After a narrow defeat (well by three goals and we did draw the second half) against City of York in the first round of the EH Masters Trophy, the veterans of Leeds Adel HC fell into the Shield (a glamorous title for those first round losers in the Trophy tournament). A home tie was a priority as the other teams entering the Shield were primarily from south of Birmingham, so with an air of inevitability the slip of paper bearing the words “Leeds Adel HC” was drawn out of the sorting hat with an away tie against just about the only team to be from further north than us, Durham City HC.
The first attempt to play the game, saw Durham request a week’s postponement for reasons which they never really revealed. A quick google and a look at their website soon gave the answer, with the original scheduled date the night after their club Christmas do and the prospect of the over 40s from Durham after a night on the Newcastle Brown Ale bringing themselves to run around a hockey pitch for 70 minutes was clearly too much to expect. Skipper Akroyd willingly agreed to defer the game by a week and had to hastily rearrange his squad of players who had planned Christmas shopping with their wives. Sadly, some had insufficient brownie points in the bank so were unable to get a release clause, several others appeared to have work commitments and the agreement to reschedule the fixture was soon looking a generous move on our part.
But cometh the hour, cometh the man – or in this case, a number of former players who once donned the green and gold of Adel many years ago. In the last round, returning heroes included Stuart Boomer, Andy Hedge and John Holden, all of whom tend to spend most weekends now at the side of the sporting pitches of Leeds cheering on their respective offspring. This time around, we dug even deeper to find Simon Studholme and Dave Robson still in the Leeds area, a couple of Stockton lads keen to venture back up to their north east roots to do battle against Durham. In the last round, injuries had cruelly brought to a premature conclusion the involvement of Scott Wardle and Giles Primmer but both had rested sufficiently in the interim to make a return. Simon Taylor too was looking forward to playing in a team where he would be one of the more sprightly members (if truth be told this would even be the case whilst he was still on his crutches recovering from his broken knee cap).
In the few days leading up to the game, emails went around debating which colour kit to wear, surely a return to the old green and gold adorned by Adel in the 1980s, perhaps the orange of the early 2000’s or should we move with the times and plump for an all black look of the current mens teams. More importantly, some players were desperately looking for old sticks and Astros whilst bringing down the Christmas decorations from their lofts, although in some cases, borrowing their sons gear was probably a safer option.
Saturday saw monsoon weather conditions with several games called off. But some like the evergreen Bob Sibley having played their game on Saturday, then spent the best part of the evening frantically drying their kit to make sure they were resplendent when representing the veterans the day after.
Early to bed after a hearty pasta meal, the team arose on Sunday fully prepared and fighting fit to venture North to take on whatever Durham could throw at us. Bags packed, transport arrangements made, a quick look at the mobile phone to check the time and…..
…….a text from the skipper to say that due to overnight frost in the Durham area, the game had been postponed until the New Year. Ah well, I guess we all went Christmas shopping with the wife after all. Hopefully some of you were able to persuade them that a new stick and astro trainers should be top of your list to Santa this year as well because we will still need you on 13th January!