Well after a two year break of the annual challenge game due to snow, the Ashford Antiques (AAs) really turned the heat on against Sunbury Stars of the past (SSOPs) in front of a very large and enthusiastic Ashford crowd at Short Lane on Saturday 17/12/11. The pitch was slightly icy on the dug out side, so the SSOPs and most of the spectators stayed on the sunny clubhouse side rather than the chilly shaded side of the pitch. The traditional pre match photos, ceremonies and exchanging of gifts was followed by the keepers racing to the centre spot from their goals (or top of the D in Ali Boxell’s case) to start the game. From the word go the AAs combined well and belied their ages and played some silky, flowing hockey. The AAs got several short corners which saw the Nicky and Jackie go close, but none were converted. However, the AAs were in such good form that they had other alternative methods of scoring and duly took the lead with goals from Maria Cavilla and Gillian Clegg to take a 2-0 lead into the break. AHC secretary and 4th team skipper Peter Greatorex kindly provided mulled wine for both teams and the umpires, which was avidly consumed and enjoyed.
The second half saw a vocal crowd which had grown to 30+ including a multitude of offspring, Ladies Club captain Emma Hynes, 3rd team skipper Abi Frith, the Doggets, the Silver Fox, various other husbands and a host of non playing AAs. The visitors rallied after the hot wine though and young Ellie (SSOP player of the match) was causing the AAs problems with her lovely stick work and youthful legs and speed. In fact the SSOPS had some chances but failed to really threaten the AAs D. The SSOP goalkeeper was meanwhile playing extremely well and made numerous good saves from shots by Annie and Nicky amongst others. Eventually skipper Morgan pounced to get the AAs third goal and proceeded to celebrate by sprinting back to the half way line, pulling her shirt over her head and flashing her trendy sports bar much to the surprise of the cheering crowd (she nearly froze to death doing it though!). A most enjoyable game was then finished off by Annie Neyton getting her deserved goal, but the SSOPs kept playing and trying to notch an opening goal. A splendid game was followed by much socialising, eating, drinking, gossiping and of course a visit from Santa and the awarding of the Challenge cup to the victorious AAs. Thanks must go to Nicky McAndrew and the rest of the SSOPs for being such sporting and friendly opposition, Brownie for all her behind the scenes work, Sant aJesswe, Quiz marker Carol Stedman and Rosemary for her food. All the AAs played well and despite it being four years since she had been able to play Claire Brant (Barbie) played like she had never been away, whilst many showed that the legs and fitness may fade, the skills remain – well done all.
Team: Ali Boxell, Ali Donelan, Jackie Parson, Alex Saunders, Hilary Hull, Jacqui Bashford, Kirsty Rossington, Annie Neyton, Lynne Morgan (Captain), Nicky Benedict, Claire Brant, Gillian Clegg, Sue Westlake, Maria Cavilla
Umpire: Steve Smith
Photographers: Peter Westlake, Rich and Peter Greatorex
Player of the Match: Nicky Benedict, even though Ali Boxell in the AAs goal didn’t put a foot wrong!
Spectator of the Day: Peter Greatorex (AHC)
Quiz Winners; 1st equal Sally & Carol (AAs) & Sunbury Oldies
2nd Hannah Bashford (AHC) and friends
3rd The Doggetts (AHC)
Miss/dick of the Day: SSOPs keeper when she tried to take out an AAs player.
Special Awards:Barbie & Kirsty R for travelling so far and being so keen to play.