Grand Masters Hockey World Cup- Hong Kong

 ENGLAND LX


Day 1 Friday 12th September

England LX 1   -   Germany B   1

Sterling performance from all with England getting into their stride slightly ahead of the Germans. Both sides were evenly matched resulting in end to end play but with the advantage to England with greater possession. For the first three quarters of the match England had a lot of the attacking play. England’s goal came in the first quarter from a short corner. The ball was pushed out hard and accurate to Graham Martin, stopped by Mark Watson who deftly slipped the ball back into the ‘D’ for David Brampton who struck it crisply through the German keeper’s legs. The Germans tried vainly to even the score but for the first three quarters were held out by some brilliant defensive play from Nigel Strofton, Robin Mayes, Mark Watson and Roger Lomas. On the rare occasion when the miscreant spherical orb had the temerity to wander beyond the reaches of the aforementioned stalwarts it came across the foreboding presence of Alan Dures in the England goal. It was at this point the orb decided to whizz off back into the other half of the pitch helped on its way by the hoof of Alan Dures. This amazing feat of dexterity delivered the ball to Roger Lomas who with his astute positional awareness found an unmarked John Grinham in the centre of the park. John’s skill and speed enables him to withstand the tackling from two determined Germans and slip the ball to Mike Harris. Mike skipped past two more determined Germans and gave the ball to ex-Chairman Brian Woolcott. Just at the point where it would no doubt have been driven into the roof of the net it got a deflection from a German foot, but it was not spotted by the Umpires. The age difference (2 Germans yet to reach their 59th birthday and 2 others yet to reach their 60th birthday) began to tell in the final quarter. A lucky award of a short corner resulted in an equalising goal.
Result 1 – 1 (B..ger!! or O what a shame!)

[Editors note. It is thought the writer of this report has been reading too much Harry Potter]

Day 2 Saturday 13th September

England LX  4 -  Alliance-2   1

A perfect example of team harmony. If Mozart had been alive he would have been moved to create a symphony. Under the guidance and managerial skills of John Longden, ably supported by Peter Ross, the team excelled - probably best demonstrated by the third goal. Mark Watson’s commanding presence caused the Alliance forwards to miss-time a pass which Mark deftly intercepted and clipped the ball to Terry Mills. Terry nimbly transferring the ball from his left side to his right and dodging a despairing centre half slipped the ball to the ever present Mike Harris in the centre of the park. From here on it was poetry. The ball went to Graham George who dummied two defenders passed the ball to the skilful Parmodh Sharma who rounded a defender and struck at goal. Unfortunately the keeper got in the way. A bout of ping pong ensued but lurking like a hungry tiger was Graham Martin – he pounced 3 – 1. The first goal was in similar style. Roger Lomas slipped the ball towards the byeline where it was picked up by David Brampton who spun and pushed it hard across the goal mouth. Ian Wilson dashing in from the right got a touch which deflected it to John Grinham- foregone conclusion 1-0. The Alliance’s only goal came in the third quarter as did England’s second goal. The Alliance were pressing but the ball came clear to Ian Wilson who controlled it, slipped past a defender and passed to John Grinham. John took the ball on the half way line and had seen David Brampton unmarked in the centre of the park. John slipped the ball to David who took on two defenders and beat the keeper 2-1. The fourth goal was the crowning glory – who better to score it than ex-chairman Brian Woolcott. What a spectacular goal it was!. Graham Martin rounded two defenders, drew the keeper and found Brian unmarked at the left hand side of the ‘D’ and the ball was swept into the back of the net with great efficiency 4 – 1

Day 4 Monday 14th September

England LX 6 – Alliance-1 1

Another sterling performance from Strofton’s Strollers.   A minor disappointment left us without the valuable services of our Manager, John Longdon.   A forewarned late lunch.   However, Tony Jones stood in and executed his duties with his normal quiet efficiency.   LX were on top from the very start and, after a few good saves from the Alliance keeper, success came from a well worked short corner – Mark Watson received the hit out which he returned to John Grinham, who dispatched the ball into goal with a well timed sweep.

The second goal also came from a short corner eight minutes after the first.   Mark Watson received the push out and struck a peach of a shot that banana-ed plumb into the back of the goal.   Goal number three came from a sixteen yard hit from Nigel Strofton who found a well positioned Roger Lomas on the left.   From there it went across the pitch to Robin Mayes, down the right to Terry Mills. 

Terry slipped it back to Robin who put it back to Graham George, who struck a superb shot past the keeper.   Just before half time an unbelievable event occurred.   An irresistible force overcame an impenetrable object – b…..!  3-1.   This fluke of nature spurred the team and , shortly after the start, a neat pass from Parmodh found Graham Martin.   Graham dodged around two defenders, slipped a well weighted pass to Mike Harris, 4 – 1.   Goal number five came from a goal mouth scramble which fell to Parmodh. 5 – 1.   Goal number six, the icing on the cake and as it turned out, the goal that ensured we lead the group, came from a hard cross from Mike Harris, deflected into the roof of the net by Graham Martin.

Day 6  Wednesday 16th September

LX  2   Alliance 1  0

For the first time in the tournament LX did not play as well as they could. Probably as a result of an early morning start. However LX made plenty of forays into the opponents ‘D’ but without success. The opposition played well and had a number of break-aways which very nearly resulted in 2 goals but for some good goal coverage by Alan Dures.
With no score at half time the second half was very much a mirror of the first half. At the start of the second half Alliance struck the post and Nigel Strofton made a spectacular goal line clearance. Late in the third quarter Bob Grenside latched onto a loose ball in the centre of the ‘D’ and struck it firmly into the roof of the net 1- 0. In the final quarter LX seemed to up their game and a good pass from the right found Bob Grenside again and he manoeuvred the ball into the ‘D’ and struck a superb shot into the roof of the net 2-0.

Day 7  Thursday 17th September

England LX  3  GBU  1

The symphony started with the slow movement which resulted in a well orchestrated goal by the opposition 0-1. This spurred the wandering minstrels (Strofton strollers) into a period of sustained pressure. The first goal for this amazing band of multi-talented musicians came from the wood section ably supported by the wind section (sponsored by Won Fhat Curry House) when Alan Dures side footed a mis-timed shot by the opposition to Nigel Strofton who with the foresight of an ancient sheik slipped the ball to the towering presence of Mark Watson. The following period of play was the epitomy of team harmony. The writer would go so far as to say ‘it was poetry in motion’ – but motion would be stretching a point. Mark with the movement of a well oiled fiddler clipped the ball to Robin Mayes. Robin slipped it to Ian Wilson who controlled iton his reverse stick (a skill recently taught to him by Percy Steele) and who would have passed it back to Percy had he been on the pitch, instead it went to John Grinham. John ‘the maestro’ Grinham passed the ball to Mike’ the rock’ Harris . From this point it was like watching the little dot on a karaoke screen. Roger Lomas directed his pass from Mike to Ex-Chairman Brian Woollcott – this finely tuned instrument orchestrated the next passage of play back to the centre went the ball – Graham ‘the Tiger’ Martin pounced on it, manoeuvred himself round two defenders and found a perfectly positioned Graham George who slotted it into the back of the net 1-1. Goal number two was very similar except that Robin Mayes, Terry Mills, Ian Wilson, Bob Grenside and David Brampton created their own movement which culminated in the ball once again landing on the baton of Graham Martin and once again being despatched to the unerring Graham George 2-1. Goal number three came from a short corner struck by Mark Watson – the like of which we can only dream 3-1

Day 8  Friday 18th September

England LX 6 – Alliance II  1

Another superb team performance with six different scorers again. The first came from a short corner which Mark Watson drove into the goal with his customary pin point accuracy ten minutes from the start. Five minutes later John Grinham took a free hit 3 yards from the ‘D’ and picked out David Brampton who had run across the goal to the bye-line. David stopped it and slipped it immediately back to Graham George who took it first time – 2-0. Parmodh came on in the second half and made an immediate impact on the score ;  a well struck, incisive pass from John Grinham picked out a speeding Parmodh who deflected the ball past the keeper 3-0. The fourth came from the unerring stick of Ian Wilson, the result of some very accurate passing from one end of the pitch to the other. Everyone was involved culminating in an accurate pass from Graham Martin who found an unmarked Brian Woolcott. Brian shot across the goal and Ian did the rest 4-0

A momentary lapse in concentration resulted in one of those moments which only Buddha himself could fathom but not believe – the ball passed Alan Dures 4-1. Goal number 5 was a Grenside creation; he worked the ball past two defenders and struck. The keeper saved it but it fell to Ian Wilson who unerringly found found a well placed Graham Martin 5-1. With 5 minutes to go John Grinham worked the ball to the bye-line and slipped the ball across the goal to a lurking David Brampton. Just as he was about to strike the keeper intervened and the ball deflected off his pads. Well done lads 6-1

Day 10  Sunday 20th September

England LX (the only England side unbeaten in the tournament) v Germany B.  Result: 2 – 2

This was the game that decided which team would be walking home with the gold. Hot? It was sweltering, but it was exciting. It was a satisfying result in that it showed what team spirit can achieve. Everyone worked hard and ran their socks off and after only 20 minutes were rewarded by an accurate shot into the “D” by Mark Watson which was beautifully deflected into the goal by the ever present George Graham (1- 0). The balance of play for the first half was definitely tilted in England’s favour but after the break the Germans pressed and were rewarded with a miraculous goal. Miraculous in that it passed Alan Dures, more miraculous in that the goal moved. How else could it have achieved the impossible? (1 – 1). Some good chances fell to both sides and there were quite a few goalmouth scrambles. Unfortunately one of these went in the German’s favour. (1 – 2). They thought it was all over! It wasn’t!! Deadly Mark Watson struck a well-timed short corner. Even the brilliant German keeper could not save it. (2 – 2).

Unsurprisingly, with only 5 minutes to go, the Germans pressed harder. Never ones to give up they were eventually awarded a short corner. Believe it or not, the following passage of play had the pressmen frantically clawing at their mobile phones and calling their Editors to hold the front page. After the whistle the Germans took their short corner and it came to their “young” centre-half; he fiddled, and widdled and diddled with it just long enough for Mike Harris (who had shot off the half-way line like a bat out of hell, or a stick out of Hades, or is it the Styx out of Hades – who cares?) to nick it off him and clear it. Thus, for a minute England had possession and the clock was ticking down, or would have been had it been working. Nobody believed it possible but the German’s got the ball back again and with a minute to go invaded the England “D”. If the crowd were not on the edge of their seats or standing at this point they certainly were now. So came the moment of moments. The German inside-left struck – Alan Dures stuck out his left foot and the ball bounced away – the German got it again and struck once more – Alan stuck out his right foot – the ball, unfortunately, bounced away but only right back to the German. He struck once more and Alan went to his knees – the ball pinged off his chest but only back to the German who then tried to flick it over him. Not an impossible task you might think, but a gloved hand shot skyward and the ball fell to earth. Horror!!! The German got it again and once more flicked it over the “kneeling” Alan. Miracle!!! Alan’s other hand shot skyward and the ball once again fell to earth. Once again the ball fell to the German stick and out of desperation he struck it in the general direction of the goal. Alan was jumping to his feet at this moment and in doing so headed the next shot away. But not far enough; nobody is quite sure where the final shot hit him but Alan had a strange bias in his gait as he went to collect his gold medal. You might ask: where were all the rest of the England team in this final passage? Well, we were admiring these amazing feats and pounced when the final ricochet fell in our favour. What a goal-keeper! The stature of the man belies his stature amongst the hockey greats, or do I mean grates - those solid constructions that withstand the fire and defend the hearth. Both, I say, and without reservation.

He accuses me of purple prose and I fear he may be right

For I sense him cringing in anticipation even as I write.

                                                                                                            J.K Brampton

 

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