Rustlers Win League Cup
By Tim Armitage
Playing our final game of the year as the Rustlers we faced Hampstead & Westminster in the final of the League Cup, having comprehensively beaten a strengthened Southgate 5-2 the previous week.
With a strong squad we continued where we had left off last week. Hampstead warmed up with vigour and intent whilst the Rustlers maintained their customary more laid back approach, but come the whistle it was the Rustlers faster out of the blocks. Playing through Rippo in centre midfield we dominated the early stages of the game, holding possession comfortably and making Hampstead work hard for the ball. Our pressure converted into two early short corners and a well worked slip saw us score from our second. As we relaxed into the game a little more some of our play was exemplary: fast, one touch hockey moving the ball swiftly through midfield – this was some of the best hockey we have played in many years and frankly no team in the league could have lived with us. We went into half time 3-0 up, absolutely in charge.
Hampstead were not quite ready to roll over and despite continued pressure it took a little while (and many fine saves from the Hampstead GK) to score our 4th and by then the game was dead. Missing Wally Hammond and their feisty Dutchman, Hampstead struggled to find any form of rhythm. Rav was called upon to make a couple of good saves, but they rarely threatened despite the efforts of the umpires who added a little slapstick and had the crowd (amply fuelled with alcohol following their own finals) roaring with laughter at the odd decision. Some special moments were Paxo being hacked several times when in possession in our 25 – the whistle blew and we took a quick free hit, a swift transfer and Coops rounding the keeper to score…. only to find the umpire had given the hit against Paxo for a stick tackle. Rav made a good block from a shot, the rebound went high but dropped harmlessly in space in the D and a short corner was awarded just as it landed (apparently ‘it would have been dangerous if someone had run in’). Meanwhile at the other end the keeper hoofed a ball at shoulder height through a crowd of players and Coops connected with it at the top of the D. No short corner, and Coops warned that if he made another ‘wild swing at the ball’ he would be sent off. And back at the other end a clean jab tackle through a stationary opponents legs as he stood with his back to the goal resulted in another short corner because ‘you can’t tackle from there – if he’d moved you might have tripped him up’!
Happily these moments made not a jot of difference to the game and both sides benefitted (or lost out) from a few howlers each – but the nature of the errors was a little disappointing and a closer game could have been impacted more.
We ended at 5-0: Tim Armitage bagging a hat trick, Terry Pollard a Hollywood finish high into the net…. and I’m afraid I forget who got the other.
This really was vintage Rustlers, our three travelling spectators agreeing it was certainly the finest performance of the year. Everyone in the squad played really well in what was a highly enjoyable way to round off our League season.
Our thanks to Barty for all his hard work this and every other year in marshalling and cajoling to ensure that we almost always get all our teams out – and for providing a structure which gives us all the opportunity to play. He puts in a huge amount of work behind the scenes for which we are all hugely grateful.
Just the O50 Cup Final on Monday 6 May at 1pm at Lea Valley to go…….