MIKE’S MUSINGS – 21 April 2015

Mrs Rose Beckett

I am very sorry to record the death of Rose last Sunday evening and I am sure all members will wish to extend their condolences to her daughter, and club secretary, Daphne on her great loss. Daphne was devoted to her mother (and previously to her late father) and never more so than during Rose’s last difficult months.

Rose was always very interested in HMHC and over the years she did so much for the club in helping Daphne carry out her duties whether it be by, for example, answering numerous telephone calls, recording responses to social event invitations, helping to fill envelopes or by giving raffle prizes as she did for the recent Canapés and Fizz Evening. I know our thoughts will be with Daphne at this very sad time.

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With five of our teams in action, last weekend brought a mixture of pleasure, excitement, satisfaction, frustration and heartache. The highs of sport can be very high while the lows can be very low as we discovered yet again. The Men’s O50s had the pleasure (and I would suggest the excitement) of reaching the final of the England Hockey Masters Cup while the U10 Girls would have had similar emotions (mixed with a touch of frustration) in finishing second in the East Club Finals. Meanwhile the U12 Boys and U12 Girls had the heartache of coming so near to reaching the national finals while the U14 Girls had the frustration of drawing their three games in the Midland Section Finals of the England Hockey Cup. Despite their mixed fortunes all five teams can look back on a weekend when they did the club and themselves proud.

The grounds at Weybread looked at their best when the club hosted the East Club Minis over the weekend and the East officials join me in thanking everyone involved in helping to make the two days run so well. I have in mind those responsible for the cutting of the banks and grass, the preparation of the pitches, the erection of the marquees, the car parking, the PA announcements, the pitch watering and the catering. There were too many members and parents of our young members involved for me to name them but the club is very grateful for their invaluable support. I would, however, like to pay a special tribute to club president Philippa Taylor for her commendably calm leadership and hard work over the weekend and to Kirstin Cumming for the preparatory work she did leading up to the event. Unfortunately Kirstin was ill over the weekend and had no option but to stay away but I am pleased to say she is well on the road to recovery and hopefully getting ready for the May Day Tournament!

Saturday was a combination of sun, warmth and chill when the U12 Boys’ event got underway in the morning and the Magpies’ team, coached by Blake Elliott, played extremely well to win their first four matches, including against eventual runners-up Cambridge City, before going down by two goals to nil in the semis to a strong Saffron Walden side which deservedly finished as champions. Despite this heartache, and to their credit, the team recovered well to beat Bury St Edmunds on penalty strokes after a 1-1 draw to secure a highly commendable third place. In the afternoon it was the turn of the Under 10 Girls and the Magpies’ side, managed by Jim Menzies and coached by David Brook, reached the final without conceding a goal only to let one in late in their game against Hertford. This was a fine effort by another of our promising young sides.

Sunday was overcast and much cooler for the U12 Girls’ and U10 Boys’ events. The Magpies’ Girls reached the semis before agonisingly going down 6-5 on penalties to eventual champions Blue Hornets who beat Ipswich in the final. One can only feel for the team and their coach Jason Harness and manager John Pope in these circumstances. The U10 Boys’ event (with the Magpies’ team missing out on qualification) was won by Norwich Dragons with Old Loughtonians in second place. At the end of a long and fruitful season I take this opportunity to thank all the coaches and managers of our junior teams for their hard work and dedication. We are in their debt. Please see the website for full and excellent reports of the above events.

I was given leave of absence on Sunday (with my thanks to David Johnson for deputising for me) to allow me to go to Birmingham to support the Men’s Over 50s in their England Hockey Masters Cup semi-final clash with Barford Tigers. The sun came out as the game started five minutes early at 2.25 and it was good to see Bob Skinner and Alistair Williamson back in action after their injuries and it is best wishes to David Blackmore for a speedy return to fitness after his left knee op three weeks ago. Roger Kent, who has been in sparkling form since becoming eligible for the team, put Magpies ahead after five minutes and skipper Jon Aldridge, after going close shortly afterwards, made sure on fifteen minutes to give the visitors the start they wanted. But Barford responded well and Murray Graham pulled off a series of fine saves in the Magpies’ goal before eventually having to retrieve the ball from the back of his net. Andy Law, the team’s ‘big money signing’ (as I like to tell him!) was again in dominant form in midfield and he combined well with Philip Cobbald to make it 3-1 and Philip soon fired home the fourth from a penalty corner to give Magpies a slightly flattering 4-1 half time lead.

But after the interval Magpies took total control of the game using the full width of the pitch as a frustrated (to put it mildly) Barford player told me after the game in contrast to his own team (which he added with emphasis) and Roger and Andy Caston helped each other to make it 6-1. With Philip off with a calf muscle strain and with other changes made to the team’s line-up Barford went up a gear scoring three times in a frantic last five minutes helped by a gift from the Magpies’ esteemed and sharp witted manager! But this was never a ‘6-4’ game. Peter Finnie played in the forward line towards the end of the game (and for the first time for forty years) and I helpfully told him after the post-match pub curry that we conceded two goals during the four minutes he was on the pitch! This was another excellent win for the team and they now play Reading in the final at Lee Valley Sports Centre on Sunday 3 May (11.00); their third national final in four seasons.

Meanwhile at Wallingford (near Oxford) the U14 Girls started their Midland Section Finals with a good 1-1 draw with eventual winners Cambridge City. City went ahead before Rose Winter created the well taken equaliser by Mia King. Magpies then knew they had to win their next games to qualify for the national finals starting with the game against host club Wallingford. They dominated the first half without scoring and after the break they were grateful for some excellent goalkeeping by Holly Riches to ensure a 0-0 draw. They then drew 1-1 with Lichfield with Keisha Hilaire finishing off a good team move. While these were frustrating results for the team, coached by David Brook, they can take real satisfaction from knowing they went through the season unbeaten in seven games.

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Are you a Quantity Surveyor?

If so would you be prepared to kindly assist the club as it continues to look into the possibility of extending its facilities at Weybread? If you are able to help or know of a friend who is would you please contact Matthew Seaborn on 01379 668756.

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Other news and comment

a) Best wishes to our Mixed team when they play Wisbech away this coming Sunday (11.00) in the 4th round of England Hockey’s Mixed Trophy.

b) Mark Pearn, my favourite England player of yesteryear alongside Simon Mason, has announced his retirement from top level hockey at the age of 38. Mark has given outstanding service to GB, England, Reading and East Grinstead hockey. In recent years, following his retirement from international hockey, he has played a vital part as player-coach in making EG one of the top two teams in the English game both indoor and out. He will be sadly missed although it is good news that he might still play some veterans’ hockey.

With kind regards

Mike Denham




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