There would be two possible outcomes from losing to Hitchin today:
Spencer would be knocked out of the flags tournament we have won for the previous two years.
Rob “Spencer honours hoarder” Holmes would have to find something else to put on his wall at home come the end of the season.
One thing is for certain though, Tom Bailey was off to the priory for a week after staying over at Ricks place on Friday night.
So the team arrived at Hitchin via train and car in good time to prepare for the game apart from the ‘kids’ and Pete who were due to turn up just before face. Hitchin was already kitted up and looking sharp so the sparrows knew we were in for an early season test. The players really had to switch on and come out hard as the flags tournament is about as forgiving as a North Korean forgetting Kim Jong Un’s birthday.
After a good warm-up and the welcome arrival of the Cam, Gabe, Will and Pete, the first domestic game of the season was underway.
Spencer started the more settled team and began scoring although not in the free-flowing style we’ve come to associate with the team. After some good moves the score was 4 – 0 in Spencer’s favour, but the game was far from over.
The attack was clicking with Sam “owwww, ohhh, ahhhh, owwww” Dunwoody, Will “I only play on half the pitch now” Walker and Rob “25 shots, 25 yards, 25 goals” Holmes already notching up the goals.
Spencer’s defence was looking strong to repel the attack of Hitchin that will undoubtedly score a lot of goals this year. Jonny “I can’t count but I can do tax and lax” Clark, Tom “hedge closet” Leahy and Spencer “this name thing is getting confusing” Riehl were working well together.
It was about half time that Spencer started losing some of their normal composure. Hitchin were switching from a six man zone to man-on-man and their attack tidied up the unforced errors. They decided it was about time to score that resulted in three quick goals for the Hertfordshire based team. This made the game a lot closer than Spencer would have liked and focused the team to be more disciplined.
Rick “just a scuff on my phone” Bone was solid all day and made some impressive saves just when the team needed him to repel the Hitchin threat. Will “I can take a hit” Barry and Alan “I can give a hit” Keeley were great in midfield to add to the defence and supported the team when things were looking a little shakey.
Just when Spencer started to regain composure, Sam “once you pop, its time to stop” Dunwoody took a turn for the worst (literally) and injured his knee. Dunwoody added “I’m never doing a split dodge again, its just roll dodges from now on”, we’ll see about that. This turn for the worst shifted Joe “mo money, mo towel” Darkins up to attack.
The midfield had a really strong game and showed their fitness against one of the fittest teams in the league. Tim “why are the opposition talking to me?” Holdsworth, Cam “fresh prince of Spenc-air” Leslie, James “higgledy piggledy” Mearns and Gabe “natural perm and talent” Barry all impressing throughout. Mearns and Cam also both added important goals to the cause and showed their dodging prowess as well as a sweet crease goal for Mr Leslie.
Following Sam’s injury there were successive blows that resulted in Joe, Will and Mearns all being winded (Charlie horse for the USA subscribers). Mearns took it particularly well by immediately stating “The uncouth individual that shoved his knee in my midriff is decidedly vulgar and ill-mannered” I might have edited that a little and removed some expletives, but you get the picture.
Spencer (the team and individual) held their resolve once they regained their composure. The goals started coming again and with a sold defence at the back the score line moved in the Sparrows favour to take the win 11-4. Overall the game was closer than the scoreline suggests but Spencer deserved the victory.
The team gathered together to make sure we put some WD-40 on the early season rust and improve for the huge challenge of Hampstead away next weekend which is the only game Spencer domestically lost last season.
After the game the team then moved into the clubhouse, which was full of hockey players. As there was no hockey pitch to be seen, Mearns deduced that it must be the front for a swingers club who’s members moonlight as hockey players on Saturday afternoon. I’ve heard anything can happen in Hitchin so I’m willing to believe.
Back at the clubhouse Jonny “where is my abacus” Clark was impressed that Joe “Power shot” Darkins had a bigger towel in the shower but still remained disgruntled that it did not have either the absorbency or fluffiness to actually call it a proper towel. Couple that with the ‘vanilla biscuit’ shower gel, Mr Darkins might not have let the team down on the pitch, but did when it came to practical implements of his personal hygiene.
Someone who certainly did not let down the team, was Tom “made in Chelsea” Leahy. While the rest of the team were changing into more modest attire, Leahy sported a sharp navy suit, white shirt, shiny shoes and off-green-limey socks. He claims he’s a northern player, I think the team will agree that’s highly unlikely. But with a goal on the day, does that make it one goal up on Mr Clark already?
After finishing their drinks, the team moved onto the “world famous” Cricketers Pub (according to Ray Harry). As honest a fellow as Ray Harry is, I struggled to find it on Google Maps so I’m of the opinion that it’s a less than average pub associated to a lacrosse team that’s named after another sport. But the fact it stimulates the memories of childhood with its chips, beans and sausage leads me to think there maybe is something to be said for Ray’s wise words. Least I forget the Mearns-quality 80s soundtrack, random men hanging around in the car park and surely priceless antiques littering the décor.
After Sam Dunwoody and James Mearns (in place of the driving Rick Bone) getting the Dick of the Day and MotM respectively finished their pints the team decided to depart and head home. With Joe “my girlfriend babysits my driving” Darkins being unable to turn off his.