18. Over 65's AGGM - 2014 Hockey World Cup
13th June 2014 - Den Haag, Netherlands.
Great Grand Masters Hockey World Cup 2014 - Grand Final v. Netherlands
If semi-final day was a Shakespearian 'Comedy of Errors', we set out in the hope that today's play will be 'All's Well that Ends Well'. After 24 weeks of training, today is the final day of the holy grail of Masters Hockey with the grand final to contest, one last roll of the dice, but the certainty of a medal, silver or gold. Coach Claxton has a 'Midsummer Night's Dream' of double gold, with wins to us and to daughter Jane and the Hockeyroos. He reminds us that there is no tomorrow, to leave nothing in the tank by the end of the game, that pain is a short term thing but victory lasts for ever. We have to wake up early as our team bus is due to collect us from our hotel an hour earlier than previously scheduled. This seems bizarre as it means that we will be waiting around at the ground for three hours before our match against the Netherlands is due to start. Apparently our team management is unable to influence a change as it was already cast in stone by our Dutch hosts - a funny thing, come to think of it, we just happen to be playing them in the final ! The hockey stadium is teaming with teams, players, games everywhere, gold medal games, bronze medal games, games for minor placings, even for thirteenth and fourteenth place. The clock ticks to twelve thirty, we're on the park, off and running. One minute in and the Mollydooker Dutchman throws a long overhead pass. It bounces awkwardly for our defender, ball is picked up by the running forward and with the Aussie defence eliminated he draws the goalie, lays off the pass and Netherlands go one ahead. The Dutch are marking tightly all round the ground but the Aussies work forward and win a penalty corner, hoping to equalise but the goalkeeper is up to the mark and saves well. Into the last minute of the opening quarter and the Dutchmen break away quickly with the long pass, the Aussie defence is spreadeagled again and we're two behind. It's morale sapping stuff but it's Measure for Measure, with all the Aussie team putting up an incredible effort winning two-thirds of the possession, many circle penetrations, but with shots that go just wide of the post, with deflections narrowly missing the mark, with the strikers all closely marked by two or three Dutch defenders. We keep winning penalty corners - about fourteen in all but are unable to convert, with the Dutch defensive wall impenetrable. With the Aussies throwing everything at them bar the kitchen sink, the Dutch score a lucky goal late in the game. The final score does not reflect the closeness of the contest, but it is Gold for Netherlands and Silver for Australia. For the Dutch the play is 'As You Like It' , for the Aussies it's 'Clacko's Labours Lost'.
We retire to the team dinner for the finale - appropriate toasts are drunk to Coach Bob Claxton, Manager Ric Roberts, Team Physio Nigel Friend & Team Umpire Rod Hurst. But the 'Comedy of Errors' is back - at one table we order a bottle of "Peter Lehmann" and three glasses. The Dutch waitress appears to understand Gil's English pronunciation and returns with a large jug of "bitter lemon" and three glasses (think about it. !!!)
Netherlands O/65's 3 - Gold Medal
Australia O/65's 0 - Silver Medal