Second Senior Grandmasters Tournament
Hannover-May 29-June1 2009
between England, Germany, Holland & Italy
Friday morning, and a shaky start for Skipper Wright, Manager Woolcott, and
stalwart Grace, when shortly after 5am,en route to Stansted, traffic on the
M25,came abruptly to a halt for 25 mins.
Rising panic subsided, as temporary
traffic lights released us, and without further excitement, we flew off to
Hannover in a rather superior Air Berlin plane.
Very similar to Easyjet, we
thought, as we reclined on wide blue leather seats, and were served
complimentary drinks and sandwiches, by smiling black -uniformed hostesses,
whose hips did not jostle every passenger, as they undulated up and down the
After a smooth transfer to the hotel, having been met by Hannover team
members, we played our first match at 1800hrs that evening, against an
Invitation Tournament Side.
Having assessed the opposition as manageable, we
scored twice, fairly early on, first from Bill Warrender, and then Gerald
Wilkinson, and then proceeded to unravel into a scrappy ,disconnected mess, with
no further score from either side.
Sat morning dawned bright and sunny, and
with no game until after lunch, a large group took the bus into town to visit
Naturally, it was closed and so we sat in the sun and had a cup
of coffee, in a side street.
It was here that Leon Mack revealed what had
happened to his hat.
Apparently, some-one in the Australian team, last year, had advised him that the
best way to dry kit was to wrap it around the lamp-shade in your hotel room and
allow the warmth of the bulb to gently permeate the sweaty garments, producing a
perfect wearable consistency in a few hours.
Now the key to this
advice gem, is to "wrap around" and "not perch over" and so it was that in no
time at all the room filled with smoke and the hat that was Leon's was no more,
barring a scorched peak !!!
And I'm not even going to mention the smoke
Sat afternoon, and the first official game of the tournament England v
It has to be said that three years ago, when we first played in
Hannover, the Italians were unable to field a true age qualifying team and were
thus granted temporary dispensation in order that they could play at all.
Virtually the same
original team turned out and thus the age differential was significantly
against England from the start.
No matter as within the first two minutes
George Hazell had struck cleanly a short corner into their goal.
England and many more anticipated. Wrong.!!
A younger, faster Italian team
,regrouped and after we had missed several good scoring opportunities, they
equalised and finally went 3-1 up with a penalty flick in the dying moments.
Notwithstanding this unexpected defeat, the full squad had been deployed and
useful lessons learned regarding tactical strengths and weaknesses.
Anyway, it was now time for the Candlelight Dinner in the clubhouse with free
beer and wine.
Most of life is an illusion, in some way or another,and so it transpired was
free beer and wine, as it was only the first glass each that was on the house,
but no matter.
I like German food,generally,and what matter,if the casseroled turkey turned out
to be pork,after all.It was an excellent,convivial evening,much appreciated by
those in attendance.
Gerald and Birgitte were actually staying with our German organiser,Didi ------?
so it was with some surprise that I found myself ,as manager, presenting Didi
with a commemorative photo composite,of the English and German Flags, flanking a
photograph of Didi,receiving the World Cup Gold Medal,from Sultan Aslan Char,in
Kuala Lumpur,a couple of World Cups ago.
This as a recognition of Didi's talent ,experience,and organising efforts on all
Two surprising things happened in quick succession at that moment-one,having
accepted the gift,he kissed me,and two,as he thanked us,he cried,which was very
So that was Saturday,and tomorrow has yet to come.
Tomorrow has dawned and in true "Carpe Deum"spirit,we have indeed seized the
day,and overwhelmed Germany by 2-0,in the second half,after failing to convert 4/5
opportunities in the first half.
Once again,it was Mr Hazell with a good shot from a penalty corner,that finally
released the pressure,and then Dominis Bann,deflected a diagonal strike across
the D from Mr Wilkinson,behind the keeper,to make it 2-0 at the whistle.
Other than failing to put the ball into the net for 30 mins despite frequent
efforts,this was the match that saw the SGM squad getting it together,and
producing some proper hockey,and a real understanding began to form within the
Our attacks were mainly down the right,because of some excellent collaberation
between Laurie Alcock,at right half,sending our new winger ,Gerry Kort,dashing
down the field,and delivering efficiently,to a waiting Gerald W,at inside
right,on the edge of the D.
Sun afternoon,and the Festival Match was played between an Invitation team,made
up mainly of Dutch and Italians,and Didi's Hannover team,which also included
BW,the SGM manager.
Curiously,no SGM members were invited to play in the Invitation side,but ,no
The weather was still very hot and sunny,but with threatening storm clouds
brewing up strongly,overhead.
This was not nearly as captivating a game to watch,as the previous SGM v
Germany,so it was with little surprise,that when it began to rain,the whole SGM
crowd disappeared into the clubhouse,having luckily observed a spectacular near
miss volley,by my goodself, before deserting the scene.An actual goal from me
has been reported by Didi,but is not recorded here for reasons undisclosed.
Another good dinner and convivial evening at the clubhouse,with Mon morning
dawning too quickly for some.
The final game against the Dutch,and although it did not reach the smoothly
efficient levels of play as demonstrated against the Germans,it quickly became
clear that SGM's had the whip hand,although,once again,it took a while to find
the back of the goal.
Once again, Bill W.found the spot,with 2 goals,and from Gerald W.2,George
H.1Gerry K.1Dominic B.1
Seven to zero SGM v Holland.
All in all, a very pleasant weekend.
Brian Woolcott. SGM Manager