For years now, supporters and pundits alike have discussed and debated whether the magic of the cup has been lost. When it comes to the EH Mixed Trophy, the magic, beauty and romance has never been in question. From the start of the season, players across the country have checked the England Hockey website with stalkerish tendencies, eagerly awaiting the first round draw. Having drawn local minnows Harrogate last year, Adel may have assumed a more challenging draw in 2015. When Brooklands bagged a home draw against the mighty Leeds Adel, the treasurer must have been the happiest, anticipating the biggest crowd of the decade, whilst the rest of the Manchester club, would be happy to avoid an embarrassing loss.
With photos received from across the Pennines on Friday, more suited for a christmas scene, Leeds Adel could detect the stalling tactics of Brooklands presumably driven by the nervousness of the incoming white rose army. Alas however, the glorious sunshine on Saturday condemned Brooklands to the potential slaughtering that awaited them.
With the crowd gathering, the encounter began….
First blood to Leeds Adel! Rock, Paper, Scissors, the undoing of so many captains before, not this time, seeing the over optimistic aggression of this primitive savage opposition captain. Cool and measured Paper beats aggressive rock every time. A rousing team talk, centered around ball retention and control, evidently ignored by Robyn Lindsay who coolly delivered the centre pass straight to the opposition. This is not a friendly you know!
Leeds Adel, in the spirit of the great British armies of old, allowed Brooklands to strike the early blows. 1-0, 2-0, 3-0. OK the warmup is over time to start playing, bring out the big cannon! Ash Hardaker unleashing the first of his 84 seventy yard aerials. Adel’s forward line of Laura Summers, Laura Robinson, Robyn Lindsay and Sophie Powley almost controlling one on several occasions. The midfield trio of Will Powley, Phil Bayford and Mark Richards now dominating the middle area of the pitch pushed forward. The latter striking a low shot passed the helpless keeper, one attempt, one goal. percentages to be proud of.
Adel slightly embarrassed by the ease at which they opened the Brookland’s defence, deciding admirably to sit back and invite the Brookland’s players forward, allowing the minnows to at least register some attempts on goal. Despite Sarah McCall’s best efforts to let them score, she couldn’t make them shoot on target, and when the did, struck them straight at the keeper. Step in Captain Sam Ransley, sympathetically deflecting another wide shot into his own goal. There might have been a few more before halftime. We will guess the halftime score as 6-1 maybe 7-1.
The Brooklands changes rained at halftime, not only interchanging their squad of 16 (ridic) but also their formation. Recognising that they would struggle to hold out for the victory, decided to defend from the front, banishing their goal shy forwards to a more defensive role. Adel deciding to move their captain to centre forward, presumably hoping his cool presence in front of goal, would register for the Orange army.
Brooklands flooded forward, desperate and slightly awkward in their desperation to score. Hannah Jones and Katie Love tucking in and defending resolutely. Sarah McCall in goal, a pinball wizard, determined to keep the ball in play.
As the game entered the last five minutes, Score at 8-1 (according to Adel) or 9-1 (according to everyone else), the tension could be cut with a knife. The crowd could not watch, would Adel find their second, third, fourth and fifth gear to take their deserved victory? Or would the magic of the cup stay alive? Could Brooklands hold out another five minutes? A place in the record books to coincide with their 125 year anniversary.
By some miracle, Brooklands held out, adding another to their (clearly) uncountable tally. Andy Portnall finding time to fall over once more before the whistle, these lower league pitches the undoing of so many top flight players.
The subdued Adel away fans, all four leaving disappointed with the result, but thoroughly entertained.
Adel claimed a moral victory, leaving no chip uneaten, and eating far too much cake. Objective achieved, bring on the plate, who wanted a second round trip to Crewe anyway?!?
Team: McCall, Hardaker, Ransley, Love, Jones, Summers, S Powley, W Powley, Portnall, Robinson, Lindsay, Bayford, Richards
Goals: Mark ‘Awaiting his GB call’ Richards
MOM: Sarah McCall, did ever so well not to put her back out, getting the ball out of the back of the net. Jokes, so glad we have had her branded Adel, hands off!
DOTD: Sam Ransley, forgetting his astros, buying £90 turquoise girl’s replacements, allowing an aerial to dribble over his stick. There may have also been an own goal. Think that was everything.