Our first league game of the season against a side whom we played last year with mixed results. Hawks had a somewhat uneven pre-match preparation with various players on childcare, stuck in traffic, at school open mornings and having to double-back to collect forgotten kit. No mean feat and not a great way to initiate our season. 30 minutes before push back our Masters International Leader (Dunners) tried to present the line-up to the 6 players who had been able to turn up on time. A distinct lack of playing shirts meant that we had no numbered attire which we now know is in breach of league rules - more delays. Once we became sufficiently quorate, the general plan to push back at the start time clothed in the correct kit, was still looking distinctly unrealistic. The solution was to run away for a 25 minute warm up, 1 mile away from the pitch with no prior communication with the umpires, leaving Boggs to act as chief mediator; a role for which his father has prepared him magnificently. There was little he could do with the umpires piling on the pressure to start the game. We decided that the more traditional stick and ball warm up was distinctly overrated, and so ran onto the pitch with minimal preparation. Ignoring protestations from all others, Hawks were ready to start the game before the opposition. Quite how that happened we have yet to understand but, suffice it to say, it was not the last time the oppo came second.
The game was on!
The 3's looking strong and with a core of really talented juniors, the writing was on the wall. Our youngsters - Laurie, Charlie, Ray, Ollie, Robbie and Jon (amongst a pool of others) - were really at the heart of all the very best hockey exhibited on the day. However, against the run of play, a cracking crossed ball to their lone centre forward resulted in a short corner. An angled drag flick to the bottom corner found our keeper flailing to recover as the postman gave him the space to clear the ball. 1-0 down after 10 minutes.
Hawks equalised almost immediately via a time proven short corner routine - a straight strike - by another of the club's ageing Masters. A well-worked penalty corner lead to the second goal and Crowley completed his first-half hat-trick with a back-hand strike to the bottom corner, from an acute angle.
Hawks were 3-1 up at the break.
MOM Ray Prince showed great skill to put both Charlie Stoker and Craig Nevard in on goal. It was a superb result, despite the 3-on-1 break-away concession goal which meant that Hawks finished the match 5-2 up.
Eddie Baldock had a great second half, showing levels of skill never seen before. He regularly waltzed past 2 (or more) defenders, setting up attack after attack. With enough practice, he is beginning to master the complex "mounting the advancing keeper" manoeuvre. Something only Crowley does with more élan.
A great start to the season, but Hawks must find a warm up formula that works. Boggs can only hope for a pre-match warm up that doesn't rely on just a single ball shanked past the back post. As Martin Luther would say: "I have a dream". Let's hope it doesn't become a nightmare.