I've observed before that you know what you're going to confront on a visit to Witney Hockey Club.
Whatever their position in the League table they are always up for a scrap and, unless they only reserve their most competitive performances for matches with Hawks (which I rather doubt), will be looking forward to giving every other side in the League a going over in the second half of the season. Personally I hope they do. Visiting sides to Wood Green School would do well to be wary. Neil "as I say, as I say" Chilvers, their redoubtable coach, won't mind me remarking that he has very clear ideas of how each team in the League can be tactically taken apart - preparation being a very useful quality in a coach.
They remind me very much of Leeds United - they play hard and direct hockey, have a terrific team spirit, never give up and are, without doubt, the League's most vocal side. I mean none of that disparagingly. In fact I'm looking forward to Chilv taking to watching games almost entirely on his haunches (a la Marcelo Bielsa) and occasionally marching up and down the touchline in turmoil. Then the comparison would be complete.
They are certainly not to be underestimated - which leads me to comment on how often the words underestimated and overestimated are confused. (As in "it's impossible to underestimate how lovely that garden looks" - see what I mean?)
To encounter them in our first League game post Christmas was therefore not ideal.
So it gives me some considerable satisfaction to report that on a grim foggy Saturday (which nearly caused the fixture to be called off) our brave boys put in a professional performance to see off the Witney threat by 3 goals to 1 courtesy of contributions from Knoxy, Grouty and Sobes. The day was not without incident but Hawks were pretty much in the ascendancy for most of the game and also had a penalty stroke "goal" disallowed when the entire side were convinced the ball had found its way behind the goal through a hole in the net rather than over the crossbar.
Witney continued battling to the final whistle which was about as surprising as a wine and cheese party at number 10 and scored a consolation goal as the clock was ticking down.
Chilv was very gracious in the circumstances and I very much hope Witney now have a cracking second half of the season
So (why do people always start every sentence with "so" these days?) - job done and first post Christmas hurdle cleared. Long may it continue.