The LX O60s gathered in Tilburg on a glorious Friday day after an introductory evening of pre-tournament pizza and (a few?) beers.
Our first match, before having had a chance to work out our 4-4-2 as a team was against an almost full England A Squad (not so subtly masquerading as the Archangels) on a very dry bumpy pitch. This was always going to be a difficult start but a disciplined performance resulting in a 3-0 loss wasn’t a bad outcome and everyone was positive afterwards.
An enjoyable lunch armed us for the Netherlands B team. A match contested at a much more digestible pace, befitting 60 somethings. LX controlled the game from the start, passing nicely (the better pitch did help). Goals from Mandeep Hansra and Mike Wingent settled the game early, finished with some deft time-consuming tip-tapping in the corner from David Lancaster to cries of “boring” from the back line.
The final game of the first day against Netherlands A, began with a tussle over who claimed the D in the shade, resolved with some polite but firm Anglo-Saxon vernacular between skipper and goalkeeper. The psychological game won and with the sun on our backs we began. It very quickly became clear that the mysterious “Dutch Rules” were going to be a challenge (different interpretation of overheads, stick-blocking and obstruction than we are use to in UK). However, the LX defence played some resolute hockey and held out quite comfortably, with a 0-0 draw feeling like a victory deserving of a beer or three.
Another glorious start to the day, a rousing soundtrack of Independence Day, Jerusalem and Fat Les welcomed our Scottish cousins. Whilst good humour was evident all round, the hockey was not so glorious. An evening of over exuberance from some players (and ladies!) meant we struggled to get any real cohesion or intent going against the Thistles, but we managed to eke out a 1-0 victory (thanks to Bill Wickham collecting a rebound off their keeper Quinny and smashing it home from close range).
Then came the Germans on a “beach” of a pitch. Strong challenges from both sides eventually left Riccardo in a heap from a blindsided barge, but not for long as he took exception and showed his displeasure to earn our first green card of the tournament. All this after Mike Verity had opened his goal scoring account having finally navigated himself to Tilburg. Another 1-0 victory over a disappointed but magnanimous German team.
The return fixture against a very much reinforced Netherlands B team (after a monumental thunderstorm) saw them employ a half court press even after Mike Verity had scored again (from 18″ apparently) and yet another 1-0 left us second in the table, behind the Archangels.
Three close games, all won by that single goal resulting in a good day for LX 60s.
It was back to the beach (pitch) for the return fixture with the Thistles and our new 3-2-3-2 formation must have confused them. Coupled with some excellent hockey we ended the match with a 4-0 win (Dave Lancaster 2 and 1 each for Mike Wingent and Mike Verity). The last 10 mins was particularly impressive as LX moved the ball around without losing possession.
Our last game of the event was against Germany A again, but this time on a good surface which they enjoyed better. A draw or better and we’d finish second. They got a well worked deflection early on, after which we created by far the better chances with Jimmy Peters getting in round the back twice, but the ball could not be prized out from under the keeper for the equaliser.
For what was a Tilburg Virgins’ scratch side in the main, not having played together, 5 wins, 1 draw and 2 losses (to very good teams) was no less than we deserved. We finished joint second on points with Germany A but dropped to third on goal difference. Despite his late arrival Mike Verity top scored with 3.
The “Tillies” ladies got the most value from the team kitty (!!) and gave us great vocal support from the side-lines – thank you.
- Huggy likes ‘prostituto’ ham in his ham sandwich.
- Mike G has got moves, but two-step is a one-step for a few weeks
- Fraser has got the tunes
- Dibble likes to scribble
- Jim, just put a cork in it
- Ricky, calm down
- Bruce, excellent table service
By Pete Willis