MIKE’S MUSINGS – 16 December 2009

GOOD START, POOR START

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 MDenham975@aol.com 16/12/09