shamefully the FIH took no action in either case.
· Last weekend the European Cup, won so thrilling by the England men’s squad in Amsterdam at the end of August, begun its tour of the men’s premier division grounds at Reading HC. It will also be on display at key England Hockey events later in the year and into 2010.
· England’s National Indoor Championships are moving in January 2010 from the NIA in Birmingham, where the club’s U16 Girls triumphed so splendidly last season, to the Trent FM Arena in Nottingham.
· Date for your diary please – Curry-Oke Night in the clubhouse at 7.30pm on Saturday 24 October; further details to be announced.

With kind regards and best wishes

Mike Denham 01603 506925 22/9/09

MIKE’S MUSINGS – 15 September 2009


The season proper gets underway this weekend with four of our teams in league action, namely the Ladies’ 1sts, 2nds and 6ths on Saturday and the Men’s 1sts on Sunday.

For the Men’s 1sts, who entertain Sevenoaks (2.15), it will be the first national league action since the play-offs at Milton Keynes in May 2001 which saw the team relegated after nine seasons on the national stage. (We needed to beat Belper in our last game but drew 3-3). Since then it has been a hard battle to regain national status with many disappointments and frustrations on the way. There is no doubt that the squad, containing several welcome new players, face a tough season but under manager Robert Stimpson and captain Leigh Sitch they have prepared well for the months ahead. Your support of the team on Sunday would be most welcome. We have waited for this game long enough! The bar will be open from 12.30.

By chance the Ladies’ 1sts also begin their national league campaign (their eleventh consecutive season in this spell) against Sevenoaks (2.30 away) and under manager Nick McAllen and captain Louisa Greenacre have had a good pre-season with a series of testing matches. Like the Men the squad will be up against several teams with recent Premier Division experience so another demanding season is in prospect.

The Men’s 1sts are again sponsored by Hunton Legg and the Ladies’ 1sts by Kitchen Sense of Harleston and we are indebted to, respectively, Mark & Annie Legg and Val & Sue Tolhurst for their invaluable support.

Meantime the Ladies’ 2nds, after their promotion, are away to Long Sutton while the Ladies’ 6ths are away to Norwich City 4ths. The Ladies Development should have opened their league campaign but their opponents, North Walsham, have conceded the match.

Our other teams will be in friendly action on Saturday including the Men’s Vets who now entertain the Men’s 3rds for whom Matt Brand is again banging in the goals.

Club president Irene Bicker and Chairman Mark Legg join me in wishing all our teams the best of luck this season with our thanks to all team officials and coaches for kindly taking on their vital roles.

News and comments in brief

· Congratulations and best wishes to Martin Fields and Lucy Miller on their recent marriage.

· Best wishes to Charlie Graham and Will Harrison and who are off to Durham University and Cambridge University respectively. They will always be welcome back at Weybread.

· The club will need to study (as well as the Government!) the implications of the recently announced Vetting and Barring scheme concerning working with children and vulnerable adults.

· Yet more work has been completed in the last few days in the clubhouse and on the grounds and thanks are due to David and Philip Cobbald (for further work on the pitches), George Hunter (for cutting the hedges), Tony and Sue Williams, John Pestell and Linda and Melissa Hunter (for further and various clubhouse etc maintenance), Doug Sitch (for the repair of the shelters on the water-based pitch) and John Moore (for repair of the water heater in the kitchen). Work at the club never ends!

· Thanks are also due to Claude Brand for kindly videoing the Men’s 1sts and 2nds games last Saturday after bravely scaling the heights of the tower!

· Please support the club by buying your hockey kit from Kirstin Cumming in the clubhouse on Saturday mornings. ‘Thank you’ Kirstin for all you do in this and in your other roles.

· Polite (for now!) reminder – there are bins provided for discarded water bottles etc.

· Date for your diary please – Curry-Oke Night in the clubhouse at 7.30pm on Saturday 24 October; further details to be announced.

With kind regards and best wishes

Mike Denham 01603 506925 15/9/09

MIKE’S MUSINGS – 8 September 2009


BBQ and Bleach

Preparations for the new season continue this Saturday with an almost full programme of friendly matches although it is disappointing to note that the Men’s Vets game has been cancelled.

Both the Ladies’ and Men’s 1sts had good results on their travels last weekend with the Ladies drawing 1-1 away to Barnes and the Men beating Doncaster 3-0 after losing the previous day against Harborne. This Saturday the Ladies are in action at the PLUM Tournament (Old Loughtonians HC) while the Men entertain City of Peterborough (2.15).

The Ladies’ Club matches were over and the BBQ in full swing (with thanks to Graham Clark and Philippa Taylor) when I got to Weybread last Saturday to hear the good news that the walls and floor in the men’s showers had been given a good dose of bleach and elbow grease. Our thanks go to the Men’s 3rds for this development. I hope they are equally as useful at home!

This week sees a very welcome return to the club of England international (and EuroNations Gold Medallist) Richard (Ratty) Alexander. Richard, who began his distinguished hockey career at Magpies, will be taking three coaching sessions – Ladies’ 1sts (Tuesday), Junior Boys and Girls (Wednesday) and Men’s 1sts (Thursday).

Congratulations and best wishes to –

· Tristan Baynes and Rachel Suckling and to Peter Bale and Ellie Catchpole on their recent marriages.

· Sheila George on her appointment as President of the East Region Hockey Association in succession to Bill Felton. I take this opportunity to thank Bill for his hard work on behalf of East Hockey and for the support and encouragement he gave HMHC during his term of office.

· Norman Hart (HMHC VP) on his appointment as President of the East Region Hockey Umpiring Association.

Best wishes also to club members who are leaving us to go away to university, namely Chris Barber, Helen Brook, Rachel Clifford, Will Johnson, Becky Marshall, Fred Merrett, Jose Molloy, Amy Tuffs and Jimmy Wheeler. They will always be very welcome back at the club whenever they wish. Please let me know of any omissions from this list.

Other news/comments

· If rugby union allowed rolling substitutions as per hockey the recent and damaging ‘Bloodgate’ affair would have been avoided.

· At least three members of the England squad have joined Reading Ladies since the promotion of the team to the Premier Division of the EHL.

· Handbooks will be issued on payment of subscriptions – what an offer!

Date for your diary please – Curry-Oke Night in the clubhouse at 7.30pm on Saturday 24 October; further details to be announced.

With kind regards and best wishes

Mike Denham 01603 506925 8/9/09