On Sunday 28 April, Oxford’s mighty youth policy team travelled to the weekend finals of the All England Over 35s Ladies Trophy to play Hereford at Beeston Hockey Club in Nottingham. All players were highly charged before the match with nerves being kept at bay with some old-fashioned mint imperials and a song for birthday girl Paula Burgess.
Having been given strict instructions about the etiquette of the final, Oxford, with sticks checked and names printed in the programme, were allowed onto the water-sodden pitch. With the captain, Katie Smith, already juggling her rather injury-prone team (thigh pulls, back strain and chest infections amongst the few ailments) tragedy struck 5 minutes into the warm up! Centre midfield Claire Hooper managed to deflect a ball onto her right eyebrow ensuring the St Johns’ ambulance crew had something to do after their weekend in their warm van. An inch long blood-spurting gash meant she was rushed to the nearby hospital for a 4 hour wait to have 7 stitches safely secured.
The team were rearranged with many players having to adjust their positions. The girls paraded to the centre line, with individual names being read out to a cheering crowd (…. of one sole Oxford supporter, Laura Fyfe …. Thank you!! )
The game started at great speed with Oxford dominating for the first 15 minutes. Superb runs from baby of the team, Caroline McGahey, enabled the ball to be passed quickly up front to a waiting Lyn Cockshott. Against the run of play, Hereford luckily scored from a mix up in the crowded defensive D. Within minutes Oxford equalised from a short corner, Tinny scoring from a clever move to the right with Nadine Hunter.
From then on the game was fairly equal with chances at both ends. Hereford were awarded a dubious goal when it was kicked and lifted into the pads of goal keeper Julia Nichols, leaving her no chance as the ball dribbled over the line. Marianne Bint put in some amazing one-handed tackles at the back and Helen Dudgeon took a nasty lifted hit on the leg, determined to stop the ball down the flanks. Jane Grant added some glamour on the wing stopping many a ball on a sixpence. Just before half time, Tinny equalised from an individual goal, cutting the defence in two as she tiptoed (yes, really?!) through players, slipping the ball neatly under her arm and into the net. That made the score line 2-2 as the half time whistle blew.
The goal of the game came from a long flat hit out of defence by Katie Smith to Sarah Dawson on the right wing. Beautifully controlled, Sarah then crossed the ball to Tinny who, with a first time hit, cracked the ball onto the Hereford back board, completing her hat trick in the process. Oxford were in the lead for the first time in the game. Sadly, despite some heroic tackling by Emma Forrester and Mell Banton at the back, Hereford equalised with 10 minutes to go creating a nail-biting finish.
With 7 minutes to go, Oxford were awarded a penalty corner. The ball carried to Paula who hit from the top right of the circle. A deflected shot was pounced upon by Katie who scored in the bottom corner with a voracious strike. Amongst great yells of delight the umpire, with x-ray vision, was brought down from the far end to disallow the goal on the grounds that the ball had not gone out of the circle. A very close call from a great distance was hard to swallow.
To add salt into the wound, with 3 minutes on the clock, a Hereford forward kicked the ball in the Oxford circle to score the winning goal. Oxford battled to the end and deserve much credit for their discipline and dignity on the pitch. Hereford took the gold medal 4-3.
The presentation was a feat to which many of us are obviously accustomed (… not!!). Heavy individual silver medals were worn with pride and the press (Laura again … thanks) were harassing us for interviews! The spirit of the Oxford Ladies’ Golden Girls lives on…. we will have them next year as…. it is true…… AGE IS CLASS.
Awards and Notes from the Captain…
- Man of the Match ………Three goal Tinny!!
- D*** of the Day ………….Claire Hooper for splitting open her own eyebrow
- Best red nails …………….Jane ‘glamour puss’ Grant
- One minute Manager Award ……….Mark Hooper and Bruce the dog!
- Best bruise ………. Helen (although I am brewing a spectacular inside leg!)
- For quickest email response always…. Nadine and Paula (do you have a life?)
- Award for holding most jobs…. The physio, The new manager, The admin assistant, The photographer and the crowd….. Laura Fyfe
- No mention of green cards please! Very harsh!
- Apologies for sitting, standing and lying on the ball from yours truly … but… THANK YOU for being All England Masters Trophy Runners up and for laughing at my jokes! xxx
Scorer: Hat-trick Tinny
Match report by Captain Katie Smith