Last weekend a Boys U14 squad traveled to the Channel Islands for two days of Hockey in Guernsey.
The seven a side tournament on the first day against Elizabeth College, Guernsey and Churcher College, Hampshire who were also visiting the island was an adjustment back to a year ago for most of the boys.
The format can be very difficult if you don't get a good start and that's what happened to the A team, for the first 5-10 minutes of the first game they were playing some good hockey but when a goal or two went in they looked deflated and couldn't find a way back. It was obvious it was hurting but they continued to play with pride despite not being able to advance to the final stages.
The B team, conversely, clicked early on and Nihal's goals moved them through to the group stages where they had to cope with some partisan support during the semi-final and in to the penalty shuttles. Losing out on shuttles to the eventual winners was the team's first real setback, but they responded magnificently in the 3/4th game and the boys who had missed the first two shuttles were the first to volunteer to go again. This time we got it right and Henry's save and Ollie's goal gave the team the least they deserved on the day with third place.
The second day's Hockey against Guernsey and Churcher College started with a game against our hosts, which was fast and furious, both sides played some great attacking hockey but a couple of goals in the first half gave the boys a lot of work to do. Some neat passing gave Dobby a chance in the D and we were back in the game at 2-1.
However it wasn't to be and despite sustained pressure in the second half where we controlled the ball and Toby made some great penetrating passes we couldn't find a way back in and Guernsey added a third to wrap up the win.
After a break we faced Churcher College who had lost by the odd goal to Guernsey. Despite trying a different set-up Reading conceded two soft goals early on. The guys responded with some better defending and an incredible amount of work in midfield, with Will and Nat seemingly everywhere, however Churcher, in a good position, were prepared to defend resolutely and there was no coming back. It was disappointing from a hockey perspective but both games were played with energy and pace.
Will Franklin was named overall player of the tournament by the organisers for both his play and his sportsmanship on the field.
Of course, hockey is not the only part of the tour experience, the boys, sporting the club colours were ambassadors for Reading Hockey from start to finish.
We were complimented by two sets of hotel guests on the conduct of the team in the restaurant and hotel and we got to see some of the island on our travels. Max managed to recover most of his belongings from their various resting places, once the other boys had taken to reminding him to check he had everything and everyone got home in one piece.
We'd like to thank Nigel and our hosts in Guernsey who after visiting us last year offered us the opportunity to travel and mainly thank Tony Clark who arranged everything, planes, hotel, hoodies, badges, stickers, mini-buses and dinner and can presumably now get back to his real job. Thanks Tony
Congratulations to Henry, Ollie, Toby, Nathan, Max, Nat, Will, Dobby, Sam, Nihal , Dom, Harrison, Andy.
The only remaining question is where do we go next year?