The performance of the week came from the Ladies 1st XI at Wimbledon and there were also good wins for all the men’s sides in the last full week before the Christmas break
Wimbledon 4s 2-6 Ladies 1st XI
The last match of the season was here. As it snow happens, the pitch was frosty and we were like Bambi’s on ice from the get-go, which meant short sharp passes and the ball doing the work. And it did just that. We took advantage of their goalie arriving as the whistle blew (who blames them with a 9.45am start in festive season) and we secured a 1-0 advantage in the first five minutes. This quickly became a 3-0 lead until they had had enough and caught us on the break, putting it 3-1 at half time. The game no longer felt under control as they were quick, skilful and hungry for the back of our net. A half-time chat from our resident wise man Ben Roe told us to not be elf-ish and make the ball do the work and we slotted three myrrh past them. Final score 6-2. We came, we (the pitch) thawed and we conquered. A cracker of a win to finish off the first half of the season and we sit second going into the Christmas break with only 1 point in it.
Ladies 2nd XI 2-4 EUHC Gamblers 1
This week, the Ladies 2’s took on the Gamblers placed top of the table. We were nervous but hyped for the match as the underdogs. The first half started strong for OC’s with some solid passing and distributing the ball across the middle of the pitch. An early long ball was sent to Miggs, who ran past the defence and slipped the ball past the goalie taking us to 1-0. The Gamblers responded and had a lot of quick breaks, where they scored two goals taking the score to 2-1. In the last few minutes of the first half we were awarded a short corner and the whole team went up to the D. The ball went out to Laura who took a strike saved by the keeper. El picked up the rebound and took a reverse hit at the goal, which was also saved. Miggs picked up another rebound and smashed the ball into the goal. Going into the second half 2-2 we were feeling confident and started with a lot of the possession. We were working the ball around them up the pitch with quick short passes, which we are hoping to develop on in the next half of the season. Unfortunately with more fast breaks the Gamblers scored two more goals, with a final score of 4-2. Although it was a loss, the whole team played well and enjoyed the match. MOM – Miggs, for hardwork upfront and two awesome goals.
Ladies 4th XI 5-1 Wimbledon 7s
We had a tricky start to the game prep when Jane told us on Tuesday that we didn’t have a goalie and did anyone have “any ideas or suggestions?”. Radio silence on the WhatsApp group…until the magnificent Michele changed her plans so she could guard the net – what an absolute STAR! It was a dark and stormy night when the Ladies 4s finally stepped onto the pitch. Ok, not quite dark, but nearly, and maybe more rainy than stormy, and all right, only 4pm, but we did make it on to the pitch complete with goalie and four subs. And as a bonus, Dave offered to stay on and sort out the subbing (thanks Dave!). We started like we meant it with Suki setting up some strong runs on the right. It wasn’t long before Colleen scored her first goal striking a well-placed pass from Jenny. Jenny soon put away a second after a back and forth battle in the D. Things evened up a little with the opposition finding their feet and using their speed to make a couple of breaks. They scored and 2-1 at half time seemed unreasonably close. Both teams started the second half strongly but Kirsten, Megan and Holly were consistently snatching the ball and getting great crosses in. Kirsten was beautifully positioned to slot not one but two of these home. And Colleen caught another to give us a great 5-1 victory! Player of the match was Kirsten – great work and great goals 🙂
Men’s 2nd XI 4-2 Spencer 4s
Twas the night before Spencer at home, when all through the club
Not a player was stirring, not even a Cooper
The socks were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that OC’s would soon win here;
The elder men were nestled all snug in their beds;
While visions of three points danced in their heads;
And Bicarrino in his ‘kerchief, and Cook in his cap,
Had just settled their brains for a long winter’s nap,
When out on the pitch there arose such a clatter,
West sprang from his bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the goal the ball flew like a flash,
Tore open the defence and threw up the opposition.
The players on the breast of the new-fallen lead,
Gave a lustre of play to objects below,
When what to Morris’s wondering eyes did appear,
But a miniature Welsh and a full slide goal,
With a little old Sheps so lively and quick,
Harrower knew in a moment he must be St. Stratford.
More rapid than eagles his defence they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name:
“Now, Harrower! now, Tickner! now Perumantri and Russell-Jones!
On, Ladd! on, Roberts! on, Donn and Muhammad!
To the top of the pitch! to the top of the D!
Now press away! Press away! Press away all!”
As leaves that before the wild unpire fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the cut,
So up to the 22 the attackers they flew
With the corners full of toys, and St. Stratford too—
And then, in a twinkling, We heard in the D
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
As We drew another corner, and who was turning around,
Down the chimney St. Stratford came with a bound.
“Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night!”
Scorers: Ben West x2, Sam Biccarino, Ajay Welsh
MOM – Tom Cooper
DOD – David Roberts
Men’s 3rd XI 3-1 Surbiton 4s
On a wet and wind swept Saturday evening at Oaken Lane we bade farewell to our undefeated skipper who, taking over at a troubled time, has marshalled the troops to a 7 game unbeaten run and fittingly ended with our best performance of the season as we overcame promotion rivals Surbiton in a high tempo quality game. Thank you Surbiton for a really good game and 2 excellent umpires who officiated extremely well.
Before the game is expanded on you may all be happy to know that as Christmas approaches Sainsbury’s are selling 4 x 99 125 gram ice creams with a chocolate flake for £3.00. Instead of having 4 Surbiton players wearing a number 99 shirt for Christmas lunch you can instead acquire 4 biscuit cones with chocolate coating filled with vanilla ice cream, milk chocolate flake bar and topped with milk chocolate curls. A bargain. For the record there is a great significance of 9 in China with 99 on the back of Chinese hockey players depicted as 九十九. Since 9 is the highest single-digit number in base 10 the numbers stands for completeness and eternity. The pronunciation is the same with Jiu meaning everlasting. The Chinese belief is that people with the lucky number 9 are able to create an easy and relaxed atmosphere. On the basis of the above one can only assume that Surbiton dish out the 99 shirt, just as we used to give number 69, to the dick of the day or, by having two 9’s in 99 that the second 9 could be a double negative. Their number 99 did not create an easy and relaxed atmosphere although the memory of him is certainly everlasting. Can’t wait until we play the return fixture in March.
Under the lights and fine rain the Oaken pitch played as well as I have seen. The returning Barbadian tourist Scarney had a blinder with the moisture on his bald head giving the image under lights of a mobile mirror reflecting the lights into the oncoming traffic. Oddly the same applied to their 99 but each of the mirrored heads had a completely different effect on the game. Scarney made huge tackle after huge tackle giving us all the confidence that no one would get past. On the other hand the said 99 continually berated his younger team members with their confidence draining away with the cold December rain into the Claygate sewers.
Now that we have a reasonably settled squad with a core of 15 or 16 players, testament to the persuasive nature of skipper Stucks and his desire to win every week that is also part of the whole team’s fabric, we are closing in on the top teams but must win our two postponed games to emphasise our credentials. No Sheps this week who was seen in The Temperance on Friday night and was disciplined by being asked to play for the 2s.
We started the game knowing that the 3 other OC men’s teams that played earlier on Saturday had all won and so pressurising us not to let the club down. We did not. A very solid and fast start saw us dictate terms although Surbiton did have opportunities to cause problems on the break with their younger skillful players causing problems down the right but without really threatening Rosko. Jake C put his dental issues to one side, Monday night’s kebab was a tad dodgy, and started to dominate our left hand side with mirror man and Max ably dealing with all that was thrown on them and regularly releasing Ish down the right. Our midfield also stepped up to the plate and bit by bit dominated the game with our creating chances as the half went on. Eds in his usual prone hockey pitch position was in his regular top predatory position to deflect home a pin point pass from the left of the 25 to outside the right hand post to nudge us ahead. What then followed was right out of the pantomime season with the said 99 beginning his festive season by coming out with some cracking comedy lines. The highlight was undoubtedly his engagement with Lewi that ended up with him saying “hey old man you are out of touch” to which Knappy replied “don’t talk to my son like that”. 99 followed up with “your lip is legendary so back off”. Following our first goal we continued to press and should have scored at least one more before half time as we created a number of excellent chances before half time.
Although the oppo were losing we knew that they would press us as, being above us in the league, they too needed a win and had a dangerous weapon with long pin point aerials from their center back that did cause us problems. However the number of aerials diminished as the game went on and this assisted us. Our second goal came slightly against the run of play with Jake not being picked up as he came though the middle to tomahawk home to score our second from the top of the D putting us in a good position. Our game to lose at that point. The game possible turned on a golden chance for Surbiton when their 99 broke from the half way line having the half to himself with only Rosko to beat. Thankfully he made a hash of the opportunity possibly tripping over his lip when in a good position.
Max made a top and solid intervention to keep the score at 2 – 0 before Surbiton snuck one back with 15 to go. We did fall into the trap of defending too deep when under pressure in dealing with the press but once that was recognised and changes made we again looked dangerous on the break. The tireless running of Crofty, Coppers, Lewi and Stucks in the midfield created problems. Help came our way when 99 made way for 2 minutes, the only card of the keenly contested game. With about 5 minutes to go Kenty picked the ball up on the bye line, drew the keeper out, dummied him onto the floor and lifted the ball to the far post where Emmers was on hand to expertly finish in tennis style to nudge the ball home. Whether or not the ball had already crossed the line we do not know but Emmers made sure. The new Virge has been anointed as Emmers goal scoring distance totals 1 metre for all his 2021-22 season. Unsurprisingly the fizz went out of Surbiton at this point and we ran out 2 goals to the good.
Words were passed after the final whistle before the handbags were put back into the cars and we all dispersed having had 8 very competitive and decent games of hockey in what is a good tight league. An excellent first half of the season that now needs to be at least repeated in the second half as Stucks disappears off to Qatar, the party capital of the world, and we disappear for our annual festivities. Have a good one everyone and can’t wait until the battles resume in a month’s time.