Lessons Learned - Every Second Counts
By Mark Farmer-Wright
Lessons Learned - Every Second Counts
With two games left before the Christmas break and the Div 3NE league being tighter than ever the men’s first knew 6 points would be the minimum requirement if they were to continue to occupy to top spots. This weekend they started with Norwich Dragons 2, a tricky fixture to end the first set of games.
The men’s firsts started the game brightly, with the midfield three of Miles, Whitby and Hammond confidently distributing the ball among themselves and working hard for each other. With the confident start Sadler-Barker and Barker were able to step up the field and combine forces to create some deadly attacks. The strong start saw three short corners awarded, however Hendo’s Nose couldn’t get a sniff of goal, Jimmy’s Balls were well handled by the Dragon’s goalkeeper whilst Farmer-Wright on the slip was unable to find a corner.
With early chances going a miss, the opportunity for Dragon’s to emerge from their sleepy start presented itself. Whilst the defensive prowess of Hart, Whitwood and Gibson was evident in initial pressure, the persistence of Dragons eventually broke the North Norfolk resolve and the ball found itself in the back of the goal. They often say one goal swiftly follows another, and Dragons looked to prove exactly that and would have done if it wasn’t for some incredible shot stoppers from Bartram between the sticks.
1-0 down at half-time, Norfolk were not disheartened and looked to improve upon their first half display. Attacks were in their bounty on the counter, with the back three distributing the ball much quicker and some fantastic link work between Sadler-Barker, Barker and the midfield three. Miles, Whitby and Miles all looked dangerous on the ball, drawing fouls left, right and centre. Sayer, Green and Jon didn’t look too shabby themselves. Whilst pressure was rising, the Dragons defence rallied to occupy the space in the D making it extremely difficult for North Norfolk who were forced into attempts of target. However, one such attempt was on target, following a save the opportunity seemed all but gone. On a tight angle, Farmer-Wright with his head down flicked blindly and hopefully towards goal, luckily with the keeper off his line the ball snuck between and the post to find the back of the net.
With the score at one a piece and both teams feeling as though they could steal all the points the game became frantic and open. Tackles were put in with some serious physicality which wouldn’t have looked out of place in the weekend of derbys setup for Sky Sports. Confusion and mayhem ensued, highlighted by the green carded player of Dragons managing to stay on the pitch undetected before eventually being spotted by Mike Bartram and Chris Isbell.
The hectic balance in the game was only enhanced as the umpires stretched two fingers in the air to signify 2 minutes left on the clock. It looked as though Dragons would have the last attack in the game, but losing the ball allowed North Norfolk to go for the hail mary pass. A lifted ball, found a Dragons player deep in their territory but Farmer-Wright dispossessed him and set Hammond off down the right with a reverse pass. Hammond was able to turn infield and find Barker unusually high up the pitch which would normally be punishable, Barker calmly found Jon in an area of space within the D.
Jon was able to look up, pick his spot and unleash a shot. As the ball hit the backboard the time on the clock hit zero and North Norfolk wheeled away in celebration. Dragons heavily deliberated the decision to allow play to continue earlier on in the move, however their debates were in vein.
North Norfolk grabbed a hugely valuable 3 points as Ipswich ended up on the wrong side of their derby. Whilst the performance left much to be desired, North Norfolk learned a key lesson in how to win ugly and to use every second of every game. Another lesson was also taught by umpire Mike Bartram, and one that the whole club should consider in heated games and their behaviour towards the umpire. When speaking to a digruntled Dragons player, Mike posed a question to the player: “Throughout this game have I once told you how to play hockey?”, to which the player replied “No.” Mike then informed the player; “And you shouldn’t expect me to, but you’ve told me how to umpire several times.” A key lesson we should all consider when tempers are high, we are extremely lucky to have umpires give up their time so that we can play the sport we love, so let the sportsmanship show.
There was also a lesson in club spirit from Ben Miles prior to the game, when supporting Tom Bowden. However, the picture won’t leave my mind and makes me a little ill so we won’t go into that!