In my job in a school, we are told to be reflective, and learn from our experiences…so I felt better this morning after discovering low alcohol wine the previous evening! All the girls arrived promptly, and had a thorough workout…moving goals, pulling back nets and preparing the pitch for the match. Meanwhile, Frome worked hard on an obviously well-drilled warm up of their own. Birthday boy, Malcolm, and Jan (who prevented the match being called off by sacrificing her playing role to take up an umpiring one) arrived with their notepads. The toss was called, the sides got into position, the whistle blew….and we were off!
At first it was a bit tense, both sides eyeing each other up, and taking their time to get into a rhythm. The passing went backwards and forwards, each team trying to break through. On a couple of occasions Frome surged forward, but Liz ‘Fast-shot’ Fox and Fran ‘Solid’ Southway blocked every pass with ninja-like precision. Lucy ‘Basher’ Bartlett kept appearing all over the pitch – I had to check several times just to make sure she hadn’t cloned herself. Vanessa ‘Whirlwind’ Hay (who was later voted a very deserving ‘Player of the Match) and Karen ‘No Messing’ Norman danced through the midfield like Darcy Bussell, coaxing Frome players to make mistakes.
Slowly but surely we started controlling the match more. Roanne ‘Sgt Major’ Wootten, who had missed the last match due to injury in the course of duty, was back and at full strength. She went for every ball that came near her…and plenty that were yards away. That summed up the match – everyone playing their hearts (and lungs) out and giving 110% – as the captain I was immensely proud. At times I had to remind myself I was actually playing, and to stop gawping! It’s a great thing no-one can see my face!
Several times Grace ‘Puffer’ Harvey was within a hairs breadth of scoring. With the help of Emma ‘Rusher’ Reid and Sarah ‘Lightning’ Lloyd, we camped down in Frome’s goal. Their defence was solid, however, and at the end of the first half the score was 0-0.
The second half went the same way. Our midfield crew had run round so much you could see they were flagging at times. It’s easy for me – I travel a maximum of about 6 feet in a match – but I felt the girls were grateful to come off for a break. Not that they stopped then….they just joined Chris and a small crew of supporters on the side-lines. The cheering and advice spurred us all on – it was massively appreciated. Sue ‘Speedy’ Squires battled her way round the pitch, helping everyone to know where they should be and what they should be doing. The communication increased – and so did our domination. Rachel ‘Brick-Wall’ Williams did her usual fantastic job of stopping Frome in their tracks when they looked like they would go on the break. Eventually, though, Frome did get the upper hand, and had a few attempts at goal – which my solid defence repulsed. We sorted out our jitters and relaxed back into the game….when potential disaster struck. Frome got a short corner!
The five of us set up position in the goal. Karen put on her mask, so she could run at the player we thought was going to take the ball and fire it in towards the goal. Everything hinged on this moment. When the ball was passed in, however, Karen ran the player down magnificently, and they had to pass the ball. Meanwhile Fran, Liz and Lucy had intercepted and pinched the ball. The danger was over, and our control of the match could continue.
So then it was like an episode of my favourite ‘Call the Midwife’. (Sorry – just call it my guilty pleasure.) For Knowle, it was push, push, and push throughout the rest of the match. Ruth ‘Dribble Queen’ Denman showed great turn of pace (as ever) and danced round the Frome players…almost scoring a goal single-handedly at one point! Everyone worked their socks off, and kept Frome at bay. I lost count at 5 short corners that were given to Knowle in that half, and unfortunately we didn’t get the chance to convert them, but Frome had to work hard to keep us out.
Frome were an amazing side to play against today, and showed amazing spirit…and a lot more energy than we had! They kept coming, and always looked dangerous – we certainly couldn’t let our guard down. However, I genuinely feel our side played with passion and heart, and we thoroughly deserved to be at 0-0 when the final whistle blew. Considering that we were soundly beaten last time we met on the hockey pitch, I was happy. My smile is still there – along with a glow of pride.
And my husband still thinks it’s because he bought me roses today….I’ll just let him keep thinking that!