There was definitely an air of excitement about being able to play again after an absence of 4 weeks due to Lockdown2.0.
We gathered with another ‘classic’ line up. Skipper Venables pondered about following his footballing namesake Terry and adopting a festive ‘Christmas Tree’ formation which he employed when in charge of Spurs and England in the ‘90’s. The trouble was selecting that ‘Star’ lone striker up top. Due to embarrassment of riches (Ellliot, Darby and of course Breen) our own ‘El Tel’ decided to stick with what we know best and resort to our usual 4-4-2 formation.
We started reasonably well but often got bogged down in our 25, struggling to pass the ball out of trouble and resorting to hit and hope. Eventually we started to string some passes together and a move down the left saw Dolly slot the ball to Darby on the left base line who then uncharacteristically and in a show of Christmas generosity laid the ball on to Elliot who found the back board.
We had a full squad of 16 and regular subbing bought fresh(-ish) legs on the pitch. Mark Stoker was lamenting the lack of pre Christmas skiing and made way for Jack W. Shirley was in defence this week rotating with Prof Hack, Pete H and Image. Dolly, Venables, James A (or is it B), Graham Snr and Jnr and Webby formed the centre and the aforementioned Elliott, Darby and Breen were up top. And of course, Phil H was GK and confidently assuring us he’d been keeping up his fitness.
First half stats would record Bicester had greater territory but Hawks took their opportunities. After a couple of practice short corners Shirley then scored a bouncing dribbler… but they all count. Shortly after Dolly found himself at the top right of the D and scored with a well struck hit. He then turned and gave the finger wag celebration to the on looking crowd. COVID restrictions mean numbers are currently restricted to 2,000 and luckily we only had 4, but one of them was Dolly’s sister who clearly enjoyed the moment.
3-0 at half time felt comfortable and we had several missed chances. We were all feeling a bit rusty and if was more ‘Calamity Jane’ than ‘Magnificent 7’s’.
Despite a rousing half time talk from ‘El Tel’ about upping our game and going for a big score, Bicester had other ideas and came out as the team who wanted this more. We started conceding a run of 4 or 5 short corners. Bicester managed to claw a goal back through an assist from a Shirley foot…lets call it a Christmas gift to our friends up the A34. When we did get out of our 25 we started to look good when we passed and Ollie Graham and Dolly worked hard resulting in a nice interplay and Dolly finishing off to bring us back to 4-1.
I know it is nearly Christmas but I wasn’t sure the pitch was an ice rink….Ollie G and Charles D thought otherwise as they Bambi-esqued around the D at times. Despite an earlier air shot, Charles scored from a Dolly base line pass to finish the game 5-1.
We finish our games this year as top of the league….what a crazy year this has been. Hockey brings about some normality though. There are certain things that always happen in a 7’s game…air shots, poor passing, lazily taking the ball on the reverse when we should move our feet and Bobby Breen kicking the ball. These familiarities have got us through this year. This has been a momentous season for the Magnificents but more importantly, one which has been great fun.
Thanks to Hugh and Geoff for umpiring and the Kiosk team for a lovely curry and beers…..roll on 2021!!!