11th November 2017
Hampstead and Westminster Men's 1s were at home to Premier league newcomers Sevenoaks on Saturday afternoon, and looking for a vital 3 points to keep the pressure on the top 4.
Hampstead have recently started finding some good form, and it didn't take long for the home side to score. Welsh international Rupert Shipperley finding the back of the next on 9 minutes, and less than ten minutes late Hampstead found themselves with a commanding 3-0 lead after a brace from Josh Kelly.
Hampstead controlled proceedings well for the rest of the half, not allowing the disruptive tactics of the Sevenoaks side to break the flow of the game, but unable to beat the Sevenoaks goal keeper again, and Going in to half time still 3 goals up.
Less than 60 seconds into the second half, GB's Harry Martin converted a Penalty Corner for Hampstead and Westminster before travelling to Germany for a series of international friendlies.
The home team were disappointed not to keep their clean sheet as Sevenoaks neatly converted a penalty corner 10 mins in to make it 4-1. Before Hampstead's own Penalty Corner specialist Matt Guise-Brown put away his 5th goal of the season, and Michael Watt completed the scoring with 2 minutes left on the clock to make it 6-1.
The win moved Hampstead and Westminster into the top 4, with two massive games to play before the Christmas break. Next week they welcome 3rd placed Holcome to Paddington Recreation Ground, before travelling to 5th placed East Grinstead the week after - all 3 teams separated by just 2 points.
Result: Hampstead 6 – 1 Sevenoaks
Hampstead and Westminster Ladies' 1s traveled to south London on Sunday for their biggest test of the season so far against last seasons champions Wimbledon. An important game for table topping Hampstead, looking to maintain their 100% start to the season after 8 wins, with Wimbledon 3rd in the table just 3 points behind the leaders.
Both sides started the game with good energy and it looked like it would be an open game from the first few minutes.
Hampstead however were first to score, an early goal from Lauren Turner who finished off a rebound from the goalie, to put Hampstead on the front foot 1-0 up. Wimbledon are always a dangerous attacking side and the league's top scorer, Olympic gold medalist Crista Cullen pulled the home team level on 10 minutes from a trade mark penalty corner flick.
It was an open game with possession and turn overs on both sides. Hampstead continued to have break throughs and won their first penalty corner of the game, a straight strike from the top from captain Annebeth Wijtenburg made it 2-1 on 24 minutes.
The second half was again one of good standard. Joyce Esser scored Hampstead and Westminster's 3rd ten minutes into the second half, flicking another penalty corner.
With 3-1 on the score board it was tough for Wimbledon to come back and Hampstead played with confidence and exposure.
With 5 minutes remaining on the clock, Wimbledon gambled and took off their goalkeeper to play with 11 outfield players, and the move paid off, being rewarded a flurry of penalty corners in the closing minutes of the game, but Hampstead's defensive corner team remained strong, with some important saves from GK Roxy Gianfrancesco to keep the score to an important 3-1 win for the away team.
An important win for Hampstead, but with an equally tough opponent next week, as they travel to second placed Sevenoaks on Saturday, both teams desperate to maintain that 100% record and the perfect first half of the season, and crucially pull clear at the top of the table.
Result: Hampstead 3 – 1 Wimbledon
Saturday featured a great sporting legacy brought down by hubris and arrogance.
No, not Linford Cicero Christie himself, banned for Nandrolone in 1999, before setting up an all-weather pitch in West London to support his preferred sport of hockey, but the Zaks - laid low by an addiction to passing to the other team, missing tackles, and whingeing at umpires.
The warm up was a shambles. Liam outlined his recent evening out with Macca’s sister, Mikey was forced to stay at his flat and provide a “special tour” to his amorous landlady, Spoony lost his phone and didn’t make it (potentially “Peak Spoony”) and T-Bag and Christophe struggled with Doddsy’s (frankly average) directions. Since Mike had the balls, the warm up was spent standing around in the cold whilst Dicko hit his own ball against the fence really hard. On his own.
The game started soon after, and most of the team decided that Dicko’s approach was the correct one and opted to keep the ball to themselves as much as possible. The defending was equally shonky - having failed to give away a foul in the D on three consecutive occasions, Alex decided to make sure on the fourth one by running into Doddsy’s clearance then trying to push his man over. The resulting corner was saved initially before a frankly hideous topped shot bobbled into the bottom left hand corner.
That provided a wake up call and the Zaks gradually took control - the OGs ran hard but without much invention, and our superior skill in the midfield saw us take over. Particularly with Grounds charging down all their short corners, like a balding and more erudite Chris Reid.
Eventually, despite messing up another 15 of our own short corners, we equalized on the stroke of halftime. 1-1. It was probably Macca but I was busy getting the masks from behind the goal.
With all to play for in the second half, the Zaks entered the customary “Zaks 10 minutes” for a record-breaking 35 minutes. As the ball ping-ponged back and forth through the quagmire of the midfield, and the OGs quickly working out that they could get any decision they wanted from the neutral umpire by simply by asking for it, only another heroic goalkeeping performance from Doddsy kept the Zaks in it.
The decision to grow out his beard has coincided with some excellent form, akin to his 2005-6 season where he narrowly missed out on the DUHC M3s MVP to Tom Peacock (14 votes to 2). Is it his OCD-style insistence on 3 poached eggs (for exactly 3 and a half minutes) with smoked salmon every match day, switching to nespresso coffee instead of Starbucks Flat Whites, or Uber-ing to every game, that has seen Dodds become comfortably our best and most important player? This observer isn’t sure, but it’s clear that his magnificence is keeping the Zaks in title contention. A flurry of excellent saves kept the game at 1-1.
Then there was a goal which was all Tom’s fault, or maybe it was Alex’s man. It may have even been Macca’s man, because he was so insistent to say “guys it doesn’t matter whose fault it was” which is exactly what I would say if I had made a mistake. Or I’d blame Dicko, especially since he doesn’t have any video evidence to back him up this week. Anyway, 2-1z
The Zaks then spent the final 3 minutes bafflingly playing keep ball in the bottom right corner, presumably happy with a 2-1 defeat. We then let our visitors go back for teas without us as we make a welcome return to being “famously the worst blokes in the entire world”.
Tom gets DoD for his immediate insistence that it couldn’t have been his fault. Dodds once again wins MoM because he is like Simon Mason crossed with, Beefy, Neville Southall and Peter Schmeichel, and definitely nothing like “Prince” George Pinner.
Result: Hampstead 1 – 2 Old Georgians
“There once was a team called the sevens,
Who had a fondness for controlling possession,
They drink jägerbombs
They get all ‘les hommes’
And they look like they fell down from heaven!”
Saturday morning dawned bright and early, although not for the sevens who had the luxury of a 3pm home start time...which we obviously took full advantage of to make sure we were well rested having been in bed early the night before our match (ahem). For those unfamiliar, see the third and fourth line of the above to see what a typical Friday night for a 7 is like.
Despite this, the 7s were keen to maintain their 100% hit rate in the league so far with another strong win, and did not disappoint with another solid performance.
The first half started off a bit scrappy, however we quickly took advantage of a team unused to the experience that is playing on the Tiger Turf and scored our first three goals in quick succession (with Tomi, Greasley and Anna doing the honours). Sadly the oppo then took advantage of us having a little rest to score their first goal. We pulled ourselves together, and followed it up with a cheeky goal from Anske, making an impressive debut on team! A couple of breaks from the oppo then led to another goal from them, but Anna rounded off the first half with a picture perfect goal, leaving the score at 5-2 half time.
Play in the second half was cleaner and we took advantage of this to work on our new tactics - massive thank you to AB and Hayley from the L1s for helping us out here! Cleaner, that is, with the exception of a bit of stick throwing (any excuse) and some own team tackles...but Kim decided to take a break from kicking the ball so all in all we call it a success. We then took a few breaks whilst we watched the refs play some football. Kim didn't join in, so it seems Kim is learning and does know the difference between hockey and football?! Our captain Immy then scored a final goal, leaving the end result at 6-2!
The second victory of the day was had when the oppo didn’t complain to the ref for wearing too short a skirts..looks like we all learnt our lesson from last season and applied some hockey tactics other than “distraction”.
MoM - Anna for some cracking goals.
DoD - Steph...reason undetermined. I don’t think any of us really got over her playing in sparkly wedge trainers a few weeks ago so lets blame it on that.
Result: Hampstead 6 - 2 Eastcote
Even with a full squad, Reading away is a challenge. With 10 men and no keeper it’s a potential suicide mission. However Bjorn’s late availability got us up to 11 and we had the junior goalie kit; things were looking up. The question was: who was going to wear it?
The beginning of the week had started so well – a full squad with reserves and a keeper – 3 points was a distinct possibility. But by Thursday, the trials of middle life and double maths had taken their toll. And, despite calling up every over-40 goalkeeper in the south of England there were no takers. By Friday night our ambition was much diminished: simply to turn up (to avoid the 3 point penalty for late cancellation) and anything better than a 5 nil deficit would be a result.
Meanwhile in the car on the way down, lots were being drawn. At one point Chunder’s mate, who was coming to watch, was the answer but his late arrival ruled him out (the fact that he had never played hockey before let alone goalkeeper was irrelevant!) Eventually the lot fell on Saxby, who whilst it took a bit of time to work out how all the various pieces of keeper paraphernalia fit together, eventually took to the pitch heavily disguised as a hockey goalie.
The opposition were not fooled however and at the first short corner they could sense the fear through the visor. However they could n’t break us down; Hampstead’s defensive back four (Mason, Lavery, Hovvy and Franc) were holding firm and the midfield and attack was creating chances. 15 minutes into the game, and against all the odds, we found ourselves one up after Jay shelled a cross in for Edo to deflect. Unfortunately the lead was cancelled out when Hovvy blotted an otherwise solid performance with a stray pass to their forwards creating a two-on-one against the virgin keeper that got them back on equal terms.
But would you believe it, we kept at them and were back in the lead ten minutes later after a melee in their D fell to Edo to push over the line for his second. We were in fact unlucky not to get another as Boud’s flick was cleared off the line and we went into the half 2 -1 up. Was this going to be an epic performance; a tale to be retold to your grandchildren in years to come? The lads were tired, there were no substitutes, the junior kit was a bit tight in the crotch region, the opposition’s international masters were against us – nevertheless could a miracle be pulled off?
We continued to frustrate Reading and despite several green cards, meaning we were actually only 10 men on the pitch for much of the second half, Reading were struggling to make inroads. 15 minutes into the second half and still 2 -1 ahead, but the pressure was building. Their breakthrough came from a short corner – Franc was adjudged to have broken early and so was sent to the half way line – 3 defenders and a novice keeper against Reading’s international masters was a bit like turning to a gun fight with a knife and they duly equalised. Still, even a draw was a result and we did have our own chances, but the short corner routine was off and in a counter-attack down the right Reading managed to bundle the third to put them ahead and the fourth came as a bit of generosity from the keeper that finally sunk our hopes.
The fairy tale was not to be, but this was a gutsy performance that made you proud to wear the Hampstead shirt.
MOM: Will (four goals is a clean sheet!)
DoD: Hovvy – (suicide cross pass)
Scorer: Jamie Edington x2
Result: Hampstead 2 4 Reading
It was Remembrance Day and to be fair we played as if our minds were elsewhere with a very scary performance that was more akin to Fright Night or some other horror show .
To start with our provided Umpires had done a runner ( maybe knew what was coming ) so we had to recruit from out own ranks as we had promised the opposition 2 umpires . To be fair they did turn up about 10 minutes into the match but the dye had been cast and we took one new umpire and retained one of our own .
At half-time I listened to team talk and to be honest believed that they were referring to a different match to that I had been umpiring in first half . We had no control of the game and every time we tried to pass and move we lost possession and/ or kicked the ball or lost control .
All the running and ideas were from the opposition and little wonder we were on wrong end of score at HT
For the only time this season I can honestly say it was a shambles from start to end. There was no passion and communication in the team and many were running around like headless chickens . The performance had that rustiness that I would expect from first game in season. SuperVets weren’t sharp enough or aggressive enough . We were playing to go top of the League and the performance fell miles below the level needed to deliver a result. To be blunt we were taken out of our comfort zone and could not put in a positive reaction
We move on to play Tring in Trophy next week where we expect a more determined , professional and clinical performance
MofM – 2 tied for first place but not worthy of comment
DofD - Dave D ( third goal gift ) and Ben R ( withdrawal of labour )
Special Mention John IM for travelling back especially from Brussels for the match to honour a commitment – Thanks and appreciate and shame rest could not match .
Result: Hampstead 1 – 3 Tulse Hill & Dulwich
Zaks Cup Game
The Zak Hond’s glorious National Cup run was finally ended by East Grinstead 1st XI on Sunday.
All signs pointed to a Zaks win. After a gritty loss the day before, we’d definitely got the worst bits of hockey out of our system. Dicko was fired up from the knowledge that his hero, Sir Winston Churchill, had been a resident of the area, and childhood train enthusiast Doddsy was excited about a potential trip on the Bluebell railway. We’d also cunningly released two players (without replacements), to make sure everyone knew how fierce competition for places was. The antipodean contingent of Stockers, Rubber and newbie Zander had spent their Saturday evening at a spa and presumably juicing, which proved almost too successful as all three were still purging by the time the warm up started. Macca had picked up a niggle chasing around after the Ladies 4s, but the team’s second most important player insisted he was good to play.
Perhaps understandably, in the face of a world class opposition and at least 7 severe hangovers, the Zaks made an iffy start. The back 4 were kept busy by a skillful and mobile forward line (all their team were both skillful and mobile, as it turned out) and we struggled to get a foothold in the game. The hosts eventually took the lead, the Zaks being flummoxed, much like National Rail in the 1990s, by a surfeit of leaves on the line*. A period of sustained pressure followed, as Doddsy decided to try and get his save ratio up by consistently passing the first shot back to the oppo, having to deliver a quadruple save at one point pretty much by accident. Eventually the pressure told and EG gained a 2-0 cushion, potentially a decisive scoreline.
However, this Zaks team is made of stern stuff, and some smart work from Eddie released Macca and Stockers to pull the game back to 2-1. Macca, thinking that we’d broken the will of the hosts, and would surely go on to crush them, smelt blood. The hirsute Social Sec attempted one sprint too many and, much like Usain Bolt in his final race, was the victim of his own awesome explosive power and pulled a hamstring. Arguably this represented the turning point in the match, and blunted our heretofore devastating counter attacking game.
The game remained very even until the 34th minute, whereupon East Grinstead, aided by some dodgy umpiring, got 8 lucky goals in succession, ultimately shading the contest 10-1.
On another day, the Zaks will feel they could have come away with a result and any impartial observers would agree that East Grinstead were lucky to win. All in all though, a brilliant performance that once again proves that when the mood takes them, this Zak Hond team is more than capable of competing at National Prem level.
Man of the match could, in truth go to almost anyone - with Bauer, Dicko and Mikey particularly impressing - but must go to Spoony, on his almost-glorious return to his first club. Dick of the day should probably go to Dicko for breaking his stick, though that did at least provide a perfect visual metaphor for both the result and his preferred method of tackling.
Spencer 4s are up next - yet another trophy to play for, though since the Zaks are now indisputably the third best team in the club, we’re awaiting an FIH ruling on whether the “best fourth team in the country/world” trophy is on offer next Saturday. Either way, let’s take 3 points. And buy a trophy pronto.
*this joke works on multiple levels, I’m very proud of it.
Result: Hampstead 1 – 10 East Grinstead