'Red squirrel uses the last of the autumnal sunshine to gather and store his nuts'
Authored by Matt Crocker..
The team turned up by plane, train and automobile (except no plane) to the home of Cheshunt hockey. Pre-game chat was based around (a) half of the team volunteering to start on the bench before we realised there were no subs and (b) thanks to the date of birth requirement on the team list a desperate search of the list by Scotty to try and find someone older than him.
The Cheshunt XI lined up in a traditional East League big man at the back, big man at the front formation (think Wicksy and Desy) with 8 in between. The first half was relatively forgettable, Cheshunt has more of the possession but the better chances fell to the Wapping visitors. Crocker (the youth policy) forcing a fine save from the keeper and a few other chances. Riddler had a 5 minute injury break, the Cheshunt winger having ran into his arm that was already weak from the heavy beating he had given his wife the night before (see note), however he eventually recovered to get us back to full strength.
When half time came, not much had happened.
The second hand quickly came to life as Bateman broke down the right hand side and cut into the D to shoot reverse stick undercut from an angle. In his mind the ball was going to go searing into the top corner past the keeper’s outstretched hand. In reality the ball somehow managed to go about 5 years forward and about 10 yards up in the air. Ever alert, Crocker pounced with a reverse stick smash / shot putting it past the Cheshunt keeper who did not have time to breath let alone move. A truly fine finish. Due to some uncertainty vis a vis the rules of hockey there was not much confidence the goal would stand, but after a little thought the goal was given; 1-0 Wapping.
Shortly after the big Cheshunt centre back saw the first green of the day, reacting angrily to Bateman’s attempt to remove his shorts with his stick. Shortly afterwards Crocker also took a two minute break although it was very unclear as to the rationale.
There was a sustained period of Cheshunt pressure as they searched for an equaliser. Scotty was working hard to maintain the Wapping defence and show off to his personal travelling fan base. As Scotty ran round to harry the Cheshunt attack it was like watching a red squirrel using the last of the Autumnal sunshine to gather and store his nuts. When this line of defence was breached Graham was there to save the day with a lovely stick take on a 1 on 1.
As the game stretched out there were a good couple of breakaway chances for the Wapping men, with one attack Bateman was in a promising position until he tried to head the ball home on the floor rather than the more traditional use of the stick method. Rel made a run all the way from half way line – think Giggs against Arsenal in the 1999 FA Cup Semi-Final (but with Giggs’s hairstyle merged with Bobby Charlton), Rel went past at least 5 men to get to the penalty shot, but unlike Giggsy he could not quite find the finish.
So going into the last throws of the game the slender 1-0 lead was all we had. With a minute to go, Cheshunt broke down the Wapping right. Sensing the danger Barney took out the Cheshunt winger in the style of the late great Jonah Lomu. A truly filthy challenge would have warranted a red card, but as there was only one minute to go the umpire settled for a green as he did not want to do the paperwork. The challenge was so bad the Cheshunt police were called but due to austerity budget cuts they have not yet arrived.
A final penalty corner for Cheshunt was repelled by Graham and victory was Wapping’s, marching on to round 2! A big shout goes out to midfield, in a game that was more prose then poetry, Lunnon, Mayank, Rel and John Pino Grigio put in a big shift in the sunshine with no subs.
Man of Match was going to go to Graham but he did not make it back, so Riddler won mainly on the basis that he was travelling home by train so was eligible for Stawpedo duty.
DoD went to Crocker (mainly voted by old men jealous of his youth)
Barney wins a special mention for a total lack of knowledge of the rules of hockey not seen since Jim Miller and Ian last umpired together.
Note: As Riddler is a lawyer and therefore may be litigious I will clarify that his wife got stung by a bee and that was why her face was swollen, or she walked into a door or something like that…..