Chiswick PHC Men’s IVs channelled John Betjeman on Saturday. The ex Poet Laureate, in his famous poem, ‘Slough,’ wrote: “Come, friendly bombs, and fall on Slough! It isn't fit for humans now.”
The IVs zipped up their flying suits, revved up the engines and it was ‘chocks away,’ as our Top Guns dropped three bombs of their own on Slough Men’s IIs in an enthralling contest at Acton. Goals from Rory, new boy Emile and somewhat olderboy Mutchy saw us run out ahead 3-1, after conceding late in the first half.
With wing commander Rupert away on overseas duty with the Hongkong irregulars, Tom took over skippering duties, and after giving the team our pre-match flight plan, we settled into disciplined formation as soon as the whistle blew.
The first 10-15 minutes saw us play our best hockey of the season. Training against the IIIs on Wednesday had got us battle-ready. Stiller and Lego were Chiswick’s very own Maverick and Goose at the heart of defence. Aggressive, passionate, sometimes pushing the envelope, ‘Mav’ and ‘Goose’ played at mach three for the whole afternoon.
With our fabulous touchline supporters roaring us on, Chiswick’s sharpness, triangular passing, quick running off the ball and urgency in possession took this reporter’s breath away. Emile gave us added impetus in the opposition danger zone, linking well with Phil, Dan and Chris up front.
Slough slowly found their way back into the game, mixing some good skills with agricultural tackling, but it was still a massive surprise when they went ahead at 25 minutes. Heads could have gone down, and ejector seat buttons pushed, but they didn’t, and when Rory punched the air after scoring the equaliser five minutes later, you sensed this was going to be Chiswick’s day.
In the second half, the midfield came into its own, helped by regular rotation from the sideline. Emrys came on for short bursts of magnificent skill, before coming off again, his lungs heaving, for a rest.
Muchy, Stoops, the tireless Jimbo and the not quite-so-tireless Nick Woon were like dogfighting F16 pilots taking on a squadron of biplanes, swatting them aside with magisterial indifference, and building pressure towards our second goal.
Emile rattled in the second to cap a fine debut, and then, determined to prove wrong Einstein’s dictum that insanity is doing the same thing again and again, expecting different results, spent the rest of the game tomahawking (unsuccessfully) every time he got into the opposition D.
It was left to the experienced Mutchy to show us all how it should be done, with a crisp back-of-the-D shot that rifled through the opposition defence and hit the backboard with a satisfying thump.
It was 3-1 and the longer the match went on, the less likely Slough were going to score. They lost their shape, their tempers and their unity. Chris ‘Bunchy’ Brinkworth ended up flat on his back after taking a hockey stick in the throat. A nasty bruise, but it didn’t stop him talking, or going back on the field of play in search of a fourth.
We tired a little towards the end, but one thing is clear. When Chiswick IVs are in full flow, we are hard to stop. The team now know each other’s strengths; they play for each other; they look after each other. There is a growing squad mentality, which comes of going to coaching together. A united team is generally a good team, and against Slough, we were a good team.
Roger that, over and out.
Buzz the control tower (MoM) Stiller
Confined to barracks (DoD) Jimbo