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Sun 26 Mar 2pm Crunch National League Game

1 year ago By Stuart Burnside

Wapping v Indian Gymkhana

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At the national stadium, Lee Valley Hockey & Tennis Centre, 2pm, Sunday 26 March, we play Indian Gymkhana. We will either be relegated, after our debut season in the National League, or we will win and make the play offs. We are severe underdogs, and games do not get bigger than this. As we look ahead to the game, here is a sneak preview of the match day programme & our Chairman's notes:

"Welcome to Wapping! As they say, it’s “squeaky bum time” for everyone here today – apart from maybe any neutrals here to enjoy our collective blood pressure spikes.

I’d like to start with a couple of thank yous. This has been the first season we have had to prepare these programmes. Katy Needham, our excellent programme designer, has not only chivvied both the contributors to get her our copy on time, she has also done all of the design work. I’d like to thank Hardings Print Solutions, our print sponsor, and also the various team and match day sponsors you see named herein. We could not have done this without you.

I’d also like to thank the excellent officials we have worked with this season. This can be a loud venue at times, louder I think than some occasions I’ve been here for England. Throughout though, the supervision of the games has been first rate. We have a lot of members taking their first steps on the umpiring pathway here at Wapping, and it is really useful for them to have had this opportunity to see how it should be done.

Now, to the hockey. The end…or is it? The fixture gods have cooked up a cracker for us. In this, the final league game of regular time, we welcome Indian Gymkhana for this 9th and 10th place decider. Anything less than a win for upstarts Wapping sees us back down to the East Regions after our first season in the rarefied air of the national leagues. Conversely a sleek looking Gym side, with a long standing national league pedigree, will be fine with a draw. With goal difference in Wapping’s favour though, a simple lock out game could backfire, so it will be very interesting to see the tactics from both sides today.

In short, anything could happen, and there’s two sets of passionate fans here ready to support one of the most important domestic hockey matches this season. I would say at least we can offer you a seat at this ground, but I suspect a few of you will be on your feet for this.

Whatever happens today, I am proud of the way our team have conducted themselves this season. It is a heck of a thing to have to pick yourself up week after week, when results aren’t going your way, and it’s even worse doing it as a first team. You can’t help but think the club is looking at you, no matter what we do as an executive to avoid putting pressure on. I have always thought our team was holding their own at this level, all the games I’ve seen have looked even enough, but for whatever reason, the oppositions just kept scoring more than us. That’s tough to take for players who are used to winning.

That’s why securing our first win against Brighton last week is so important. It’s a massive boost for confidence and morale. It breaks the duck. This is a club where there are usually a lot of our teams doing well. The men’s second team, who train with the lads you see today, already promoted at the time of writing, have likely today been crowned league champions. The third team, too, already have promotion in the bag, as do others. So to be in that environment, you can’t help feel the pressure. It’s been a huge step up. But last week, we delivered, and we showed we can push on at this level. Wapping have now won in national league for the first time ever in our history as a club. You did that lads. Bravo, and dare I say, encore!

Now we aren’t naïve. We know how much effort our opponents have put in preparing for today. We can see just how much soul searching went on over Christmas, the coaching changes, the personnel changes, the Gymkhana Hockey Project. We know the situation we face. But, as a thank you to our members and our season ticket holders, and all the rest of the incredible support we have had this season, we’re going to try our best to put on a show for you today.

Thank you Dom, thank you Snake, thank you team – now go give the crowd what they want.

It’s been an honour to serve as your Chairman for Wapping’s first season in the national league. Thank you for your incredible support.

Stuart Burnside
Wapping Chairman 2013-present

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Updated 09:57 - 27 Mar 2017 by Stuart Burnside

Where next?

John Orwell wins award Refurbishment draws plaudits, John Orwell Sports Centre wins February's MyLocalPitch Outstanding London Sports Venue Award.


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