Held in the West at Clifton, Bristol. Wed 27th March 2013.

Again for this event we had four teams of LX members including some guest players and all had a pleasant get together on and off the pitch, possibly with one exception. There was good competitive Hockey and good food afterwards. Our thanks go to Mike Harris for his efficient organisation of this occasion and his team selection which made for very close and enjoyable games. Thanks also to Colin Pinks for his work behind the scenes with the booking of the pitches and the successful negotiations which resulted in an excellent meal to finish off proceedings.

Mike had us playing in elemental teams, Earth, Air, Fire and Water, each having two forty minute one-way matches.

 Earth and Fire each won their opening games, but then drew with one another to be first equal. Air lost against Earth, but won against Water, and came third, whilst Water lost against Fire and then Air to come fourth. Matches were either won or lost by a single goal. Very close indeed.

Earth beat Air 2 – 1 in their first game, which was very open from the start, with both sides creating opportunities. In fact Earth were fortunate not to concede from a well struck penalty corner from Mark Watson, with Eric Best acquitting himself well between the posts throughout the game.  However from a position on the left, Brian Stokes crossed the ball to Andy Fraser [new LXer] who turned smartly to fire in an unstoppable shot through the keeper, Colin Kimber, to open the scoring. From a well worked move Air equalised through Tim Brothers [guest] who had a good game up front, taking on defences. Earth rallied and after several attacks thwarted by the solid Air defence, Brian Stokes fired a shot into the circle which was a deflected own goal. Notable performances in defence for Earth came from Colin Pinks and Leon Mack, whilst Bob Whitell and Peter Whitby worked well in midfield giving the edge to Earth. Air Captain Brian Perryman together with Mike Harris strengthened Air’s midfield, providing  innunerable opportunities for attack by Trevor Denison and Chris Jones who put their opposition under pressure. Guest Garry Adams and Maurice Williams put in solid performances in defence.

A side comprising  three Alans is always a force to be reckoned with. This was Fire who featured other non-Alans aswell. Despite conceding a goal to the lively Water side fairly early in the game, astute use of the substitute goalkeeper in an on-field position brought dividends for the team of and on Fire. Normal goalkeeper Paddy Maher used his lofty skills to deny the opposition forwards on several occasions and even ‘persuaded’ one to delay his shot by several seconds so he could recover his position before making another save. At the other end Bill Goodridge bought back memories of his Cape Town glories by calmly thumping the ball into the back of the net much to the surprise of everyone except his skipper. A further attack and a great shot from Nigel Dupain following up his first saved shot saw the back of the net bulge (at least from where the skipper was standing!) A convincing victory in a tight game?

In their second round games Air played Water. A tight end to end game ensued with intercepted passes contributing to this frustration. Air’s attacks largely came from wide through Tim Brothers and Trevor Denison and Tim scored his second of the day. Water either worked the ball out of defence to the right through skipper Ray Jeff or from John Longden, to Keith Hunt. However the stronger attacks came through slipped passes forward by David Bain [new LXer] to John Smith who from left mid fed the Water right wing with effective sliced passes. There was, however, as a result of one of these passes a passage of play involving Keith when suddenly he had the ball removed from the control of his stick by guest Garry Adams at which point Keith was seen to plough his shoulder into the goal line. A remarkable sight!

Water’s David Thompson showed his experience by getting to the ball before his marker, Mark, after deft use of the shoulder. But with insufficient service overall he was unable to make many attempts on goal. As time passed it was evident that despite Brian’s looks back for the offload to a fullback his passes to his forward supporters were not going to penetrate the defence provided by the Club Captain and certainly Water appeared more likely to be downed sooner in the bar than in the goal!

The final denied the vast crowd sight of Fire’s scorched Earth Policy with both sides running out level in a first class draw!  Earth resembling the West Over 60s saw the opposition reduce its number of Alans  to two by despatching one to the local hospital, as sadly Alan Strowger [guest] was hit in the face by the ball and needed stitches, this happening only a few minutes into the game. Undeterred the Firey team attacked at full throttle with George Johnson using his dazzling skills, Rod Cochrane bringing back more memories of former glories and Graham Martin taking up great spaces –only to be ignored by his team-mates unfortunately! The Earth opposition took a few shots at goal but only because the Fire team had such confidence in Mr Invincible Maher. A draw was the result but a probable moral victory for the Fire Crew, according to the latter team’s skipper, who would like to report that he thoroughly enjoyed playing alongside his fellow Trojan Alan J again.