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B2H Cup Match #1 Report: 'The Battle of the Shinns'

29th January 2024

By Roger Hitch

Played on 27/01/2024

So called, as both Will Shinn and son Mathew were defending their respective goals during the first B2H Cup Match. Cup Matches are 11 aside, organised by Josh, the B2H Tournaments Organiser, and intended to be against outside club opposition but both Epsom and The Royals were only able to field two each so it became an internal match. B2H was able to field 24 players with four more willing to play but unavailable, making 28 in total.

This indicates the success that B2H has achieved compared to some other clubs in the area as we have had 68 enquires so far this season with 24 joined, six in trials, 14 withdrawn, 23 who have had no attendance (interesting statistics). We have 59 current active members with an average Monday training attendance of 31.

In this match we had a great range of playing skills from National Level, Schools National Champion, EHL Mid league, Australian Ice Hockey league(!), Junior County, first match ever, SL23, and many new to hockey this season.

We started with the group presentation of a brand new Grays hockey bag to Chris Carr who has shown a great commitment to the development of social hockey within B2H since joining quite a while back now. This was prompted by observing his previous bag bought back in 2008 which had been through many hockey wars, it seemed. The presentation was made by Josh who had organised acquiring the new bag and its special B2H embroidering (done by Giles Reynolds of Spinnaker Sports Ltd. and our umpire – advert over). Well deserved, Chris.

I spent many hours, in my selection booth at home, choosing the teams to be as equal as possible with the main 11s Cup Squad defence and forwards opposing each other in their teams, named “Spitfires” and “Hurricanes” (WW2 defensive planes), with the names prompted by Joanna in a WhatsApp (WA) naming competition on Friday. Hard luck Gary, but maybe you will win next time and thanks for all the rather obscure suggestions! The most difficult part of my exercise was organising the substitutions to ensure fair pitch time for all. It did work out in the end after an hour and a half’s deliberation!

We were conscious of the fact that our 16:00 Pitch 2 match was going to be watched by ‘The Old Guard’, as Josh put it in his WA broadcast address before the match, so everyone had been asked to turn out in the proper SHC kit with SHC white shirts for the Spitfires and the Men’s SL23 black B2H shirts for the Hurricanes. Zoe even bought the full kit especially for this match (her first of any kind ever, being new to hockey at the end of last season and she said she loved every minute of it), which again shows how our members are committed to promoting B2H in the best way possible. Thanks Zoe for the example, you are a star.

In order to prepare our teams for ‘The Battle of the Shinns’, Josh had arranged for a warm up session beforehand on P3 to prevent those hamstring injuries happening to our players with an average age of 41. The Spitfires were captained by our, by now, seasoned captain Michael, while the Hurricanes had Josh in charge for this match.

Any hockey competitive match cannot take place without control and we have to thank Giles Reynolds for his, now continuing, attendance to that control of our competition matches and usually as a single umpire, as was again for us this time. We greatly appreciate your assistance Giles, so a big thank you to you.

Our coach Alex Richards (M3A), had given us two recent Monday training sessions on how to conduct short corners and basic full sized pitch positioning in preparation for this match so it was going to be interesting see how much was remembered. B2H is predominantly trained for 7-aside. In the end, the Hurricanes only had one short corner, with the injection fluffed by yours truly(!) and the Spitfires had hardly many more. The battle raged for eight sections, to allow subs and a regroup every seven and a half minutes, and this concept worked very well for us as a training group.

The quality of play, considering the great spread of skills, was very good with everyone being fully included in the play, as is the B2H way. It was an end to end game with everyone putting in as much effort as they could. I did observe that there were few tackles during the match, indicating that the 7s Match Play sessions we have on a Saturday morning, where we concentrate on how to play the game, showed clearly that passing around the opposition is much more effective than trying to plough through them. We had one move by the Spitfires that started from the back, went via four of their players, taking the wide path around the pitch, to a shot on goal without going anywhere near a Hurricane player. That is how it should be done, so well done to the Spitfires for that example of play.

The Spitfires, with the strongest backs/halves (as deliberately selected in order to learn to work with each other as a defensive group for future external opposition), were the dominant side and after a while went one goal up via a ‘top of D’ screamer from Hugh whizzing past Matt in goal. Matt had made some amazing ground saves previous to the goal but this time was outclassed by Hugh’s power (after all, a rugby player is usually built well). Not to be deterred, Hurricanes captain Josh rallied his troops and they battled on to try to level the score. This occurred in the last section of the match where Josh’s strike at Will in the Spitfires goal, took a deflection off Spitfire player Lia’s stick and shot high into the back netting to even up the scores.

Our recent new to hockey players put in a gallant effort in defence of their goal and in attack sometimes were a bit over enthusiastic with Hurricanes player Joanna, playing right half, with the ball in midfield being spotted on the P spot once, and when challenged over why she was there said, “Well no one else was there to try to score”. I just loved that reply being so relevant to the situation and I should have apologised for not being there myself, being centre forward at the time. This is the enthusiasm and passion for the game that I refer to. Well done Joanna, who by the way is one of our women’s biggest rising stars of the game.

B2H, in an 11s game, has a lot to learn and we are determined to pursue our 11s play having two more of Josh’s Cup matches planned, hopefully against outside clubs, as was originally intended.

A great time was truly had by all in what turned out to be a fantastic match. As Daman said in the WA messages, “In all fairness, Royals pulling out wasn't such a bad thing after all, a lot more of us got to enjoy a full pitch 11-aside game some would have otherwise missed” – how true. Thanks to Clubhouse Manager Sam and her kitchen team for providing us with the usual marvellous match tea and for keeping it hot for us, being the last game to finish for the day.

During the after tea chat around the long tea table, from the post-match discussion group, players slowly drifted off home until there was only left ‘The Old Farts’ group (so named for the occupants of one of the three cars destined for Rotterdam for the B2H Dutch Tour on April 27/28th - see newsletter poster) and Chris C. This group consists of Roger, Josh, Gerhard and Will – so you can see why it is so named. This aside, Will has a hobby of picture framing, with all the special associated machines, and as a result I was presented with a lovely framed picture of the Monday Training group’s B2H promotional photo taken by professional photographer, John Aparicio (Vintage player).

I shall leave this (long) report by placing some of our members’ WA comments below, that would not otherwise get recorded for the B2H archive.

Josh Blair: “Thanks to you all for such a wonderful game. I hope you all enjoyed it as much as I did… Thanks to Giles for umpiring... And the most thanks go to Roger without whom we wouldn’t have this great B2H section of the club and such a great vibe. But the biggest thank you goes to you all for turning up ‘week in week out’ and trying your best for B2H!”

Jerry Lane: “Big thanks to Roger and Josh for today and all involved. After being out for a couple of months it was fantastic to get out there again. Even if not fully fit. I’d also like to say that over those weeks out, the level of confidence in the way everyone played is a testimony to B2H. I’m now playing catch up.”

Chris Carr: “Thanks to Josh and Roger for organising today and despite the hurdles of teams pulling out we had a very competitive and enjoyable match. I was very impressed by everyone’s level of ability, determination and fitness, especially some of the newer players for whom it was a very big step up. Nobody looked out of place. Also, thanks for the new bag, it's great.”

Rosy Goss: “Thanks so much Roger and Josh. Great fun! Sorry I couldn’t stay for refreshments.”

Joanna Pritchard: “Thanks to everyone. What a great game and especially our wonderful organisers. Love the pics! X”

Zoe Latchford: “Thanks for making me feel so welcome and for all of your support and encouragement, I absolutely loved playing in my first game ever, today!”

Jerry Lane: “…I could not keep up with Zoe once she was off!”

Thank you for all the lovely comments above, for reading this report and for everyone’s support of our developing B2H section of the club.