V for Victoria

It’s pretty hard to get motivated to write about hockey during a tournament when your entire focus of every day is playing, watching, talking – even singing – hockey (save for the 90 odd minutes you might spend at the movies… and even that is with hockey team mates).  But I’ll give it a crack.

Some of the Brunswick crew representing

So this year we are in Newcastle.  That’s Newcastle NSW, not Newcastle-upon-Tyne UK – a key difference when it comes to recovery time in the sea and “one minute for every degree of the sea temperature” theory of recovery. I might have ‘accidentally’ read out the temperature of the North Sea to Captain Nan instead of the Pacific Ocean saving us 5 minutes of recovery time. The team have yet to thank me for this.

To provide some structure to this blog I’ll batch things up.

The Matches

We, being the mighty forties, are three games in.  We won the first two – 1-0 v Tas and 2-0 v South Australia, then put in probably our best performance to date against New South yesterday and whilst we lost 2-0 there’s plenty to be positive about as we think about our early game tomorrow against Queensland.

The Tassie game – probably famous for:

  • Hotness: A big difference to the winter we’ve had in Melbourne, the jay cloths soaked in ice were draped around us every quarter by newbie physio to the team, Danni, and we were very grateful for that
  • The South ground: The confusing layout of pitches at Newcastle (certainly for the geographically challenged) meant that compasses were required to locate the pitch
  • First and hopefully only card of the tournament: a green card to Slapper in the first quarter as she valiantly took the player out as well as the ball in a defensive situation. We are happy for her to continue to do that, particularly for key opposition players.
  • Quarters: we are not used to playing quarters. In the final quarter the question was asked by someone “Is this the last quarter or do we have one more to go?”
  • First goal of the tournie to Nan: laying down the challenge for the rest of the team to find the scoresheet.

The South Australia game – probably famous for:

  • The darkness: the sun went down. And nothing happened. Nan had to request the lights be put on
  • A lesson learnt in respect the opposition: with SA losing 9-1 to NSW the previous day it is likely we had probably anticipated we would get more goals in. However, from a defensive perspective, I’m happy we kept a clean sheet
  • The West ground: The confusing layout of pitches at Newcastle (certainly for the geographically challenged) meant that compasses were required to locate the pitch.
  • Quarters: we are not used to playing quarters. In the final quarter the question was asked by someone “Is this the last quarter or do we have one more to go?”
  • Second and third goal of the tournie to Nan: laying down the challenge for the rest of the team to find the scoresheet.

Team dinner

The New South game – to probably famous for:

  • Hotness: again. I prepared with plenty of suncream yet in our warm up I was the opposite of hung out to dry – hung out to soak in the sprinklers, the suncream slip slap slopped off and I got burnt.
  • A couple of mistakes = a couple of goals. But we took the game to the powder puffs and we left nothing behind.
  • The East ground: The confusing layout of pitches at Newcastle (certainly for the geographically challenged) meant that compasses were required to locate the pitch.
  • Quarters: we are not used to playing quarters. In the final quarter the question was asked by someone “Is this the last quarter or do we have one more to go?”
  • No goals to Nan: no one else was able to make the most of this golden opportunity to catch up with her goal-scoring tally.

The facilities

Now I believe that the centre we are playing at is the International Newcastle Hockey centre, or something along those lines.  I might have been expecting international facilities as a result.  It’s not quite there, but the organisers did gleefully announce in the opening ceremony that the centre was about to be totally renovated and rebuilt after our tournament, making us feel incredibly special. One positive is that it doesn’t require the complexity of entry process that is the State Hockey Centre’s new-fangled entry system (“The barcode doesn’t work!”) that many of us have endured over the recent finals series.

Toilets seem to be few and far between, however given the toilet conversations certain team mates have had about poos and I have had to listen to this might be a good thing – I’m not sure.

Rome wasn’t built in a day, but it was built on seven hills.  And so was the Newcastle centre.  Like randomly so.  The main bit is on a hill.  There are random hills dotted about the place.  And when you have a mending broken foot and are managing a knee injury, trolling up and down slopes all day long between hockey pitches is exceedingly annoying.

(Note, I come from a very flat part of the UK.  When I say “hill” I’m talking about anything from a 3ft mound upwards.)

Newcastle

I actually don’t feel like I’ve seen a great deal of the place; I do know that when I when I went to Liquor Land after a beach recovery session, dressed in a towel and not much else, I didn’t stand out.  The nightlife is pretty special, and some of us enjoyed an evening on the tiles of the Beach Club dancing our little hockey socks off in pleasant, but very drunken (not us) company.

The coffee is ok to great, we have got into our groove of finding the  best spots, and we are ‘happy’ in the knowledge that, as advised by the mayor of this city that’s not Upon-Tyne in the UK, we are merrily pumping $2.2 million into the local economy.  Hooray for them and wow, do we hockey players have leaky pockets.

We are staying at Quest version-West, relatively upmarket and almost posh but toilet rolls are few and far between – as our face cloths when you need them, unless you’re Coach Jimmy when other rooms’ tea towels will do the job.

Best On Ground day 1: for getting to Newcastle via Brisbane thanks to an overbooked Virgin flight

Injuries

It would not be a hockey tournament without some specialness occurring on the injury front.  I’m keeping myself together quite well thanks to some expert taping. Others are also getting special treatment – it pays to room with an osteo and a sports scientist! But the injury award of the tournie (so far) goes to the 45s, and Lizzie, who decided “Enough was enough, I want the most dramatic injury of the 2017 comp prize” and got her finger decapitated in their second game.

Poor thing also got fined for being the 12th player on the pitch.  As the game continued and she was rushed to hospital, a piece of her remained on the turf.  It’s probably still there now come to think of it… (Christian dropped another piece in the carpark.)

Don’t feel too sorry for her.  She came back to play in their fourth game today and didn’t look too shabby either.

What the 55s get up to… breaking legs

Fines

Of course these are being thrown around in great abundance.  I’m usually the one flying low under the radar but I’ve got myself into some sticky situations for which I’m blaming Happy Lynnie Gilmour who just keeps following me around and thinks I’m her personal dresser.  I leant her some lucky socks (don’t worry about feeling the need to return them Lynnie) and they got her two goals today, in addition to the barocca I also gave her the morning after the night before… when she just waltzed into our room and finished all the wine I had stashed away.

(I had a rest day today, I could drink what I liked.)

Currently our Dill of the Day is with Nan, who has already forgotten what it was for (wet shorts following a “leak in” situation whilst sitting on one of the thousands of hills at the hockey centre), Best on Ground is with Slapper for taking out (another) opposition player, who has since returned home – nothing to do with the hit in the face that she received from Victoria, and “GOAL” scored/saved award is with Sally who saved some stonkers against New South.

Serious pose from serious manager and coach

Quotes

Some classics have been heard around the hockey traps.  Simmo in our team didn’t know what the “V” stood for in the Best on Ground outfit; I was heard asking “Is that a fake chair?” and today, whilst supporting the 45s and their fingerless crew, Jacky Jacob was heard shouting “Blocky Blocky Block Block” shortly before comparing the height of two players and remarking that one player was “Half her size and double it.”

Wendy Vincent and I replied in unison with “So, what? She’s the exact same size?!”

What next?

Big game early tomorrow against Queensland; we are either wearing white or blue shirts and  blue or orange socks, we are in complete control of that, and I have no idea which pitch we are on but guaranteed we will need a compass to find it, I will not be asking Julz for directions to the pitch, nor getting Zinga/Simmo to drive/navigate, and I will go to the dugout that is the exact opposite to the one Mange Kevin advises.

I will get wet in the warm up no matter where I stand; I will get sunburnt no matter how much suncream I will put on; toilet conversations will be unavoidable no matter how hard I try not to listen to them; fines and silliness will continue… but we will put heart and soul into the 70 minutes (or four quarters of 17 and a half minutes) we play for the Mighty V.

That’s V for Victoria, Simmo.

Fun with the hockey family – all too familiar a family for some

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