The long awaited Easter weekend had finally come around. For many of this group of Maidenhead girls, it would be their first time visiting the mighty Krimpen so they did not quite know what to expect. They would have heard stories from the lucky few who had travelled there before, but the stories can never really do it justice.
The girls had been prepped on the importance of getting the back seats of the bus so they put their pre tour training to good use and muscled on first. With the bus being at almost maximum capacity, it meant very cramped conditions on the way to Dover for the team. The girls were temporarily envious of Becky Haywood and coach Josh Harris’ small builds who were the only ones able to stretch out and get some decent shut eye in the early hours of Thursday morning.
On the ferry, the excitement started to build as Tom and Josh presented the girls with their tour cards which they had to keep with them at all times throughout the weekend. The rest of the coach journey involved some ice breaker games so everyone could get to know the Amersham & Chalfont team who were joining the tournament for the first time. The A&C girls immediately showed they were far more fun than the late Brigg team as they provided the bus with some great introductory stories as well as some spirited karaoke performances.
After a brief scenic stop in Brugge, the bus arrived in Krimpen with the host families ready and waiting to collect their new English friends. Any nerves that the Maidenhead girls were experiencing beforehand were quickly calmed by the extremely warm and welcoming nature of the Dutch. After the introductions were out the way, the girls were quickly whisked away for a quick turnaround in time for the pub quiz that evening. Everyone was in high spirits for the first evening and the quiz was popular with players and coaches alike. Unfortunately, the highest place any Maidenhead girl was able to finish was 3rd, a sign of things to come perhaps?
On Friday morning in the glorious weather, the Krimpen Tournament Committee welcomed the teams and opened the tournament. As is tradition, the ‘Legends’ game was the first game on the schedule which allowed the girls the opportunity to see their coaches Tom Marriott and Josh Harris in action. It was no doubt an inspiring moment for all of them as they watched Tom glide past several Dutch players without breaking a sweat before slipping the ball to Josh to cooly finish off the move.
With their only game being the last game of the day, Maidenhead girls spent the majority of the day cheering on the boys and boasting about the size of their garden shed. Krimpen 2’s were their first opponent and in the sweltering heat, it wasn’t going to be easy. With Tomrobics done, the girls were ready and got off to a strong start with an early goal from Captain, Leader, Legend, Teona Goodge. However, a drop in energy levels due to the challenging conditions meant Krimpen 2’s stole one back just before the break. The girls looked exhausted, but after a rousing team talk by the coaches and some motivational words from veteran tourer Sophie Lucas, the girls turned things around. It was one of the best 2nd half performances that Tom and Josh had seen in their reign as Maidenhead coaches. The girls look possessed at times, with Annie Wellar leading the charge and not giving the Krimpen players a second on the ball. With Maddie Todd driving down the wing and gaining ground, Maidenhead won a short corner which was expertly deflected into the top corner by the silent assassin, Emily Bristoe. A commanding performance by midfield stalwart Issy Harris Evans resulted in her scoring from the most unlikely of angles proving it’s not just homes she wrecks, but opposition defences too. Wellar’s endeavour got her a goal to cap off the scoring and she also claimed a fully deserved Man of the Match vote from the team. The game finished 4-1, a fantastic start to the tournament.
Unfortunately for Maddie, the game had sparked up and ongoing injury which meant she could play no more part in the tournament. Whilst Maddie and Josh were absent that evening, the rest of the group rallied and sung songs about their love for Maddie long into a night. Their team spirit and togetherness was heart-warming and nearly brought a tear to Tom's eye.
Saturday came around and after a quick amnesty session and some complaints about sore heads, the girls were thrown straight into a game against Amersham & Chalfont which everyone knew would be tough. In the unbearable heat and with only 11 players fit to play, Maidenhead struggled to cope with the constant pressure. Although Amersham only scored 1 goal in the first 3rd, the combination of tiredness and hangovers allowed A&C to score 5 goals in the second 3rd despite some initial top class saves from Becky Adlard. Tom and Josh managed to recruit some players from the side-line and the rest gave the girls a boost meaning they didn’t concede any further goals, another sign of the great character in the team. The game finished 6-0 to A&C. Another tough game against favourites to win the tournament, Krimpen 1’s, followed shortly afterwards and again Maidenhead struggled with Krimpen’s physicality and clinical finishing. Despite this scoreline also finishing 6-0, not one Maidenhead player allowed their heads to drop and nothing but positivity and encouragement was heard coming from the pitch.
Maidenhead’s final game of a gruelling day was against Krimpen 2’s. With the girls suffering from the heat and lack of substitutes, and with Tom and Josh suffering from a couple too many beersh, the first two 3rds of the game were played at very a lethargical pace. With neither team able to break the deadlock, the girls knew they had to step it up in the final 15 minutes. With the crowd watching on, wondering if they would get to see the highly anticipated goal celebration the Maidenhead girls had practised, Lydia Rickard took matters into her own hands. Despite playing out of position at Right Back, Lydia made a blinding tackle before charging down the wing and slipping the ball to Teona Goodge unmarked at top D. There was only ever going to be one outcome. After the ball smashed home, Teona went and collected and rolled the ball at her team mates who had lined up in the skittle formation. The crowd cheered as the girls tumbled and Teona got her strike, with Tom and Josh knowing their decision to focus on the celebrations rather than the hockey in their pre tour sessions, had been well worth it. Victorious but exhausted, the girls went home to prepare for their fancy dress night which did not disappoint…
With the final day of the tournament having come round far too quickly, the girls prepared for their final 2 games. The first of the day was against Amersham & Chalfont but unlike the first game, the girls knew what to expect. In the first meeting of these 2 teams, the majority of the game was played in the Maidenhead half however, this game could not have been more of a contrast. Maidenhead were able to dominate possession and won a couple of early short corners to get A&C sweating from more than just the heat. Unfortunately for Maidenhead, A&C had silly pace up front and they were able to catch Maidenhead on the counter a couple of times. With Adlard thinking she was still on the dancefloor from the night before, A&C managed to score 4 goals in the first 2 thirds. Some questionable umpiring saw Maidenhead denied a blatant penalty stroke as Teona was scythed down right in front of goal by 2 A&C players. Despite a much improved performance the game finished 5-0, a harsh reflection on the team’s fantastic effort.
The last game against Krimpen was always going to be tough. The high demands of the weekend were showing and Wellar unfortunately had to sit this game out due to injury, leaving the squad even more stretched. With Tom and Josh reminding the girls they had already made them the proudest coaches on tour, the girls went into the game in high spirits, some of them knowing this would be the last time they would play for Maidenhead U18’s. Maidenhead were immense. In the absence of Wellar, Hannah Atkins and Emily Birstoe led the line and pressed Kirmpen high up the pitch. The physicality was again set by Jess Williams who used the dark arts of hockey superbly well and let her attacker know early on that she was in for a tough game. Adlard responded to the set back of the previous game ridiculously well and pulled out some super human saves. There were cheers on the sideline as Jess Davenport finally put both hands on her stick and made some key defensive tackles. In a very even game, some peculiar decisions by the umpire gave Krimpen the advantage and they were able to score 2 quick successive goals. However, this Maidenhead team showed they had learnt by losing and were not going to be put off. With Becky Haywood producing some razzle down the left, she slipped to Teona who drove past 3 Krimpen players before clinically scoring past the goalkeeper. The girls celebrated with another rehearsed celebration but they remained hungry for an upset. In the final few minutes, Maidenhead were in the ascendancy and an equaliser looked on the cards. However, a breakaway goal by Krimpen meant the game finished 3-1 but the Maidenhead girls had surpassed all expectations with a mammoth performance. The girls came off the pitch beaming, with the biggest smile coming from pocket rocket Becky Haywood who had put in a sterling performance. Her shiny white teeth were gleaming, it was clear she was a flosser.
At the closing of the tournament, Krimpen 1’s were crowned champions of the hockey. However, the crowd knew there was only 1 competition that really mattered; the Wibbly Wobblies. The Maidenhead girls were in their element with this and showed the A&C girls just what they were made of. A&C never stood a chance.
The festivities continued long into the night with Maidenhead, Amersham and Krimpen coming together as one to celebrate what had been another fantastic Easter Tournament. With the curtain closing on the weekend, the Maidenhead girls could look back fondly on the memories and friendships they had made over the weekend which would stay with them for life. We would like to thank and congratulate all those involved in the organising, officiating, playing and supporting of this great tournament for another successful year. It is our hope that the link between Krimpen and Maidenhead will continue long into the future so that this wonderful tradition can live on.
Maidenhead girls – WHAT DO WE BLEED?!
Click here to see all the photos from the tournament.