Friday, 19 June 2009

Old Boys for Life

When 2 generations meet for a competitive clash of heart and desire spectacular things can happen...

Last month the annual Sussex University Old Boys Hockey Game was held at the beautiful Lewes Country Club at Cockshut Road. Traveling down there on the train brought back memories of my time playing for the Green Giants (Lewes HC that is). It was a beautiful day, a proper summers day, and so it was destined to be a winner no matter the result on the pitch, although that was never in doubt let's be realistic about that.

The Tennis finals were also being that same day and so by the time I arrived the BBQ was warming up and the "Bravo's" were flying around. A few coffee's later and a catch up with some old friends the students arrived. Long hair, spotty faces and sunglasses to hide their hangovers.

As to the ensuing match, I will let Ross Bone tell the story in his own words...


Students show no signs of graduating from the School of Hard Knocks.
The venue and the date may have been different, some of the protagonists may have changed but the outcome was all too familiar for the University of Sussex men's hockey club. As in previous years the Old Boys showed themselves to be a classier, more skillful and more ruthless outfit than their naive and listless opponents.


Going into the game the students had bragged that they were a stronger side than last year and would give the Old Boys a far tougher test than they had managed previously. Added to the Old Boys losing a number of big players in the build up it was understandable why some, on paper might fancy this to be a stern test of the Old Boys' unbeaten record.

The Old Boys are made of stronger stuff, and one suspects that once the students shed the brash arrogance of youth they will be forced to admit that on current form they will always struggle to compete with the Old Boys and their vast array of Galacticos.

The game started at a sluggish pace, not surprising given the scorching conditions. The Old Boys were happy to keep hold of the ball around the back. The Oldest Old Boy Dan Hacking showed a mature head, spraying the ball around and mopping up any threats on the Old Boys goal that the students could muster.
On the occasions that Hacking was overrun, Goalkeeper and Captain Ross Bone was fully focused on the job in hand, pulling off a couple of good saves in the early exchanges including one fine plunging block to deny the students' talisman Ben Butcher.

With Jon Hooker in central midfield conducting the orchestra like Edward Elgar the Old Boys began to control the game.

The Old Boys went close on several occasions whilst the score was still 0-0. Marnix Achterbergh and Andrew Pike were frustrated by some solid goalkeeping by Ed Somebody in the student goal.

As with last year's game it was Hooker who broke the deadlock. Similar to his day job Hooker showed his ability to hit a small target under pressure, sending a blistering shot into a small gap inside the far post. 1-0, a lead the Old Boys richly deserved.

Some in the capacity crowd sensed that the students may fold faster than Superman on laundry day, but to their eternal credit they came back strongly. Minutes later the unthinkable happened: The students drew level.

A fine counter attack saw a one on one situation develop. The striker drew the goalkeeper and slipped it past him. The ball was clearly going wide of the goal. Enter Sam Drake. Drake (playing for the Old Boys remember) saw fit to dive for the ball, in spite of being pressured by no-one, and to the utter disbelief of his team mates diverted the ball into the corner for the equaliser. If ever a man stamped his authority on the Dick of the Day award, this was him.

Undeterred, the Old Boys continued to play all the hockey. Ryan Ibbotson carried the ball out of defence with a gentle elegance, linking well with Hooker and James Carroll-a recent acquisition by the Old Boys.

Again the Old Boys created chances, and again Ed Somebody denied them, but the weren't to be denied for too long. A triumph of total hockey saw Andy Pike apply a stylish finish in the D to make it 2-1.
It was now time for Achterbergh to get in on the act. Having had more chances than Joey Barton, the Flying Dutchman finally beat the keeper with a rasping low shot that thundered into the back board.

The students still tried to muster chances to find the net. Butcher along with Colin Foad probed and pressed but came up against some robust defending from Ibbotson and Hacking, along with substitute Leo Chancellor and Tom “no improvement” Hulbert.

The half time break couldn't come soon enough for the students, some major restructuring was needed. The message from the Old Boys was simple: Punish them. Show them no mercy and show them that the real world is a tough and nasty place.

This is what the Old Boys did. The second half started almost the same as the first. The Old Boys content to keep the ball for as long as they saw fit, before picking their time to strike. Had it not been for some tremendous defensive work from Richard Morson and his incredible reach the students' goal would have come under much more threat.

The Old Boys scored again however, Pike showing his poacher's instinct in front of goal to snap up a rebound for his second of the match.

Having squandered numerous penalty corner chances, Marnix Achterbergh plucked up the Dutch courage to go for goal himself. Godverdomme! What an effort it was! A scintillating drag flick went winging into the top corner leaving the goalkeeper grasping at thin air.

Achterbergh now in the mood was wreaking havoc all over the pitch. Each dribble left a trail of student bodies and missed tackles in his wake. It was from another mazy Achterbergh run that the Old Boys scored their 6th. Having beaten several players, the man they call Guy lifted the ball calmly over the goalkeeper. New Old Boy Craig Brown, showing the hunting instincts he honed on the African safari plains pounced to spear himself a goal.

With the Old Boys tiring, and frankly becoming tired of hammering their opponents, there was still time for the students to create further chances. Goalkeeper Bone made another fine plunging save, whilst Sam Drake, looking to atone for his earlier calamity cleared one off the line.

In the dying seconds, the students notched a second consolation. Colin Foad showed a calm head after a long run to slot the ball underneath Bone, but it was too little too late.

Once again, the Old Boys had given their student counterparts a harsh lesson on the field.
Perhaps the youngsters will not be so quick to run their mouths in the future.
What price a similar drubbing next year?

It has to be said that on this day, experience was priceless, youthful exuberance, useless.


Old Boys: Ross Bone (Captain), Tom Hulbert, Sam Drake, Ryan Ibbotson, Dan Hacking, James Carroll, Christian Koziol, Jon Hooker, Matt Bevan, Andy Pike, Marnix Achterbergh, Leo Chancellor, Sam Corry, Craig Brown, Jonathan Zammit-Tabona, John Murphy.
Manager: Jonston Graves.

MOM: Ross Bone.
DOD: Sam Drake. Obviously.

*As an interesting aside, the University did not show up for a boat race. Too scared to be defeated yet again? I know one thing, scared or not, this would never have happened in my day. The current administration needs to take a long look at itself.

Old Boys 2009. Victorious yet again.


I came down for a boat race and a bit of hockey...I left disappointed and empty handed but mostly a little sad. Sad to see that the Uni team, once a group of great teammates, friends and banter lovers, where everlasting memories were created and events unfolded that will stay with each for a lifetime has unraveled into a few mates that f*ck about on an AstroTurf and after have a few laughs, a beer and then head home. The spirit and love that once was the very heart of this team is gone. To fight for eachother till the end. Never finished a pint in under 4 seconds? Well this time I will do it in 3.5 because the boys need me!! For the team! One for all and All for One, that used to be the motto. Alas, it seems no longer and that made me a little sad. No team, No love, No Heart....and no boat race. I would like to quote one of the absent Old Boys in reaction to this: Oli Hire

- "
I blame the union. Some unhygienic hippy, with a chip on her shoulder about being brought up by two lesbians in sarongs is probably sitting in sports fed breeding a disgusting culture of mediocrity. Whoever is club captain of this insolent lot needs to go to the bar, get three, and have a quiet word with a bin."

How times have changed.
Banterbury for ever! Old Boys for life!
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