Monday, 18 March 2013

Flicking outstanding, birthday wishes and a brilliant debut.

Ladies and gentlemen. Boydems and Girldems. Hello and welcome to this week’s instalment of my blog. Before we start, can I give a massive Happy Birthday to our very own Yoda..Mr Rob Riley.Have a great one Lad.

Okay so It’s Monday again. And like every Monday, we wake up, get ready for work and reminisce about the weekend’s shenanigans.  So here we go.

My body and mind feels battered and bruised from this weekend adventures.  My left Achilles has flared up, my right knee aches with pain from the impact of a high ball and I feel fairly disillusioned with the fact that we can and will only finish in 3rd in the league.

Some people may be content with this accomplishment.  In its own right, jumping up 2 divisions, being seeded as the lowest ranked team in the league and finishing 3rd could be deemed as a result. However for me, I feel Disappointed. I feel like we should have been promoted again. I feel that we have more to offer.  I feel confused why our form of last year has only showed in spits and spats this year.  You can sometimes over analyse the performances on the pitch. Were we good enough? Did we play well? Did we score enough goals? Did we concede too many goals?  Then we look at our off the pitch performances. Did we focus ourselves properly before each game? Did we get wasted the night before a game? Did we train as hard as we should have? Did we approach each game seriously? When you take all these variables into account. How many of them do you think we can all tick?

For some reason this year, I don’t believe we were mentally ready for this league.  We were in no way as prepared like last season. Was this down to naivety?? Was this down to fear? Was this down to us as a team being content? I can’t answer for the team.  That is something we all have sit down and contemplate. Ask yourself this question. “ Are you happy with this season?  Don’t worry this isn’t a trick question, nor a question that singles you out.  It’s an opinion based on ones feelings. It’s not wrong that certain people may feel content. Nor is it wrong that people like me are disappointed.  We are a collective of individuals with different personalities and different ambitions.

I have asked myself.  “What Could I have done differently this year?” – Personally, I started the season off in the wrong way. I wasn’t confident or excited to be part of the team. There was a lack of ambition and my attitude was poor. I feel a little bit responsible for some of the results due to the way I approached the season.  Sometimes you have to hold your hands up and just accept responsibility. I personally wish that I could have started this season with the same determination and ambition that has grown with me throughout the latter part of the season.  It’s a well-known fact that I have aimed to change certain aspects of my life to be a better person. To be a more confident person. To be happy. I feel that my goal this season has been accomplished in that respect. But I don't think it's enough.

So what do we focus on now? Well firstly next weekend’s Finale .  We travel away to Neston HC on the Wirral.  Neston are currently in 4th place in the league and due to results can now no longer push us for 3rd place. Some people say, It’s hard to Play at your best when you have nothing to play for. People who say this is a nothing game are completely wrong.  Neston were the first team to bring us back down to reality. They taught us a lesson in this league and I don’t think we ever really recovered from it.  They beat us in the first game of the season.  They beat us well.  This Saturday gives us the opportunity to justify our league position.  It’s a chance to finish with a bang (B of the bang in Robs words).  I am going to approach this game like I have done for any other game. I want to win. I want to win well. I want to play the best I can. I want to enjoy it in the process. It's not in my nature to travel all the way up to the Wirral just to role over and die. So I am making a rallying call to the selected squad. Lets all give it our best. Lets take this opportunity and put them to the sword. Lets finish the season well. Lets play excellent hockey!

So what happened this weekend? We travelled to Wrexham and were hosted by Northrop Hall. I really love playing against Northrop Hall. On Every occasion I have played this team I have scored. And thanks to a terrible flick earlier in the season the opposing goalkeeper helped me keep this pointless personal record on track.

The atmosphere was very relaxed. More than usual. I don't know whether I like it like this. I prefer the atmosphere to be intense. Nether-the-less, we prepared for the game. We were playing on the best pitch in England! (Insert banter here) or North Wales as I recall Wrexham being a welsh town. There's something I have noticed whilst watching teams in higher leagues. When they warm up its all about hockey. The jokes stop, the banter is forgotten. Hockey is all you see and you hear. I think for us.. We haven't quite reached that level yet. I believe we can and will one day. It's inevitable if we are to push for greater things.

The game starts. And credit must go to Northrop. They started quick and quite well. There were obvious problems adjusting to the pitch. Both sides didn't look entirely comfortable. The homeside more at ease then us. They showed great composure and finished the first goal to go 1-0 up.  I have been extremely proud of Sales resilience this year. We don't give up, we fight to the end. And after constant pressure and some good passing play we won a short corner. Ben smith as he has done a few times this year flicked a rebound into the netting. Game on 1-1. 'Same old sale' is a phrase I want banished from being used! So guys stop saying it. Unfortunately and quite quickly after we levelled we conceded a 2nd goal. Credit again goes to Northrop Hall. They wanted this game. They in all respect, are fighting for position in the table. Sale regrouped and started keeping better possession. This was key in the next run of play. After some intricate passing from the team, Danny received a ball in space in the D. Without any doubt Danny slotted home a sublime finish just before half time.

After the half time team talk we went out in the 2nd half knowing we have to step up. Play better and work harder. Danny called it a few times in the game. "Find that extra half a yard" and we started the 2nd half with an extra 2. After good pressure from the start, Northrop conceded a penalty flick. I actually smiled. I was already in the D, so grabbed the ball without even looking for H's approval. This was mine, my time for retribution. The Whistle went and without any hesitation, heart palpitations or any doubt, I slotted the ball almost perfect to the keeper’s glove side, hitting the side netting. 2-3 sale! I Turned, ran back and set up ready for the restart! It's a funny old game hockey, but sometimes predictable. And after less then 10 minutes leading the game Northrop hit back with another equaliser. 3-3! There was quite a prolonged period of the game where we were under immense pressure from the homeside. Northrop won another short corner. Our play was getting some what nervous. Sale saved well, broke quickly and within 6 seconds of the break Neil slotted home a waited finish into the bottom right corner. 3-4 to Sale. Sale hung onto the lead and finished the game 3-4 winners. My biggest congratulations goes to young Ben Wells for an outstanding debut. Ben was selected because of his overall good performances for the 2nd team. He was tasked with providing cover for our half backs.  But after his outstanding performance, I can only see him becoming a permanent addition to the squad. Ben deserves this credit. I believe we can all learn from his performance. All his basics were executed excellently. He never tried anything silly or over the top. And on that basis was my clear vote for Man of the match. Well-done Ben.

I thought my performance good. A much better performance than last weekend. I'm glad I managed to prove to myself it was just a bad week and not bad form. I really enjoyed the game. I more than enjoyed the flick. So sorry Ben Smith...My flicks are back too their very best.:P.

So hockey aside, Saturday nightwas my lovely Danielle's birthday outing. As always it was a pleasure to be invited. I always have fun on these nights out. Danielle is one of my closest friends and I hope she had an ace time. I was pleasantly drunk. :)

Ok so that's it folks. Another weekend has passed and another blog completed. Thanks for reading and I will see you next week. 

My Hockey is on fire.

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