Friday, 9 November 2012

Road Trip

So the time finally came for the Sale waggons to fire up and leave Manchester for the very first time this season. We've been quite fortunate to not face any long trips yet, but that lucky road of close away trips came to an end in dramatic fashion by serving us up with our longest road trip of the season to Colwyn Bay, a North Wales town unremarkable in nearly every way, a bleak outpost nestled between the superstar A-list holiday destinations of Rhyl and Llandudno. Poor Colwyn, but in other Trivia it is the birthplace of Timothy Dalton (AKA that Bond that wasn't as good as that other one but definitely better than that rubbish one), also in HUGE NEWS the actor and serial philanderer Bill Roache (AKA Ken Barlow) of Corrie fame went to school at the very school at which we played! Awesome Stuff! For more Colwyn info get over to their Wiki Page.

Anyway it was a crucial game for us, we needed a result here like nothing else or we'd probably be looking like slipping into the abyss of mid-table. I'll cover the game a bit later but this away day has finally given me a chance to give a bit of an insight into what an away day in hockey is like. I think these long trips are a big burden onto anyone who chooses to play the awesome sport of Hockey but it's also potentially the best part of the sport and what makes you want to keep coming back time and time again. It's amazing how fun car-pooling with 13 other lads and driving to obscure parts of the North West can be! So here it is my first ever attempt at a photo journal of a typical Sale 1's Away day...

Sale goes to Colwyn: Beyond Discovery into Infinity...

I hope you like my pretentious title! First thing is first I need to introduce a couple of traditions. On long Journeys like these I like to throw together some 'Bangin Tunez' to keep the car I travel in firmly entertained. These songs can range from such classics as the star wars theme tune to 'enola gay' and other tracks of epic quality! I like to go with an intentionally embarrassing album title so that the car the CD gets left in can be discovered by another person, with HILARIOUS results. My finest hour so far was the raised eyebrows Marky had to face when his dad discovered 'Gary Glitters Xmas Album' recently. As I was taking pictures today I went for the slightly reserved 'Ladz on Tour'.

Another Tradition is the award of 'Dick of the Day' (DOD) which goes out to the player who has made the biggest dick of themselves that day (obviously). This can be awarded for any action from the moment that person wakes up that day until the moment that the votes are cast, so you've got to have your wits about you. In a tradition that has been revived especially for this blog and also due to me rooting around in my attic we have the return of the DOD hat.

As you can see it is a vile pink pvc effort that is every bit as disgusting as it looks in this picture. But who would be wearing it come the end of the day??... Stay tuned! Now my kit was packed it was off to the meet at the world famous Sale sports Club.

 There was an early shout for the DOD award when Dave rocked up in these boots...

 Here's the standard meeting place for the 1's; the front door to the clubhouse. Many a driver has arrived at the club over the years to the sight of non driving freeloaders like me huddling around outside this door. This is usually a time when all the piss-taking/ wind up efforts for the day get their first airing. In this photo Nick is admiring Dave's new stick whilst hopefully simultaneously admonishing him for his new choice of boot. When this is done it's time to get directions, get organised, and get on the road.

This is the man responsible for all that part of proceedings. This is a very photogenic picture of our captain H and makes him look like a well turned out on-the-ball sort of chap. Do not be fooled, he has the nickname 'Captain Organised', and the only thing you need to know about that is we're a big bunch of sarcastic wind-up merchants when it comes to nicknames. Lucky for H despite being the furthest away game of the year all we really had to do was turn right, drive down one road for a long time to get there, then turn left a couple of times.

This in fact was the road itself. The M56, Gods own motorway. Not much to say here other than the tunes were being pumped out quite consistently at this point.

Bit further down the road and we're in Wales itself! what a lovely view and what a lovely day.

The next treat on our smooth journey was only the lovely Sea! So lovely I went in for a close up...

This is perhaps the most poignant image of the North Wales coast ever taken. A lovely sunny sea view, with a big grey lamppost straight down the middle ruining everything.

We arrived early and ahead of the other cars so we got to spend a few crucial minutes dicking around smashing an over sized tennis ball at each other around a school PE changing room. Living the dream.

I love this picture because it looks like H is in the middle of some kind of super skillful manoeuvre of the kind you wouldn't expect a keeper to have the ability to execute. He does though of course...

Fooling around over it was time to get kitted up. Here's a shot of H getting his big leg pads on. This week wasn't too bad but usually the stench of stale sand, sweat, and astro turf emanating from this kit bag is a real biological curiosity to inhale, though one that may result in mind-altering effects.

Colwyn had the audacity to play in Yellow so the Famous Sale Yellow was swapped for the not-as-famous Sale Blue. This was the kit we won the league in last year. The omens are good...

By now my incessant picture taking was making me a target for abuse, mostly from Marky our teams pint-sized piss-taker. As you can see the wit extends to such things as 'sticking two fingers up to the camera', a classic #BADMAN. Yes, that is a real kit bag and not something pulled out from a smouldering skip fire by the way.

So now all the messing around was done and dusted team talks were given and we hit the pitch ready for action. This is a last second snap of Colwyns pitch with some of the school buildings in the background. I'm a bit whimsical about this picture as it may show the very building where Ken Barlow picked up the first of his elite womanising skills. Hallowed Turf. So, the match...

We lost 2-1. Devastation, apocalypse, death by the sea. We fought but it didn't drop for us, we didn't score enough, didn't impose enough and didn't press enough. A hard game, against an unbeaten team, but the funeral bell for our league title hopes could be heard up in the hills on that final whistle. More on that a bit later though...

After the game we changed and some of us were lucky to be treated to a cold shower, whilst others copped out and waited until we got back to their Clubhouse where such luxuries as 'warm water' existed. Wimps.

Post matches are dominated by teas (teas league round 3 is below have no fear!), the Man of the match and DOD awards and of course fines. Fines is basically a free-for-all insult session that usually starts out as jibing someone for letting a goal in or not scoring a chance and ends with a stream of awful abuse likely to result in long term psychological issues, but you take your fines and pay the price, all the money collected goes for a good cause (Beer).

 Here's H tucking into the Teas, I know, a sneak preview of the Teas league, but teas are a crucial part of any away trip.

Post fines here was what was collected, everyone suitably insulted and all money into the end of season beer kitty. The man-of-the match was Ben for defending despite someone putting a massive hole in his leg. And the all important DOD was...

Danny! Congrats Danny on being the first to wear the sexy dick of the day hat this year. Danny received votes for being green carded and giving lip to the umpire, but I think we can all agree that this was certainly the happiest pink PVC hat wearing man in all of Colwyn Bay that day. Now he's Internet famous!

Time to hit the road again and head back on the long road a defeated but not dispirited team. The one thing our team always seem to have over our opposition is superior camaraderie in the clubhouse, we love our pink hats and our fines and I really think that spirit is what makes us a special team with a stronger core than many others. Anyway, when we got back it was dark so here's an artistic shot of our club at night.

It's always nice to have a pint back at base at the end of a long gruelling day. It was a significant and tough day for us to take, and I think we were all a bit tired, as H's perfect mid-yawn capture shows.

As for me, well I was happy to wrap my hand around the Clubs finest pint of lovely Becks, a long day, a long way to go to lose but sometimes that's just the way it goes.

That's it for the photos and I hope you can get a bit of an idea what it's like hitting the road with our bunch of reprobates. It was an odd game to use for a photo journal and I really really wanted to be able to come back with a big win and a great showing but it wasn't to be. As I said before I think most reasonable analyses would say that us being way off the top two in terms of points leaves us a bit cut adrift in 5th place and 9 points back is death for our league title hopes. We've played 6 and gone Won 3 Lost 3, not the stuff of champions. It's a bitter pill to swallow but one that's going down the neck either way. Rather than go off the wall and let everything we've worked hard to accomplish over the last year or two I hope that this bitter pill can be turned into the medicine we need to move forward. Let me explain.

We don't do pressure very well, and this league we're in is pressure incarnate. Pressure on the ball from the opposition, pressure to not make mistakes, pressure to score every chance, make every challenge, and win every game bar none. Too much pressure; we folded up on it. The pressure came mostly form ourselves I feel, which is good, we have to push ourselves but now that we've slipped back in this race I hope we can take a step back, drop the pressure and dial up the desire. This is a chance to examine our errors, identify what we need to work on to improve into that team that is going to leap forward once again. There is nothing to fear now,  in slipping back from promotion positions the worst for us is over now. We need to be a bit more targeted in what we want to achieve, how we want to achieve it and make sure we don't slip into regression, we need to focus on putting in the hard work now that is going to make us come back on those teams that have beaten us for revenge later on in the year.

The early signs as a reaction from last week... not great. Numbers were down at training but to be fair I got to see some real passion from some of the guys down there, and I hope to see that from all of us, but first we need to get everyone there, I can't speak for the passion of the invisible man, but he makes a crap hockey player.

 Song of the week

So with us being a bit off the pace and not needing to bludgeon ourselves for our frustrations and mistakes I've decided to go for something that I hope will make us all relax, realise that the world hasn't ended or all our hard work has now never happened nor been for nothing. The goalposts have moved a bit for us now, but we're still on the pitch and we're still playing. This weeks song of the week is: Doves- There goes the fear.

The Teas League

A long road trip like this makes for a very important tea at the end of it. The whole concept of the Teas league was indeed spawned from the experience of some very long road trips being accompanied by some very very poor teas at the end of them so when we arrived at Colwyn HQ a lot of nervous eyes were of the Chafing dishes to see what delights were hidden within.

 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.

Pleased to say that yours truly was back in the judging seat for this one despite Marky's excellent deputising.

03/11/12 Colwyn Bay Away

Finally the food was uncovered and plated up and what we found was this...

Chilli and Chips

Substance 8/10- Chilli is close to the heart of any Sale player as it's what the home teas have been for many years but Chips were the perfect fresh addition. Self service meant portion size as desired (H is a chip fiend).

Taste 9/10- Faultless really. The Chilli had a lovely balance of flavours, a delicate spice that didn't burn you up and the chips were fine too. Only a 9 as it was tray served rather than straight off the stove. Better than Christine's chilli at home? Controversial...

Presentation 7/10- No real problems with the presentation, plastic crockery and cutlery holds it back slightly, despite the matching colours. Proper Chafing Dishes are a plus point though. A solid effort.

Belting effort from the Colwyn Lads here, this really was very nice and though it's early doors the gauntlet has been well and truly thrown down here to the rest of the league. Let's see the table now...

1.Colwyn Bay (Chilli & Chips)- S: 8 T: 9 P: 7 Tot: 24/30
2.Brooklands (Sandwiches & Chips)- S:5 T:6 P:8 Tot: 19/30
3.Timperley (Spag Bol with Rosemary & Salt Focaccia)- S:5 T: 2 P:6 Tot: 13/30

Brooklands reign at the top is all over and Colwyn step into the breach, how long will they remain, who can say?

That's all folks hope you enjoyed the photos, bad times about the result but that won't stop us from coming back next week don't you worry!

No comments:

Post a Comment