I have just started the first leg of my world tour and spent the early part of this week in Scotland. My driver, interpreter and Scottish culture guide Miss Honeysuckle Peakes and I went to Ardvreck School where there was a serious Piping Competition taking place, at Belhaven School the final touches to the School Play were being completed and in Cargilfield the troops were just reporting in with the news that they had come third in a National Hockey Tournament. The weather has been fabulous and inspired by the beauty of the snow-capped highlands, a shopping spree at Tebay Services and the Cargilfield hockey team, I thought I would visit Shrewsbury School’s astro-turf to see what was going on there.
The girls were busy dismantling the Oswestry School team’s defences and securing another win on the netball courts. However, I have already reported on their triumphs and I have to say that I have to agree with goal defence Edie Whittingham who felt that the play was a touch scrappy in places. (I only have to agree with her because she knows more about netball and is a very bright young lady.) So it was that my attention was attracted by the vibrant shirts and magical movement of the Shrewsbury boys’ hockey team.
Hockey is sometimes ‘squeezed’ by the sheer volume of sports that are on offer at a sporting metropolis such as Shrewsbury. Fives, Football, Fencing, Rowing, Running and Rugby are all keen to attract sportsmen to their teams and so the Hockey squad remains a small but perfectly formed unit. That does not mean that the sport is not taken seriously by those who enjoy a little light ankle tapping!
Manager Jeremy Lucas is pleased with the manner in which his troops train and his half-time talks are legendary. Jack Kinnaird (R LVI) told me, in a brief break from his academic studies, that from what he knew about Alex Ferguson, Mr Lucas and the former Manchester United guru had been to the same school of management. “It is the clear manner in which he puts his tactics across that I like.” said a jubilant Jack. “Spread it wide, hit the ball, it’s a game of two halves and stun for fun!” Are all phrases that Jack has found more than useful in his development as a player. Jack also plays tribute to Coach Katie Collins. “Miss Collins has added a more tactical and sophisticated sense of stick manoeuvrability to my game,” Jack stated. After the game fellow Riggite Henry Binns, scorer of the Shrewsbury goal, dedicated his goal to the coaching team. “I could not have done that before this season,” a delighted Binns commented. “Well, it was probably statistically probable, but it had never happened!”
Captain Dan Legge (SH UVI) dropped into my office before the game to give me an insight into the club and the tactics that he was thinking of adopting in the match against King’s School Chester. Dan is the son of Bridgnorth Town Legend, Stuart Legge. Stuart has certainly been a big influence in Dan’s hockey development giving him plenty of stick from an early age! I asked Dan if his dad had been an inspiration to him and he was adamant that although this was clearly the case I should not mention it. So that fact is just between us, OK?!
Dan is clearly a dedicated captain who is passionate about his team. He was very positive about his players and is thrilled that the squad have made it into the quarter finals of the County Cup. Their next opponents are local rivals Ellesmere College. Recent results have been up and down – a 2-2 draw with Wrekin and a 5-1 reverse to King’s Chester – but Dan is very much a ‘glass half-full’ man (although not at School). He was positive that the 5-1 defeat could be avenged today.
Dan told me that the team are hard working and enjoy their hockey. He is clearly an inspirational figure himself and this observation was endorsed by left back Andrew Humpish (SH UVI). Andrew is generally to be found lurking in the depths of the theatre lighting up the stage. However, Dan has encouraged him in his hockey and he is now a key man. Andrew is not someone who is generally associated with a quickening pulse and yet he readily stated that Dan had lit up his life and had got him back into daily exercise. “Dan is the man; I will go through the pain barrier for him,” Andrew told me with a slightly scary look on his face.
In the ensuing game it was clear that the Shrewsbury team were ‘up’ for the game. Trailing 2-0 at half time, the game could have turned into a rout. But after an inspirational team talk by Manager Jeremy ‘Lightsabre’ Lucas, the team won the second half by a single goal.
Unfortunately those of you with sharp minds will have worked out that we lost 2-1, but this was still a big improvement on 5-1. (Just demonstrating that I have maths O Level.) Ollie Pattison-Appleton (Ch UVI) was in fine form in goal and made several important interventions.
On a hot afternoon, the team played well and they all deserve a pat on the back. The squad are: Ollie Pattison-Appleton in goal, Alex Bird (S LVI) ‘the cruncher’ at centre back, ‘Fearsome’ Freddie Perkins (R LVI) at right back, Andrew ‘Lights on’ Humpish at left back, ‘Captain Dan Dare’ Legge at centre midfield, George ’not Dobbie the’ Chaplin (Ch IV) inside forward, Jack ‘Sparrow’ Kinnaird inside forward, Will ‘watch my’ Speed (I UVI) centre forward, Charles ‘who are you kidding’ Kidson ( G UVI) right wing. Ross ‘not Gordon’ Bennett ( M V) left midfield, Henry ‘keep out of the’ Binns (R LVI) super sub, Will Brownlow ( O LVI) super doopa sub.
Once again I have been impressed by a sporting excellence of the highest order and it is good to see that the team don’t mind a bit of stick! Indeed they are fantastick!