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LX England Juniors (60-68’s) – Eburons Festival 26-28 May 2022 – Social Report

In summary it is probably fair and possibly an understatement to say that a thoroughly good time was enjoyed by all those involved in the LX Juniors (60-68’s) trip to Brussels for the Eburon Club’s hockey tournament between 26-28 May 2022.

An extremely friendly group of people, good weather and a very pleasant capital city were some of the ingredients that helped make for a memorable few days in Brussels for all the LX Club Juniors group of players and some loyal and intrepid partners.

Throughout the day on Wednesday 26 May, the Departures concourse at St Pancras Station witnessed regular smatterings of what would presumably be an unusual number of people carrying impressive parachute like hockey kit back packs, milling around, making aquaintence and/or reacquaintence with fellow travellers from the several UK touring hockey teams headed for the Eburons Hockey Tournament.

For LX Juniors and Seniors a Wednesday evening mustering at the pub in the side street adjacent to the LX Tournament base of the very comfortable NH Brussels Louise (4 Star) Hotel, followed by a pleasant long evening at the neighbouring Ariol Restaurant, including very good food, eventually, and a consequential compensatory offer of free liqueurs ( Amaretto and Limoncello seemed to be widely accepted) boosted pre tournament group morale and bonding. Some might even describe the occasion as a party rather than a social gathering and it definitely wasn’t a “work do”.

Early breakfasting in the hotel dining room on a Belgian bank holiday Thursday morning was dominated by the presence of the smart blue tracksuited LX HC junior and senior athletes and others taking on more essential fluids and vitamins before tackling the half hour 82 tram (as far as we know some may still be paying for that now) or taxi journey to the Royal Racing Club (Hockey venue) where more croissants and strong coffee was available for those in need.  Others ventured into the heart of Brussels for some top quality cultural or geo caching hunting activities, saving their sporting enrichment activity until later in the day. After the last of the LX Juniors Day 1 matches all gathered together pitchside, around racks of beer, for the necessary warm down in preparation for the Tournament BBQ being hosted in the Royal Racing Club Pavillion that evening. The Royal Racing Club did every one proud with their hospitality and this was a very enjoyable event with good food, convivial atmosphere, great company and a fun time seemed to be had by all. Having wended their ways safely back to base, with varying degrees of efficiency, some of the group took the opportunity provided by the lack of opportunities on a Belgian bank holiday to relax and do some quiet reflection on the day’s events in the peace of their hotel room and to do some dreaming about things to be. For others this could well have not been the case.

A later start for Day 2’s first match for LX Juniors on Friday morning provided some licence for later appearances at breakfast, longer queuing for toast and some polite conversation with fellow hotel guests from various other European countries. Another lovely sunny day facilitated further enjoyable cultural and shopping excursions for some non playing members of the group. Because of the forecasted high UV levels an urgent Instagram post from LX Juniors Senior Management went out to the already infamous Belgian “ Bandana Boy” to borrow 16 of his fine individually customised headpieces to protect exposed English scalps but unfortunately he had no unused ones available, having played in every game in the tournament so far and in a different bandana, blaming his mother for not washing his kit overnight. The squad overcame that disappointment and the by now customary and very welcome racks of beers and some white wine at the end of Day 2’s games helped with essential rehydration, recovery from the sunstroke and helped dissolve social barriers between LX Juniors and Belgian Old Lions players who very merrily built some social bridges between the two teams having just tried to dismantle each other in their tough and thoroughly enjoyable last match of the afternoon.

Everyone ventured back to the hotel to freshen and smarten up for the Gala Dinner at Teatro on the Friday evening. Many LX players wore their very smart crimson red LX jumpers which stood out well in the subtly lit Teatro matching the colour of the red wine which was freely served to the tables of 8 after some delay to the start of the dinner. This provided a further opportunity for people to get to know each other and conversations on topics of importance, including some musings about candidates for goal of the tournament. The food which arrived several glasses of red wine later was very good and some hungrier diners managed to sequester an abnormal number of starters and puddings. A montage of photographs and results from the hockey tournament was displayed on a big screen provided more entertainment and amusement. The musical part of the evening started with an LX Senior player delivering a top quality rendition of Tom Lehrer’s “Poisoning Pigeons in the Park” which received resounding appreciation and loud applause in the room. Then the ABBA music started with dancing breaking out around tables and on a rather small raised stage which suited fearless, better balanced people and those with excellent spatial awareness, as well as a few LX Juniors. It was another fun and memorable celebratory event in which the LX Club played a full part.

Day 3 (Saturday) and final day of the tournament saw the completion of the remaining matches, team photographs, concluding speeches and awards and for some of the group, homeward journeys  and for others a return to the hotel and a last night out before returning home on Sunday. A very active, successful and enjoyable 3 days in Brussels for the LX Juniors group had come to an end with some tired bodies looking forward, after a period of rest and recovery, to their next get togethers at hockey events to come.

Andy Howitt for LX Club Juniors – 6 June 2022