Winchester 0 Gondoliers 2 (Rosoman, Kuhle)
One of the keys to success in hockey is the quality of the first touch when controlling the ball. If the first touch is good, players gain precious time and are able to put together a string of fine passes. If the first touch is poor then the ball is likely to bounce off onto an opponent's stick or onto the player's foot. The first sign of how we would play occurred as the team gathered in the Hen and Chicken at Froyle. Our esteemed umpire, Peter Gordon, exhibited the deftest of first touches with his half pint of bitter and promptly spilled most of it across the table. Evidently this malaise was highly infectious and by the time we started our match at Winchester the entire team had succumbed, enabling us to lose control of the ball with remarkable consistency.
Fortunately for this away game we had a goalie, none other than Ian Murphy. Despite us squandering possession on numerous occasions, with Ian's skilful control of his defence, anticipating the danger and alerting the appropriate player to cover, we managed to thwart the Winchester attacks. At the other end Rosoman was recovering from the team disease and starting to cause havoc down the right flank. He was rewarded with several short corners and from one of these a fine strike by Regan rebounded to Rosoman for him to slot it into the net. One-nil at half time.
In the second half we started to remember how to play hockey and steadily pushed the Winchester team back into their half, restricting the danger to a few breakaways whilst constantly threatening (but not scoring) ourselves. However, eventually the pressure told when a strike into the D by Carney found Kuhle surrounded by a mass of Winchester players. Despite being harried from all sides, Kuhle calmly struck the ball past the keeper and into the goal.
Also apparent was that Messrs Rosoman and Kuhle (aka bad boys) armed with their New Year Resolutions managed a whole game without the sight of cards or dissent (not wholly true as Nick had a minor slipup)
However, the highlight of playing away at Winchester is not the match, but the "apres hockey". We joined them at the IBM clubhouse for curries of which a good Indian restaurant would be proud. With Lamb Rogan Josh, Chicken Balti, pilau rice, chips and mango chutney, all accompanied by fine ale, we gorged ourselves into the evening.
This match report would be incomplete without mention of Dr Gould, who maintained the highest of Gondoliers' traditions. Arriving rather late at the Hen and Chicken, he insisted on having a pint and then followed the rest of us down to the match. At half-time he could be seen puffing on his cigar whilst contemplating the curry to come. Then he took full part in the apres hockey at the IBM clubhouse. Against this the minor matter that he did not bring his kit so did not play in the actual match was of no significance.