The men’s 1st team currently sit in 5th place in Hants/Surrey Div 2, having won 8, drawn 5 and lost 4 of their matches so far. Skipper Joe Melly has challenged his team with some ambitious targets for the remaining games and the squad is determined to close the gap on the top two over the coming weeks.
It is no secret that the team has had a significant re-shuffle in the off season, with a new tactical set up and the return of several former players back into the club fold. Amongst this upheaval, the evergreen Eb Mukhtar has been a reassuringly consistent presence, demonstrating amazing commitment by agreeing to commute to games from Luxembourg each week. Club captain Ally Francis has put his talents to excellent use in his new role as centre forward. Pundits are already predicting big things for this years’ high-stakes ‘golden stick’ competition.
On the whole, the quality of hockey played has been excellent, with highlights including the 3-2 home victory over 2nd placed Wimbourne, and hard fought draws against Addiscombe and runaway league leaders Reigate Priory. The latter result was particularly impressive given that, due to an availability crisis, the Accies were unable to name a recognised goalkeeper in their squad.
After much debate on route to the game, Capt. Melly and Coach James devised the cunning plan of placing defender Chris Bentley between the sticks. It turned out to be an inspired decision. Bentley’s mighty OBO clad frame struck fear into the hearts of the enemy and the Reigate attack were evidently too terrified to muster a single shot on target. This was probably a good job, not least because the goalkeeping kit we’d acquired was far too small, leaving a considerable portion of Chris’ midriff exposed.
Out on the field, the team put in a fine performance, dominating the game from the first whistle and scoring three excellent goals through Ali Francis, Will Nunn and Danny Bond. The Accies only missed out on taking home all three points thanks to some ruthlessly efficient Reigate penalty corner strikes, which would have left any of the club’s regular keepers with little chance.
Strong team performances have not been limited to the Astroturf. On the social side, favourite venues the Hole in the Wall and Club de Fromage are regularly thronged by Accies revelling in their Saturday afternoon exploits. The Xmas party, club curry, Bavarian beerhouse and American-themed bowling socials have each been tremendous successes, with both sections tuning out in force on each occasion. Long may this continue.
There have been too many achievements already this season to note them all here. The emotional speeches and debauchery of the post-season Players’ Dinner are sure to better facilitate such recognition. However, an honourable mention must be given to Pete Harvey, who wins the runners up prize in the longest commute competition, driving from Oxford (almost) every week to claim his spot in goal. Will ‘player of the season’ Church has managed several notable displays, having featured in every position on the pitch over the course of the season.
Most importantly, the Accies continues to be the number one destination for UCL student hockey players. No fewer than eleven representatives from the world’s fourth best university have played a part in the men’s 1s squad thus far. It remains one of the club’s foremost priorities to provide, fun, high-quality and affordable weekend hockey for London students and the club’s future depends on their excellent contribution.
The squads’ focus now turns to the eight fixtures of 2014/15 still remaining and there is a well placed confidence amongst the team that we can build on the excellent work put in up to this point. Hockey clubs of Hampshire and Surrey be warned...the Accies are back in business.