As you can imagine, plans were made for the event more in hope than certainty, so it was quite a relief when we were able to confirm that the postponed tournament would actually take place.
Covid, holidays and a sudden glut of Masters hockey fixtures (not to mention an unusual lack of replies to e-mails!!!) resulted in a last minute rush to fill gaps in order that a reasonable programme could be on offer. Surprisingly, it was the Aspirants who were short rather than the Ancients but, in the end, I wondered why I had been so worried, as the Kettering players did us proud.
It was inevitable that there was a significant (about 40 years) age gap but, as true hosts, they ensured that our guests could enjoy their hockey.
All the Ancients games were relatively even, with LX Ladies overcoming Wales, last year’s winners, in the final game. The usual lend-lease of players occurred ensuring that full squads were on the pitch (apart from one exception when West and the Over 80s played with 6-a-side).
Life was made a lot easier by the players who volunteered to umpire and help out generally, so creating a delightful atmosphere.
We welcomed Alliance Ladies for the first time, who joined LX Ladies and LX Men in the Aspirants competition, the other 3 teams being an amalgam of Kettering Ladies and Men
Despite the age gap, the final, between LX Men and a Kettering side was an exciting, close-fought contest. It was hard to believe that players in ‘the team in red’ were all 70+ as they matched the younger players for speed and skill to win 2 – 1.
The weather was kind until the last game on Saturday, sparing those players the need to shower as they were saturated when they finished
Saturday evening witnessed the, now traditional, buffet at the Kettering club-house. The food was plentiful, varied and delicious, and a pleasant social evening resulted.
Next year’s Ancients and Aspirants event is planned for April 8. 9 and 10. The pitch is booked, the buffet is booked, so get your applications in early!
(Just to remind you that Ancients are 75+ (Ladies 65+) and Aspirants 70ish (Ladies 60) are those who aspire to play when they reach 75).