The wintery conditions forced everyone to take last weekend off from hockey but the forecast looks much better going forward so we hope the full schedule of games will take place this weekend.
There should be plenty of familiar faces at the Nest on Saturday as eight Magpies teams have home fixtures, meaning that both pitches will be in use solidly from 10am until 5pm, and the dishwasher will be working round the clock to keep up with the demand for mugs.
First up are the Ladies Fourths and Sevenths who face Norwich City and Loddon respectively. The Sevenths, captained by Daphne Beckett, sit comfortably in mid table but face the league leaders on Saturday so will need to put in a good performance. The Fourths are second from bottom of the Norfolk Prem and require a string of wins if they are to avoid relegation.
The Men’s Firsts and Ladies Seconds both push back at 12pm. The Men play Cambridge City who are just beneath them in the table, however Magpies have a 9 point lead and far superior goal difference which, with the home advantage, makes them favourites for the win. The Ladies opposition, St Ives, have already been relegated so are sure to throw everything they’ve got at our unbeaten Seconds.
The Ladies Firsts get underway at 2pm when they host Hampstead and Westminster who currently top the Conference East table having remained unbeaten all season (so far). David Blackmore will lead his Mens Fourths out against Lowestoft Railway at 1.30. The youngsters in the side have gone from strength to strength this season and are sure to put on another good display in front of the home crowd.
Last up the Mens Thirds will be fighting to stay in the league against Cambridge University 3s who are also in the thick of the relegation battle. The lads need a win to keep their hopes alive so stick around to cheer them on. Jose Tibbenham and the Ladies Fifths will be playing Norwich City on the sand based pitch at the same time and could go top of the league if the Magpies stars of the future come away with a win.
Sunday’s bill is equally exciting as 12pm sees the Ladies O35s face Bristol side Clifton Robinsons in the semi final of the National Hockey Cup. A win would take them to the final at the Olympic Park in London. The Nest also hosts the U18 boys who play Rugby and East Warwickshire at 2pm in the quarter final of their cup competition. The U18 girls are away at Leicester in their quarter final whilst the U16 girls play their regional finals at Southgate against Braintree, Southgate and Saffron Walden.
Whilst the focus is often on the rising stars at Magpies we are extremely proud of two of our more experienced players, Shirley McAllen (O65s) and Kath Johnson (O50s) who have been selected for the England Hockey Masters squads. This means that they will be involved in the Home Nations tournament and the Masters Hockey World Cup in Barcelona this summer.