The Mercian Home Counties Colts League provides hockey for 172 teams across 3 boys' age groups (U14, 16 18). In the Under 16 age group, 60 teams competed in different levels of competition. GHC U16 Boys competed in all four levels: Premier, Regional, Regional+ and Challenge. GHC U16 Boys came top of the Premier League table thus qualifying for Finals Day which pits the top two Prem teams with top two teams from the Regional Leagues (GHC narrowly missed out on having two of the four teams in the competition). First up was Bromley & Beckenham...
The game started well enough for us but we couldn't seem to convert any of the strong midfield play into a goal up front. B&B were playing very defensively and made it difficult for us to get through onto goal. In the second half, we started brighter and faster. Isaac opened the scoring with a beautiful run into the D and reverse shot to beat the keeper. Isaac was also key in the second goal, crossing in for a waiting Harry who made sure the ball went in. Another few attempts went just wide and then Ross got the 3rd with a shot that was saved by both keeper and defender and then teased the goal line before Ross had another chance at it and put it away for good.
Meanwhile on the other pitch, Surbiton, in a re-match of the EH Cup National Final were busy putting 6 or 7 past Marlow (we lost count). So, we didn't get another chance at beating Marlow but faced Surbiton, two weeks after our win in the Prem league to top the table.
This was a quality match from both sides. Unfortunately for us, the scoreline went against us and largely due to Surbiton's clinical defence. Their keeper didn't miss a beat if indeed any of the defenders did slip up and let a ball through (which was a rare occasion). After only a few minutes in, we conceded a well struck short corner with Benji nearly getting it on his stick but not quite. Ben was put through his paces for sure in goal and in a mad dash to stop a one-on-one going in he bravely came out to stop the attack. Unfortunately for him, the umpire thought he should take a five minute breather and so Harry came on to face a well taken p-flick. 0-2.
Losing Raph to a stick in the head and Josh to a ball on the finger didn't help matters but we battled on and played some fantastic hockey. The speed and skill on display from both teams was superb. Unfortunately we let in 2 more goals in the second half and so were consigned to collecting the Runners-up trophy on the day. Consolation was that we got to take home the League Cup, having come top of the Prem league, and also that we lost to Surbiton by fewer goals than Marlow did.
Some stunning hockey on display. Thank you to the Mercian League including Jeremy Holt, Amanda McAllister, Paull Spindler and Janet Gunn who run what is undoubtedly the best boys hockey league in the country. A warm thank you also to Mrs Wilson who presented the prizes at the end of the day showing much courage and poise sharing her son Tom's legacy with us.
Many thanks also to Toby Mullins for his vast and deep experience of England U18 and National League Hockey - the boys have learned a huge amount this season. Also to Josh for being our fearless leader on and off the pitch, captaining the side with his impressive skill, great tenacity and natural charisma. Well done to Benji for picking up the most valuable player award without whose precious work at the back we would not have accomplished what we did this season.
Roll on 2016/17!