ARTHUR’S DAY at Woking Hockey Club on 24th July 2011

Sunday 24th July 2011, Goldsworth Park, Woking. Beautiful sunny day, almost too hot. What better setting for a celebration of Arthur Barber’s 70 year association with the game, his immeasurable contributions to Woking hockey since 1953, and, later, from the early 1980’s, his tireless enthusiasm for promoting the wonderful growth and popularity of super veterans hockey, in particular his work for Ancient Britons and LX. To this end, with a little champagne hockey in mind, a meeting of four teams, Woking, Ancient Britons, LX and SGM Lions, was secretively arranged by Rod Cochrane, with essential assistance from Katy Robinson and Barry Oliver, who handled the local logistics.

In addition to a splendid number of other supporters of all ages, the occasion was also illumined by the presence of some of the earliest members of AB’s and LX, notably John Gordon, Eugene Murphy, Tom Darlington, Phil Realff, David and Judy Robson, Mike and Wendy Beaney,  Mike Greenhough, Bob Clark, Gerald Wilkinson, Ian Russell  and Colin Pinks A great pleasure to see you all again.

So it came to pass, shortly after 1.00pm, under the coaxing direction of ‘Sergeant Major’ Cochrane, that a company of some 100 players, umpires and spectators was paraded with military precision on the astroturf in time for Arthur’s arrival. Whether or not all this actually came as a surprise to him is open to conjecture, but Arthur eased seamlessly into the role of ‘Colonel in Chief’ and proceeded to a leisurely inspection of the ‘troops’. A friendly smile, a few encouraging words and a handshake for everyone, kisses for the ladies and then it was time for the presentation.  

Despite dark mutterings about the impossibility of trying to work from hugely unwieldy JPEG images, David Gill had created a most handsome commemorative plaque featuring the armorial bearings of Woking, AB’s and LX. This was duly presented to Arthur after a glowing tribute from Richard Clarke, who spoke with his usual eloquence, albeit whilst referring occasionally to an aide-memoir of Arthur’s many achievements.

Now for the hockey. An agreeable formula for a mini tournament of four 35 minute games had been devised. After the first 2 games, there would be a play off for 3rd and 4th between the losers, followed by the final between the winners. In the event of a draw, sudden death penalty flicks to be taken by opposing captains.


GAME 1  Woking Pitts v SGM Lions.   0-0 at full time. Pitts won 2-1 on penalty flicks

Considering the oldest side were pitted, (no pun intended!), against the youngest, a surprisingly well balanced contest in the early stages, with both teams displaying excellent passing and movement. Further into the game, Lions, necessarily needing to build more patiently with players committed forward, were occasionally vulnerable to pacy counterattacks.  However, both defences remained generally on top, and some 20 minutes had passed before Pitts won their first short corner, a fierce shot narrowly wide. Shortly afterwards, following a goalmouth melee, Lions were again relieved to see the ball squeak past the post. At the other end, Lions were able to construct a number of promising situations in the Pitts 22, but, with the home side quick to reinforce their numbers, were unable to achieve much penetration against a compressed defence. So, 0-0 at full time and into the shoot out. David Wright, Lions v  Gihan Thabrew, and Paul Bloomfield , Pitts v Mike Fripp. 1) Pitts’, saved. Lions’, missed. 2) Pitts’, scored. Lions’, scored. 3) Pitts’, scored. Lions’, saved.

First class umpiring by David and Judy Robson.


GAME 2   Ancient Britons v LX     AB’s won 2-1

Another catchweight contest in terms of age, although nowhere near the disparity of the first game, but much more one-sided. In no time at all, with LX struggling to contain the magic of Mukesh Phakey, AB’s could have been 2 or 3 up, but for profligate finishing and sterling work by Barry Sewell in goal. Gradually however, LX found their way back into the game and occasionally gained a toehold in the opposition half. Unfortunately, committing players forward in support inevitably left space for AB’s to play on the break. Anxious 2 on 2 situations developed, eventually culminating in a penalty flick adroitly converted by Colin Newman. 20 minutes gone. AB’s in front. 5 minutes later, more trouble, as the LX defence found themselves outflanked by another counterattack. Tap-in for Jon Beale. (Thanks Arthur, for providing these names, and others later)

Commendably, notwithstanding this further setback, LX continued to improve their play and late pressure earned well deserved short corners. Secondary action from the first of these saw an acceptable chance go begging, but shortly afterwards in similar circumstances, David Gill was bang on the money with a perfectly directed snap shot inside the left post. So, finally, 2-1 to AB’s, who probably thought they should have won more easily.

Unobtrusive authority from Ian Marsh and Eugene Murphy.


GAME 3   LX v SGM Lions     0-0 at full time. LX won 3-2 on penalty flicks

In the tournament order of play, a minor penalty for losing the 2nd game was having to take the field again soon after against the losers of the 1st game. Thus LX came to be opposed to Lions, who had had more time to get their breath back. With both sides full of very familiar faces, there were no surprise packages on the pitch, nor much age difference.

As it turned out, any benefit from a longer rest proved illusory. LX got out of the blocks distinctly quicker and had the better of early exchanges, while Lions struggled a little to recover their previous good form. After a while though, Lions did manage to get their act together and moved upfield with some measure of permanence, mounting uncomfortable presses in the LX defensive third. Further forward however, life became more difficult for them in the face of obdurate resistance, around the edges from wing halves Mick O’Malley and Adrian Money, but, outstandingly, from full backs, David Read and Gurney White, and goalkeeper Barry Sewell, who bossed the circle with great authority.

Pivotal moments came and went, in LX’s favour. Eschewing earlier failed attempts by force majeure, Brian Tubb essayed a delicious lob, only to see Barry bat it out of harm’s way with astonishing agility. (How long’s it been Tubbs?!). Moments later, Gurney’s turn to be a hero, as his do or die block literally plucked David Wright’s shot out of mid-air.

All this is not to say that LX had no play elsewhere. Captain Richard Clarke had set out his stall to good effect, cleverly rotating Nigel Spencer Knott, David Gill and Austyn Leaverland around himself to ensure an energetic and competitive midfield. These players worked assiduously throughout to help in defence and combine with forwards Alan Jackson, Keith Hunt, Mike Sprange and Tony Jones to give Lions some of their own medicine. LX may have ridden their luck at times, but well deserved the 0-0 full time score for a very determined team performance. So, penalty flicks again. Suffice it to say that Lions blinked first.

Genially controlled by Mike and Wendy Beaney

 A word of appreciation for Richard Clarke. As captain, he may come across a shade commanding at times, but his teams are always well organised, he is adept at encouraging the maximum out of available resources, and he never fails to set an inspiring example on the pitch. Thank you Richard, and well done.

As for Lions, playing without a natural goalscorer, they looked a bit blunt at the front, but over their two games, had plenty of reasons to be pleased with their general play. With the full squad, they should be in good shape for more serious encounters to come.         

Teams :-  

LX:-  B.Sewell (GK), D.G.Read, G.White, R.Clark, M.O’Malley, R.Clarke (Capt), A.Money, A.Leaverland, N. Spencer Knott, D.Gill, K.Hunt, A.Jackson, M.Sprange, A.Jones

GGM Lions:-  M.Fripp (GK), J.Longden, G.Hazell, A.Holden, D.Wright (Capt), C.Pearce, B.Woolcott, P.Danson, B.Tubb, G.Wilkinson, P.Ross           


Arthur surveying the troops

GAME 4    Woking Pitts v Ancient Britons  Pitts won 1-0

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the final was contested between the two youngest teams, although Pitts still had a few years in their favour. Both sides showed a marked penchant for getting forward quickly and, from the outset, play was a stirring spectacle of thrust and counterthrust, with neither team gaining any lasting ascendancy until late on. Brian Clough once famously said “You know where running will get you – into the 4th division”. Different game of course, but definitely not so here. There was any amount of enviable running in evidence, and little of it wasted as both sets of players passed the ball accurately and maintained a high tempo.

Eventually something had to give. 15 minutes or so in, another quick break by Pitts caught AB’s a little short at the back once too often. A mistimed tackle was punished with a penalty flick, emphatically buried into the left side netting by John McKimmie. 3 or 4 minutes later and more tribulation for AB’s. Mukesh Phakey suffered a traumatic neck injury and severe friction burns to his face after a heavy fall. A lengthy delay ensued before it was deemed safe for him to move. (Fortunately he was later able to recover sufficiently to receive his well earned ‘Player of the Tournament’ award, and has subsequently been cleared by the medics of any lasting ill effects).

When play resumed, AB’s had clearly lost the main focus of their attack, allowing Woking gradually to establish a degree of territorial dominance. However, with Phil Hall in consummate form at sweeper, further damage was averted and AB’s rallied themselves for one last attempt to get on terms. In the dying moments, a shot into the side board, a golden opportunity missed from one short corner and a second short corner awarded seconds before the full time whistle. Alas it was not to be. AB’s captain, Tony Perryman was full of praise for his team’s performance, (but admitted to being mightily relieved it didn’t go to penalties!).         

A1 umpiring by David Wareham and Chris Burton Brown   

After the last game, players and remaining spectators headed for the pavilion, to join a happy, chattering throng already there as old acquaintances were revived and new ones formed. The Woking Club had laid on a delicious mild curry with various cheesecakes for sweets which were avidly consumed along with suitably decorous quantities of beer and soft drinks. With hunger and thirst assuaged, it was time for speeches.

First, Rod Cochrane, to thank everyone for their attendance and particularly Woking HC for their hospitality and support in making this such a memorable day. Second, Paul Bloomfield, whose opening remarks caused much amusement with a humorous account of vainly searching for someone who was already at the club when Arthur joined.  He moved on to pay tribute to Arthur’s lifelong commitment to the club and his many and various good works, not only for hockey, but equally to the life and well being of the local community, before presenting Arthur with a bottle of something special as a small token of appreciation. Gerald Wilkinson next, who read the text from a scroll he had written for Arthur commemorating his big hand in the formation of LX and his contribution during 5 years in office as the club’s first president. After accepting this, Arthur graciously acknowledged all the accolades from his well wishers, pointing out modestly that he had not quite finished yet as he was still president of Woking. In conclusion he offered the advice “Keep playing, you’ll live longer”. We would all do well to heed his words.          


Report by Adrian Money