Sunday 20 March – Mixed FINALS
Posted on 22/03/2016
The mixed hockey season came to a close on Sunday with the top two teams in the league battling it out for the league title. The Gamblers needed to win to secure our deserved status as champions at the first attempt.
However, coming into the game, all looked lost as almost the whole team could hardly stand up or speak following an evening of bottomless brunches, fines dinners and general excess, let alone face 70 minutes of olympic standard hockey. However, after a rousing team talk from Mr Jon McKay, we were ready for battle. After struggling to cope with Clapham Common and feeling a bit sorry for ourselves for the first ten minutes, we grew into the game and began to dominate proceedings – a sign of things to come. Armed with our secret weapon of not having a goalkeeper, we began to camp ourselves in the opposition half. Unfortunately, we were unable to score, thanks to an unbelievable pick out of the top corner of the goal from one of our many short corners. And right on the stroke of half time, disaster struck as Clapham broke away and scored very much against the run of play.
But there was still hope and after a season-ending injury, coach Sophie Cusition had some rousing words for us at half time and we went back out believing that we could yet win the day after a first half performance that merited so much more than the scoreline suggested.
We began the second half in style and as it progressed, we pushed Clapham further and further back into their half. Every time they got the ball, our wall at the back of Liv, Sam C, Ryan and Charlie S nonchalantly popped their sticks down, stopping Clapham in their tracks and generating a fresh Gamblers attack.
Midway through the half we were finally rewarded for our excellent play as Gavin Peebles slotted home an equaliser. But for the Gamblers, sitting one point behind our opponents, a draw was not enough and we knew we had to keep pushing for that second goal to leapfrog Clapham into pole position at the top of the table.
By this stage we were playing our absolute best hockey and any memories of the night before were firmly banished as we worked in perfect harmony, with midfield dynamo Alex Fiennes spraying raking passes all over the pitch to the dynamic attacking force of Hayley, Jess, Fenna, Becky, Claudia and Kara. And it looked as if we finally succeeded as we worked the ball into the D through some left wing magic, and after a bit of pinball, Mr McKay’s flick into the the upper reaches of the goal was stopped on the line by the chest of one of the Clapham defenders. All 22 players on the pitch and all the fans who had travelled to the stadium on the day knew there was only one rightful outcome. But Clapham’s umpire had other ideas and quickly made himself the most unpopular man in SW11, denying the Gamblers justice.
We continued to battle, but as our legs began to fade after the day’s gargantuan effort, disaster struck with only a couple of minutes to go as one of Clapham’s players finally managed to break free from his shackles and, with lightning pace, broke Gamblers hearts, latching onto a through ball followed by an eventual tap-in following a 70 yard sprint that we just couldn’t catch.
We played to the end in the heroic manner we had done all game, but could not find another goal and the game finished leaving the Gamblers with only their third loss of the season, but just short of the league’s summit.
Coming off the pitch at the end no one had much to say as the undeserved and unexpected loss slowly sunk in. But we were able to take consolation in the fact that this had been perhaps our best performance of the season and despite not winning, we could finish the year with our heads held high and with our team having been more than unlucky on the day.
MoM was Sam Clarke a couple of votes ahead of Liv; DoD went to me, Will Porter, with 5 votes, after I managed to hold off tough competition from Charlie G and their umpire, each receiving four votes.
Man of the Match: Sam Clarke
Dick of the Day: Will Porter