Clapham Common vs. Ladies 3s (Cup Match)
By Marcus Kyte
An eventful loss against strong opposition
Unusually this week we had a cup fixture. A combination of Thrilling Threes and Fearsome Fours were selected to face the up and coming Clapham Common team - it seems there are hockey players there and not just festival goers. As is the norm, travel plans were made, and I was to drive a good proportion of the team to Raynes Park. A decent amount of preparation was required, as my car is now a muddy dog wagon. A few minutes cleaning up with the Dettol and I was ready to make the trip to Barnsey’s house in Hockey Close. I remembered that this part of the epic journey only takes 30 seconds but still arrived two minutes early. We headed down to the Toby Carvery, not for a meal at the Home of Roasts, but to collect Taea and Katie. With Sat Nav set, we continued, bound for one of the only astroturf pitches hidden behind a Tesco Superstore and a concrete flyover. Credit should go to Barnsey for getting us there so efficiently, especially after my revelation that I don’t know my right from left. This also explains a lot on the pitch. So, shockingly (and after a lot of pointing at junctions), we were early. With time to spare, we thought we’d get on the with the warm-up – in the car, with the heated seats on.
Eventually, deciding that we should find the changing rooms or wander to the pitch, we met up with the rest of the team. Once Janet arrived, she appointed me as captain. This never bodes well. As is the custom, I lost the toss. Fortunately, this had no real influence as the position of the sun meant there was no advantage to be gained at either end. I decided we’d be best starting with our backs to the bus stop – we don’t need distraction. We warmed up properly, learnt some names, and decided on a robust formation as we knew they were ‘quite good’.
Before we could start there were maintenance issues to attend to. It’s fair to say that Janet’s usual expertise is split between whistling, stationery and defending. Today we saw the DIY side of Ms Slater who, armed with just a roll of tape, patched up the Raynes Park High School goals to make them match ready. More useful might have been a massive roll of Gorilla tape completely covering the open face of the goal. Or perhaps a camouflage net to hide it. We’ll come to that in a moment.
As it turns out our formation wasn’t really robust enough. We hadn’t realised quite how quick Clapham were. Their slick skills and brutal finishing saw us concede a goal after about 2 minutes!
Wenger-esque on the side-line, Woolfy provided the support for our match, having turned her ankle last week and now having to engage the services of my regular physio! Woolfy’s encouragement is always welcome and is a constant throughout a game however the team is performing (in our case defending out of our skins). I say Wenger-esque as Woolfy had arrived dressed for poorer weather conditions and was wearing a long Wenger style coat. As the sun shone down a scene similar to that of Aesops’s North Wind and Sun fable ensued. The strong rays of winter sun proved too much, and a full unzipping of the coat was required. Fewer layers meant Woolfy was able to be more dynamic on the pitch periphery and upped her encouragement levels (some of which was in Essex dialect, unfathomable but we took it as encouragement none the less).
We were pinned in our own half for most of the first 35 mins. More skills and quick stick work led to a couple more goals and I think it was 4-0 at half time (I don’t like to keep count when I am sweeper!), this despite some good defending and some excellent saves by Jordan in goal.
We weren’t too disheartened at half time. Emily’s dad convinced us that our age and experience(!) would help and we should tighten up the marking and use the right wing more. We took this on board and went out for the second half. Clapham continued their relentless attack and we grew more accustomed to keeping them in check. Unfortunately, their well drilled short corner routines led to the score line increasing, and not in our favour.
Yet another short corner was given and Taea - running out one - experienced the full impact of Clapham’s shot on goal. Admirably, she held it together (although as yet, we are not sure about her arm), sat down and awaited ice. Inevitably, no longer able to play a part in the game, Taea retired to the side-lines, where Emily’s dad practiced his first aid sling making skills on her. After a quick conflab, we decided the best way forward with just 10 players was to continue as we had been – with 10 players defending.
In lieu of Gorilla tape or a camouflage net, we had Jordan, who was unanimously voted Man of the Match, despite the 7 goals scored against us – most of which would have penetrated the body of an armoured vehicle. Several excellent saves kept the score from reaching double figures, Taea also stopping a strong shot on the line before her game ending injury.
We did venture into the opposition half on a couple of occasions, coming close, but not quite managing to get a goal despite the best efforts of Kerstie, Annie and Coops. The game ended, and we counted the damage. Only 7-0 (and one potentially broken arm). Not bad really. We were told that the Clapham’s Captain was ex U21 Black Sticks. The only black sticks we have ever had are those from the early days of the club - when we played in front of the clubhouse in thick mud in the depths of winter. Only those with age and experience remember those days though.
By Caroline Bradby