Friday, 30 November 2012

The Big Weekender

What an intriguing weekend of action for Sale. Three fantastic wins, one terrible loss. Focus on the positives first. The 1's kept rolling with a 6-2 win, the 3's kept smashing their league with an 11-0 demolition job, and best of all the 4's got a 7-1 win, yes 7-1! The 4's are where I'd like to start because I think that they're such an important aspect of our club going forward. More than just our club, I see the philosophy and what they represent as crucial to the wider game. The 4th team are the bottom team of our club, playing in the bottom league in the region. It's a development team where what you'll hopefully get is a good mixture of social players, young kids picking up their first stick, and old heads who have to choose between the hockey or the housework of a weekend. I think they're great as it's where almost every player starts and where all those that have a real love for playing the game will end up. I started on the 3rds (then the lowest team) as a geektastic 12 year-old boy. We had a man who once told his wife before a match he was going out for some milk come and play for us, a 67 year-old marathon runner, an umpire with an eye patch, and half-time oranges soaked in whisky (I found out about that last one the hard way). We sometimes won 10-0 one week and lost 14-0 the next, visited pubs before and after the game, and generally tried not to take things to seriously (while still trying to win of course). Those little nuggets of magic all added together is what takes a sport like hockey from being a pure physical game that keeps me fit and challenged into something I have a passion and love for. My off-pitch memories are just as vital as my on-pitch ones when it comes to looking back like that.

The point is that the 4ths represent the heart and soul of what I think hockey really is, and what makes people want to play it. Over the years we've seen the subtle vulgarities of the culture of football bleed in a little bit but keeping that friendly attitude and desire going is what sets hockey apart. The 4ths were shafted by the league re-structure in a way that I've covered in previous weeks, shafted to the point that when the season-long goals were set it was survival as a functioning team that was the number one target. To see them get a win and such a great win as 7-1 is fantastic news that brings a smile to my face and something really worth celebrating across the board at the club. For the record, I'm playing down any suggestion that my Dad dropping himself had any part in the 4th team win.

Now after covering my love for the game and last weeks wins I have to regrettably cover the result I was a part of last weekend. It was a heavy defeat, the heaviest I have been involved in for nearly 3 years. I take no pride in being a part of it and feel embarrassment that it came in a week when all the other teams did so well, yet a part of it I was. We played against a very very strong team who were very experienced and knew what they were about in terms of how they wanted to play; we came totally unstuck. Any suggestion that it was a close tie is quickly non sensed by the 9-2 scoreline (yep, read it and weep). We did have our moments of quality but the outlook was overall bleak, with those moments being the hint of sunshine in an overcast day. I wouldn't go as far to say we ever gave up but we were certainly outmatched and punished brutally for it. I personally thought I was awful and despite tweaking a hamstring that limited me to the same pace as my late 40s marker (which to be fair isn't much slower than normal for me!) I can only criticise myself for being a part of a poor loss. With results like that though I think it is best to adopt the simple mentality that it didn't happen and focus on coming back stronger and harder. Of course there is always something to learn from every game but a 9-2 can suck you in and impact your next game by reflecting on it too much. I hope the 2's can come storming back this weekend in another local derby match up against Bowdon... but I won't be with them as I'm back off to the 1's this week!

Slightly bizarre that I'd find myself back amongst the 1's after probably my worst outing of the season but sometimes that's just the way the availability falls, and I'll be determined to do my very best to make amends for last week. The 1's have nothing short of a huge weekend coming up (The big weekender), and I want to cover that next. On Saturday it is league game time and hopefully the 4th win in a row to keep the pressure on the top of the table on and keep that initial target of winning every game before Christmas alive. Then when that is done and dusted it is time for the big one on Sunday: The semi-final of the Cheshire Plate. We're facing off against Knutsford 1sts at home at 1pm. I would love to see as many people as possible turn out and show their support, this really is a huge game for us. Our opposition are a league above and with a place at stake in the final will be fighting just as hard as us. We need to make home advantage count and hopefully make it to the final, which would frankly be the biggest game many of us will of ever played in. Before that though comes this tough test. It is a chance for us to raise ourselves and show us what we can potentially be and how well we can play, and I think that is often when we are at our best. I'm unsure if I'll be playing or supporting myself as yet but regardless I'll be there, hopefully you will too!

Song of the week

Big week coming up for all teams but focus has to be on the 2's with 'OPERATION BOUNCEBACK' and the 1's with '#CUPSETpt2'. Hopefully both will deliver. Fight, fire, and mental mastery will all be essential to victory so I'm going all out for pure motivation with a song from one of my favourite bands. Their last album was roundly panned by many fans and rightly so in some respects but this is a blood pumper that I have seen used for at least 5 'football preview' montages in the last 2 months. It must do something to inspire then. Advice: PLAY IT LOUD. This weeks song of the week is: Muse- Supremacy

So we come to the end for this week. Thanks for reading. I hope more than anything to bring tales of #CUPSETpt2 being a success. You won't need to wait until next week to find out how it went though as I'm sure you'll be down there supporting...

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