With less than 48 hours before Santa’s arrival, the mens 5th team were poised and ready to begin their Christmas shopping.   But then somebody organised a friendly “Dads, Lads & Lasses” hockey match, and all hopes of spending a pleasant Saturday afternoon in the queue at Primark had to be abandoned.   Duty calls.  Also calling were mince pies and pale ale in the club house.

The fives have enjoyed dedicated support from a hard core of parents all season, so it was great to see Dan Greer, Ian Holley and Craig Snow swapping their usual spectating role for some on-field action, alongside their sons Joe, Max, Oscar, and Matty.   The dads put in a very creditable performance and are now available for selection – you can’t keep that sort of talent hidden away.  On the side-line Jason Francis was there as always to watch Murf, with Kirsty and Issy Holden, Alice Hedge and Sol Boardman all lending their support, and fending off hypothermia with a glass of Richard’s half time brandy.

Meanwhile there were family rivalries being played out all over the place… Richard and Tom Poll, Tim and Joe Ball (plus his mate Elliot), Stef, Julia and Freddie Palenski, Andy, Joseph and Nathan Hedge, and John’s guests from the north west, Paul Jason and Seb Boardman (the latter had never played a match before but looks like a future star).

The icing on the Christmas cake was a guest appearance from young starlet Richard Beal, alongside recent retiree Dave Akroyd (evidently planning a comeback), Dave Madge and Sniffer.   The Welsh wizard managed to score a hat trick, but declined the easy option of buying a jug, instead offering to buy everyone in the entire club a drink in the new year.  At least I think that’s what he said, but it was noisy in the bar and I may have misheard…..

The game ended in an incredible 5-5 draw, which seems sort of pre-ordained, thanks to goals from Sniffer, Matty, Paul, Fin, Freddie, Stef, and possibly also Joe B and others – apologies if I missed you out.  I was overcome with emotion, and the fumes from Richard’s brandy.

All in all a fantastic way to end the first half of the season, bring on some new talent, unleash the power of the dads, and watch Stef’s kids run rings round the grown ups.  Thanks to our umpires and here’s to more fifth team heroics in 2018.