Wapping XI – 4 Academy – 1

Wapping XI – 4 Academy – 1

By Gary MacDonnell
3rd March
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Chris Grayling is a component Government Minister. No honestly.

In 2005 the band Coldplay, luke warm dishwasher personified, released the rather dreary ‘Fix You.’ Its opening lyrics are:

“When you try your best but you don't succeed, When you get what you want but not what you need.”

This is the executive summary of the Academy 2nd of March 2019. Indeed, we tried our best and we didn't succeed, we certainly got what we wanted (performance) but in terms of points and league position not what we needed.

I’ve played all sorts of matches in various sporting contests in my 42 years on this planet, but this was by far the best 4-1 defeat I’ve every ‘suffered.’ At the end of the match I looked at our 13 players and was proud. I’d had a personally difficult week, but this was the tonic. Playing with a team full of energy that kept going in the face of sporting adversity – it makes it all worthwhile. A proper team playing a proper team performance. After the match the umpires congratulated the club on our promising youngsters and also stated that the score line wasn’t a fair reflection on the match. It was nice of them to do so but I knew already.

So, the basic facts of the game are these. I changed the team shape slightly going a bit more defensive into a more 4-4-2 shape. I make no apologies for this, being slightly more defensive has served us very well in the past at this venue. The opening period was fairly even but it was no surprise that we went ahead after about ten minutes from our first short of the game. The call was for me to slip the ball to Stephen Brown. However, the ball went directly to him, no panic, keep it alive, I had a shot that I though was in, it seemed to hit everything on the line but Simon Hill ended any doubt by converting as they scrambled to clear.

They came back and whilst the game remained reasonably even scored three goals at equally spread intervals through the rest of the half. One of them an incisive and well worked counter attack.

Half time (more on that later) we change shape moving into more of a 3-4-3. The Academy pour it on. Attack after attack. Shots from me (x2), Simon Hill (x15+), Harry Lewis, Stephen Brown, Jack Payton, Brady Doyle, Richard Doyle. No joy. The home keeper excellent but perhaps we were a little off target. They grab a goal with another counter attack about 10 mins into the second half – doesn’t change anything back we come.

Those are the basic facts. But that doesn’t convey in anyway the match in reality, and the second performance in particular. I said to the team at halftime, at 3-1 down, that we could get something out of this match. Normally at 3-1 down it’s a case of ‘win the second half, see where we get to,’ but I felt we were in this match. I said that if we get the next goal they’ll be nervous. I even said if they get the next goal to make it 4-1 we keep going as there could be something here for us. My team responded perfectly. We poured it on. It was hockey the way I like to see it played. We attacked and on the front foot, we had shape, we worked for each other on and off the ball, great calling, use of skill in the right areas, no blame culture, no calling out and total bravery and commitment in the tackles. On the tackling we were on the edge of legality and we knew it but for me that is how it should be. Wapping didn’t like it, but any risks of injury were taken by Academy players not Wapping players – with the possible exception of the Wapping #7 who lost his glasses in every confrontation. It became a game within a game (for me anyway) to hit him hard enough to make his glasses fall off and watch his double teapot after he picked them up. Must admit I was guilty of taking the secondary game to importantly with my shoulder barge with the ball nowhere in the equation late on. Still we saw off the short corner.

As mentioned above we had chances but I never felt we’d missed a sitter. Wapping are a good team and had a strong, knowledgeable defence. The shots and chances needed to be created through either individual skill or crisp passing – nothing was handed to us on a plate. No open goals were missed the individuals taking shots were always probably taking them at the right time but always had work to do.

At the risk of hyperbole, I was proud to captain this team. Proud of the hockey played and proud of the fact that they just kept going. No head went down. Obviously you don’t come back to often from a 3-1 deficit but on another day we could have done. As a country we don’t deserve to be led by a government containing Chris Grayling and as a club we didn’t deserve to lose this game but there you go.

Wapping XI and Brentwood Academy are two teams that want very different things from their Saturday afternoon hockey. I remember talking with their captain when we played the home match for them it’s to win the league. He was amazed that we were in the business of trying to get a mid-table finish and stay in the ‘right’ league to develop younger players. It was almost like I’d told him:
- Chris Graying is the right man to be Secretary of State for Transport
- It’s been 2 weeks since Brentwood 1’s was promoted but, yet nothing has appeared on either the Brentwood website.

See total madness. Get your head round that.

Ladies and gentlemen your team:

Kris Spurling: Came in to coach a young goalkeeper through a first season but Romford put paid to that and has stayed on – thankfully. Couldn’t see anything he could have done with any of the goals and made a superb stop low to his right that kept us in it before halftime.

Henry MacDonnell: Took a knock early on the elbow and sat out most of the first half but excelled in the second. I love watching him tackle and charge about. His tackling led to him being called a (insert very nasty word – like the real nasty one. Think of a nasty word yes that one) My attempts to calm the situation led to me being called a w**ker, which I found greatly offensive and then lead to Henry politely (and it was polite) requesting that the perpetrator ‘not swear at my Dad.’ It meant that we had come full circle and gone through the looking glass whereby everyone had sworn at everyone else and we had all become offended and there was somewhere in the background a hockey match taking place. We shock hands at the end of the match.

We might have to listen to dull stories from his older brother about Brentwood 1’s 9-0 wins here and 6-2 wins there but I know who the real hockey star of the MacDonnell family is.

Paul Colman: What can be said that hasn’t already been said. The rock of this team. What they’re attacking? Paul Colman is back there, no issue. I wish we were American sports so that when he retires we could retire his shirt number or something.

Carter Trett: Appeared in very advanced positions towards the end of the game. Solid as always. Regular readers will know that Carter is one of my most favourite people but I have to say, him making me stop on the journey home at Lakeside (as he needed the toilet) was a bit of an unwelcome detour. Still when a man has to go, a man has to go. Also after Southend I want to be very clear that if anyone calls Carter any names (and yes I include that one – the really bad one) I’m not getting involved this bloke can take care of himself.

Jack Payton: What a man. Didn’t have his finest 35 mins in the first half but came back fighting. Will never let you down.

Arron Doyle: Dedication. Was in the country for literally 24hrs and turned out for the Academy. Put him in the hall of fame.

Richard Doyle: I love the fact that whenever the whistle blows he believes that the foul has gone for him and immediately starts play when 50% of the time it’s gone against him. Trying to explain that to various Wapping XI players that he hasn’t run 478km away from the spot of the foul on purpose and that he does it every week and that we weren’t trying to time waste was difficult – it should have been easy considering we were 3-1 down at the time.

Brady Doyle: I’m forced to pick a team to play for my life – and can only pick one Doyle. Brady it is.

Stephen Brown: Lead the line superbly. Moved into the right areas and was unlucky with a couple of chances. Constantly created space for others.

Simon Hill: What’s that I hear? Training on a Wednesday night? I think that ought to be the natural conclusion for Simon following the 2018/19 season. Knows his way back from Lakeside even if the ‘Satnav Simon’ chant did get a bit tedious.

Harry Lewis: So Harry says to me at halftime that he thinks he’s not playing well. Well frankly I couldn’t see what he was talking about. What I saw was skill and commitment. Was involved with Henry in what will from this day forward be called: the worst word you can think of gate. Apparently he was fouling, well if he was the umpire didn’t give it and therefore ipso facto it wasn’t. Terrific match.

Andrew Pearson: Not fit really. Filled in for Henry when he went off but leg not right and acted as chief cheerleader for our second half efforts.

Man of the Match: None. Simply was unprepared to award one. However Henry did ask me on the way home who I would have awarded it to and I did give him a name. I’m not saying anything but Henry’s bribe level is very low (Yorkie). Mine is significantly higher (Aston Martin DB11).

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