The coming weekend is another busy and important one for the club and I give top billing to our U18 Girls’ team as they seek to win the EHB Club Cup at Old Loughtonians HC on Sunday. They play Surbiton in the second semi-final at 1.45 and, hopefully, either Teddington or Canterbury – who contest the first semi-final at 12.30 – in the final and not in the 3rd/4th place play-off (both matches at 4.15.) The matches will be 25 minutes each way and entry will be free with car parking £3 per car with programmes £2 each.
The team has done very well to reach this stage of the competition by beating Bury St Edmunds 14-0, Norwich City 5-0 and Ipswich by walk-over before in a tense away quarter-final raising their game even higher to beat by two goals to one the U18 team of Leicester who last weekend clinched the Investec Premier League title.
The Magpies’ squad is Jess Harvey (GK), Katherine Ridley, Fiona Mackenzie, Catriona Maciver, Sarah Brook (captain), Holly Baker, Georgie Minta, Emily Brown, Jess Howland, Elizabeth Jones, Jemima Jacobs, Rachel Herod, Frankie Eaves, Keira Booty with Nigel Wooltorton (manager) and David Brook (coach). Best wishes to our squad and supporters for an enjoyable and successful day.
More success for the club could be forthcoming this weekend through the Ladies’ 2nds and Men’s 1sts but long odds would be offered by your local bookmaker for the double. The Ladies’ 2nds, who are already promoted, gave themselves a chance of clinching their league title by beating Long Sutton 6-0 (MOTM Georgie Minta 3, Anouska Hipperson 2, Kira Wooltorton) away last Saturday in their final game of another hugely successful but, possibly, ultimately frustrating season. But they need Wisbech to at least take a point from their away game against Ipswich 2nds (why was this game postponed last Saturday?) this Saturday to deny the Suffolk side the title. Meanwhile the Men’s 1sts need a miracle to win their league and a place back in the national league. Quite simply they need three results to go their way on Saturday, viz a) Magpies to beat Wapping away at 2.00 (I’m told Wapping took just eight players to Ipswich last Saturday – what is happening to this league?), b) St Albans (leaders by one point) to fail to beat Blueharts away and c) Bedford (their goal difference boosted by their 22-1 ‘victory’ over Bishops Stortford) to fail to beat Chelmsford at home. Odds on a post card please to …… but after Great Britain beat Russia in the Davis Cup from two rubbers down last weekend you never know!
The Ladies’ 1sts went into their promotion play-off game against Buckingham at Cannock HC on Sunday knowing they were in for a difficult encounter and without Emma Lee-Smith (multiple marathon running for charity in the Sahara Desert), Amy Campbell (injured hand) and Lucy Miller (ill) their task was even more daunting. But they stuck to their task well, with goalkeeper Megan Adams in good form once again, without troubling the Buckingham defence in the first half despite some early promising runs by Angie Wheelhouse. They went in at half time on level terms but two quick goals for Buckingham on the resumption were a severe setback for Magpies. However, they rallied and with eleven minutes to go Hayley Toleman fired in a superb shot from the edge of the circle following a penalty corner to give the team and their supporters a lift but they could not find an equaliser. At Reading HC is two week’s time Magpies will need to beat Olton & West Warwicks and Beeston to retain hopes of promotion. On Sunday Olton & WW beat Beeston 2-1.
The weather was much improved at Cannock and it was even better at Weybread on Saturday where combined with the wind it was easy to forget the effects of the sun’s rays. First up at 10.30 were the Men’s 3rds against Spalding (who after initial grumbles sportingly accepted the early start for this rearranged fixture) and it turned out to be an exciting encounter with Magpies twice going behind before taking the lead through Gavin Cole’s third goal only for the Lincolnshire side to equalise in the last minute with a deflected goal. Meantime, and also playing their last game of the season, were the Boys’ Development and they recorded a comfortable 6-1 win over Norwich Dragons (Archie Winter 3, William Donsworth 2, Jolyon Summers) before the Ladies’ 3rds had an impressive 7-1 win (Kara Kilbourn 3, Toni Glover 2, Keira Booty, Jemima Jacobs) over Pelicans 2nds. The Girls’ Development were also in good form beating Pelicans 2nds 9-1 with goals by Eve Barnes 3, Lauren Rowe, Amelia Preece, Georgina Warren, Victoria Findlay, Alice Woollatt and Matilda Warde-Aldam.
Next in action and rounding off their impressive season, under skipper Lawrence Baynes, were the Men’s 2nds playing Havering. Alex Slater opened his account for his injury hit season putting away a first half penalty corner before in the last few minutes of a well contested game Martin Fields (the team’s leading scorer) found the net and MOTM Toby Price scored two well taken goals. The match was notable for goalkeeper James Lane’s first clean sheet of the season and his second in two years! Havering came into the game still reeling from their 20-point deduction (reduced from 25 on appeal) and subsequent relegation for walking off the pitch after eleven minutes in a recent game in protest at the decisions (as they saw it) being made by the umpires. I’ve had some fun recently over David Francis’s penalty stroke against Letchworth (has the ball been found yet?!) but in fairness I should point out he has converted his four other strokes this season. The post-match teas were expertly provided by the Ladies’ 6ths as their recent Auction of Promises Lot. Well done and thanks ladies!
In other matches at Weybread the Men’s 4ths lost 5-2 (Jon Aldridge and Luke Edwards) to Ipswich 2nds (before going down 8-1 to Pelicans 2nds the next day) and the Men’s 7ths lost 3-1 to Norwich Dragons 3rds. It was good to see Iain Cumming making a very welcome return to the game and playing a key part in skipper Tom ‘Magic’ Miller’s tap in goal. Away from home the Ladies’ 5ths did well to hold all-conquering Norwich Dragons 3rds to two goals; the Ladies’ 4ths got back to winning ways beating Norwich City 3rds 4-2 (Charlotte Rourke-Beasley 3, Caz Aldous); the Men’s 6ths thankfully banished any lingering fears of relegation by beating Holt Harlequins 2nds 7-2 in their last game of the season with goals by Gavin Kiernan 3, Harry Haigh 2, Jack Newbery and Jack Frere-Smith while the Men’s 5ths completed their season losing 3-1 against Ipswich Cranes.
The league season (which has included 59 postponements due to the weather) finally comes to an end this weekend when seven of our teams complete their fixtures. The Men’s 4ths play Ipswich Cranes at home on Saturday (10.45) and Sudbury 2nds away on Sunday (1.00) needing a point to avoid relegation. Please see the Home Page of the website for the list of all this weekend’s fixtures which include on Sunday the Mixed away to Hampstead and Westminster (1.30) in the 4th round of the EHB Trophy. Good luck as always to all our teams.
England Hockey and NOW: Pensions have today announced an exciting partnership for the sport and the biggest ever sponsorship investment in men’s hockey in England.
NOW: Pensions, one of the UK’s leading auto-enrolment pension providers, are revealed as the Principal Partner of Great Britain and England men’s hockey. The announcement of the four year deal coincides with the unveiling of a new look 30-strong Great Britain and England men’s squad which will begin training in a centralised programme this week.
NOW: Pensions will be fully integrated within the sport and visible nationwide throughout the year as a partner committed to developing the future of the game. By becoming the Title Sponsor of the men’s domestic league, NOW: Pensions hopes to support a well-defined talent pathway for players, helping taking the men’s side to a medal position at the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games and Rio 2016 Olympics.
Other news and comments in brief
a) Congratulations to Ali and Nick Dyson on the birth of Charles Thomas (7lb 1oz) on Saturday 30 March. Charles will not remember it but he paid his first visit to Weybread on Saturday with his Mum and Dad (the latter celebrating by playing a key part in the 2nds win over Havering) and grandparents.
b) The Senior Club Awards Night is being held in the clubhouse at 7.15pm on Friday 19 April. All club officials, other members, parents and supporters will be very welcome.
c) In the men’s national league promotion play-offs at Cannock ex-Magpie Gareth Furlong got the better of ex-Magpie Ben Wright when Sheffield Hallam shocked Southgate 3-0 while in the other match ex-Magpie Richard Alexander equalised for Wimbledon against Cardiff & UWIC before fellow Olympian Ben Hawes followed up with a hat trick to make it 4-1 for the London side.
d) In the national league relegation play-offs over the weekend both Cambridge City (men) and Chelmsford (ladies) got off to a good start in their attempts to retain their status by beating Whitchurch (3-1) and Staines (4-0) respectively.
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With kind regards