Tuesday, 26 February 2013

With what Remains

Apologies apologies, profuse apologies for the absence of a blog for a while. No, the season has not ground to a halt, rather a combination of busyness, illness, and exhaustion has combined into a lethal cocktail of anti-blogness. Luckily for us all I believe I have now passed through the worst of that, but it leaves me with many things to cover and perhaps not the wit or vocabulary to do it all justice, I'll give it a go though.

Well, we may as well be blunt, it looks to us as though title aspirations are over for this year, 12 points off the top with 4 games to go tells that story. This has happened as a result of us losing our crunch game against Timperley, very gutting result that. We played well and had them for a time, but let them back in and fell just short again. Since I've last been with you we've also tested our mettle against Colwyn, the leagues other high flyers. A slightly more creditable result of 2-2 there, still a bit disappointed but you can't win them all. The theme when we look back on the crucial moments this year will be that we just fell ever so slightly short, both of obtaining our desire of topping the table and in giving full credit to our abilities. The fact now is that we face a different question from how well we can place in the league (we should be pretty safe of getting 3rd place), but rather what to do with the time we have left this season?

I know, and most of the lads who were around when we went up know, that this is the time where we start preparing to take on the league next season. We do not feel that we've plateaued and we do not feel that we've given it all and everything (well, I don't personally) so now we can look at ourselves and at our league and say, we can be the best team in this league. That's how it was at the end of the season before we won our title and that is how it is now. We CAN be the best team in our league.

How to achieve that?  That relies on individual reactions coming together to create a dominate team mentality, a winning mentality. I'm loathe to say we've lost that winning mentality but the edge is a bit blunted. Perhaps that's the best way to use our time, by honing and sharpening our edge, winning the important battle, the mental battle, in preparation for the physical battle yet to come. For me the physical side of things have begun to take its toll. I've been unable to train for the last few weeks for an amalgamation of dumb, boring, reasons but training is really the first and most crucial step to staying sharp and getting better. It isn't always fun but its value is high. At this stage of the season I find the mind willing but the body wishing for rest, by way of compensation for missing out tonight I decided to work on some sprinting. Where at the start of the season my body reluctantly but eventually acquiesced to heavy fitness work tonight my muscles cried and screamed out in defiance, like a slave in rebellion to his master, I limped aching and wounded home to sulk on my fatigue. Then again, maybe that is just me, never was a great athlete.

Collectively we want to be playing our best come the last game, so they'll be the new benchmark I'll report back on. We need some more work before then, and with some of us banged up and bruised it isn't going to be easy, but then that's half the fun; and with only 4 games left I can say one thing for certain: we'll miss it when we're done.

Song of the week

Well I fancy a bit of a run of wins for the run in, ideally with a level of performance that increase incrementally each week, that'd be a nice way to round off. 12 points from 12 games. To some up this idealised run of wins I'm winding back the clock only a short 5 years when this cheeky little number came out. Yes, it came out 5 years ago. Yes, you are getting old. Sorry. This weeks song of the week is Gnarls Barkley- Run

Teas League

*Update Coming soon*

Saturday, 9 February 2013

Game day Morning

It's that time yet again. The rubber meets the road. Today we'll be facing down potentially our biggest game of the season. I can't wait and the excitement is tingling through me. Big games and important matches are the perhaps the best thing about playing a team sport. Pulling together and battling through to victory is the finest feeling in the game. Mentality is crucial in any game but that big game mentality is impossible to replicate, there are some days where it is just there. Today is one such day, a day to remember.

We're facing down the team above us, local rivals, and title chasers. They've beaten us twice already this season (something that we shouldn't forget), and now we get the chance to visit a bit of revenge on them. The aim is to perform as best as we can and play the best we can play, if we can do that we will win the game, no ifs and no buts about that, and we need it, must have it, and will take it.

I'm conscious in these important moments not to over do it. Writing about playing sport you want to make every moment climactic, every game more important than the last. I want to say things like, 'this is it' and 'it's all on the line', but while that might be a romantic way of putting it when you look at truly successful teams they simply to about their business in a focused and organised way. That's the way we want to approach it, but let me be clear, there is an ocean of difference between composure and complacency, whichever angle we wish to motivate ourselves from today, we will still need a big performance from every man in the team. Every man counts.

Last week we had a decent win where we fought back from being under pressure to see off our opponents in a composed fashion, so that's what we're carrying forward. I'm unsure if I've seen us react so positively before to pressure, and that shows confidence, and belief. I'll deal with the fallout from this game next time but right now it's time for myself and the rest of thew guys to get focused and prepared so apologies if this weeks entry has been kept short and sweet.

Song of the Week

As I've said above we've lost to our next opponents twice this year already (one friendly, one league game). This is our last chance to show them our value and skill this season. I know it is an opportunity we do not want to waste. Is revenge on the mind? A little bit. so this week it's time for another classic track from the godfather of soul himself. This weeks song of the week is James Brown- The Payback.

Now while I may be in the heat of the moment for today's game last week was an away day, which means....

The Teas league

It's back! What will 2013 bring for the Teas league. Last times effort saw a brand new table leader after they cooked us up a Christmas Dinner! Safe to say the bar has been set very high here and now hopefully the competition will hot up. So let's see what the wealthy folks down at Bowdon can rustle up for us!...

 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.

2/2/13 Bowdon Away

Sandwiches and Chips

Aah the old fail safe returns once again, let's see how it scored.

Substance 5/10- Not really exciting but not really problematic. The other Sandwich and chips effort scored a 5 so no reason to deny that to this batch.

Taste 5/10- Maybe our taste buds have developed to appreciate richer flavours over the season with the variety of things we've had l;aid before us. What I do know is that while the taste was problematic it was, at best, adequate.

Presentation 0/10- Oh Bowdon, we know we are but simple yeomen from the lesser neighbourhoods of south Manchester, but to deny us the simple privilege of a plate for our chips? They made us eat collectively from dish and bowl, like serfs or swine. The cut is deep, the cut is deep.

Big let down on presentation there, it means Bowdons entry can only be heading one way.... down! Let's Check the table...

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. Bowdon (Sandwiches & Chips)- S:5 T:5 P:0
7. Bebington (Jacket Potato & Maybe Turkey Chilli)- S:4 T:2 P:1 Tot: 7/30

Well blow me over, they've not hit the bottom, thanks to Marks 'Findus' Chilli he had at Bebington. Bowdon still get unwanted plaudits for having the ONLY zero score in the entire 5 month history of the Teas league though, shame on them there.

That's all folks thanks again and I look forward to updating you in the next few days about how we've done.

Monday, 28 January 2013

Thaw for War

Hello hello hello, apologies for the elongated hiatus, and let me wish you all a very belated happy new year. So I don't now if anyone has noticed but it has been a bit cold recently. So cold that most hockey and training has been called off leaving us all out in the proverbial cold, instead of out in the actual cold. The knock on effect has been for me to ice the blog until there was enough happenings to report on. Lucky for you that point has now been reached.

Let's bring you all up to speed then with how the new year has panned out so far for us. Of the game the 1's have played, we won 3-0, a pretty average display by all standards but given that it was against the Brooklands you've got to be happy, the fact they had 9 men stopped it from being a classic but it was good exercise at least (even if two frozen training sessions have negated that since!). It was supposed to be the start of our run of games where we play all of the teams around us, a sequence of games for which the term 'must-win' has been bandied about rather a lot. There are two ways to interpret what our challenge is over the remaining 9 games of the season. There is the high intensity, win or death approach to every game that we have had; being off the pace we must take 27 more points (AKA maximum) to even have a hope of being in the mix at the end of the year, any failure and we're done and dusted, welcome to the Alamo etc.

The other route is one of composure and clarity of vision. Going out with all guns blazing and fire raging is all well and good but how different should that be from normal? Aren't all games must win? I've never known our team to go out on the pitch not looking to try and win the game, so really should anything change? Well, yes and no. We should always be turning up to win and show our quality, the only thing that changes is we now NEED rather than want to turn up with our guns loaded and ready for any kind of shootout. No half measures, no lethargy; because there are no more chances, no more favours to be done for us, we can make a real good go of trying to get up there but we have to go and get it. I hope we can think of it like that really annoying berroca advert from a while back and steal their catchphrase: 'Sale hockey... but on a really good day!' (I can hear the groans from here for that one).

So having missed out on playing top of the league and the team beneath us in the frozen games the 1's face another derby at the weekend and hopefully all the ice will be gone and battle can re-commence. Meanwhile, I personally managed to get a game in last Saturday having dropped down to the 2's last week, a serendipitous dropping then as I actually got to play. The bad part was having to go back to Colwyn Bay again, which you may remember from my photo blog effort from a few months back. Things are still looking grim out in the Bay, although a grey snowed in Manchester was the far grimmer of the two places this week. I also played the entire game in midfield and managed not to ruin the whole game, which was a surpirse! I even scored the winner, and indeed the ONLY goal for Sale HC last weekend, another fine addition to the George Sterlini gallery of rubbish things to brag about. For anyone wondering how good a goal it was... well if you've ever seen me score before... it was essentially like that. It was a tough match all in all and the rustiness was on show from all, hopefully mother nature can stop shafting us though and allow us to get some training in and start enjoy our weekends again.

Song of the week

With the lack of action due to cold weather and the cold hearted attitude the 1's require in order to achieve what they have to in order to keep the hopes of promotion alive, this week I had to go for a song that will please our very own Ice Cold striker Lewis. This weeks song of the week is MOP- Cold as Ice

Warning, contains naughty grown up words.

That's all for this time folks, sorry if it's a bit brief and you were hoping for more action after such a long break, I'll soon get back into the swing of things as we start playing again, so I'll see you next time, thanks for reading.