Festive Fun for Boys U12 at Copper Box
By Will Hayes
An indoor report from our Under 12 Boys...
The festive season sees the hockey world make its way over to the Copper Box at the Olympic Park for its fix of indoor hockey. An 8am meet on the Saturday in the middle of the Crimbo Limbo period proved a bit of a challenge, but at 8.45 the u12 boys (and girls) were ready for the opening ceremony. Those expecting a Danny Boyle style Olympic curtain raiser were left slightly disappointed. However, one hockey parenting sage rightly predicted a comedic fall as one of the participants entered the arena; fortunately no harm was done and no Surbiton player was injured.
A first up encounter versus Canterbury was not exactly what coach Frankie would have put on his Christmas wish list; the Polo-Farm based team having their very own indoor training facility. The Kent side dominated possession and gained a number of circle entries. But they couldn't break through the rock that was Teddy in defence who tackled everything that came his way with impeccable low tackling. Will, fresh from his heroics at the Teddington Christmas festival also brought his A game and made a number of smart saves from several penalty corners. The 0-0 result felt like a point won rather than two lost and gave the boys confidence going into the game against London Wayfarers. The roles were reversed in this game as Surbiton had the lion's share of possession but couldn't find a goal. Apparently because he "just got angry", defender Sammie took it upon himself in the final minute of the game to go on a surging run and with a drop of the shoulder here and a stick feint there, he cut through the opposing team and finished neatly on the reverse stick past the keeper. 1-0 to Surbiton.
Next up were Wooton Under Edge sporting a mint kit and a large squad. Some tactical adjustments from Frankie saw a slight moving of personnel (Barney slotting in seamlessly at right back), which brought more circle entries for SHC. Hudson, Jake and Ben worked tirelessly as the front men. But it was *checks notes* James who got on the score sheet. Another goal ensued to see Surbiton take the game 2-0, top their group and qualify for the Cup/Final 4.
A two hour break provided the kids to socialise, peruse the wares of the Hockey Store and parents to partake in the traditional festive activity of returning unwanted Christmas gifts at nearby Westfield.
Coach Frankie knew that the boys would be in for a tough game as they faced current u12 outdoor national champions Cambridge City. There seems to have been a Dutch or Germanic influx into the Fens; the ball being dribbled and passed around with panache by ever more blond boys who were too good for the Surbiton team; Surbiton losing out 4-1.
Next up, Knole Park HC: the hive-off club that emanated from Sevenoaks. Whilst not as adept as Cambridge, the strategically placed Knole Park strikers (on the back post) brought rewards and the Surbiton cause was not helped as Sammie received a green card for a tackle that was more Mark Noble (from the nearby London Stadium) than jolly hockey sticks. Again, another heavy defeat. And so, in the final match against Hertford Surbiton effectively were playing out the Dirty Gold match – the winner would take home bronze. Hertford had run Cambridge close earlier and took the lead with some smart interplay. Surbiton levelled up, then Hertford took the lead. And, with the SHC offensive penalty corner routine looking all a bit, "After You Claude", James took responsibility and drilled a hard flick into a billowing net. In the final ten seconds, Teddy made an intelligent run forward and shot just wide which grew gasps from the crowd. Pure Box Office.
And so, no medals, but a great learning experience. Many thanks to Frankie for coaching on the day and for the sessions at Kingston Academy. Next indoor outing – Derby, in the Spring. Need I say more.