Saturday 1 October – Mens 1s

Posted on 26/10/2016

Saturday 1st October. First day of the new hockey season and Gamblers Men’s 1XI looking to kick off the campaign with a win following their newly promoted status into Surrey Division 1.

The day saw returning heroes for the season Al ‘Bozza’ Borwick and Gary Jones from London both already having made an impact in training and a dayboo handed to new summer signing Dan ‘The Thurminator’ Thurman. Skip having returned from ‘finding’ himself in Peru had put the team through its paces during training and with competition for places in the Defenders Union at an all time high it was time to turn the pre-season effort into 3 points.

Oxted decided to bring a small force to fortress Crystal Palace and on a rainy morning perhaps underestimated not bringing more back up…The game started at a high pace with early pressure at either end forcing good saves from both keepers. The Defenders Union must have been in serious summer training (yoghurt, boodles and gym regimes) as even in the absence of Sir Charles, the ball was moved quickly around the back and distributed well. This resulted in short corners and the Gamblers were unlucky not go ahead with a deflection from Ham saved off of the line by an Oxted defender.

The Gamblers continued to press hard with particularly high effort levels in midfield, but could not covert the pressure into goals and some of this frustration saw a green card for Monsieur Yelland of all people. Maybe this was opposites’ day? Towards the end of the half the Gamblers eased off and this allowed Oxted back into the game with some further excellent saves from Max ‘The acquired taste’ Kramer keeping the Gamblers in the game. Half time, scores level at 0-0.

A rousing half time talk saw the Gamblers start strongly in the second half and Le Shed who earned his fox in the box reputation last season somehow managed to miss a nailed on goal. This was definitely opposites’ day. Further frustration saw Bozza handed a yellow and the 138th green of his career for Jonny ‘Brownlee/Neville’ Lawrey. With the Gamblers a player down for extended periods of time, Oxted took the initiative and brought it to the Gamblers. Step up Club Captain Ham to sort the game out. Round of applause, back on the pitch, covers back from midfield, cuts out a dangerous cross from Oxted in the D, heroic clearance to the top of the D straight to an astonished Oxted striker for whom it was Christmas come early. Not once to waste such a gift, the ball was banged bottom right, unstoppable and suddenly the Gamblers were down 1-0. Oh Ham…

Determined to make amends for such a mistake, Ham with encouragement from the rest of the team helped the Gamblers roar back into action almost immediately up the other end of the pitch. Unlucky not to score with the first short corner, a second which was as smooth as Alex Fiennes’s right shoulder saw an exquisitely worked set piece allow Sammy Yelland his first goal and the Gamblers first goal of the season. 1-1 and game on! Content that his mistake was rectified Ham swiftly left the pitch to allow Skip back onto to finish the job and what a finish to the game it was.

Attacking move of the season in the first game? Possibly. The lighting fast run of Le Shed and quick passing suddenly found the Oxted defence carved apart and it only required the on rushing Borwick to slam the ball home. The Gamblers had turned around a losing position in the space of 10 minutes, excellent resolve. Finally the team then executed what often was lacking in previous seasons and kept calm with direction from the Defenders Union to see out the game. Deserved 2-1 victory and 3 points in the bag.

Onto the Gipsy Hill where not ones to start the season quietly, Skip and Club Cap both took on the 4 pint yard challenge and Gary Jones showed everyone that he could down a pint before giving a delightful stage show with Chris and Owly. Great first day from all, onward and Upward!

MOM was Max Kramer for an outstanding performance in the nets, outdoing his 60:40 saves to goals ratio. Honourable mention to Dan Thurman for a flawless debut. While DOD went to Sam Ham for a great first game for Oxted.

Pints – Sam Ham under 8 seconds. Gary Jones under 2 minutes (?)

In summary…
Man of the Match: Max Kramer
Dick of the Day: Sam Ham

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