Today's encounter with Horley in Crawley was poorly attended by the Kraken Fans who typically follow our illustrious outfit around the country.
One can only summise that the drab postcode influenced their decision. Fortunately Epsom Ladies' 4s hung around after their game to help with our warm up, but it has to be said that if the thousands strong entourage had not been diverted to see WHU v MU, they might have witnessed some pretty tasty hockey.
Skipper Joe, back from his world wide tour with Manfred Mann pulled together a squad of young and old, fit and fat professionals to truly send Horley packing.
Our fans missed out on sterling performances from Barney, Tommy & Archie who moved the ball around with determination and poise. Our fans also missed seeing how we developed the left side midfield attacks, (we always leave the right until we need it), which caused Horley some continued tooth ache. (There was some muggy breath around their goal mouth also.)
It was difficult to see how the blazing sun and pitch side temperatures of 30c+ would not play its part in creating fatique and skid marks for both teams, and it is fair to say that our over 30's players did struggle to lift our ribs off the astro while still playing the ball.
Red mist set in at times, reminiscent of countless BBQ's from this summer and Horley did seem to get their passes to connect better between a number of their South African players who typically have mastered the art of eating flame grilled foods for entire summers without it affecting their hockey stamina. (Apparently Crawley is a deprived area with no cooking facilities so more foods are cooked on fires or pizza's delivered to your door as we were later to encounter at the match tea. I was quite tempted to eat the packaging too!)
So whether it was the heat, the sun, the 1st game of the season or inner thigh chafe, it was inevitable Horley would capitalise on having played with one another for longer and popped in some very cheeky goals. Did I say cheeky?
I can't really comment on our defence because I couldn't actually see them through the mirage or sweat in my eyes, but my understanding is that goals went in because the opposition had hired some bods to reflect the sun with mirrors in the faces of our defenders from about 500m thus making it impossible to actually see the ball.
This trend seemed to continue when I was later informed by telegram that Jim had actually scored for us by fell walking the ball over the goal line while reading a book on fly fishing by J.R. Hartley. If it's the one I lent him when we were in Prison together in Middlesborough then I would like it back because Country Life just isn't doing it for me anymore when the internet is down.
How anyone can score with a fishing rod in one hand and a hockey stick in the other is beyond me, but it might explain why he only performed the move once for fear of showing off in front of the newbies.
There were a great many positives throughout our open play, however we did tend to lose the ball while trying to pass, run and dribble all at the same time. Half time saw Fitz give Archie a lesson he will never forget and he cracked a joke I can't repeat because by this point I had passed out from dehydration from last night's red wine binge. Mark Lenel had some moments remonstrating with the oppo umpire who resembled a weeble from a cruise ship, but again the heat has a lot to do with this in terms of contours. A bit like the shape of the D Mark was unable to fathom while receiving balls from set plays.
Frankly his golf swing today was faint making but he has promised to ask our Argentinian Coach to work on this and 'hockey' Wednesday. I think Mark will be disappointed today he didn't link up with Barney more, but since their move to East Horsley Mark has been inundated with requests from the W.I. to judge jam making competitions. I know this is true because he was looking frightfully sticky off the pitch and had jam all over his kit bag. Memories of all those Kilner Jars can play havoc on your concentration when it comes to penalty corners.
If I needed assistance in making it to the match tea, it came in the form of Dave Toplas. Just one look at him reminded me that Hockey is not just about the play but about the beer too and by the time Nick the Vic had donned the cuddly toy on his head, I knew all was well with our World. I recall some of my best hockey was played with Dave T when I accidentally substituted Buxton with Bordeaux Red at a mixed hockey tourno so perhaps if we drank more and eat more pizza before the game we would score more goals.
For me we were the better team, but just couldn't quite get more of our passes to link up. On a hot day it is even more essential we run less and pass more, letting the ball do more of the work in the midfield and when we did threaten: the oppo seemed to scream more loudly at one another. Their last two goals were celebrated with more gusto than was fitting, which tends to suggest they were surprised to break us down as they did. Their combined guilt came in the form of a bloke bearing sweets after the game, I got lime flavour.
If I didn't mention you then you probably played really well and didn't need bigging up. Lots of positives, one or two niggles but this season's looking bright, its looking kraking orange.
Man of the Match: Tommy
Dick of the Day: Nick
See you all Wednesday.