Mens 1 vs Waltham Forest 1

25 March 2024 | Matthew Rees
Mens 1 vs Waltham Forest 1

Our last home game of a fantabulously successful season, with being promoted last year and status in the current division secured this last game was purely to decide league position. Still in our ranks are some rather competitive fellows, we weren't going to waltz off into the summer without putting in a shift. One such competitor is Tom Bunbury - rumour has it he has played 22 out of 22 league games this season, and in the absence of our Captain Nick Kimberley he delivered the pre match team talk. My bingo card this week contained Press, Height, Effort, Tuck In, Washing Machine, Layers, Narrow, Width, Man-to-Man, Zonal and Rainbow Unicorn- I ticked them all off!

Russell Timms turned up after much debate about whether he was playing 4s, umpiring 4s or playing 1s. The warmup was pretty good for everyone apart from on-pitch-stand-in-Captain Ian Durbidge, who suffered a hurty knee doing a Glenn McGrath on a stray hockey ball. He hero'd up however to start the game and for the coin toss - electing for us to switch ends for some reason.

The game started and we were reminded how we suffered a narrow loss away at Waltham Forest - they stretch the pitch well utilising two players extremely high (it gives Andy King someone to chat to for most of the game), aiming to find these players through long balls. Defensively however Waltham set up fairly deep which allows plenty of time to swing the ball round the back and engage our rapid wing backs of Danny Burgess, Freddie Williamson and, erm, me.

Waltham got a short corner and Durbs' hurty knee came back to haunt him, the Umpire saw the tears in his eyes and said he needed to head off the pitch to get a plaster. Unfortunately the first aid kit didn't have any Frozen or Moana ones, just plain so it took a bit of time to sort out and for Durbs to calm down.

We were definitely on top in terms of territory and possession whilst having to fend off the odd rapier Waltham offensive. Fifteen minutes in and according to our team whastsapp group this is what happened:

"Some intricate play down the left with a delightful one-two and overlap from Matt Rees and Nick Chouksey before a slide rule pass to Mark Hoefield in the D who beat three players and the keeper to score". Mark certainly seemed to have the bit between his teeth this game and got due reward for it too.

Harps 1 - 0 Waltham

We were benefitting from a raucous crowd today: much of the Men's 2s squad turned up to support. As I subbed off, took a swig of Adam Cole's beer we engaged in a lively debate over whether I can count the first goal as an assist to the assist. If this was a democracy I would not have been credited with it - Kevin Moxham stating "Reesy look, Andy touched the ball five minutes ago, does that count as him assisting the assist which assisted the assist's assist?" It's not a democracy though fella! We turned back to the action on the pitch and shock horror Waltham equalised.

Harps 1 - 1 Waltham

"Ah well it's 1-0 when I've been on the pitch" Did not go down well with the 2s squad, opening myself to plenty of chat from the sidelines for the remainder of the game.

A golden opportunity presented itself as a smartly worked move down the left saw a half save from the Waltham keeper, the ball ballon up across the goal with Henry waiting for it to drop down whilst being two yards out and under zero pressure. To be fair to Henry he didn't realise he was afforded more space than the state of Texas and aimed to act quickly with a left-handed/reverse stick baseball effort. Unfortunately Henry is a cricketer but bats right handed, misses the ball as it floats down onto his foot.

Another chance saw Hoefield put the ball into the side netting, we are close…

At half time we had sour patch kids which made a nice change from squashies. We all agreed that we are fantastic hockey players and if we use the force then there's nothing to stop us coming out on top of this encounter.

Danny tweaked his back early in the second half, which meant I got to play on the right for a change! In the midfield Chouksey, Singer, Skills and Walker were all putting great shifts in and dominating the play by shutting down Waltham's two key players which again left them requiring long balls in order to launch attacks.

We had chances in this half too, some shorties. Mark Skilbeck had a great opportunity where he passed it to the keeper, he kicked it back…. Skills passes it back to the keeper, the keeper kicks it back, Skills thinks maybe I should change something, goes full nuclear blast and shells it bottom left but the ball went despairingly wide by a matter of inches. Can we get this breakthrough?

Up steps last year's player of the season Nick Chouksey (I understand there is a vote this year but really don't think one is necessary, I'm fairly confident my peers will know who to vote for and am positive the result will make the recent elections in Russia look like a close run contest in comparison.) In his own words Chouksey "controlled the ball at the top of the D and then smashed it reverse stick into the top corner" - legendary.

Full Time Harps 2 - 1 Waltham Forest. (2-0 when Reesy was on the pitch. 0-1 when Henry was on the pitch).

This result rounded off a good season for the 1s, finishing fifth in the table which is a superb achievement following promotion last year.

Many thanks to Nick Kimberley who steered a great ship as Captain - organising such an awesome bunch of chaps like us must be a pleasure and an honour but still takes a lot of time and effort and we all appreciate it.

Also big thanks to Coach Reece Baker - I realise it's not the easiest of gigs coaching players of my high-quality, but I think I've mastered tucking in now. We wish you all the best on your antipodean adventure.

Under 8s update: we rounded out the season with jelly babies at half time, chocolates at the end and they all got a medal for their fantastic skills learned this year. Personally I'm yet to win a hockey medal or trophy… get voting the right way chaps for that player of the season award!

I've thoroughly enjoyed this season and also entertaining myself with these reports. Enjoy your summers and see you in September.

Hugs, Reesy

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