“So that was that, we finished the 6th best team in the country, not a bad effort for a small market town in North Yorkshire. ”
Left to Right Standing: Eve Pepper, Yasmin Marshall, Daisy Grainge, Holly Pears, Jemima Thomlinson
Sitting: James Pollock (Coach), Marnie Scatchard, Hattie Councell, Minnie Pollock (C), Evie Haigh (GK), Duncan Haigh (Coach)
The girls have had an amazing season as all previous match reports will attest so the mission was to go and enjoy ourselves against the best the country had to offer. This is the third year the club has sent an U12 team to Nationals so we know what a massive step up it can be in competition, we finished 10th the first year, 9th last year so we were slowly creeping up the leader board, could we go one better this year.
Updated 13:54 - 2 Jun 2017 by Mike Rushmere
We had been drawn in what was the toughest pool with the likes of Surbiton and Sevenoaks lying in wait but I knew our girls would be tough competition for anyone.
So first match and we started with a big one, Surbiton. I got the girls in and told them just play hard, we are probably going to let some goals in but we can certainly score goals, so let’s just go for it. It is hard for the girls because they have been so dominant, only letting in 2 goals all season leading up to this, that they have to get their heads around what is going to happen on the pitch, they will let goals in but they can come back. I just told them to enjoy the experience! The game started and it was tense stuff, there was some lovely hockey being played, our girls did not look out of place at all. In fact we caught them napping and Minnie managed to sneak a goal in, so at the end of the first half we were 1-0 up. I told the girls that they are going to come right back at us in the second half and sure enough they did, managing to get an equalizer. Then unfortunately a wayward pass led to an easy second goal for Surbiton which was not deserved. The girls were still fighting but a very clever bit of hockey got Surbiton through on goal and they got a third and that’s how it finished 3-1 to Surbiton. A tough match for the girls but that is one of the biggest clubs in the country and our girls fought hard and never looked out of place, I was very proud.
Stourport next, another unknown team so again I just told the girls to get out there and get their A game going. They didn’t disappoint and we had much more control in this match but it still wasn’t easy and Stourport pushed us all the way but we managed to come out 2-0 winners. First win of Nationals, awesome!
Next up, another tough match in Sevenoaks. Tough it certainly was, we got through on goal very early on but Minnie got stick tackled as she was about to score and we only got a short corner, when everyone at the goal end said it had to be a penalty flick. Anyway, the girls carried on but it was a really physical battle with neither side giving anything away. In the second half, Jemima was whacked in the knee and had to go off for some ice therapy. Then Hattie who had been battling and tackling her heart out got green carded – the team’s first experience of this and it can be hard for them to take but as I said to Hattie afterwards, it didn’t bother me in the slightest, it meant she was trying her hardest and I was very proud of how she handled it. The game finished a very close 2-1 to Sevenoaks but they knew they’d been in a battle and were lucky to come out on top. We all felt like we deserved a draw in that match but I was so proud of the girls, they’d put everything on the line. This was the team that went onto win the whole tournament so there was no shame in this result. The Sevenoaks coaches even said they’d love to arrange some more matches with Thirsk, quite a long way to travel but if the girls want to improve it is the matches they need to playing regularly.
Last match of the pool was against Bournemouth, again another unknown. The girls put the last match behind them and went out and played some lovely hockey, we actually conceded one goal but only because the defence of Yas and Daisy along with Evie thought the whistle had been blown but it was on the other pitch! The good news was we’d scored 3 at the other end so we finished 3-1 winners. Minnie got a fantastic 3rd goal weaving through the Bournemouth defence with some 3d skills, eventually going around the keeper and slotting it in the back of the goal…………………….awesome.
So we’d finished a very respectable third in our pool of doom and we now had the playoff for the 5th and 6th place. The trouble with this match, and I knew this from the previous year, is that there is an hour and a half gap before it’s played, so I know the girls are normally half asleep.
We knew we would face Canterbury in this match so I tried to get the girls revved up for action but I could tell their heads were not in the right place. The game started and we looked shocking, Canterbury had some very big girls who were pushing our girls easily off the ball and we were not giving them much opposition. We went down 2-0 in the first half, the half time talk was not a pretty one, harsh words were said but to their credit they said they would come back fighting, Yas leading the positive spirit to come back from this. And that they did, although they left it late, firstly Eve sneaking a goal in from a short corner and then Holly putting Minnie through on goal who got around the keeper and even with being shoved from behind landing flat on her face, she managed to sneak the equalizer, and in the last minute. So, the game finished 2-2 and we had to go to penalty flicks, Holly, Minnie and Eve all putting their hands up to take. It was a hugely tense affair going through nearly 3 rounds, we lost on the 8th penalty flick on sudden death! A tough one for the girls but they’d done so well to get back into that game to put them in that position.
So that was that, we finished the 6th best team in the country, not a bad effort for a small market town in North Yorkshire. What was very clear is that we were incredibly competitive on the National stage and the town should be very proud of these girls and their efforts, I certainly am.
It has been an absolute pleasure coaching these girls, some since the age of 7, they have achieved so much success in their short hockey careers and I know there is plenty more to come from them as they move up into the U14 age group where it changes into the 11-a-side game on a full pitch – the aim is to get them to Nationals next year!
A big thank you to the girls, parents, grandparents, supporters and Malcolm!
Comment by this web master: It is also interesting to note that there is no results report on the England Hockey web site, an indication of the importance they put on junior hockey!!!!!