MIKE’S MUSINGS – 20 September 2016


While trying to be less wordy this season (!), and on occasions omitting reference to some teams if space doesn’t permit or if they don’t deserve a mention (!), I hope to give pride of place to all our teams at least once in the coming months.

This week it has to go to the Ladies’ 1sts for their outstanding 5-2 away win over newly-promoted West Herts last Saturday on the opening day of the new league season. Four up inside the first 37 minutes with goals by Lucy Whiting, Tor Findlay (her first in the national league), Kara Kilbourn and defender Louisa Greenacre (with her expected annual goal) the team was never in danger of letting the game slip despite two quick goals by the home team before Lizzie Clymer rounded off the scoring. This coming Saturday (2.00) they host Northampton Saints, another newly-promoted team, who will have been encouraged by their 1-1 draw with Chelmsford.

The home performance of the day was by the Men’s 3rds who recovered from 3-1 down to beat old rivals Lowestoft Railway 8-4 in a thriller of a match. Gavin Cole put Magpies ahead (no surprise there) before some alarming gaps appeared in the home defence but once new member Neil Watson reduced the arrears and England O55s star Jon Aldridge brought them level there was no stopping skipper Matt Brand and his team. Goals flowed at a very satisfying rate with Matt, Phil Cobbald and Gavin (with two more including a lob from the unheard distance of the edge of the circle!) finding the net. Railway pulled a goal back before Sol Barker rounded off an excellent win. This Saturday the team are away to IES 3rds (1.00).

However, the first win of the season was achieved by the Ladies’ 6ths who beat Lowestoft Railway 2nds 1-0 away in their 10.00am start. Their goal came three minutes before the final whistle from a penalty corner with Verity Tomson sweeping the ball to Julie Davy who neatly finished off the move. Skipper Gillian Stokes was in fine form in goal while Ashleigh Muttock and Olivia Carter played well on their debuts for the team.

For the reasons I mentioned last week the club has a severe shortage of umpires and the situation needs to be rectified as soon as possible. We want three or four players in each team to take the umpiring course which can be arranged at the club. If you are interested (and this also applies to parents) please let Jose Tibbenham know at jo@tibbenham.net . If you would like to learn a little more about umpiring before committing to a course please also let Jose know and she will arrange a ‘taster’ at an evening training session.

In the more immediate (i.e. now!) already qualified umpires within the club (who may include very new members) are urged to make their availability known please at umpires@magpies-hockey.co.uk

The Men’s 5ths got the ball rolling at Weybread last Saturday against Thetford who started strongly taking an early lead cancelled out by Andy Caston. The 5ths lost their way after the break, not helped by a facial injury sustained by James Smith, and midway through the second half found themselves 4-1 down before they hit back strongly with Chris Hall reducing the arrears. They then failed to convert two penalty strokes but overall this was a promising performance in which it was good to see Andy Hipwell playing well in midfield and Louis Calvert catching the eye at left back.

Next into action were the Ladies’ 3rds against Yarmouth and after a poor start which included some wayward passing they settled down to play some good hockey. However, Yarmouth took the lead with a firm shot at a penalty corner before a defensive error allowed them to go two ahead. Skipper Sarah Legg gave them hope of a point in their first game in East 2NE when she thrashed in a penalty corner midway through the second half but the experienced Yarmouth team held out for a win. For Magpies Rachel Baynes and goalkeeper Jess Harvey played particularly well in defence.

The Men’s 2nds then took the field and bearing in mind how well they played, especially in the first half, against an experienced Blueharts 2nds it is difficult to believe they went down 3-0. Their cause was not helped by a shot by Matt Bensly hitting a post, a fine goalline save by a defender and a host of chances going begging at penalty corners. This Saturday the team are away to up and coming Shefford & Sandy (2.45) managed by my friend Mike Tipper. Magpies just have to win! The Ladies’ 5ths fought hard to get something from their game against Lowestoft Railway going down 2-1 with their goal coming in the last minute scored by Janna Freeman. There was also a last minute goal by the Ladies’ 4ths with Rachael Clifford scoring her second in a 2-2 draw to give her team a deserved point against Norwich City 4ths. This Saturday they are away to Norwich Dragons 3rds (9.45) and I assume breakfast will be served after the game!

An initiative (which has been agreed by the Executive Committee) to help grow the membership is an Incentive Scheme for existing club members. It works like this – any adult member introducing a new adult to the club will be entitled to a 50% reduction in their subscription the following season – assuming the new member renews their membership in that season. This is to encourage all our adult members to introduce new members to our club. If you think you qualify please notify club treasurer Jose Tibbenham when the new member joins. Reasonable T&Cs will apply, e.g. more than one person cannot claim the incentive for the same new member!

At this point I pass on the thanks of club captain Louisa Greenacre to Jose Tibbenham who Louisa said worked tirelessly last week to ensure the Ladies’ 4ths, 5ths (of which she is captain) and 6ths were able to put out teams. Jose epitomises the expression ‘If you want a job done give it to a busy person’. As I write the Ladies’ 7ths are still in need of players to fulfil their opening fixture of the season against Norwich City 7ths at Weybread this Saturday (10.45).

In other away matches there was mixed fortune for the four Magpies’ teams. The Ladies’ 2nds were disappointed (to put it mildly) to lose to a last second goal against Dereham going down 4-3. Amy de Selincourt had put them ahead against her old club before Laura Tibbenham twice put Magpies back in the lead after Dereham had twice equalised. Nevertheless this was encouraging performance and on Saturday (12.00) they entertain Lindum (formed in 2015 following a merger of Lincoln HC and Lincoln Roses HC). The Men’s 4ths had a splendid 5-1 (Stuart Peters, Kieran Peters, Oli Sharp, Alex Kilbourn (2)) win over Lowestoft Railway 2nds and the Men’s 6ths, who this Saturday are at home to Magpies’ 5ths (1.45), went down 7-1 to Dereham 3rds with their consolation goal coming from Fabien Mitchell.

The Men’s 1sts lost 4-1 away to St Albans despite dominating play as proved by the statistics of the game but statistics do not win matches. Magpies dominated the game to such an extent that the St Albans coach Andy Halliday (and England’s splendid team manager) said Magpies should have been 3-0 up at half time. St Albans had four shots and scored from them all while the Magpies’ goal was scored by skipper and defender Leigh Sitch with a deflection at a penalty corner. This means that Leigh is the team’s leading scorer but hopefully this statistic will soon be a thing of the past for two reasons; I will not be able to stand him telling me about it and it would mean we have scored only one goal all season! This Saturday the team are home to Dereham (3.45).

Good luck to all our teams this Saturday. Please see the website for the full list of fixtures.

Other news in brief

QUIZ NIGHT Saturday 1 October – Clubhouse – 7.30pm. Tickets £5 on the door. Please come!

We now have a hawk flying menacingly over the water-based with the aim of deterring the seagulls from landing on the pitch with inevitable consequences. It is a big ‘thank you’ to club vice-president Harry Flatt for kindly making the trolley (and to Les Bicker of LMB Services for kindly donating the wheels) from which the hawk is launched from the detachable pole.

The disabled toilet will be redecorated when steps to remove dampness in it have proved successful. In the meantime the toilet is still available for use by all.

With kind regards

Mike Denham