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A squad of nine made the trip on a cold Saturday morning to the Felixstowe International Vets Hockey Tournament; a skiing injury and illness taking a last minute toll on numbers. In spite of the snow on the ground on the journey, the pitches were all clear and the weather stayed dry and bright for the day.

Cambridge South were drawn in a group with the hosts Felixstowe along with Bracknell, Braintree and Bury St.Edmunds. The other group consisted of Norwich Exiles, Clacton, Waveney, Cranes and Uccles from Belgium.

Our first game, after a welcome mug of tea and a bacon roll, was against Braintree. We borrowed a couple of players from teams in the other group and South took an early two goal lead with a good strike from Stephen Fleck followed by the first in many years from Steve Riches. How does a sweeper turn up in the circle at the right moment? Completely out of position or a demonstration how superior South were at the time, playing some very good hockey? Unfortunatelym Braintree fought back and a good goal coupled with a lapse of concentration in the South defence saw them draw level. However just as the final whistle went, South were awarded a short corner and from this Ricky Williams hammered the ball home from a very tight angle on the right.

After a short break, we took the field against Bracknell and an evenly balanced match took place, played in the best of spirits as the first one had been. Jim Sutcliffe in goal made several good saves when the defence of Steve Riches, Peter Kemp, Mick Beasley and Geoff Butcher was breached. The midfield of Stephen Fleck and Keith Davidson, assisted by a guest, gave good service to the front players who were Ricky Williams and Roger Craigen, helped by another loan player. The only goal of the game was scored by Cambridge South when Roger hammered home a through ball from Ricky.

So five points out of a possible six from the first two games and an hour’s break before the crucial game against Felixstowe. This was the host’s final game and they had remained undefeated so far and both sides realised that this was the crunch game – the winner going through to the final against the other group winner.

Playing some excellent hockey, South took an early lead with a move down the right which saw another perfect through ball from Ricky meet our guest player from Waveney who slipped the ball past the keeper. This goal drew out the worst reaction from a couple of the young vets in the opposition team who played in an aggressive, unsporting way for the rest of the game. Unfortunately, the umpires lost control and we conceded two hotly contested goals and lost the game two-one. The two qualified umpires in the South defence, along with another who umpires regularly, all said that they would have had no hesitation in sending off the offending players for dangerous play and language.

Our final game in the group was academic and resulted in a goalless draw against Bury, with Steve Riches limping off with a pulled hamstring and yet another guest joining the squad.

So an enjoyable day ended with Cambridge South finishing runners up on goal difference in their group; a day marred by the behaviour of a couple of opposition players playing in a spirit not suited to an end of season festival. For the record, Felixstowe were defeated two-one in the final by Crane.

PoolBraintree3-2Fleck, Riches, Williams
PoolBury St Edmunds