They say you should always learn from your mistakes, so when the Mixed Team went 2-0 down after 15 minutes for the 2nd time in 2 days this weekend you began to wonder if anyone had decided to listen to this advice.
Social media is awash with the players and supporters memories of a fantastic weekend of hockey on the pitch and strong Adel support on the sidelines. If you were not there, then you missed a fabulous weekend as the club travelled south to do battle in the Tier 2 Mixed Finals weekend at Lee Valley.
Preparation had been thorough, organisation had been meticulous and the only thing we had not done was send in a spy to watch Horsham in their training sessions – its 233 miles from Leeds to Horsham so perhaps not surprising. In fact, this was probably a semi final game on Saturday against a team from the furthest away to Adel that there has ever been. Our elder statesman, Dave Margerison did tell me on Saturday that the mens veterans once played at Sevenoaks but that’s a mere 222 miles from Leeds!
Whilst the squad for the matches were resplendent in their newly sponsored kit, courtesy of our deal with Blacks, the travelling army of family, friends and club members were dazzling the Lee Valley stadium in a variety of orange attire, sunhats, t-shirts, Adel tops and topped off with the new huge “Adel Til I Die” banner courtesy of Tom Beale’s Dad’s efforts.
Our support ranged from 3 month old Marcus Beale whose passion for Adel has already extended to his hair colour, through to long standing life members Dave Margerison and Bridget Petty (whose daughter Suzy also passed on her best wishes to the team ahead of her relatively minor game for GB v Australia on Sunday afternoon. As ever, the teamwork on the pitch was just as evident off the pitch with everyone backing our squad in full voice.
Watching the team walk out the tunnel, cheering them as their names were announced it was all going so perfectly and then Horsham came along and decided to spoil the Adel party. Perhaps a combination of nerves, the occasion and giving the opposition a little bit of respect counted against us and Horsham took advantage to go 2 goals up in the first 15 minutes and you could be forgiven for thinking it was game over and just a matter of keeping the score down to a respectable margin. But Adel had chances, a well worked penalty corner routine saw Stroomer’s shot cleared off the line, a Moorhouse one on one with the keeper went narrowly wide and it was clear that the team had settled down, decided that if they were going to lose they would go down fighting and the pride and passion from the new orange shirts saw the team given a rousing half time talk from Ben and Sam in the dugout and come out stronger in the second half. Again chances came and went with narrow misses but eventually the Adel pressure paid off as a Will Powley drag flick, reminiscent of the one v Leeds 4s for the mens 2s last season, narrowed the margin. Going for broke Adel committed further and more chances came and went, with a chance going over the bar and there was always going to be a risk of being stung on the counter attack. When this did happen Jack Stevenson in goal continued his run of form and showed why he was awarded mens keeper of the year with some outstanding saves and Sophie Powley and Hannah Jones battled hard, tackled ferociously displaying all the skills they had learnt at Adel from their first outings in the girls under 10 team. Sophie Bell worked tirelessly down the right hand side creating several Adel attacks and Luke Meaton literally did run himself into the ground with the “Adel til I die” spirit evident throughout the whole team. Matt Aldred, Becky Louth and Gareth Maver provided strong protection in defensive midfield roles with Harriet Thomlinson and Rich Hinds showing tremendous energy levels, strong running to get up and down the pitch and change defence into attack. Up front the combination of Jenny Wright, Rosie Baker and Gaby (Nusy!) Nusenbaum were a constant threat as Horsham had to defend, run down the clock with 7 minutes left and the final whistle came with Adel still searching what would have been a well deserved equaliser.
Whilst there was initial disappointment, this was soon replaced by the massive pride in what was a phenomenal fightback from Adel who could have walked off the pitch as 4-2 winners and not felt that the scoreboard flattered them. All the things that we pride ourselves on at Adel were apparent throughout – teamwork, commitment, support, respect, passion and sheer bloody-minded northern effort.
It was always going to be a challenge to raise ourselves again for the 3rd v 4th match on Sunday morning v the UK Fire Service (yes they can pick from all of the UK for their team and not just hockey players in a North Leeds suburb!). The 9am start against a team who were not allowed to drink whilst on duty for the Fire Service would be difficult, especially as they also had a couple of extra hours to recover from their semi final game.
In true Adel spirit, those unfortunate enough not to have made the 16 on Saturday were all given their chance to experience the occasion and go out and show their ability in the orange shirts – well they would have done until we had to change to the reserve back kit as the umpires thought our orange clashed with the Fire Service red shirts…. surely the easy way to tell the difference was that they were stone cold sober whilst we had perhaps partied the previous evening!?
With a starting line now including April Fowden, Jane Goode, Tom Scott, Phil Bayford and Edd Holford all eager to show manager Jackson of their ability the slightly reduced Adel crowd were hopeful of a victory to secure a bronze medal spot. This time there may have been other reasons for us going 2-0 down after 15 minutes and deja vu suggested it could be a long 55 minutes to the final whistle for some Adel legs. Perhaps though we did learn something from the previous day and this time James Moorhouse in a similar position to where he was the day before, made no mistake with a crisp reverse stick finish to drag Adel back into contention ahead of the half time interval. The game was hotting up (but hey there were 16 firemen and women around to put it out if it got to hot), a few green and yellow cards were brandished (I wont reveal who to spare their blushes!) but the most important dismissal could have been the Fire Service keeper (disappointingly the only one wearing his helmet) who came out and upended an Adel forward to concede a penalty stroke and head for the naughty step for 5 minutes. The time it took him to get there, I hope he isn’t the first to respond if we have a fire at Adel!
Skipper Will Powley took the responsibility to convert the flick, admittedly with a defender in goal shivering at the prospect of getting in the way of the ball and suddenly it was anyone’s game at 2-2. If there was any justice Adel would have gone on to get a deserved winner and take the bronze medal but as they went looking for the winner, a few gaps were left at the back and despite more heroics from Jack in goal, the Fire Service stole a couple of late goals to extinguish Adel hopes and dreams.
We had 21 heroes/heroines playing in a mixture of orange and black over the weekend but there were many more people whose efforts made the whole weekend such a great success for everyone on and off the pitch. Manager Sam Jackson has overseen the mixed team from the start with the first game v Ben Rhydding through to the finish yesterday, organising training, socials, kit and much more. Ben Henley offered his support in the dugout to pass on his experience from coaching the mens 1s over the last few years. Gaby Nusenbaum has helped with planning, sponsorship with Blacks as well as managing to fit in the training and playing. Ellie Pritchard and Hannah Fisk managed to organise the Adel contingent travel and accommodation arrangements with Abi Taylor keeping all those back in Leeds updated with regular social media updates. I know there were some difficult calls to be made along the way but Sam and skipper Will Powley did everything within their powers to be fair to everyone and embodied the Adel values and spirit with their decision making.
It was a great opportunity for all the players to go out and represent the club in front of friends and family as well as a chance for the supporters to bond off the pitch as well. I just hope you are all still watching come that proverbial cold Sunday afternoon away game in November at Rotherham in the first round next season…..and if you are don’t forget the sun hat and t-shirt.
On a personal level, whilst it was a great day as a parent, it was also a proud day as Chairman of our club and see the name of Adel progress to a higher stage. I don’t think we let anyone down and we certainly had an all round better experience of the occasion than many of the other teams there. I hope the memories of the weekend last longer than the hangovers for some of you!