WH&E L1 1 : 0 Hampstead & Westminster L5

WK1L1First match of the season for the Ladies 1s and everyone was dreading playing in the late summer weather. Isn’t hockey a winter sport?!

With a few changes to the team over the summer and some of our usuals not able to play, we were feeling a slight nervousness, which we were able to overcome as soon as we stepped on the pitch.

Our focus of the match was to not drop our heads and lose in the last minutes of the game, which had happened at the pre-season opener the week before. So, with determination we start working hard from the whistle and pushed all the way.

We had lots of chances in the first half, including a great ball into the D from Sam Deane which Bethany couldn’t manage to get on the end of, as well as a ball in from Bethany to new player Vicki, which we couldn’t manage to convert either.

Come half time, we were feeling the heat and needed to regroup. A really good half time team talk pumped us all up and we were piling on the pressure to Hampstead & Westminster’s defence with lots more great chances and short corners, one of which Sam was able to convert into a goal. The rest of the game was tough as Hampstead tried to counter, but with Team Defence looking for a #cleansheet, they were unable to do so.

We held it for a 1-0 win, and we really deserved it! A great confidence boost to the team, and a glimpse of how we plan to continue; doing the basics right and playing some really sexy hockey!

Players of the match to Sam, Beth and Talyssa for great play in their positions and Dick of the day to Sarah E-Q for ducking away from a high ball but then standing up so she actually ended up heading it 🤕

Our next match next Saturday is at home at Aylward. PLEASE COME SUPPORT 🙏🏼🙏🏼


WH&E M1 2 : 3 Blueharts M3

WK1M1A new season and an updated squad. The first game has traditionally been a brutal season opener mainly due to lack of practice and lack of players.

This time we had subs, although the omens weren’t great with Matt Dray’s car giving up the ghost on route and Dom’s tyre going too.

So we started but with less subs and the subbing strategy out the window.

This game was about learning how we can set up going forward into the new season and testing out various positions.

We did start slowly and conceded too many short corners and Blueharts pressured. We had a few shorts ourselves with both Joe and Mike coming close from the top of the D. 2-0 down at half time but heads still up. It could have been worse if not for multiple saves by Josh.

At half time we agreed to stick to our game as the approach could work, we just had to sharpen up. Indeed, the game was far more even in the second half. Blueharts did however score from another short corner which seemed to put the game just beyond reach.

Then over the horizon Matt Dray appeared and gave us the boost we needed. Taking us close to a point with 2 superb finishes by Man of the match Colin Foad.

In summary, we started to play the kind of hockey we want to, and it bodes well for the future.

MOTM: Colin, with honourable mentions for Rafi, Paul and Josh.


WH&E M2 0 : 7 Letchworth M4

The M2s faced Letchworth 4s in both the first game of the season and their first in div 7 following back to back promotions.

Letchworth immediately looked like an organised and disciplined side taking a 2-0 lead early. The second goal coming in comedic fashion as centre back Nick Smith found himself 1 v 1 with their forward and perhaps forgetting he is not in goal anymore collapsed at the striker’s feet! 4-0 down at half time.

Winchmore looked far better in the 2nd half. Passing the ball around nicely and creating some chances through several short corners, however Letchworth went on to score 3 further goals.

Despite the score there were positives to take from the game. Well done to the 4 Winchmore debutants Guy, Theo, Luke and Jamie who all made a solid start.


WH&E L2 v Ashford L4 (match conceded)

The L2s started with 3 points, though not the way they wanted to with Ashford conceding the match. After a good week of training the L2s are raring to go!

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The land of Hungary has been shaped by many different peoples over its long history. On a hot weekend in August, the latest newcomers arrived, a band from north London, aka Winchmore Hill & Enfield, brandishing sticks, masks, helmets and pads, but coming not for land conquest but…hockey.

Budapest2019-AllWith team members arriving at different times and from different locations there was no red carpet at the airport, but those who could ventured to the Friday evening practice session at the rather Flash Gordon sounding club, Varga Zoltán Sportpálya. (Zoltán Varga was actually a famous Hungarian footballer.)

It was worth a practice on the pitch. Partly resembling our MUGA, but looking older and with an occasional pass defining divot, meant rapid adjustment such as needing to hit all balls and avoiding pushes and running with the ball. It is perhaps worth a thought for our fellow hockey players from Hungary. The pitch is the best in the country – although not a hockey pitch as we would know it but there are no dedicated hockey astros in the whole of Hungary. So if we thought we had it bad for support for astros in north London, it is a bit more challenging in the land of the Magyars. Also, Hungary it seems has just four hockey clubs. WH&E’s adversaries were among those, and it meant the Purple Power were actually playing against some members of the Hungarian national team!

A bit of a recap on proceedings – the tournament involved three teams, Építők Hockey Club in white (hereby known as the Whites), Szent László Gimnázium DSE in green (henceforth the Greens) and of course WH&E with each team played twice, so four matches for us to play. The games were being played in quarters but truncated to eight minutes a quarter. How, wonderful did that time curtailment seem by the end of the day!

The ’Purple Powered’ players were Mike Dutnall, Balazs Endrodi, Charlotte Gonella, Lisa Jobson, Gemma Luckman, Hitesh Mody, Nick Smith, Jake Sumner and Huw Thomas – and the hope was to co-opt two Hungarians. Mike was the on-pitch captain.

So, onto the tournament….

Game 1

On a warm morning, with the haze gradually being burned by the blazing sun, the WH&E team assembled. Except, two members were missing, Nick and Charlotte.

WH&E had already grabbed one player called Gary (aka Gergő) and another Balazs – surely another couldn’t be purloined? But, as the Purple Army was looking somewhat smaller, Nick and Charlotte arrived meaning a full complement of players in time for the start. The whistle blew at 9.02am.

As the two teams faced each other something seemed awry. Wasn’t this meant to be a ‘mixed tournament’ but the Whites had a roster completely of men?! Oh well, their loss…

Balazs (the WH&E temporary outfield player) had been heard saying how his team would easily rout WH&E. A little too presumptive perchance? Perhaps the WH&E ‘warm-up’ had put them off the scent, and he clearly didn’t realise he would be playing for us in the first game!!

The game took shape around a strong WH&E defence holding back the probing from Hungarian players, while WH&E had attacks of their own, with Hitesh finding the pass well and in the first few minutes WH&E were certainly on top. The first quarter ended 0-0.

The second quarter matched the first and half-time duly arrived. Balazs (outfield) re-joined his team, and László was added to the ranks of WH&E. The third quarter commenced, and WH&E were pressing again. Balazs was saving sublimely, from what to be fair were a very large number of White attacks, but Lisa, Gemma, Mike and Hitesh were blocking well. Perhaps the sheer number proved impossible to completely defend and as the fourth quarter was underway a White attack saw a goal. WH&E pushed and could have equalised but the shot from Charlotte in the final minute went just past the post.

Budapest2019-umpiresWhile defeated, the performance was strong, and WH&E were no longer the proposed whipping boys and girls.

WH&E thankfully sat out the second game and the ‘Whites’ played the ‘Greens’. Mike and Lisa didn’t get a rest however, as they umpired – and huge thanks must go to them. The Whites / Greens match up resulted in a sending off from both sides and a 4-3 corker.

Game 2

WH&E were up for their second game. Positioning the two Hungarian loaned players, Gary and Laz, into the middle, Jake and Huw moving from there to the left and right. The Hungarians’ young age, running, excellent skills (and thus are surely destined for their national side) fitted well with the experience of WH&E. The line-up was Balazs in goal, Hitesh, Mike, Lisa and Gemma at the back, Gary and Laz in the middle with Jake left, Huw right and Nick and Charlotte up front.

With the temperature rising so was the tempo. WH&E came close several times over each half but in the third quarter the Greens scored. While Nick, Charlotte and Jake all had great chances in the game, it was in the final minute where WH&E came closest again. Another 1-0 defeat.

Game 3

Budapest2019-JS-ShadeAfter lunch and much water, with the temperature rising to 40 degrees on pitch and 30 degrees in the shade, the return matches ensued just after 1pm. The idiom of English, madness and the midday sun should perhaps be extended to Hungarians. Hockey played in the middle of the day in August? You what? To be fair, they thought the same and are more used to playing in the cold. However, they did have many subs, which WH&E did not. That was definitely a help. The kind Hungarians also enabled WH&E not to have back to back games. Without subs it was a godsend.

Budapest2019-HT-CoolReturning to the action, was it time for revenge? While WH&E improved again, the team went 1-0 down before the first half was over and in the second half conceded another goal. Probably it was a fair result, but WH&E also played better again including from Lisa, Hitesh and Huw as well as the co-optees.

The Whites played the Greens again resulting in another high score – why were WH&E games so different? (Good defending!)

Game 4

To the final game, against the Greens. By this time the 13th, 14th, 15th and 16th quarters of the day each felt like a normal 35 min half rather than the eight they were. The substitutes for the Greens undoubtedly helped and as a result brought considerable pressure and WH&E let in two goals.

Remember the pitch? Everything needed to be hit. However, hitting every ball on an uneven pitch can bring slip ups and it duly happened. A Green female player – Kata Béres – came in to tackle from a difficult angle, and was caught in the face by a WH&E stick resulting in a rather nasty blood injury. A complete accident and profuse apologies followed, but when WH&E checked in on her again later, she was ok there was no acrimony.

Finally, there was still time for a little more action and WH&E did not leave empty handed. In a highly unusual move, Nick went to the back and Mike went up front. As the final minutes were counting down, up stepped Mike, avoiding a tackle and with a shimmy into the ‘D’, a goal and huge cheers all round!!

The final whistle was dutifully blown, and the Hungarian tournament had drawn to a close. Four losses but close games and a minus four goal difference. It was time to retire to sample the best of Hungarian nightlife, which is very good – but what goes on tour stays on tour, of course! Come next year to see for yourself (there was in fact nothing untoward). In a plug for Budapest, it is a fabulous, old and majestic city with bars, cafes and culture. It is well worth a visit.

All credit and huge thanks to Balazs for organising the adventure and even taking everyone’s sticks in his GK kit bag! It has been many years since WH&E have been on tour and it was fantastic to re-enter with such a great experience. Plans are already afoot for a repeat tour next year, so watch this space for more details – it is well worth signing up! And finally thanks to the rest of the squad who joined the tour – everyone played their part in a fantastic weekend.

Budapest2019-WHE-Team

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