The Spencer Sparrows’ ambitions this season are, like last, high – Flags and league are definite targets, with the European Cup on the horizon too. To do this they must approach each game with the same panache as the last, and carry on their fine form from the start of the season all the way through until the end. With the league usually only decided by a game or two, every one counts and the Sparrows are taking no chances. Sitting at the top of the league with wins over Welwyn and Hampstead, the trip to Hitchin would be their first true test against a team with both individual skills and team chemistry, and after endless attack plays and talk of sensible ‘decision making’, hopes were high that this week.
Because it is still early in the year, and the team is still finding its feet, it would be interesting to see how they fared against a Hitchin team that plays well together, with many of them going to the World Games in Denver over the summer playing for that most glorious nation, Wales. During the warm up the opposition looked athletic and competent, with a well-drilled defence with few weak links and an attack that knew their style of play well, and stuck to it in an impressive manner. In what is now becoming typical, the Sparrows looked embarrassingly keen in their warm up; everyone, that is, but Rick ‘I turn up when I like and then play better than all of you’ Bone, who began to worry even Rob ‘I’m coming to your party’ Holmes with his tardiness and ominous silence on the end of the phone. He did turn up eventually, and sighs of relief were heard throughout North Hertfordshire.
The game started well with Tom ‘Cock’ Roach taking the opening face off; he would have his work cut out against a strong Hitchin face off man whom he did well to neutralise, with good wing play from the middies. The first quarter was a textbook example of strong defence, patient clearing and sensible offence, with good ball movement and organisation. The quarter ended 3-0 to the visitors, and it was clear more goals would come if we could continue in the same vein. Things looked up, and it seemed this might be the ‘all round team performance’ that has been so elusive.
But that would be boring. Why would you play well and win easily when the alternative is multiple penalties, missed opportunities, zero settled offence and, annoyingly, the same number of goals in the next quarter as in the previous quarter? Over the next forty minutes of lacrosse Rick ‘I save what I like’ Bone had an outstanding time in goal, and the defence somehow managed to scramble about to limit Hitchin to no goals, despite countless shots and man up plays. The five pole unit of Tom ‘Daddy’ Leahy, Tom ‘to my right, one’ Bailey, Tom ‘egg lover’ Roach, Will ‘conflicted between posh boy and enforcer’ Barrie, and Jonny ‘real enforcer’ Clark had a typically strong game, with double teams, slide packages and breaking up field all on the money. Will ‘trying to be ‘ard’ Barrie had a minor altercation with one of the Hitchin attackers after commenting on his father’s employment dependability upon one Mr Barrie, but was saved in the nick of time by Daddy Leahy, who demonstrated the game of rugby to our new resident ignoramus, Eddie.
The midfield fought hard all game, claiming four goals between them – an impressive statistic given they were defending 70% of the time, and two were lost to injury: Bunny ‘Will needs to learn my real name’ Bunny took a shot to the head resulting in a worrying looking dent and bruise, and Freddie ‘shoulder down’ Evans suffered a hamstring injury. This meant the midfield were running very low on numbers, with just Ed ‘power man’ Shee, Maseeh ‘please don’t check me please’ Roshan, and Tim ‘defensive middie my ass’ Holdsworth running between the boxes.
The attack were also played well, although it was clear they still have more to give – be warned Reading. Eddie ‘Ref Bane’ Vita scored two, while Rob ‘I’m serious, we’re all coming to your (underage) party’ Holmes scored three and Will ‘vomit shoes’ Walker got one.
In the final quarter the defence let up a little, resulting in three Hitchin goals, one of which was the highlight of the match. Tom ‘dog’ Roach was playing good defence until his attacker threw a little cradle, at which point the Sparrow-dog whipped his head around, perplexed at how the stick/ball could have disappeared. Only too late did he realise that he had been tricked by his owner, who put the ball past Bone in goal who was far too busy shouting to make a save. Well at least that sorted Dick of the Day. The match ended 10-3 and Boner was unanimously voted Man of the Match.
After the match the team went back to the pub/nest occupied by Hitchin lacrosse to sample the associated culinary delights and beverages. They played far too much twenty-plus-one for their own good, learnt never to do that again, and the night ended messily.
Next week the Mighty Sparrows face Reading in a repeat of the flags final last year. Reading will be keen to get revenge for that drubbing, and the Sparrows will be keen to continue their winning form.
Scorers: Rob Holmes 3; Eddie Vita 2; Will Walker 1; Tim Holdsworth 1; Maseeh Roshan 1; Ed Shee 1; Rob McAlhone 1.
Author – Will Barrie