Monday, 16 January 2017

4 Years later...

If you're reading this message then thank you for checking in on us.

The last message on this account apologised profusely for a week long gap in posting, quite what level of contrition must be exhibited for an absence of near 4 years is beyond me. Whatever the length of absence, leaving readers on a cliffhanger with no winding up post is poor form indeed, so please accept my (deferred) apologies for that.

It did finally come to my attention (Thanks Phil!) that the silence lay heavy on this blog account so I thought I would go some may to rounding things up for now, with a view to gauging the popular demand for a full time return.

To summarise 4 years worth of mighty Sale hockey would be a task of epic proportions. The ups and downs have been many, performances of mythic glory and utter despair have been put in by old faces and new. Players have come and gone and come again, coaches and captains and divisions have changed all across the board, and we've even gone up and down in our number of teams. Throughout all of the action Sale has persisted in applying its familiar brand of imperfect but amicable Hockey, whatever the weather.

For my own part I still fit firmly into that mould of imperfection. My days of mediocre forward play have long gone as the yard of pace that I never quite had vanished forever to be replaced by an extra stone of weight. I migrated further down the pitch and now ply my trade mostly as a mediocre midfielder instead. The forward play now being left to younger and faster men... and older and faster men too. The old skills have not deserted me however and I still proudly hold the title of being Sale's worst controller of flicked passes. I remain confident of seeing off all challengers for that crown.

The pressures of modern life and the changes in the game are certainly a constant challenge for all of us down here over the last 4 years, but we remain true to our social Hockey values and positive outlook on all results (an outlook commonly used for sure). Despite challenges though I'm happy to report that it is a very exciting time to be a part of Sale for reasons that for brevity I will skip over for now.

Anyway, before I get too deep into the detail of what's current, what's coming, and what's done I'd just like to give a positive update for anyone who's checked in and wondered what desolation and despair befell this once regular blog. If you happen to be reading this for the first time and are thinking of joining the glorious world of the mighty Sale then  I would implore you pilgrim, explore further our website, get in touch with our skippers, come down to our training, and get involved in playing (probably) the greatest sport in the world for (definitely) the greatest club in the world.

Until next time (whenever that may be) good luck and come on Sale!

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.

Monday, 24 December 2012

2012 Mighty Sale Xmas special

Ding dong merrily on high everybody and welcome to the 2012 Christmas special edition of The Mighty Sale. What a year it has been for Sale. Sealing promotion as league winners, going up two leagues, having some great fun and games along the way, we've seen new players come in, old players return, and gone through great highs and lows. A fantastic year coming just before Sale Hockey's 125th anniversary year. Last year's Christmas special went down as a resounding success so this year I decided to repeat the format and once again roll out the Champagne and Turkey moments for each and every player of the 1st team league this season. I of course committed to this before I realised that the squad has grown sizeably larger and that I have missed games for the first team and have thus missed out on crucial pieces of banter that may make this years effort less detailed than last. Fear not readers, for I still have plenty of Christmas cracking material to shovel down your throat like an unwanted batch of sprouts. The main problem is that by the time I've finished and you've read all on offer in this jumbo edition Christmas may well of come and gone and we'll be back playing again in the new year.

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.

Inside Forward

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.

Coaching Staff

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.

Friday, 14 December 2012

Getting Festive

So there it stands behind us, half a season gone. It wasn't so bad, could've been worse, but there's still a hell of a lot of work to do going forward. Luckily we're still winning and 6-2 last weekend was a great looking result on paper. It was a little more scrappy than that though and only by virtue of three of the worst goals I've ever seen (and I've seen and scored plenty dreadful goals!) was the scoreline so flattering. I really don't know which goal to pick out as the worst: we have the worst flick of all time (Dave), the 16 attempt tap in (Danny), and the miracle of the topped reverse stick hit that somehow wasn't backstick (Also known, incorrectly, as the tomahawk- Mark). A tough field, though maybe I'm just being jealous as I didn't grab a goal myself and now my 4 goals before Christmas target is becoming a bit of a stretch.

One target well within sight is the winning all games before Christmas. We're off to face bottom of the league tomorrow so we're up for a win for sure. It's also the first game after the turnaround, which mean it's the first team we'll be playing for the 2nd time this year, so no more surprises. It'll be a good chance to see if all my guff about our attacking improving is actually true. Last time we scored 4 goals, so let's see if we can get a few more this time around!

When we get this close to the Christmas break it can be feel like a bit of an effort if you've got a late away game like we have but I know the boys will want to lift themselves and go away happy. We've all had a week to sleep off the hangovers from the team Christmas night out. That's a night that never lets my expectations down and this time was no different. The highlights include some lovely buffet food, gangnam style line dancing, and lots and lots of bottles of vodka. It was madness, such a good party even Peter Crouch popped up for a cameo!

I thought with this being a festive edition I should spend a bit less time talking about the game and share with you some lovely photos taken by me (I think) from the party last week. Don't worry they're all family friendly! At Sale we're all about having a good time and we're a really good social club on to be a part of I think. So here we go...

1st Team Christmas Party 2012

First let's deal with the bit most of you will be interested in. Some of the boys happened to bump into the Stoke City FC Christmas party on Deansgate. Unfortunately for Martin he was one of the guys there and was forced into this 'little and large' photo by Marky. Mark can count himself lucky as only 1 inch separates him and Martin in height. if he'd not been there, he'd of had to step up.

We started off with some pretty standard posing shots: This is (left to right) Me, 'Ice Cold' Lewis, & Goldsie.

Here we have Martin, Charlie, and Nick. Martin gets a lot of stick for being the shortest guy in the team though I feel I have to point out that the other two are on a ledge at this point.

Here's Jim and Dave 'other blog' Wynne. Jim was the only man not to partake in the vodka free for all, a wise move.

In ascending height order are Martin, Marky (the guest teas league reviewer), and Me. For the record those aren't my fingers behind Mark that would've required me having the worlds shortest arm.

Here's the life and soul of the evening in Danny. I didn't get a picture of it but Danny chose to come out rocking a trilby, making him look like some kind of 1940s US cop. He's almost, but not quite, as drunk as he looks in this shot.

And here we have the alcohol that fuelled the whole evening. We gorged ourselves on bottle after bottle of vodka and pitcher after pitcher of 'energy drink'. When we ran out we decided to stuff a random persons shoe into the pitcher, as you do, and much to Dannys delight.

 Not sure why Dave is on the floor, there was an accompanying shot to this one but it was censored.

A round of the infamous drinking game '5s' is in play here with Lyndon and Mike H facing off in the final. Judging from this shot Mike P has lost a few rounds earlier on.

Here is the Gangnam Style dance-off. On your far right is Captain H. Mark had an absolutely legendary video of this incident but like a fool deleted it from his phone at 5am. Fail.

As the evening wore on it all got a bit much for some. On our way to the dance floor we spotted this lady having a bit of a kip.

The lovers Danny & Kiwi were in full flow when we reached the dance floor.

I tried to muscle in, don't think it went down well with Danny.

Very generous of the boys to lean back like that in the shot for Martin.

Probably my favourite shot of the evening. We have no idea who this guy making some kind of gangnam style effort is. I can promise you it was very dark in the room we were in and this man could not have been able to see anything. To be fair most of the team were in a similar state then. If you're wondering who is making the rude gesture that would be Ben.

The next day. Says it all really...

So there you have it. Can't say if we won or lost that evening really, only that it was fun.

Song of the week 

In homage to the friend we made on the Christmas party and the lost dance video, this weeks song of the week can be none other than the Internet sensation that is Psy- Gangnam Style.

Thanks for reading folks. Hope the lack of content was made up for in an abundance of pictures. I'll be back again soon, as I've now got to go away and start planning this years 'Christmas Special' Blog. Jingle Bells!

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Mixed Bag

The big weekender has left me feeling a little under the weather so apologies for any delay in service, I've been hacking up half my lung and gasping a death rattle breath that sounds like a rejected Darth Vader audition... but other than that I'm great!

The big weekender turned out to have just about a little bit of everything in it. It was a big game for me coming back into the 1's after a few weeks away, the cup was a huge game with a lot to be said about it, and I've also got to spare a little time to offer commiserations to the 2's. So, lots to get through.

Let's start at the beginning with our journey down to Chester. A second trip to the old Roman town this season for me but with a far happier return as we came away 7-1 winners. Big news alert on a personal front was the fact that I returned to the 1's and managed to score a hat-trick! Exciting stuff and I'm very happy with that result I can assure you. I should also point out that it was a hat-trick of my typical style of goals, which is essentially the finish on a good bit of teamwork and movement from less than 5 yeards out. Nearly every single goal I score is the result of at least one other players good work and skill, so to start going both barrels about being a deadly threat and lethal to the opposition is probably a bit rich really. That said, I will credit myself with all the hard work I put in to beat markers and sneak in to get into those key positions in the first place, the vast majority of which takes place off the ball when no one is watching to quote Mo I'm 'like a ninja'. Normally I subscribe to the rule of 'Self praise is no praise' but I'm going to let myself off this time, why? I scored a hat trick.

Funny thing was we didn't totally boss the game and got put under the cosh a few time in the second half, I can't say how much of that was due to us being 7-0 up with an eye on the Sunday game at the time or not. It's a good thing then that we found the goal so well, that really was the plus point, we scored nearly all of our chances. That is something we have been working on in training (if that doesn't sound ridiculous, when are you not working on that?). There have been some very frustrating nights at training in pursuit of that 'goal' but it is certainly having a slow and steady effect I'm pleased to say. We're not there yet though, as we'll now find out...

So Saturday done and dusted, jug bought and drank. All the boys in for an early night for big game Sunday. When we woke up it was cold, icy cold, pretty much cancel the game cold. Still, we rose up and loitered outside the pitch until someone finally rocked up to open it (my feet were numb by this point). The verdict turned out that the pitch was playable, so a bit of creative warming up to remove the top layer of frost and we were good to go. Then the heartbreak, We ended up losing 4-3, a real real tragedy for us as I think as the weeks roll by we'll think we really deserved to win. Two things that could've gone better for us: 1. We could've played a better first half, 4-1 at half time is a big ask to come back from anytime. 2. We could've/ should've took our chances. Now the quality level of the keeper we faced on Sunday was superb (some have speculated it may even have been better than H- though he's having none of it), but that doesn't change the fact we had well more than 3 chances but no more than 3 goals. The worst of it was just how dominant we were at the end, when a last minute Penalty Corner dropped I really thought it was going to extra time. Instead I watched from the subs bench in agony as it went wide. I was stood on the sidelines the last time a last minute short didn't go our way in the cup, although that one hurt a lot more I must say and the less said on that the better. So the cup run is over for this season but we've had a fun time again, proved our value and that we belong in a higher league I think so we'll be back next year for another shot, though I must say I really wanted us to bring it home in our 125th anniversary year... c'est la vie.

In more disappointment news the 2's didn't manage to bounce back from last weeks loss going down 2-1 to Bowdon. I don't know too much about the game but I wanted to express my sympathies, coming back from a big loss like that is never easy. I did also hear chance conversion was an issue there too though. I see a theme developing here...

To bring it back to a happier spin I managed to put another goal in on Sunday which gives me 4 goals for the weekend. That's lovely as I can remember scoring 4 goals in a season once and finishing as joint top-scorer for the team (yes, we got relegated). For those interested in following the tally of this elite attacking predator that is me my seasonal tally is now at 12, which is only 3 behind my final tally from last year. The target is to beat that by Christmas (4 goals in 2 games essentially). For me, as a forward, my currency is goals. Not man of the match shouts, not clean sheets, and not pitch time. Goals. That's just a personal thing really, I'm not a technically gifted player nor the fittest, tallest, fastest, or strongest in the club, I'm a poor tackler and dreadful at controlling aerials. I am however the current top scorer out of all 1st and 2nd team players, so for me none of the previous matters and business is a-booming!

Song of the week

Well I think you can see the theme glaring through all down this weeks blog. Scoring goals and taking chances. It really is an obvious song choice that I should have to explain no further then I think. The only change I've gone for is in selecting a cover of this song and not the Abba original. The reason for this is the pure hilarity of the music video, seriously you have to check this out, Camp-as-Christmas it is... and watch out for the 'reggae' breakdown at the end. This weeks song of the week is Erasure- Take A Chance On Me

Well I have no words for that video so let's move on swiftly...

The Teas League

I'm back in the hot-seat this time folks so Mark Holmes reign of culinary judgement terror is taking a brief hiatus. I only hope I can live up to the high standards of review we have set before. I trembled at the thought but I had the advantage this week, I'd eaten these Teas before...

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.

1/12/12 Chester Away

Chilli, Chips and Rice

I'm starting to think we should re-name this feature 'The Teas League- Sponsored by Chilli', anyway let's see what we have.

Substance 7/10- Can't fault a Chilli in the interest of fairness and the addition of chips AND rice is a big bonus. Bit of grumbling about portion size though. A 7 it is, and a harsh one at that.

Taste 7/10- We're becoming something of a bunch of Chilli connoisseurs these days so opinion was split on the Chilli taste, some harsh words flying about. I thought it was passable and the rice was good stuff. Never underestimate a well cooked rice. A more generous 7 this time.

Presentation 6/10- self-service plastic plates and cutlery. No home comforts there I'm afraid, but service was easily done and dished out so it claws some points back for proper serving utensils. Playing on my conscience with a with a cheeky 6.

A pretty solid if unspectacular performance here. I was expecting big things for Chester having sampled it before but the quality wasn't as high and as we all know it's the performance in the test that counts. So let's check that league table...

1.Colwyn Bay (Chilli & Chips)- S: 8 T: 9 P: 7 Tot: 24/30
2.Chester (Chilli, Chips & Rice)- S: 7 T: 7 P: 6 Tot 20/30
3.Brooklands (Sandwiches & Chips)- S:5 T:6 P:8 Tot: 19/30
4.Timperley (Spag Bol with Rosemary & Salt Focaccia)- S:5 T: 2 P:6 Tot: 13/30
5. Bebington (Jacket Potato & Maybe Turkey Chilli)- S:4 T:2 P:1 Tot: 7/30

A brave challenge from Chester but NOT ENOUGH to topple Colwyn Bay as their superior Chilli quality held off the lure of added rice. Can Chester hold a respectable 2nd place for the rest of the year? Only time will tell. One more stop on the Teas league Train before Christmas, I'm hoping something festive is served so if you're reading this Oxton, mince pies please!

Thanks again folks for joining me in a week when I'm happy to be back in the side and scoring but sad to see us drop out of the cup. I've started to think about this years Christmas Special too so if you're around the first team squad and have any Champagne or Turkey moments you would like to nominate for anyone please give me a shout at the weekend or on the Christmas do. See you next time!