Guildford Hockey Club Est. 1912

Shadows Bag Valuable Points v Spartans

 4th Feb 2017

As dawn broke on Saturday, 4th February, Fraser got out of bed, slipped into his thongs and had his customary breakfast of grilled kangaroo with Vegemite on toast and baked beans. “Better get the barbie ready for my Straya Day party”, he thought as he cut up another portion of ‘roo and dipped it in the beans. “But first, the minor business of the Shadows’ relegation battle 6-pointer against Surrey Spartans 2s”...


He picked up his phone and got his first bit of bad news for the day as Dave Gunner went AWOL with a bit of man flu. But no worries, a quick call to Martin Sampson, due to play 3s, and a quick substitution was made. “Strewth!” thought Fraser as he fiddled with his roster on Teamstuff (which is Fraser's favourite app, "I get way more matches on Teamstuff than on Tinder", he says), “getting a team together this weekend was real hard yakka!”


He wasn’t to know it at the time, but Dave’s man flu was to play a major role in bagging the 3 points.


Meet time at Surrey Sports Park was 1.45pm, but as Fraser sat in the changing room he felt less like Fraser and more like Billy – no mates. Never fear, however, as one by one the mighty Shadows team started trickling in – Olly the goalkeeper, young Jonny, JY the hunchback, the other 10 heroes of the day rolled in eventually with Tom Lyne last up.


“Traffic was really bad guys”, Lyno complained as he swanned in 30 minutes after the scheduled meet time from his epic 2 mile journey across town that included a crossing of the treacherous River Wey. Tom made up for his lateness by warming up enthusiastically and pinging a few balls over the fence into the neighbouring field with his backhand.


“Watch and learn from this guy”, Fraser told Graeme, “that’s how you do it!”


As the game pushed back though, the evidence in front of our eyes was that the warm up had clearly worked as the Shadows tore into the unwitting Spartans. Ollie and James were calm and unruffled at the back, Will and Tim were ripping up and down the right and left flanks respectively and Tom and Jonny were energetically prowling the midfield while the forwards, Graeme, Martin and JY were looking dangerous. Fraser was shouting a lot, running a bit, and waving his arms about enthusiastically.


Chances came and chances went begging as the first four or five attacks foundered on the rock of poor finishing, a Shadows trademark. However, at the sixth time of asking, Martin provided a lovely bit of skill to beat a couple of defenders and shoot into the bottom corner, the little ripper!


Within minutes, the Shadows struck again as Tom Lyne made a dart into the D and attempted a backhand shot. Attempted being the operative word here, as he made the faintest of contacts and the ball bobbled around the D about a yard away from Tom’s stick. The Spartans defenders were slow to react though, and Tom had another go, this time with greater success and the keeper could only watch as the ball sailed past him into the back of the net. Good on ya, Tom!


The rest of the first half unfolded with no dramas, Shadows had most of the ball although Olly in goal was forced into a few good saves and Graeme proved he had learnt well by enthusiastically ripping a shot over the fence on his backhand side.


The team came into the half time huddle 2-0 up and pretty happy but Fraser, ever the perfectionist, whipped out his whiteboard and gave the side a tactical masterclass. The key point was that when the forwards pressed, the rest of the team should come up and get in front of the men they were marking.


Of course, nobody actually *listens* to half time team talks, where is the fun in that? Even so, the Shadows started the second half much like they finished the first, on the front foot and giving the Surrey upstarts a headache at the back. However, the old Shadows habits were hard to break and players just could not finish the chances they created. Naming no names here but one player (I just can’t quite remember who) took it into the D, had acres of space and promptly put it ten yards wide. Two minutes later, Tim, with a nosebleed being so high up the pitch from left half, was determined to show he could attack as well. He charged into the D, wound up as he eyed the top comer… and put it in the same spot 10 yards wide of the goal as the previous player (damn, who was it??).


There was a shock as, getting slightly tired with only the bare 11 players, Spartans somehow evaded the press and ran through the middle of the pitch into the D. Some last ditch defending by James and Ollie ensued against about 5 attackers, but eventually Spartans somehow poked it in to make it 2-1. Was this the turning point of the game? Were Spartans about to enact the great escape and emerge with points?


Were they heck. There was no nonsense from the Shadows as they charged up field, passing it around statuesque Spartans defenders and getting it to Martin, who took a touch to the left, bent his creaky old knees and dispatched a backhand shot into the bottom corner as he showed the young’uns how to do it properly.


The final ten minutes of the game was all Guildford, as another series of chances went begging. Tom Lyne put another ball over the fence (expensive game for the Spartans losing all these balls) and Fraser and Jonny strived in vain to put another goal away but couldn't quite manage. Final score 3-1 to the Shadows and a very valuable 3 points against relegation rivals. No dramas!


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