LX ENGLAND v FANTASMAS, Santiago
Saturday 10 March 2007
In glorious sunshine and amidst the Andes, manager Richard Clarke proudly led the South America Tour team on to the all weather pitch at the Manquehue (Mappuche for Condor) Club in Santiago, Chile. Playing revolving squads in 3 x 25 minutes, LX were initially under pressure as Fantasmas struck the top of the bar after 6 minutes. John Widgery and George Hazell played well to keep the score at 0-0 at ‘third time’.
On the restart it was much the same story until an inspired pass from Richard Clarke found Bill Warrender who worked the ball to Peter Ross who slotted it in for a quality team goal.
Within 5 minutes of the third period some defensive lapses allowed Fantasmas to score twice but Bill Warrender eventually prevailed in a goalmouth scramble to even the scores. A great team move led to another flicked goal for Warrender but a deflected short corner brought Fantasmas back into the game at 3 – 3 and then they struck again – for an opposition team meant to be tiring this was somewhat dispiriting.
The ‘ghosts’ were often quicker on the ball and often intercepted our passes. They looked more dangerous in attack. This was a first work out match for LX but there is scope for improvement in the rest of the tour.
LX England v PWCC ( Prince of Wales Country Club), Santiago
Sunday 11th March
The setting at the Prince of Wales Country Club in the outskirts of Santiago is magnificent, skirted by majestic mountains – some of them snow-clad. Playing under a fierce midday sun and on a grass pitch was always going to present challenges but an encouraging pre match talk from Captain Bob Purshouse sought to overcome this.
A strong reverse stick shot gave the home team the lead before LX could settle down. An overhead flick into the circle was smacked into goal for a second within 10 minutes. A fine cross from Richard Clarke and some hard grind by Bill Warrender got one back but this was immediately negated by a third good goal by PWCC. Down 1-3 at the first break, the hot conditions and the inability of LX to master a slow grass pitch against a quick younger side did not auger well.
Despite sterling defence by LX PWCC exerted increasing pressure scoring two more in five minutes and only some talented goalkeeping by Alan Dures kept the score down to 1 – 5 until another cracking home goal was scored just before the second break.
PWCC made it 7 goals after 5 minutes into the third period, and an eighth from a short corner and as LX wilted a ninth, tenth and eleventh from cleaver goal mouth moves.
LX played with heart but were comprehensively outclassed by a younger team more familiar with the grass pitch and the heat.
The subsequent BBQ was splendid. First class Chilean wine and friendly hosts all helped to heal the wounds.
LX England v Bariloche, Argentina – Indoor Hockey
Wednesday 14th March.
The LX Tour moved to Argentina and Bariloche in the heart of the Lake District. On Wednesday an evening of indoor hockey was arranged by the local club who fielded one team and LX who fielded two teams (Reds & Whites) which included Elaine Hunt and our tour courier Zoe Taylor.
The teams comprised six players and each game of 2 x 15 minutes were played on a concrete surface with no perimeter boards. Both LX teams took some time to get used to the playing conditions and the local rules and both lost to the Local club. The game between the Reds and Whites then took centre stage but fierce competition and not a little skill resulted in a 2-2 draw. The stars were both goalkeepers Jim Standish and Alan Dures who showed that age had not diminished their agility and one breathtaking save followed another.
Afterwards the local club entertained us with beer and BBQ sausage and steak and finally a late dinner at a local restaurant.
LX v Ferrocarril San Martin
Saturday 17th March
The touring squad drove 20 miles to the West of Buenos Aeries to play on a sand pitch on St Patrick’s day.
San Martin wasted at least two chances before slotting in a fine reverse stick shot after 20 minutes. However within seconds Peter Ross centred for LX Chairman Brian Woolcott no less to put it away and level the score. A short corner however led to an excellent goal by David Brampton after 13 minutes of the second period of three. Both sides had chances and San Martin saved one off their line from a poached chance by Bill Warrender.
In the third period the home side got off to a good start with a goal mouth scramble eventually surmounting a prostrate Alan Dures. All to play for at 2 – 2 .
A poor LX pass led to a home move through our defence and a narrow angle goal from the left. In the dying minutes San Martin scored again from a well taken corner.
LX played well in difficult light but the Home side exploited their chances better.
Thanks to Wendy Beaney for umpiring in challenging circumstances.
LX v HC San Fernando
Sunday 18th March
The squad were driven some 30 miles north of Buenos Aires and taken on a scenic boat trip on the Tigre and La Plata rivers all in beautiful sunshine.
Skipper Nigel Spencer-Nott pioneered a 5-3-2 formation with 2 x 35 minutes play. The game was initially pretty even with John Widgery saving a couple of difficult situations then a sublime ball through the centre from Ken Wilcox found Bill Warrender unmarked. He rounded the goalie to flick the ball home to secure the lead. Up and down for a while but LX were making some chances. More pressure from San Fernando however led to a short corner and a well struck goal. Evens 1 -1 at half time
San Fernando pressed hard and Alan Dures made several saves in the opening minutes. Brian Woolcott created an opening with a great pass down the left but soon Mike Beaney was saving off our line. After 20 minutes San Fernando scored from a goal mouth scramble. LX efforts yielded 2 short corners but not the vital goal. San Fernando scored a breakaway goal just before the final whistle
Truly disappointing after such a fine effort – “ an excellent game played in a good spirit” was a fair summary. Thanks to umpires Wendy Beaney and a hippy Paulo in sandals!
LX, England v Seniors, Cordoba
Tuesday 20th March
The touring squad flew 700 km northwards from Buenos Aeries to the Cathedral and University City of Cordoba and stayed some 70 km north in a grand 1830 colonial ranch once owned by a former President of Argentina. Then bused 70 kms back to the artificial sand pitch of Cordoba Athletic club to start play as the sun set.
After a near miss by the Seniors, sustained LX pressure led to a neat goal by Bill Warrender. An excellent series of moves created another goal by Bill Warrender followed by a short corner goal by Richard Clarke. When Ken Wilcock and Richard Clarke were moving together down the centre LX always looked creative and dangerous. Leading 3-0 at half time was a novel touring experience!
Early into the second half the Chairman took a moment of glory as he flicked the ball in by the left hand post. The Home side then got one back before Ken Wilcock scored from a short corner . The LX supporters club provided increasingly vocal encouragement for series of corners. The Home side missed an open goal but eventually scored well from a short corner.
Magnificent was skipper Robin Mayes terse commentary on a match in which the rather older opponents gave LX the chance to build coherent movements. George Hazell played with his usual steady dependability in defence and all of the forwards made positive contributions in a memorable match preceding another generous evening of warm welcomes and hearty hospitality.
Result: Seniors- Cordoba 2 ; LX- England 5
LX, England v Seniors, Cordoba.A.C
Wednesday 21st March
The return match started with LX fairly dominant but 2 short corners went unrewarded. The Senior’s goalie took out Bill Warrender on the 25 yds line but otherwise the half was uneventful.
As the sun set after half an hour (it had been very difficult for LX to see playing into the setting sun during the first half – and Alan Dures had to take time out to remove his sun glasses when the sun was no longer a problem), a Seniors corner was diverted off the line by John Widgery. At the other end good work by Peter Ross went unrewarded with two great saves on the Senior’s line.
The Senior’s strategy in this second game appeared to be more defensive and cracking their defence proved to be difficult but a great move down the right involving most of the forwards at last produced a good goal by Peter Ross. Shortly afterwards an excellent centre by Brian Woolcott should then have brought a second goal. Then some poor passing by the LX defence allowed the Seniors to run through to score a skilful goal with 10 minutes to go. Despite sometimes frenzied efforts neither side was able to score again.
The skipper of the day Keith Hunt humorously observed that the Seniors squad had grown overnight to 18 and the opposition fielded 5 umpires. Notwithstanding this , the final score of 1-1 was very fair and diplomatic.
LX umpire was Wendy Beaney and Jim Standish, who was injured (following horse riding) , managed substitutions.
A brief ceremony included an invitation to LX to come back every year, an elegant Tango song, a French Edith Piaf song and a rousing rendering of “Sweet Chariot” before a long coach trip back to a midnight Argentinean dinner
Result: Seniors- Cordoba 1 ; LX- England 1
LX, England v Hurling Club, Buenos Aires
Saturday 24th March at 19.00
The party returned from the Iguassu Falls short of six couples who had gone on directly to Rio de Janeiro. After a delayed flight, made worse by the temporary loss at the Buenos Aires airport of chairman Brian Woolcott's bag, the coach went direct to the Hurling Club. There we met up with LX member Ian Wilson, en route to Columbia via China and Poland, who would bring our numbers up to 12. We were given a friendly reception by the Hurling players, but learnt they were a player or two short, including a goalkeeper. LX were relying on all able bodied players, including Guy Jillings, who to date had only played (hockey) in the gym encounter at Bariloche. But, as by good fortune we had two keepers and could only use one, Jim Standish volunteered to play for the opposition, and the match was played 11 against 10. As Hurling were also without umpires, and Wendy, our travelling umpire was by now in Rio, we 'self-regulated' the game - actually surprisingly successful and without any protests!
Within minutes disaster struck when Nigel Spencer-Knott was hit on the hand by a lifted ball, and retired with a broken finger (casually spliced together by Nigel using a twig, but he nonetheless declined to return to the field of combat!). This incident caused some disarray in the LX ranks and Hurling were able to take advantage and dominate through a masterful centre half and a troublesome right winger. No surprise when they scored at close range. The score stayed at 1-0 until half time, with Alan Dures playing splendidly and repulsing several other Hurling attacks. The second half was truncated as the lights needed to be switched off to allow the Clubhouse to power up for an unrelated function, but while the lights were on LX established their rhythm and played well through Ken Wilcock down the middle, with Bill Warrender providing an interesting interpretation, reprise even, of the role that might be played by a right half, whilst Brian Woolcott, at left half, did his best to not allow Bill to take all the limelight. David Brampton scored from close range from an assist by Ian Wilson, and the game ran out a fair draw. Not one of the more serious games, but a pleasant run out after a day's travel.
Due to the Club function, of which we had been pre-warned, and the difficulty thus of obtaining beer in any quantity, in fact any beer at all, we took leave of our hosts, and returned to our hotel, checked in and then made a sortie to an excellent corner restaurant to complete the evening. All in a day for LX on Tour!
Result: Hurling Club 1; LX- England 1