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An early start saw a band of ten players make the trip to Felixstowe hoping to go one better than last year, when we lost in the final. The squad was augmented by two players from Cranes of Ipswich giving us very little ability to make substitutions.

This year the tournament had been expanded to two groups of five teams, with the winners of each group contesting the final. We were in a group with Bury St Edmunds, Bracknell, Clacton and Waveney, the team that beat us last year.

Our first game saw us with a maximum three points following a two-one win over Bury. Goals from Roman (from Cranes) and a superb individual one from Steve Fleck saw us home more comfortably than the scoreline indicates.

After an hour’s break we took to the field again to take on Bracknell. In a tough, evenly matched game Phil Smith scrambled a late goal following a cross from the right that flew up in the circle. So maximum points from our first two games and top of the league half way through the round-robin stage.

The next game was against Waveney and another tough struggle took place with neither attack able to break the other’s defence and a goalless draw resulted, with one point for each team.

Our final game, which was against Clacton, was the last one in the group and by now we knew that a win or a score draw would see us top the group and move into the final; whereas a win for Clacton would see them draw level with Waveney. So a hard fought game with everything to play for, for both teams. And hard fought it was, with the umpires having words with a couple of the Clacton players about language and conduct. Unfortunately our legs were tiring and the game resulted in yet another goalless draw.

So this meant that we tied with Waveney at the top of the group with eight points and the rules stipulated that the team scoring most goals went through to the final. As we had both scored 3 it came down to goals conceded and here Waveney scraped through having kept a clean sheet in every game. In the final, Waveney lost by a single goal to Marrssen from Holland.

And so the dream ended for another year; so near yet again. But still a great day was had by all in the sun with some good hockey being played.

Squad: Roy Todd, Steve Riches, Steve Garwood, Mike Gronow, Peter Mercer, Geoff Butcher, Piyush Yani, Phil Smith, Steve Fleck, Roger Craigen, and Geoff and Roman from Cranes.

PoolBury St Edmunds2-1Roman, Fleck