The Oxford Hawks 3rd team entered the second weekend after the winter break having taken up where they left off with a commanding 5-0 repeat against Bicester the week before.
The management hierarchy were aware the Banbury could prove a potential banana skin after some solid displays this season. Preparation was hindered by only 10 bodies meeting at the pitch, with rumours of which senator couldn’t be arsed to play. Undaunted, the troops marched on regardless. The arrival of Paul Hood 15 mins before push back was met with screams of delight from the author, who narrowly avoided having to play centre back. New warm up routines floundered and it was clear some inspirational words were needed from captain for the day, Boots. The best pre-game speech is a controversial topic; “One inch at a time” by Al Pacino in Any Given Sunday, Vince Lombardi’s “It’s not whether you get knocked down, it’s whether you get back up”. The stage was set…”Everyone just chillax guys”. Well said, Boots, well said.
Pumped up to the brink of mania from the enigmatic team talk, Hawks played miserably for the first 15 minutes, unable to string more than a handful of passes together and frequently turning over possession. Fergus was called on more than once to save the teams’ blushes, however one man can only do so much, and after deciding the saving shots was boring, Fergus pulled off a magnificent Chopper Harris-style hatchet job on their lippy Oceanic forward, who disappointingly dusted himself off to slot home the resultant penalty. A chance for more motivation from the Skipper – “Sorry ladz, still LOL-ing from that GR8 selfie I took before the game”. Inspirational stuff. Torbs, was less erudite, with a string of four-letter expletives indicating the frustration of the stand-in right back. But it worked, Hawks fought their way back in to the game with resilience and guile, Dave Springer making a menace of himself and Simpson starting to find gaps in the Banbury defence. A converted short-corner from Baldock was disallowed for some reason, which started to set the tone for a somewhat disappointing umpiring performance. Within
5 minutes, Baldock was on the sidelines having been felled after the whistle by another choppy Banbury player and Hawks could tell they were up against it. Baldock epitomised the fight, playing on through the pain barrier.
Hawks replied through Simpson, who received multiple fist pumps and high fives from the elated captain, who thankfully stopped short of displaying his newly learned break dancing talents. It was clear that Hawks realised now was the time to capitalise, but instead instantly passed to the same mouthy antipodean who slotted away calmly.
2-1 at the break, and fresh from his round-Britain motivational speaking tour, Boots saw his chance to make a
difference: “The first half left me sad face. I want the second half to be totes amazeballs boys”. Stirred by such words, Hawks were revitalised and took the fight to Banbury in the second half. Lamby stepping up to centre mid added some grit that the newly club-footed Baldock had unable to muster (fair enough with a broken leg – ed).
Multiple short corners came and went with even more spurious umpiring, and things were looking bleak. The equaliser came with a trademark faff-in-at-the-back-post-from-two-yards-out by Gallacher with 10 mins to go. Minutes later, Boots wound up his ROFLCOPTER and buried a short corner from the top of the D to take it to 3-2. The last seconds were played out in shear fear of what infringement the umpires would imagine next, however that was how it stayed. A good victory in challenging circumstances, with unfortunate news that Baldock will miss much of the remainder of the season.
Next week is the big derby against Oxford 3s, where, mercifully, no words of encouragement will be necessary….
MOM – Lamby (running away with it with 2 votes) DOD – Like, totally, Boots. Act your age.
The weekend numbers: Oxford Hawks 3, Banbury HC 2, Visits to the JR 1, Anonymous tip-off to operation Yew Tree regarding Boots too many to count.