This year's tournament was a 7-a-side one held on a glorious day that was almost too hot for hockey. Cambridge South managed to scrape together seven players, unlike most other teams there that had two or three substitutes.
Cambridge South were drawn in a group with Cranes, last years champions, Clacton, Norfolk Nomads and Waveney; with the other pool comprising Felixstowe, Braintree, Bracknell, Uccle from Brussels and Bury.
Nomads were our first opponents and a very disappointing performance saw us defeated two-one. Some sloppy play saw the opposition score two soft goals in the first ten minutes before South woke up from the 8.30 departurte from Cambridge! In spite of some good attacking play for the last ten minutes of the twenty-five minute game, the Nomads keeper made numerous excellent saves to deny the powerful attack of Dave Maynard and Roger Craigen. In fact, it was Colin Worboys pushing up from defence who scored setting up a frantic last few minutes but their keeper denied us an equalising goal.
After a break we played Clacton and South were again slow to start but the defence held firm with Lino making several good saves when the two main defenders in front of him, Steve Riches and Colin Worboys were beaten. South dominated much of the game, with most of the team spending the majority of the time in the oppositions half. However another excellent game from a keeper thwarted most of South's efforts and it was another defender who scored. This time Steve Riches saw his scuffed shot beat a stranded keeper for the only goal of the match.
After an hour's break we played against Waveney who had beaten all the other three teams they had played against. So this was a must win match for South; a win or draw for Waveney would see them safely top of the group and move into the final. South started with all players linking up well and dominating the opening ten minutes. The midfield of Stephen Fleck and David Bridge controlled the centre of the pitch and set up numerous moves for the front two to capitalise on. From one flowing move down the right Dave Maynard beat two defenders after being set free by the ever-energetic Stephen Fleck before slotting home under a diving keeper. This goal was immediately followed up by a similar move down the left. Colin moved the ball to David Bridge who beat his man and then passed to Roger. His fierce shot, after dummying his marker, from the edge of the circle took a slight deflection off a defenders stick to fly past Waveney's stranded keeper.
These two goals brought the opposition to life. They pushed forward and with the help of fresher legs that their subs gave them managed to bring the game level with five minutes to go. South fought back and a fierce shot from Dave pinged off the far post with the defence well beaten. South kept pushing forward and from a short corner Dave struck home the winning goal just before the whistle went.
Half an hour to rest and regroup before our final game which was also a must win after opening the group up with the win against the group leaders. If Cambridge South or Cranes, our final opponents, could win four-nil then they were in the final. Unfortunately this proved to be an unfriendly game and a very aggressive Cranes side were not taking any prisoners. After a couple of early shots from the South front pair, Cranes dominated the match and were three goals up with ten minutes to go. By now tempers were getting frayed and the young umpire had lost control. From a fierce rising shot Lino went down in agony - a box doesn't offer sufficient protection. Play was held up for five minutes while he recovered and the opposition moaned about would enough time be added on. Lino recovered enough to hobble off the pitch and we called on the services of Waveney's keeper to take his place.
From the restart, South had a couple of shots on goal but from a swift break from defence, one of Cranes' forwards managed a shot as he was being challenged by Colin. A shout of "leave it" went out and the keeper did just that. Cranes claimed a goal, South disputed it but somehow the umpire, who was near the halfway line, managed to clearly see that the ball was inside the circle!Cranes then brought all players into their half for the final few minutes and with South not wishing to really challenge for 50-50 balls against an aggressive team, Cranes won by the four goals required and went into the final, which unfortunately they won two-one.
However, an enjoyable day out and to finish it off two of the squad also backed the third horse in The National! It was also a memorable day to mark the retirement of Roger Craigen, the club's President and Vets captain.
Squad: Lino Di Lorenzo , Steve Riches, Colin Worboys, Stephen Fleck, David Bridge, Dave Maynard and Roger Craigen.