By Rachel Mann
Was the warm up too much?
The second year of ‘Mastery’ commenced today in glorious weather at Basingstoke Hockey Club. We approached the fixture against last year’s Masters of Masters – who had not lost a game last year - with some trepidation, especially as we were in their backyard.
Our fear was slightly fuelled by a distinct lack of players on our part, and missing some top names too, but the noble 12 assembled in good time and in good spirits. During team talk in the changing room Captain Mannering delivered the killer blow news that, despite previous instructions, we were to wear navy socks. The brave 12 stomped out on to the pitch ahead of their oppo looking dapper in club colours and they were quickly bullied into a tough stretching and warm up routine by Mini Rooke and Mini Maidlow (hard task masters!). The team just walked off in disgust when, after all the exercises, they asked us to run around the pitch. That wasn’t happening.
We battled our way through the first half, though there was rather a lot of defending for comfort. Basingstoke were jolly, full of chat, and confident and their two Amazonian sticks in the middle of the pitch were a force to be reckoned with. Their passing was slick and controlled and about half way into the half they broke quickly from a rare Reading short corner and left Reading caught short with far too many defenders committed up field, scoring a beautiful goal at the far post.
1-0 down at half time. The chat involved deep heat, various body parts injured and far too much politeness in offering to be the Billy no-mates side-line sub.
Perhaps not as invigorated by the ‘rest’ as we would have liked (perhaps because we spent so long trying to catch breath and to apply said deep heat), 5 minutes into the second half we found ourselves asking the umpire how much time was left on the clock. Nonetheless, following a positive string of passes out of defence, Trixi slotted the ball through to Sarah who powerfully drove the ball into the D and fired it home. Basingstoke then realised that their jolliness had to stop and they had to get down to the business of winning. They packed out their midfield with tall and speedy folk and only went and scored another.
Never mind, somehow we came back at them again, and with probably only our fifth shot on goal in the whole game Reading netted a stonking goal from Jeanette which hoodwinked their ‘keeper beautifully. The disgruntled oppo commented on how Reading ‘only wake up when they are down in the game’. Maybe so, but what happened next was a thing of pure beauty.
We held out attack after attack, and even managed a few rare attacks of our own! Sacrifices were made by the various defenders; Sarah literally ran out of puff, Bev very angrily took another blow to the foot; Thai Di, Rachel and Amanda were whizzing left and right in the D; Sue tried to sort out the two thin sticks in the middle of the pitch who were belting the ball all over the place; and Trix and Deb were left to scoop up the pieces and try to make something for Liv and Laura to work with up front.
The hero of our game was undoubtedly No Knickers Nicky in goal, (you have to ask her…) who was on fire and denied Basingstoke again and again. The best moment of the second half was No Knickers’ face when the umpire told her there were still 13 agonizing minutes left on the clock and she informed us that her thigh was ‘falling apart’ and she wasn’t sure she could manage to finish the game. She did and so did her thigh.
We romped home with a squeaky 2-2 draw. Yay us!
Thanks to Umpire Jo for standing in at the last minute, and a very big welcome to Deb, you were awesome and a perfect addition to the Masters Crew :)
(and thanks to Sue for the match report)