It was a relief to be home….we’d played so many away matches I think most players had forgotten where Merchants was! Sue arrived and led everyone out for a preparatory warm-up. Karen ran round with everyone even though she wasn’t playing!
There was a bit of a delay whilst the captains and referees discussed the six-foot wide patch of ice across one of the goals. It was decided that we would play, and the game started, after I’d cleared a goalie-sized patch….I even tried to make JCB noises for effect, but everyone else was too busy getting to their positions on the pitch.
The game started, and the battle began. WB were very organised up front, but our strong mid-fielders held them back brilliantly. Roanne ‘Sgt Major’ Wootten organised the players so they kept on their players, and Vanessa ‘Whirlwind’ Hay ran all over the place, confusing the opposition with her sheer brilliance. Karen and Chris were directing from the sides, and it was fantastic to have help and support.
We kept up the pressure, and earned ourselves a short corner. Jan ‘Dug-in’ Duggan passed the ball in, and everyone tried to get the goal….but it just wouldn’t go in. WB broke well, and put us under pressure for a bit, but Fran ‘Solid’ Southway and Liz ‘Fast-Shot’ Fox got stuck in and proceeded to pick off the passes and keep getting in the way of the WB attack.
However, halfway through the first half, there was one attack formation too many. I watched the ball coming in, decided to move to kick it…..and stuck to the spot! My JCB efforts were in vain! That split second was enough to allow WB through – it was 0-1!
The team all read the script, and, instead of sending me to Coventry, did the best thing……kept the ball away from me! Sarah ‘Zippy’ English, Eden ‘Extra Fast’ Eddolls and Jade ‘Speedy’ Silk kept trying again and again to break down the WB goal, but there were simply too many legs in the way.
The first half finished and we all talked about different things we could do. Lucy ‘Basher’ Bartlett was so much on fire we suggested we could pass across goal to her to confuse WB. Basically we had to carry on as we had done for the first half, so back out we went………
WB were straight on us, as we went through our customary initial ‘wobble’. Jo ‘Vantastic’ Verrall and Ruth ‘Dribble Queen’ Denman were amazing in their getting in at just the right time to stop WB in their tracks. Our stick skills were simply astounding! Lucy ran her socks off on the right, and played an amazing game. Rachel ‘Brick-Wall’ Williams was equally outstanding-so much so I had to drag myself away from watching to get back to playing.
We defended a few short corners, seemingly effortlessly, before being caught out with another goal. It was one of those annoyingly good goals that you just couldn’t do anything about. Following that, we went back to controlling the match, securing a couple of short corners at the right end of the pitch. It was getting towards the end of the match, and we still didn’t give up…it was true Churchill stuff! I even had time to talk things over with Ceri ‘Crunching Tackle’ Carter (who had the best match EVER!). We suddenly both noticed that Liz was up with the forwards – and doing an amazing job! You know where I’m going to put you next Saturday, Liz!
There was time for one last short corner for us to try and get a goal…the Umpire’s whistle went… and even I came to the top of the pitch to ‘have a go’! My squeaking kit echoed through the crisp air, as everyone got into position. The ball was passed, everyone raced in – but it didn’t go out far enough, and Mandy’s whistle blew loudly for the end of the match.
I left the pitch ecstatic at being witness to a great game of hockey. Every player gave their all, and I was incredibly proud to be counted as one of them. We might not have won, but my only disappointment today was that it had to come to an end.