LX Tour to Padua, Italy
on 7th - 9th September 2007
Padua in September seemed like a good idea to a number of LXers when the tournament was announced earlier in the year ... and to their wives! No one was disappointed. The weather was ideal dry, sunny and warm verging on hot. The hotel was only a short walk from the ground and a bit further into the centre of the city, so even though the games played were abbreviated to 20 minutes each way everyone got plenty of exercise, and those who felt that they hadn't enough got the opportunity to play in the Over 40 competition for HC Wien, who had come with only seven players after a number of last-minute drop- outs. There were four teams in our Over 60 section - LX, Egypt, Italy and Scottish Thistles. Egypt were our first opponents and seemed to be carrying less weight and moving rather more freely than we remembered from Leverkusen. Although we went ahead early on from a Graham George deflection Egypt quickly came back to equalise with what proved to be the only goal to get past John Ingram-Marriott and the LX defence over the whole weekend. As half time approached the score was still 1-1 and LX realised that this was no push-over.
Adrian Stephenson got a second just before the break but it was not until the last quarter that two strikes from Jim Tranter gave LX a slightly flattering 4-1 win. Scottish Thistles were the opponents the next afternoon and as ever they were really up for the challenge. LX members had however spent most of the morning wandering around Padua and looked more as though they needed a rest rather than a game of hockey. Luckily the defence held firm while the team struggled up front to make opportunities. A 0-0 draw was disappointing but not disastrous, as the Scots had only drawn 1-1 with Italy the day before. We now needed to beat Italy on the final morning to make certain of winning the tournament. After an excellent Gala Dinner at the Officers' Club in Padua we were on parade at 10am. Italy came out determined to restore some pride having been beaten 2-1 by Egypt the previous day and once again LX were made to work hard to keep on top. Opportunities to score came and went and a single goal from Adrian Stephenson after a marauding run by Richard Clarke gave LX a narrow 1-0 lead at half time. Excellent midfield play saw many more chances created and squandered in the second half leaving the LX defence no opportunity to relax. Luckily they contained the Italian breaks and it was still 1-0 at the final whistle. This narrow win turned out to be a vital three points. A draw would not have been enough as later that morning the Egyptians beat the Scots 2-0 to finish only one point behind in second place. While we didn't exactly overwhelm our opposition our social - but highly experienced - side did well to beat three near-national teams. John Ingram-Marriott was decisive in his area and ever alert despite appearing to play throughout every day for various teams in the Over 40s tournament.
John Widgery and George Hazell defied the odds on several occasions when outnumbered by opposing forwards. Mike Gale, Adrian Money, Paul Pech and Jim Tranter worked their socks off in the midfield, Alan Jackson and Richard Clarke showed their versatility and made significant contributions in both defence and attack, and the forwards - Tony Henman, Graham Martin, Graham George and Adrian Stephenson - may have had difficulty hitting the target but nevertheless looked good going forward and created lots of opportunities!
Squad: John Ingram-Marriott, George Hazell, John Widgery, Richard Clarke, Jim Tranter, Paul Pech, Adrian Money, Mike Gale, Alan Jackson, Tony Henman, Graham Martin, Graham George, Adrian Stephenson.
Tour Manager - Adrian Stephenson