One Last TimeJan Brynjolffssen
2020/21 will forever stand as an oddity. There was the Curious Incident of the Leagues in the wintertime. What was curious about them? They didn’t happen. Well they sort of did, but apparently the third of a season we played didn’t count… though the M6s somehow seem to have played their way through these non-counting games into Division 5NW for 2021/22. Meaning they have been promoted already, which is impressive for a team that has officially never played a league match! Following the lack of Hockey in the winter, we had the curious case of games last past mid-summer as local clubs played a bunch of friendlies to make up for lost time. This game was the last of those.
It sent South north a bit to Ely’s notoriously slow pitch with a somewhat mix-and-match side that was mostly M6s but with some M5s and the occasional M4 thrown in for good measure. The guess was that Ely’s side would be similarly mix-and-match at this stage of the season, which surveying the faces on arrivals seemed about the case.
After some chatter about friendly push-backs, and an interruption from some spectators to save Ant’s dog from overheating, the match got underway. It was initially fairly even with Ely looking pacy up front but South probably just about shading possession and territory. Thomas G was looking his usual lively self down the right, but our play suffered from the old problem of not enough players doing that or looking wide as we got focused down the middle into the strong Ely sticks too often.
One of the few times we did get wide in the first half, we scored. Jan and Thomas exchanged passes from centre to right wing and back, followed by Jan crossing to Jo, via the foot of a defender. Jo showed good patience in keeping playing (kudos also to the Umpire for a good advantage), drawing a save from the ‘keeper and then being first to the rebound to push into an unguarded net. It was apparently Jo’s first goal since before his nasty leg-break, so very welcome all round.
That was the only goal of the opening period, but there was more goalmouth action after the break. The first saw Ely apparently equalise as a slowing rolling ball going wide was somehow kicked into his net in slow-motion by otherwise impeccable goalie Mikey. Apparently he thought the game had been stopped, this based on some of his defenders also ceasing playing. Which they shouldn’t have done, even if the Ely forward had kicked it, as neither Umpire had seen the foot. Fortunately the Ely player was a sportsman, and chose to inform the Umps about what they had missed, meaning Mikey was off-the-hook.
South repaid Ely for their sporting attitude by going two up soon after. Jan took a quick long corner, catching some of the defenders off-guard. His ball into the circle was duffed (that damn pitch!), but Wilco battled for it to work it on to Rob, on the spot, back to goal. As everyone knows Rob is lethal from this position, and a trademark push away from his marker and reverse stick sweep sent the ball in off the far post. 2-0.
Soon after South were fortunate not to see their lead halved as an Ely attack saw Mikey rounded and the player shooting at a seemingly open goal. However he delayed slightly which allowed the Monckasaurus and Anthony to get back on to the line. The shot beat the first of these defenders, but was stopped by Ant and spirited away from danger. Given this happened practically on the line this was as good as a goal for South. Over on the sideline everyone was happy that Anthony had not heard Martin shouting for him to be substituted 15 seconds before!
Once again South took a let off as their cue to attack, putting together or best move of the game to score a really good third. It started from sweeper Dave with a 16 in the middle of the pitch. He sent it out to Jan at full-back, who cracked a ball up the line to Jo on halfway. Jo fed it on to Paul in the midfield, who in turn fired it at forward Andy, who was in the circle. Andy’s first task was to control the fizzing pass, which he did well. What came next was rather unexpected though as he immediately let fly with a tomahawk reverse stick strike, something he hadn’t even been known to try previously, but which worked spectacularly as the ‘keeper could only turn it in at his near post.
3-0 was rather flattering to South (see Mikey as Man-of-the-Match) and hosts Ely finally got a goal back soon after with a reserve stick lift high into the top corner that no ‘keeper was saving. It was the least they deserved. But it was also all they got as the M6s rounded off this bizarrest of seasons with a win. Here’s to 2021/22 and a more normal campaign.