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Autumn Festival - a recipe for fun

Autumn Festival Recipe

Description: We have tried this recipe consistently over the last 6 years and find that it gets better every year. To really make it fly make sure you have booked sunshine all day. Must only be tried once a year!  


1 x Dynamic Colts Division of a thriving Hockey Club (must have bird theme in name)

2 x exceptional well laid hockey pitches

460 x children - must be evenly split between Under 8, under 10 and under 12 year olds. Divide into equally skilled teams, seeding is not allowed!

12 x umpires (have to range from ages 13 to 50) Must include Laura Scragg, Robbie Scragg, Sally Clark, Callum Chapman, Rory Phibbs, Baz Marshall, Hugh Gordon, David Gilbert, Sophie Bennett and Drew Blackburn.

1 x Chief Operating Officer (must be called Jan)

Army of Catering staff (with the ability to cook from 9am until 5 am)

1 x small committee of willing parents

46 x team managers/coaches

2 x Senior coaching staff of Danny Newcomb and Andy Clark (to give their time to umpire and encourage).

1000 x A4 Sheets of paper

2 x Staplers (one must be long enough to staple A5 booklets)

1 x overworked portable computer must have a Word, Visio and Excel spreadsheet capability to calculate and re-set all stages of the recipe).

1 x hooter (must very loud and piercing)

Countless x willing helpers to take care of parking, cones, moving goals, collecting scores, etc. etc.


First set weather to foggy followed by a warm, even sunny October day.

Mix the committee together for at least 2 months beforehand and allow to marinade in a mixture of extended emails, parking planning paraphernalia, spreadsheet crunching competition formats.

Invite all the hockey clubs in Oxfordshire and even some in Buckinghamshire to attend the venue on the same day!!

On the morning of the day, prepare venue for action by ensuring an army of helpers sets everything up – BBQs lit, kettles fired up, sound systems installed, cones laid out, goals moved, leagues and matches pinned to notice boards. All must be finished by 8.45am.

The let the mixing begin. Brief a motley crew of willing coaches and managers, line up U8 teams, fill in team forms. Then watch them march pied piper-like trailing shinguarded, mouth-protected, hockey stick bearing children from one pitch to the next – a non-stop 3 hour festival of U8 and U10 hockey. A feast of goals, fun, shrieks, cheers as children, parents and umpires engage to provide a spectacle for all to enjoy.

Ensure that each child at the end of day leaves venue adorned with a medal – for they have all been the winners – a fun, but not too competitive day of hockey for all to enjoy.

Take breather at midday – allow a couple of other matches to take place and then once again the whole caravan sweeps into action, this time for the U12s, bigger and faster the games sweep from end to end on the pitches. This time like a pre-recorded railway announcement, “we apologise for the delayed running of the festival, this has been caused by a signal failure between Dunleavy and Surbiton” we find ourselves running 30 minutes behind time, but all is good and the sun is shining, the tea shack is pouring out thirst quenching teas and coffees, and even the odd beer. All is well and once again the medals are duly earned – tired but content children debating the ins and outs of the day retire to leave a shattered crew of helpers to clear up the debris of a successful day.  

A truly happy day – a special thanks for all the help and also for all the support from the surrounding clubs it is much appreciated!

Richard Venables, Tim Spittles and Nick Gordon – proving the too many chefs don’t spoil the broth!

Thanks to Clive Jones for all the brilliant photos!

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