The 4th team had brought even more subs than usual…

 

In the fading light of a winter’s afternoon, Matty Potter and the rest of the Gryffindor 5th team were enjoying a leisurely warm-up on the pitch. But then the sky went dark, and a cold, soulless feeling of emptiness and consistency swept across the ground. It was the deathly Pie-Eaters from Slytherin 4, looking to gobble up yet another three points. The Gryffindor boys were in for the fight of their lives.

Battle commenced, with the Pie-Eaters (in black, obviously) pushing back the golden snitch, and playing some quick accurate passes across the open space in their own half. The 5s rose to the challenge, and spurred on by raucous support from the older Weasley boys on the sideline, tackled hard and began to build some momentum, especially up the wings where the fastest players on the park were wearing orange. Andy, Stef, Tom P. Matty and Fin worked tirelessly to win the ball and feed passes up to Tom A, Joseph and Max, who ran themselves into the ground for the whole game. 10, then 20 minutes passed, and it became clear this wasn’t going to be the massacre some expected. It would take something special to break the deadlock.

Sadly the opening goal went to Slytherin, with a deflected cross floating through the air, and landing at the feet of Charlie Malfoy, whose instinctive first time shot flew into the top corner of the net. You have to admire a bit of genuine magic when you see it. Soon the Pie-Eaters doubled the score, with a well executed short corner allowing the Dark Mark to slot in from close range. 2-0 at half time, a fair reflection of the balance of play, but in no way a one-sided contest.

The second half began as the first ended, both teams trying to work an opening but frustrated by some vintage defending. Sibberus Snape gets a grudging mention for interrupting some of our best attacks. At the other end, Skully, Maj and Murf performed heroics, never tiring and repelling all comers. Mikey in goal was magnificent with some great saves, the stand out being a full length diving tackle on Malfoy to stop a certain goal. The Pie-Eaters were forced into a long ball game, mostly hitting it off the end of the pitch, but eventually got a breakthrough. This time it was tortured soul Alan, rejected by the Sorting Hat at the start of the season and forced to drop down to the 4s, who got on the end of a loose ball to score . When Rich Bingham added a solo fourth, it looked like game over.

The thing about J K Rowling’s books is that they go on and on, until eventually the good guys win, and funnily enough, that’s what nearly happened here. The 5s upped their level of intensity and began to impose themselves on the game; every tackle more fiercely contested, every breakaway supported in greater numbers. With delicious irony it was Stef Palenski, ex-Pie Eater, who slammed the ball past Hagrid in the opposite net. 4-1, a consolation, a small dent in the Pie pride. The crowd went wild. And then a funny thing happened – the calm authority of the league leaders wobbled a little, with some rushed clearances and missed tackles. From one of these the 5s won a short corner, which bounced around a bit before Andy Hedwig finished it off, and then performed some weird gyrations which nearly earned him our DoD.

4-2, and at this point the Pie Eaters’ discipline drained away, with Lord Polldemort issuing a warning to Hagrid for using some of the Unforgivable Curses. And then the 5s scored again, with another loose ball from a short corner finding Max unmarked at the back post, and the inevitable outcome. 4-3 and only a few minutes left… could there be a fairytale ending? Alas not – all too soon the final whistle came. Handshakes and high fives, after a close contest and a great advert for hockey at Adel. Sometimes you win even when you lose; the 5s left the pitch elated at the way they’d fought an apparently uneven battle. For 70 minutes they kept their shape, their discipline, and their composure.  And, by the way, won the second half 3-2.

Both teams went back to the refectory for some refreshing butterbeer, but sadly the kitchen was shut so we couldn’t dish out Bertie Bott’s “every flavour” garlic pasta beans. MoM voting reflected the tight-knit 5th team spirit: some votes for “the whole team,” while the rest were split between seven different players. Murf won the top honour for his fighting defence, with Stef a close second for his masterclass in speed and skill. DoD was a close-run thing, with Andy for his goal celebration, “none”, and “the 4th team” all getting plenty of votes. But there was a clear winner: take a bow Professor Dumbledore Margerison, for thinking the pitch was about 3 metres wider than it actually was.


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