Team selection is a bit of a dark art at the start of the season, especially for the teams at the bottom of the food chain. Friday morning saw the squad somewhat depleted as other teams filled their ranks, but by Friday evening it looked like we had 12 (thanks to help from the Falcons and a new comers to Hawks). Still no GK though as there seemed to be a GK convention or other excuses which meant they were in very short supply this week. Charles Darby kindly agreed to bring his GK kit but not keen to actually wear it.
Come Saturday as we were waiting to get on the pitch, out of nowhere a chap called 'John' appeared saying he had been told to report to us as he heard we needed a GK for the 1400 game. Much relief all round (not least from Darby and general appreciation of the organisational ability of Hawks even at this late hour). As he kitted up we then received a deputation from Oxford HC requesting we give them back their keeper. It seemed to be a case of mistaken identity and 'John' had chosen the wrong (or is it right) Oxford team. Without the legal weight of Higgins to contest that possession is 9/10ths of the law we reluctantly handed 'John' back and following 11th hour negotiations Darby acquiesced on the proviso this was a 'once a season' occasion.
In another twist we eventually lined up as a squad of 14, as Dolly arrived (late) although he was due to be playing for the 4's an hour and a half earlier....its just a pre season thing...
The line up...
Darby GK, Geoff Watson (welcome return after last seasons injury), Andy Kaye, Buzz, Billers, Whitey (our 4 Falcons), Mike Image, Andy Graham, Rich Webb, Richard Venables, Rob McGrigor, Dolly, Jamie Wells ( welcome back following 4 years at Loughborough Uni), Ali Bennett (debut for Hawks having just moved to area).
Unfortunately 14 became 13 as we had to provide one to umpire alongside Dave Dawes who kindly agreed to do a second match in a row.
First half saw Hawks take the lead from open play via Jamie Wells with Oxford then pressing and Hawks unable to get the ball out of their half and conceding a goal via a penalty corner. It could have been a few more though had it not been for Darbys fine keeping and a great goal mouth clearance from Image.
Second half saw Hawks concede a 2nd but this spurred us on to be more positive and we started to work the ball around the pitch well with Buzz as then central fulcrum and great stick work from both Dolly and Ali B. The equaliser came from a Ali B drag flick which saw GK 'John' static in the goal mouth and the winner came from Jamie Wells following a Venables drive to the D and deflect push into the net.
Thanks to Venables, Buzz, Kaye and Webb for umpiring. The quality of umpiring definitely improved with each change. Thanks to Dawes for his 2nd game in a row.
MOM is definitely Darby. We got the right keeper in the end and a shame that such a performance can't be rewarded with another go next week....