For those of you who don’t know, I like hockey, just a little bit.
I am involved with the following sides and have formed great friendships from them;
- Crusaders men’s D team, aka Carvers – player (Sundays)
- Crusaders u15 Girls – coach (Wednesday & Friday)
- Crusaders Committee
- St Stithians Boys College 2XI – coach (Monday, Wednesday & Saturdays)
- Shakers & Bakers mixed summer league – player (Tuesdays during summer months)
- Buccaneers Masters – Player (Wednesday)
- North West Colts Masters – player (August IPT)
The last one is the focus of this particular blog.
Last year, I was chosen to represent North West for provincial Master’s hockey. The emphasis is on the Master’s hockey, as you need to be over 35 years of age to qualify for Master’s hockey.
I had bided my time as some of my older mates from the Carvers team had been involved in the NW Colts team for a few years. The stories they told after coming back to “normal” winter league got me excited for (and scarily so, IF) I was chosen for the team.
2018 was the year, along with close on six other “PJ’s” or “pipie-jollers” as you are known as at your first Masters tournament, and only after you have gone through initiation (less said about that, the better). This didn’t bode well…for the hockey side of things. The partying side of it was great. But with so many new faces in the team, it took us a while to get to understand how each other plays. Coupled with a few injuries that happened during the tour, the results were less than flattering. So much so, that some of the older guys said it was the team’s worst performance since they had been around.
We spoke about it at the 2019 IPT (Inter Provincial Tournament), which took place from 7-10 August, and the results we got last year –
Played – 5
Won – 1
Drew – 2
Lost – 2
These results show a stark contrast to our 2019 tournament. Most of the PJ’s from 2018 had joined the Buccaneers team, so we have been playing together fairly regularly. The level that we were now playing at was quite quick. (excepting the first few minutes of each game as the body plays catch up on the loosening up front)
This year we started off on a good foot, even with an 8am start on day one after the opening party!
8-2 winners against Eastern Province Mavericks.
The second game for the day saw us walk away winners over the Griqualand West Diggers, our one cross-pool match.
Not bad results for day one and it was great to have Kurt and Josh come down and watch the second match.
Day two’s matches didn’t start off well with us being 0-3 down at half time against Southern Gauteng Blasters, a team we regularly play on a Wednesday night for the Buccaneers team. But after some good play and determination not to give up, we clawed our way back to 3-3, missing an opportunity to take the win with a “shorty” or Penalty Corner after the hooter had gone. Definitely a winning draw for us and drinking with our right hands* at the loiter and fines.
One of the senior guys commented after the match that what got us over the line was that we were playing for each other. Not giving up. Chasing down the player on a counterattack. Never relenting.
The second and last match for the day saw us playing under
lights at St Stithians college, one of the playing fields around Joburg being
made use of and my home turf. The game against Boland Cardinals was a great one
to play as we had our NW Women’s team and the NW Nomads (45-54 year old) watching
us along with a few of our WAGS.
That match we took 7-1.
Seems we like sixes!
Turns out the last match for us would be against Border. A team who were sitting on four wins from four matches. They were on 20 points. We were on 17. Winner takes all.
A decent start as we scored within three minutes. This led to an immediate false sense of security as they scored two quick goals to take the lead. I’m not entirely sure what the half time score was but with 4 minutes to go in the match, the scores were level at 4-a-piece.
Bodies were tired, some of them were even broken with pulled hamstrings, aching calf-muscles and bloodied shirts. Both teams were feeling the effects of five matches in three days.
But we didn’t give up. We kept pushing and we got the go-ahead goal! Yes please!
We weren’t done yet. It seems we definitely liked sixes this tournament and we got another goal to finish the match 6-4.
After each match, both teams would get together for a “loiter”, where we would talk about the match, general life and award a Man and (night)Mare of the match to the opposing team. This is always taken well and no one’s egos are hurt if they get the Mare.
All in all, over the two contrasting IPT’s I have had with North West hockey, I have grown to appreciate the camaraderie this sport provides. Sure, while on the field we slog it out and may have a few choice words to say but afterwards, we sit, have a beer (or Energade if that’s your preference) and enjoy each other’s company. I wouldn’t change a thing.
vs E.P. Mavericks: 8-2
vs G.W. Diggers: 6-0
vs S.G. Blasters: 3-3
vs Boland Cavalier: 7-1
vs Border: 6-4
How them sixes!
*losers drink with left hands.