NATIONAL CLUBS IN2 HOCKEY FINALS – U12 BOYS – SATURDAY 14 MAY 2016
With much excitement Magpies’ U12s set off to the Nottingham Hockey Centre bright and early to pit their skills against the country’s best U12s. With confidence high after the team’s East triumph and some successful additional training sessions nerves began, both on and off the pitch, to show when the whistle went for the first match.
On a lively pitch Stourport’s direct hockey style caught Magpies napping and despite having good periods of possession Stourport forced the ball past the Magpies defence to score twice before half time. Oli Mayhew nearly pulled goal back but a fine save from the Stourport keeper kept Magpies at bay and soon after Magpies were very unlucky not to be awarded a penalty flick when a Stourport defender’s stick tackle prevented a certain goal. The second half saw Magpies turn on the pressure and deservedly get a goal when Oli Currie popped an early ball through to Oli Mayhew who rounded the keeper to set up a tense last few minutes. However with the seconds ticking away an equaliser just could not be found.
Following a debrief and a round of biscuits from the Herschel-Shorlands the team set about the task of beating Cheltenham, the West champions. In the first few minutes it became apparent what a challenging day it was going to be against a disciplined and organised team playing some flowing hockey. Magpies were getting overrun and disappointing as it may have been for the team Cheltenham deservedly took the lead and added a second before half time. However at 2 – 0 down Magpies fought back but could not collectively find a way round the Cheltenham defence.
Another debrief and this time a round of sausage rolls from the Brice family inspired the team and against Brooklands, the North Champions, Magpies looked a real threat but despite four short corners in the first half they couldn’t find the net and to rub salt into the wounds against the run of play Brooklands scored just before the break and then added a second after half time.
With energy levels at a low level it was time for cheesy chips, a round of Magpies themed cup cakes and the official team photo shoot. None of this could hide the fact that Magpies were about to take on the strongest team in their group, Surbiton, and despite the hard work of all in the team Surbiton were just two strong turning a 1-0 lead at half time into a 4- 0 win.
The strength of Surbiton’s youth section shows that despite the giant steps forward Magpies have made with their boys hockey this year there is still a lot more work to be done. At this point we reminded ourselves that some of the team only started playing at the club at the start of the season after taking part in last summer’s taster sessions, a real success story for our coaches Matt Brand, Blake Elliot and, of course, Richard Larkin and their assistants.
The above results meant a 9th and 10th placing game to end the day for the team, interestingly against the East runners-up Old Loughtonians. Again Old Loughts took the lead and again just before the final whistle Magpies struck the perfect short corner but Old Loughts were prepared this time and the defender on the line deflected the ball wide of the post.
The team of Archbishop Sancroft (3), Thomas Mills (2), Pulham Primary, Hartismere, St Felix, Langley and Brandeston pupils did the club proud and although I am sure that personally they will all be a bit disappointed with the results over the day they all showed a lot of promise and character and after a summer of relaxation will come back stronger as a result of this experience.
Finally, thanks must go to Mark Emms for his management of the team over the season, Dan Mayhew for his first aid prowess on the side lines…..no one dared get injured and, of course, Richard Larkin team coach and Mr Motivator.