A bit of housekeeping first and foremost. Our last game before Christmas was a bore 0-0 effort against bottom of the league. I don't really want to talk about it. For an attack to fail to score in any hockey game is utterly unacceptable and I think we were all furious and ashamed with ourselves. No excuses, we'll address that in the new year after we've worked off some mince pies and ham. I would like to give big credit to our opposition though, they were every bit as good as we were bad it was a monumental effort from them, and they should be proud of stopping us.
Anyway let's crack on. For those unfamiliar with the format of champagne and turkey moments let me inform you. It is a run through of all of our squad members and what I believe to be their finest moment (or achievement) and also their most embarrassing moment (or achievement) of the season so far. Last year we had some corkers and frankly it is going to be a tough act to follow. I'll give it my best though and let's start, as always, at the back.
H aka Harrison (Captain): The big man himself, captain and leader of the pack. H is the undisputed king between the sticks for us and proudly so.
Champagne Moment: Clean at last- H has has much much more to do this campaign from last year due to the increase in competition. For this reason he's got to savour those clean sheets, so for the first clean sheet against Bebington. Pop a cork.
Turkey Moment: Fish on the ship deck- Having much more to do means there's plenty more opportunity for the team to indulge in one of our favourite activities; slating H for any mistake. With that in mind his turkey moment is for when he went down early like a sack of spuds off the back of a wagon in the cup game and let the striker go round him and slot home a third goal. H was left like a dead fish on the floor. Useless! Bit harsh? That's because he often refuses to accept criticism, the only logical response to which is to intensify the slander.
Nick (Vice-Captain): A rugged Mesolithic defender, Nick is the rock at the back with an interest in the stone age. I'd call him a balls-out defender but he wears a cup, which should tell you all you need to know about his tackling style.
Champagne moment: IN THE FACE!- Saved a short corner with his face, not with one of those cop-out masks on either, full on in the face, bruises and everything. Also, got away with it, some scholars of the rules might suggest that should have been a penalty flick.
Turkey moment: Let off- As relates to the above lucky break Nick received a green card for a pretty blatant foot. Should have been a yellow card but wasn't. For that let off and the other one he can have some Turkey instead of some sin bin time.
Martin: Persistent and quick Martin has a habit of popping up in the smallest of spaces at exactly the right time to stop a shot or pass. Widely derided for being the smallest man on the team, most of which is egged on by 2nd smallest man of the team Marky.
Champagne moment: Crouchy Crouches- Readers from last week will of seen the picture themselves but Martin was 'lucky' to bump into Stoke City player and all-round tall man Peter Crouch on the team Christmas party. Cue a fantastic picture that was photo-shopped by Coach almost as soon as he got home. Inspiring that kind of commitment from Coach has got to be commended
Turkey Moment: Oh Gosh- Martin and the cup don't mix too well. This year it came back to haunt him again as he put in an own goal in the first half (stupid new rules!). It was a cracking finish and bamboozled H, just a shame we couldn't recreate it at the other end. We ended up losing 4-3. One goal difference. Just Saying.
Kiwi aka Adam: Adam, as no one knows him, is our resident beast defender and scourge of all young players in the league (not like that you filthy people)
Champagne Moment: Missing game.... nope- Kiwi has missed a few fixtures at points this season, being a dad of two and trying to justify hanging out with us reprobates every Saturday is tough. It was made even harder with the birth of his new son Sebastian. A true cause worth celebrating there though. The real Champagne moment though has got to be him playing a match the day after the birth, dedication.
Turkey moment: Widowmaker- Kiwi is a tough tackling defender but also likes to indulge us with a bit of flair by pulling the aerial pass out of the bag. The only problem is how bad it is, usually nearly taking someones head off and giving the ball away. In Kiwis defence I did see him pull out an aerial of a decent height this season. It went straight out of play and over the fence. Keep it on the deck.
Ben: A late addition to the defence Ben has spent most of the season further up the pitch, but switching around the pitch are just some of the perks of being official youth of the team and one of the best all-round players in the side
Champagne moment: Picked off- In our new league we come across quite a lot of jolly defenders who love nothing better than to attempt to kill me by throwing long aerial passes over the top of the midfield. Most of the defence have struggled to get to grips with a controlled take-down of this pass, but not Ben. In defence he has picked off these passes well, and let me tell you there is nothing a team like less than seeing their best outlet made ineffective.
Turkey moment: Finger lickin' Chicken- A moment of world-class stupidity. Ben was chowing down on some Chicken coated with the colonels famous blend of herbs and spices. He pipes up to remark 'That Ken must be well rich'. Cue questioning from bemused team-mates... turns out he was referring to Ken Tucky, the white haired, chicken murdering old man off the KFC packaging. I can hear the colonel laughing all the way from the lowest circle of hell, where he is surely interred. Needless to say Ben deserves a big bucket of Ken Tucky's finest turkey for this one.
Marky: The sixpence in the Christmas Pudding that is the Sale midfield Marky is reigning player of the year and professional giver of backchat to opposition players.
Champagne moment: Screaaammmerr: I wasn't there to witness it myself but apparently Marky lashed a goal into the roof of the at some point. I wouldn't know much about that though because I have definitely not heard anything about it.
Turkey moment: Tomahawk: I was there to see this monstrosity. Marky 'lashed' in a furious reverse stick goal that was so good it bamboozled the keeper. He was so taken aback by how poor the shot was he let it go in; and so did the top sliced trickled ball unfairly become an addition to Marks goal tally. Work on that reverse, make it so you don't hit it with the back of the stick for starters.
Dave: If someone is getting ripped on Dave is never far away... as the guy getting ripped on. Re-deployed at left-half this year he's made the most dull position on the park all his own, with slightly less bitching that we've seen before too, result!
Champagne moment: The time is now- Got to commend Dave for his turnaround, he openly admitted to not enjoying them game at the start of the season but has knuckled down and worked hard to get himself back into the swing of things. To stick his head above the parapet and document this in the form of a blog is a brave thing to do. I'm ashamed to admit I don't read it as much as I should, particularly as a hockey blog writer myself. Just wanted to say that so you all know how awful a person I am really.
Turkey moment: The worst flick in history- Now when it comes to Turkey moments Dave is a man that can rival Bernard Matthews himself at times. A late contender was (apparently) winning £3,500 in a casino over Christmas and giving it away to some homeless man outside, in an act of Ballotelli-esque stupidity (£20 to shelter would've been better lad!). However, I cannot award him his big portion of Turkey for that as instead I had to go for Dave's solitary league goal this year, the worst penalty flick of all time. It was flicked straight at the keeper who, in an act of surprise bounced the ball off his leg pad, then arm pad, then kicker, and let it roll (just) over the line. Really it was the keepers own goal but Dave has claimed it and so can claim the Turkey that comes with it.
Jim: Midfield utility man Jim is always a useful man to have in a tight spot. Until recently I would've said that Jim'll fix it but given that he already has the nickname Uncle Jim we best steer well clear of that one.
Champagne moment: The Unfineable- A great achievement this one given how much he dishes out. Jim has a remarkably good track record of not getting hit with big money during the fines meetings, and being generally unfineable. Some might not think that's too good but I can tell you from personal experience it is the way to go.
Turkey moment: Missing piece- always tough to find a decent Turkey moment for Jim. So I'm going to have to plump for that most devilish of scourges that gets Hockey players with actual responsibilities in their lives, sketchy availability. Jim misses more than his share of games thus depriving us of the chance of seeing him do something proper stupid and getting a decent Turkey moment.
Charlie: Our first new boy on the list Charlie is possibly even the newest member of the club overall and the only student on the team (PHDs do not count properly, it is known).
Champagne Moment: Rapid rise- No messing about from Charlie when he joined he was quickly up into the first team after one appearance for the 2's, a 14-0 win.
Turkey moment- Catching the greens- I am told that for every game Charlie has played for the 1's he has managed to both fall over and receive a green card, in one case I think he got a green card as a result of stopping himself from falling over, bad times. The fines tin loves green cards but its the definite stuff of Turkey.
Jon O: Cat Man is back! The buzzing midfield hornet that is Jon O has seen some 1's action this season but like a few of us has drifted between the teams, but there's always room for our feline friend here.
Champagne moment: Duracell Cat- Despite being a man between teams Jon Os energy hasn't dropped one bit, his intensity is a great asset, it's easy to get lazy out in the half-back positions but Jon Os relentless desire for goals and pitchtime always see him working hard, a great credit.
Turkey moment: Nose bleed: Jon Os above mentioned desire for goals and pitchtime often leads him up into the lofty heights of the back post of the opposition. This is sort of a positive but also a very ambitious position for a defensive midfielder whose man is near the halfway line to be in. I personally find it funny watching the mad dash back into position, can't say the defence agree.
Lyndon: We've so many Inside forwards now I decided to make it a category of its own and at the top it's none other than Sale legend and Voice of Reason and fair play (most of the time) Lyndon. A huge asset to the team many a forward has scored off his well timed balls, indeed I'd go so far as to say we're always looking to get on the end of Lyndon's balls.
Champagne moment: Lyndon mode- First discovered while drunk on tour Lyndon mode is the strange berserker mode that Lyndon sometimes goes into, but instead of swinging wildly for the ball and taking on too many men (as I would do) he manges to wriggle out of a 3-4 man midfield press hole and play a pass away. Sublime
Turkey moment: Mr. Glass- Without doubt our biggest injury saga of the season Lyndon's back deserves a blog of its own detailing it's exploits and mood swings. This Turkey is more for your back Lynners in the hope that it will cheer up over Christmas, do backs like Turkey? Guess we'll find out...
Mike H: Sneaking onto last years list with one appearance before jetting off to New York Mike H is back, and hopefully I'll be able to say something more substantial about him this time.
Champagne moment: Wait a minute Mr. Postman- Being the fittest man in the squad through the pre-season fitness weeks deserves a credit of its own but Mike has to get the glory for being the man who loves getting a diving back post deflect goal. The kind of goal that makes coach weep tears of gritty North Eastern joy. The undisputed highlight in this was his goal in the cup vs Knutsford. Great stuff
Turkey moment: Gooner- Mike has the misfortune to be an Arsenal fan, as if that wasn't enough he also had the misfortune to have to miss a game to go and watch them get totally outplayed by the Red Devils down at Old Trafford. Proper Turkey stuff that, on the plus side though he's not as Turkey as Arsenal's attacking options.
Mike P: Another new boy and another Mike, both playing in the same position. Not confusing at all that, I personally blame coach for not picking the team different, though it should be said if I were at inside forward we'd be bottom of the league.
Champagne moment: Release the Dragon- Mike has brought us a drag flick outlet actually capable of scoring us a goal, sorry Neil, Nick, Ben, and... Marky (lol). After a few cracking saves through the season Mike finally managed to stick one away, and there was much rejoicing. Apart from H, H said he would've saved it. Scrooge.
Turkey moment: Backdoor- Sale Christmas Night out. The boys are feeling rowdy, time to hit the dance room and throw some serious shapes. where is Mike? Oh he's only gone and back-doored it, bad form. 40-year-old Kiwi was out at 4.30am. Lad.
Danny: Finally onto the business end of the team and here we have Sale 1st team veteran Danny. Despite a gammy knee he's still sticking them in left right and centre. He's yet to score his once a season zero-angle goal but I'm sure it won't be long before we see it.
Champagne moment: Reverse bag- Everyone loves a reverse stick goal and Danny's reverse bag across the goal and into the opposite corner with one touch was just about as good as it gets, he may of admitted it was a fluke but I say it was pure class.
Turkey moment: Dragnet- Never shy of a controversial fashion choice Danny decided to push the boat out on the Christmas do and rock the trilby, which was loved by all the lads but did make him look like a 1940s US police detective. It's something most of us have wanted to dress as probably, but having seen what it looks like now I'll know to give it a miss.
Goldsie: Much derided for his choice of intimate partners Goldsie has blown very hot at time this season (insert your own joke here) and been a revelation over on the right.
Champagne moment: Goals galore- Goldsie has manged to turn possession into goals this year which is nice, already he's surpassed his total for last year by some distance, but according to Fixtureslive he's NOT the top scorer for the team, never mind eh!
Turkey moment: Passively aware- Two goals scored by... passing the ball, it missing it's intended recipient, and going into the goal, fantastic stuff, but unintended, making this a positive piece of Turkey. Like Turkey with cranberry sauce or something.
Neil: Prolific goalscoring machine last season Neil has taken a bit of a step back this year, not played as many games etc. His presence has been missed it has to be said, but it's the only way I'm getting into the team it seems so every cloud has a silver lining!
Champagne moment- Goal King- Despite missing games Neil has still manged to be the top scorer for the 1's according to fixtureslive. Now I know there is some dispute about the goal scorers and accusations of dodgy admin flying about when it comes to updating those stats but as of 23rd of December that's how they read. The man is prolific and Goldsie is gutted he's not top.
Turkey moment: No treble- Neil was a hat-trick specialist last season, but so far all has been quiet on the jug-front. I'm sure he's just stalling for a new year comeback.
Lewis aka Ice Cold: Ice cold, the coolest customer of all the forwards, he sends a chill down the spines of the opposition and always gives them a frosty reception. He's as fleet as a winter wind, leaves his markers frozen to the spot, and never thaws out in the heat of battle. I'll get on with it now as I'm struggling to 'Arctic'ulate any more puns into this description.
Champagne moment: More goals- Yet another forward who must be commended on improving their goal scoring numbers, It's a good sign that our goals are coming from a diverse range of options. We all know where the goal is, but wait! Put the champagne on ice! Lewis has indeed scored more already than he did last season but he's not top scorer, his generosity in goal is good though and has benefited me directly, so can't have a go.
Turkey moment: Squatters Rights- Such is his dedication to the Sale cause Lewis has been living- in an unspecified location- on his girlfriends floor. He has his own patch right next to her bed, it's touching in a way and a tale of true romance but it's the stuff of grim festive Dickensian fare and most definately qualifies as Turkey.
George: At last we get to me, the all-star talisman and spear head of the attack. The knife in the dark and the shadow in the D. Scoring goals and fighting for justice as I do it, truly I am the unsung hero of the team.
Champagne moment: Hat-trick hero- Coming back into the side after a little stint with the 2's and scoring a hat-trick. The only Hat-trick on the first team this season I might add. did I also mention I'm the top scorer of 1's and 2's combined... oh yeah... only every week. Pretty sure it was my first 1st team hat-trick though so I am pretty happy, even if the jugs are expensive.
Turkey moment: Bad defence- The most obvious bit of turkey would be me getting dropped and floating between teams, but I'm going to avoid that and go for a classic turkey moment. The moment I drifted back into our own 25 trying to help out in defence. I gave away a short corner for blocking a clearance with the back of my stick. Don't think it was converted but it certainly made me feel like a right turkey.
Rob aka Coach: The real leader of the team right here and the man we all look up to (except maybe Jim as he's quite tall), Rob is our Sunderland-loving coach and the heartbeat of the way we play. we've certainly frustrated him this year but hopefully we can step it up for his sake and our own in the new year
Champagne moment: Knees up- Poor old Coach has been having a bit of trouble with his Knee this year but I'm pleased to say he's now been in for his op and is hopefully on the up. A real bit of champagne-worthy stuff there. I'm sure I speak for all of the lads when I say get well soon Coach.
Turkey moment: Seeing Red- Now let's get down to business. Coach will not tolerate any of us giving lip to umpires, and rightly so. I've been hauled off the pitch by him myself for it and I'm one of the most placid guys out there. It's is with great delight I get to dish up some great turkey for the moment Coach saw a red card given to him (subsequently rescinded) for heckling from the touchline at the umpire and had to leave the arena. Now this didn't happen with our team but let me be the first to say that it doesn't matter to me one bit and is proper hilarious. The whole team found out through Dave and now I'm telling the Internet. Looks like mine and Dave's blogs could be telling you all about life in the 4th team as of next year then!
Team: Bit of a mixed bag for us this time round, not really hit the highs of last years campaign yet. Is it because we're playing better teams? Are we more tired? Less hungry? I don't have the answers but I'll try and pick out two moments that serve as a high an a low so far.
Champagne moment: Derby day- A big game highlight has got to be beating the Brooklands in the first game we've played actually in Sale for years. Local bragging rights are always good value and I think this was a hard fought win that goes down as our best result, not our best performance, our best result.
Turkey moment: Barn doors and banjos- In a similar vein our worst moment has got to be our 0-0 draw before Christmas. We swaggered into the game and forgot totally how to play, how to control a ball, time a pass, or get a shot on target, an awful grim day that I'd like to put behind us quickly, I'm really hoping for a big reaction in the new year from that.
Well there we are folks that is another mammoth Christmas special blog done. I hope you've enjoyed it and I'll repeat what I did last year and say that I can't promise I'll do this again. It really does take a long time and I have to scrape my memory right out at times to find material, hope no one is disappointed with their moments, if you've got any better suggestions hit me up with a comment, please try and keep it clean though, this is a family blog after all!
I guess that concludes this years..... but wait! There's BONUS BLOG! You didn't think I'd forget the features surely...
Song of the week
It being Christmas it has to be a Christmas hit for this week. I toyed with the idea of going for some kind of dub-step Christmas carol remix (they actually exist, humanity hits yet another low). In the end I went for a song with a connection to our team, in that Nick has introduced it to all of our lives, all credit to him for this selection then and zero credit to anyone involved in the production of the song. This weeks song of the week is the frankly surreal track: Bob Dylan- It Must Be Santa
and now for our favourite...
The Teas League
A disappointing result for us and most of the boys headed straight home for the club Christmas meal, but The Teas League survived and some of us wen back to have a taste. Turned out to be an excellent choice.
Disclaimer: This is only a bit of fun. I am an appalling cook myself and in no way a food expert. All criticism will be tongue-in-cheek and if any people/clubs choose to take offence please know that all reviews are intended to make no negative reflection on the friendly welcome and hospitality that all teams always provide us, for which we are very grateful and thankful for.
15/12/12 Oxton Away
Roast Beef/Ham with roast potatoes, mashed potatoes, carrots, peas, sweet potato AND mince pie dessert
Jesus H. Christ I'm starting to think the word is getting out about the Teas league, what a feast!
Substance 10/10- I'm not sure it can get any better than this. Absolutely blown away by this effort. Perfection
Taste 7/10- No roast lives up to a bit of home roast but it gave it a good go the Beef was supposedly better than the Ham, but I had ham so this remarkable meal falls back ever so slightly.
Presentation 9/10- Our highest score in the all-important category. Plated up, table service, condiments, places laid, really don't know why I'm scoring it 9 it should be 10 but what's Christmas without a bit of bah humbug!
Above and beyond the call of duty this excellent hospitality this from Oxton, it is just a great shame that there weren't more of the team to witness this. let's look at the table now...
1. Oxton (Roast Dinner, Trimming and Mince Pie)- S: 10 T: 7 P: 9 Tot: 26/30
2.Colwyn Bay (Chilli & Chips)- S: 8 T: 9 P: 7 Tot: 24/30
3.Chester (Chilli, Chips & Rice)- S: 7 T: 7 P: 6 Tot: 20/30
4.Brooklands (Sandwiches & Chips)- S:5 T:6 P:8 Tot: 19/30
5.Timperley (Spag Bol with Rosemary & Salt Focaccia)- S:5 T: 2 P:6 Tot: 13/30
6. Bebington (Jacket Potato & Maybe Turkey Chilli)- S:4 T:2 P:1 Tot: 7/30
Number one with a bullet! The Welshmen are knocked off the top in brutal style, with a great effort. Congratulations Oxton, you may be having a hard time in the league but you're on course to be the Teas League champions and have won a place in our hearts.
Right folks, I feel like I've been writing this for most of my life now so if you've made it this far down I thank you from the bottom of my heart, wish you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy new year when I'll be back with more tales of THE MIGHTY SALE.
As a final present here is a freshly stolen picture from the Internet of the perfect combination of hockey and Christmas...
... Oh. Coach says don't eat too much as well.