My Dad Wrote a Match ReportMatt Kern
Matthew Allsopp made his excuses, left Des Martin and Patrick O’Hamlyn at the Regional Sales Meeting, and drove off in his luxurious, eighty-two grand car. Matthew Allsopp prided himself on his professionalism and his stylish yoga pants, but he had just realised he had left the team sheet for today’s hockey game at home. Along with the pens and paper for the after-match voting. And the credit card reader. Matthew Allsopp shrugged, adjusted himself in his leather seat, and glanced in the car’s vanity mirror. “You look like a million dollars,” he said to himself. He would just have to get through this, one way or another.
Matthew Allsopp was going to Long Road to meet up with his team mates from the Cambridge South Asses, Donkeys, and Hockey Trust. They had a big game today, away to Alford and District. Thanks to his leadership they were second in the East Leagues, Mens Division, 4NW table. The team needed to succcessfully close out the game and bring back three points or they might drop down to third.
Matthew Allsopp arrived at Long Road as the town hall clock struck 9am. The team was starting to assemble. Adam Catley, centre back, arrived, his hairline just peeking out from underneath his beanie. Ollie Scott, right wing, limped up carrying his skateboard and looking disheveled. Ollie Scott had fallen off the skateboard and torn a hole in the seat of his joggers, which were now held together with a safety pin between the buttocks. “I hope you remembered not to bring any shorts?” Matthew Allsopp asked. “I do what you ask, Captain!” replied Ollie Scott, deferentially. “Good,” said Matthew Allsopp, “though this does mean we will have to stop at the Boongate Retail Park at junction 5 of the A1139 to see what we can find for you to wear.”
The team assembled and set off in their cars, making good time through the traffic on the A10, M11, A14 (including the new Swavesey-Brampton section over the Great Ouse), and A1(M), before taking the A605 to circle Peterborough on the south side. Everyone made a brief stop at Boongate for a slap up breakfast of baked beans, scrambled eggs, and chipolatas, washed down with tea from a broken tea pot (the spout was missing but the teapot still did an excellent job of dispensing copious amounts of tea into the cups and over the table). Ollie Scott left excitedly for his shopping trip but returned desolate, unable to find any shorts that fitted his curves. Matthew Allsopp blinked.
An hour and a half later the team arrived at Skegness Grammar School. The sports centre is in the style of an upmarket chalet. The team, stiff from the long journey listening to podcasts, stretched, entered the chalet, and headed straight for the private players’ area. Coat pegs curled gracefully upwards from the sophisticated changing furniture. Everyone sat down on the benches and began to strip off, placing their clothes in neat piles. It is customary for sports teams to wear the same uniform. Each player pulled on their matching black underwear, shorts (borrowed from the opposition in Ollie Scott’s case), yellow socks, and a tight, clingy, yellow sports shirt. Protective equipment is also important for dangerous sports like hockey; most players wear shin pads, mouth guards, face guards for pentalty corners, and thimbles.
Kitted up, the team jogged out on to the pitch, attached their bags to the fence with parcel string, and began to warm up.
The pitch was slow, dead to the bounce, and covered in dirty sand. Matthew Allsopp blinked and began the team talk. You are the goalkeeper, he said to George Toynton, daubing symbolic positional marks on his helmet with sand. You are centre backs, he said to Neil Sneade and Adam Catley, annointing them. Matthew Allsopp worked his methodical, sandy way through the wing backs, Matt Kern and James Hayes; midfielders, Connor Grant, Seb Dias (you’ve never seen one person with so much sand in their hair), and himself; and forwards, Jonny Camp, Jimmy ‘The’ Wood, Ollie Scott, and Alex Pashley. The starting whistle blew.
The initial passage of play was in Alford’s favour, but there were good breaks and opportunities in the D for CSADHT. On the whole, CSADHT played like they were knee-deep in mud. Passes were too slow. CSADHT did not come to the ball and Alford repeatedly stepped in front of the receiver to steal possession. The first goal fell to Alford. A defender successfully stopped the Alford attack, only for an Alford attacker to slip his stick between the defender’s legs and tap the ball into the goal. The whistle blew.
The half time pomegranates were passed around and the first half performance was analysed. Tension grew as Matthew Allsopp and Jimmy ‘The’ Wood had a brief falling out before Jimmy was banished to the naughty corner. The general consensus was that CSADHT weren’t playing according to the agreed game plan. Matthew Allsopp was seriously considering firing everyone if performance didn’t improve in the second half. The whistle blew.
The second half started much as the first had ended. The ball moved from D-to-D with chances falling to both sides. Only two were converted. Jonny Camp continued his run of form, scoring his eighth goal in five games with tenacity and skill. The Alford goal came from a good passing and moving attack which cut through the CSADHT defence. Despite a last minute penalty corner, the final whistle extinguished CSADHT’s chances of an equaliser.
The team left the field to lick their wounds in the showers. They were a mess, plastered as they were with sand. They took off their shirts and placed them neatly in the team holdall. Both sides adjourned to The Welcome Inn for match teas. CSADHT were starving; they hadn’t eaten in ages and had worked up quite the appetite. They had to eat quickly as service finished in just twenty minutes. As the last forkful of cottage pie was dispatched, Matthew Allsopp stood and drew the tombola to decide who would write this week’s match report. “Number 13. Unlucky for someone,” he said, and blinked.
Fell off his skateboard on the way to the meet, tearing a new vent in the seat of his joggers. Forgot his shorts. Brought his kit bag into McD and left it there (but came back for it). Couldn't find any shorts at the shops. Borrowed shorts from the oppo.