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West Masters at DRAGONS FESTIVAL, SWANSEA, 29-30th JULY 2017

The squad:

Several of the West’s LX players were with their LX teams in preparation for the European Hockey Championships in Glasgow next month. A new West squad assembled with a tough act to follow, after last season, when all five games were won! All the LX and Dragon teams were treating the festival as serious preparation for Glasgow!

The hotel:

The hotel down by the lake had been recently refurbished and there was a strong smell of fresh paint in the corridors. The rooms and restaurant were much smarter after being somewhat run down and tatty. However, one couple found that their room hadn’t been deep cleaned when the builders left, but the hotel did make a big effort to clean it up and offered them complimentary meals. Ian Redfearn hit the jackpot with his room, with a walk in cupboard, a lounge with two sofas and two televisions. He thought it was the honeymoon suite, others felt it might have been the ‘lap dancing’ suite!

The dinner was once again a very enjoyable and sociable event. Those of us who did some ‘hot seating’ got a bigger share of the wine.

West winners:

The umpire’s award for the best behaved/most sporting team had always passed us by, but at the dinner we were chuffed to be declared the winners for 2017. A bottle of whiskey was presented to Nick Grimshaw and was shared out amongst the squad during the evening.

The weather:

Showers on Saturday and persistent rain later on Sunday never materialised and the weekend’s hockey was blessed with pleasant sunny conditions.

Last man standing:

One of the Dragons TT players was keen to tell the West ‘late nighters’ how he was last man standing at the bar last season. He was about to leave at 12:30pm but then sat down for another hour to tell them his life story and how he had scored 5 of his team’s 9 goals earlier in the day. Clearly these were mind games ahead of Sundays West v Dragons TT encounter. Would his testimony put us off our game? Or maybe he was after a tot of the team’s whiskey!

The matches:

First game up was LX 70 and the new squad linked well in the opening half and played some good attacking hockey. An early West goal looked a good springboard for a successful game. Roger Finnimore struck a long ball into the D and Martin Palmer got a tiny edge to deflect it past the keeper. LX asked for a review but the umpire said he heard the touch on his ‘snicko’ as well as seeing it! He also said that LX lost their last review! The ball went in the 70s’ net three more times. One was brought back for a short corner (shame the advantage wasn’t played) and two were first strikes that didn’t hit the back board! In the second half West lost their momentum and 70s equalised from a short corner. Neither side really looked to penetrate the opposing defence and the game finished 1-1.

LX 60 were next, smarting from their 2-0 defeat to LX 65s. LX dominated the game and built up a 3-0 lead by half time. The West defence still deserve huge credit after battling away and snuffing many other LX attacks out. Richard Wilsdon in goal was sharp and alert. The backs, Ian Redfearn, Nick Grimshaw, Ian Harvey, Roger Finnimore and Bob Brewer worked like trojans to keep LX at bay. In the second half it was more of the same. The West midfield were held deep in their half supporting the defence and Gordon Plummer, David Bain, Royce Menezes, Roger Britton, Shane Lovett and Paul Bickell shared the responsibility of stemming the tide. LX only managed one more goal. The West could take many positives from their defensive performance even in a 4-0 defeat to a determined side bouncing back from disappointment. (NB. LX 60s then went on to lose to Wale 60s by 2-0!)

The last game on Saturday was a tussle with Wales Dragons 65s. Neither side really looked like breaking down the opposition very often. The best chance fell to Paul Bickell, he hit a blistering shot but the keeper saved it. The game finished 0-0.

On Sunday it was Wales Dragons 60s who were the tough opposition. With LX 60 finishing their games and West losing Roger Finnimore to injury, Chris Billington, Des Osbourne and Steve Mumford, LX players who are also West team mates, came in to add to the squad. Another standout display by the West defence kept Dragons 60s down to just 3 goals. There were even a few attacking sorties to make the Wales keeper keep on his toes!

The final game of the day was against ‘last man standing’ he of the 5 goals on Saturday for Dragons TT. Bob Brewer had other ideas fancying a West victory. He stepped up to strike a short corner and drilled in an excellent shot to take the lead. There was also a series of shorts just before the half time whistle and Bob was unlucky not to get a second goal. In the second half Nigel Sherwood was up and down the left wing tiring the home side out and causing panic in the Dragon’s defence. A second goal settled the result. Roger Britton was the architect. His 30 metre precision pass split two defenders to get the ball to Martin Palmer in the D who had the simple task of drifting round the keeper and pushing the ball into the net. The last eight minutes were played for fun as the West team enjoyed winning the game. (NB. ‘last man standing’ was one of the first out of the car park heading home.)

Thanks must go to Nick Grimshaw for once again doing all the organisation, and to the wives who came along to support. It was a very enjoyable weekend with good company, lots of fun, along with winning a best sportsmanship award. The final tally was 1 win, 2 draws and 2 defeats.

Good luck to Roger Britton who is also off to Glasgow with LX 65s White team.

From our own correspondent - Martin Palmer