Royal Holloways’ Men’s 1st Hockey team produced a clean and clinical performance on October 15th, dismantling new boys Chichester 3-0 in a huge first game of the season.
Game One: three points. Despite their being no earlier stage found than this one and even though it may not define champions or label relegation battlers, it was a gritty performance that already bore extreme significance.
New to the League 4A experience, a lot has been expected of the boys that hold the highest hockey helm at the College. Royal Holloway, since I have been a student certainly, has been acclaimed to higher leagues in the past and the fact that relegation, albeit through default of not recording the end-of-season draw, had become a reality, there remained a lot on the line to ensure that we climb into a league where we properly belong.
After the warm-up, coach Neil sounded out one phrase that stuck in my mind more than the rest of the speech. “Boys, they are a well-drilled, decent team. They lost once all last season.” When you hear that, it doesn’t exactly fill any human mind with undoubted confidence of nothing less than a win. But right from the off, it seemed like those words were air to the starting line up; the words had just evaporated into the atmosphere. To explain further, the boys just stuck to what they were told, did not let the record of last season’s Chichester get to the back of their brains and therefore played astoundingly well.
Playing a high press from the first minute, hounding their back four, agitating their midfield and snuffling out any real sign of attack, let alone one of a dangerous nature, the boys finally turned numerous chances to goals and we found ourselves a healthy two nil up at the break. Despite relentless pressure, a swift, meaningful counter attack ended with Josh Wilson-Holliday converting a reverse undercut for his third and hat trick goal. Not the man of the match but, to be honest, who was? What was Josh though? Clinical in front of the keeper. We have a long way to go, but the early signs are good and more of the same will only benefit us in our quest for promotion.