1. Over 65's AGGM - 2014 Hockey World Cup
5th June 2014 - Den Haag, Netherlands.
Masters Hockey World Cup 2014 - Opening Day
We're here, in The Hague, all ready to go - it's 254 days since we were standing in the Olympic Hockey Stadium on a Saturday afternoon in the Sydney sunshine hearing our names called out for selection in Team 65's. Physio Nigel Friend has been working hard to have all eighteen players fit and running for the opening game v. South Africa. Coach Bob Claxton addresses the players at the pre-match team briefing. He brings an air of calmness, projecting an air of encouragement to all, to have 100% confidence in each other, a belief in the group, that we can do it,
Bob is quietly, and unassumingly, inspirational. We're bonded, we're a team, ready to go. In fact, we're ready to go as soon as the bus arrives at 10.30 a.m. but, as 11.30 a.m. ticks by, there's still no bus. We edge a little further down the hotel steps scanning for any likely vehicles on the horizon, while Team Manager Ric Roberts is also becoming distinctly edgy. Finally the bus arrives, supporters and players load their gear and board at lightening speed - well, not quite as quick as the Red Bull team can change Danny Ricciardo's tyres at the F1 circuit but reminiscent, at least, of Simon Thomson's fastest time in sinking a yard of ale at the pub in Tunbridge Wells !!! We hit the road but it's 14 roundabouts later before we are on the highway. The minutes tick by, we're stuck in a traffic jam in downtown Den Haag, blood pressures are rising, the cool, unflustered start to the day has gone out of the window. Will we make it to the ground in time for the start, given the 15 minute walk to the ground, down the steps and around ? The bus-driver comes up trumps, escapes the traffic queues and finds his way down the narrow lanes to the main entrance. The birthday song for Anton marks a very special day in his life. We're down the hill to the ground with little time to spare and, in synchrony with the start of our warm-up comes the start of the rain. Whether the weather has any connection with Cosi's remarks back in Barcelona at the cathedral and the ensuing thunderstorm but, like Manuel, "we know nothing". However, the lady Supporters of Team 65 are made of sterner stuff, out in the thick of it, weathering the weather and cheering us on!!! We're off and running in the opening game v. South Africa, and two minutes in, Simon "Tommo" Thomson makes a critical tackle in the midfield and launches an attack down the left, he links with Barry "Paicey" Paice, the ball comes across just outside the spot and there is Tony "Mick" Rodgers to sweep the ball into the goal. The 'Boks are rattled and having to use the long bomb shot to try to clear their defence thanks to some good presses from Keith "Robbo" Robertson and "Flying" Fred Carter. Robbo is soon in attack and is felled coming into the circle but the umpire is unmoved, no short corner. In a moment our Robbo is back and, receiving the ball, runs on a tight angle from the left and fires an Exocet missile of a shot that whistles past the right post and the South Africans escape. Our defence and midfield are controlling the game, with Donald "Big Don" Richards, Gil Voysey, Keith Chay and Winton "Boonz" Inkster linking well with Neil "Chopper" Sun See and Rod "Rocket" Dyson to produce what one spectator was later heard to say was Textbook modern hockey. We show patience but are unable to score again before the half-time break. The rain keeps on relentlessly, blowing into the dugout as Coach has us re-focused for the second half. Last on ground after the break is Keith "Gadget" Jervis is rope able when he cannot find his own stick and, with exasperation, pulls out his spare. Within minutes there's a rattled looking Captain Doug Truman running towards the bench tossing down an unfamiliar stick that he has been using, grabs his own and takes off. Although it will take Gadget a little longer before he is reunited with his favourite stick, Dougie makes his change of equipment look inspirational as he finds himself at the top of the circle and strikes the ball sweetly home to put us two ahead. We're soon back in attack and Lunger wins the ball in a close encounter on the right of the circle, passes to the spot and Tony nails the shot. Aussies are three nil in front before the South Africans mount any meaningful attacks and their three short corner attempts are repelled by goalie John "Harps" Harper and his defensive battery. Into the final quarter, the 'Boks are still playing hard and birthday boy Anton "the Deek" Dekens is unceremoniously floored - in fluent Dutch he makes a polite enquiry to the Umpire as to whether he happens to be watching the same game ? The Umpire provides a firm signal for Anton to assume an immediate level of silence on the pitch. For Anton it is immediately apparent that discretion is the better part of valour and any further dialogue is discontinued !!! We have time for a further attack, up in the circle, where the ball falls to Simon "Lunger" Williams outside the right post. Lunger, seeing the goalie off his line, lifts the ball with calm precision on the tightest of angles behind the defence striking the inside of the far post for the icing on the cake. Our team of dedicated supporters on the touchline, undaunted by the wind and the rain, are cheering wildly. The 'Boks score a lucky goal just before full-time when goalie Neil "Cosi" Coster comes to the top of the circle in a one on one contest only to find that the South African striker does the academy award dive of the century to con the umpire into awarding a penalty stroke.
S. Africa O/65's Masters 1
Australia O/65's 4 (Goal Scorers - T.Rodgers (2), D. Truman, S. Williams)