I quite often dream about what I want to do with my life – apart from playing hockey and eating cake every day – but one dream has been with me for a while now (well, almost as long as I’ve worked with teenagers!)……to retire early. Stay with me, this does link to the match!!!

It started well, though I did feel bad that not everyone could join us for the match, as we had so many people wanting to play. The sun was out and we all had an unbearable urge to go out and play. Liz had let us know she was telepathically sending us thoughts that would make us play better, and so we got going.

West Wilts are an amazingly organised team, who are well-drilled and absolutely know what they are doing. So pretty soon we were up against it. The midfield sentries were fabulous, and resolutely defended their lines. I admired them all from afar, as we have really come on this season, and each and every player was inspiring that morning. Roanne and Karen pulled off some amazing stops, and organised the team magnificently. Nessa frustrated the WW forwards with her high-energy play…she just never stopped! Rachel was the usual brick wall that attackers find so hard to break down, and Ruth pulled speed out from seemingly nowhere….I’m sure she blu-tacs the ball to her stick!

However, eventually their hard work was not enough to stop WW thundering down towards our defence. I felt a little like that Dutch boy…..but whilst he kept his thumb in, we had to get ours out…and quickly! Lucy, Fran, Ceri and Jo expertly distracted the opposition and constantly rebuffed their advances. Eventually, though, WW got their first goal (at 11 mins), followed up by another on 13 mins. The Knowle army then sprung into action, and for a few minutes we played at the other end of the pitch, with Hope, Grace and Jade trying to make the best of their chances. We were very grateful for their quick, youthful legs! Little did we know that we were soon going to be breaking so many records (22 short corners in one match!)I thought Norris McWhirter was going to turn up with a certificate…….

Back came WW in their reply. Everyone got stuck in, and Chris blew the whistle for a short corner against us….some rubbish about feet (now when do we EVER do that??)! We lined up in the goal, waiting for WW to put the ball in, and in the ensuing tussle, another foot was a bit too slow. Short corner number two….then three….then four…(can you see where this is headed?). Each one prevented from going into the goal, but instead hitting us! I sang every song I knew with ‘Jump’ in the title, but to no avail! Jo and Ceri made some incredible stops – Jo several times saving it from going in for a goal, but the short corners kept coming! We got fed up of them after 16 in a row – so we made sure it hit a WW attacker on the foot so we could have a hit out! Chris was a bit annoyed with us for cheering at that point. We were just pleased to be doing something different…and I was worrying our other players might be getting a bit bored!

The next short corner we had a few minutes later unfortunately resulted in a goal, and at half time we were 4-0 down, despite some strong performances from everyone.

We gobbled down some easter eggs – and got back to work.

Again, everyone kept fighting all the way through, giving a masterclass in resilience and endurance. Becky cunningly confused the WW players by dribbling the ball halfway up the pitch the wrong way, and Jan shot valiantly across the top of goal at every opportunity she had, and had obviously listened to my singing earlier, as she jumped expertly when required.

There were more short corners (surprisingly), yet out of 22 short corners WW only got two goals. There were more goals – we finished 9-0 – yet the memory I have of that match is how Knowle have improved so much over this season. We talk to each other, call to each other, think about where others are on the pitch, and pull off the most amazing shots every now and then.

The best of it? We had a great time…who else could get beaten by nine goals and still come off pitch smiling? Each and every player gave their all that afternoon, and I feel privileged to be able to be a part of it. Every player was a winner in my eyes.

And going back to my original point about early retirement? That day was a bit sad for me too…as it was the last game of the season. I am taking early retirement from my team, and being a captain, much as I would love it if we could play all year! My Saturdays – though busy in other ways – will not feel as great as those when I’m done up like Mr Staypuffed (Google ‘Ghostbusters’ young uns!) and watching my team play their hearts out…roll on September! As the great Arnie the Schwartzneger told us: ‘Hasta la vista baby…….I’ll be back!’

Man of the Match was Catherine 🙂