Spencer Hockey Club

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Match report

Sat, 6th Oct 2018 12:00
Spencer Hockey Club AWP
Spencer Men's 4s
2-3
Hampstead and Westminster Men's 5s
 
 
 
A DAY IN THE LIFE OF A SHIN PAD
By Tom Dunn

I woke up excited on Saturday morning. It was the day of the big game, where my owner’s club, Spencer, the most dashing and successful hockey club in South West London just outside Wimbledon, against their arch rivals Hampstead and Westminster, a formidable opponent from north of the river.

Tom was up early; he’d had a wild night on Friday, eating some pasta and pesto and then going to bed before 11; clearly he was as excited about the next day’s game as I was. He got dressed in a hurry and grabbed me and my twin off the radiator, before shoving us into the depths of his hockey bag and running towards the station.

Just as Tom ran off into the distance with the rest of the team to start his warmup, the heavens opened in earnest. Rain bucketed down onto the pitch, creating a treacherous surface for the upcoming game. Before long, Tom and the rest of the team had returned from their warm up and I was placed into the familiar comfort of Tom’s sock ahead of push back. However, something felt a little different. Tom’s normal socks, a white and green number from his old club in Manchester, ensconced me comfortably during matches, but this pair felt different. They were a dark blue, and far looser than was necessary to keep me from falling. Tom knew what he was doing though, so I settled in for the match.

The game was end to end from the very start. I couldn’t see who was on top due to the dark colour of the new socks, but from the shouts from both teams, I’d say it was pretty even. Suddenly though, there was a very loud scream, as JBB, usually the calmest player on the pitch, hit the deck and then jumped back up to confront his opponent, claiming he’d been struck in the face with a stick. His opposite number protested his innocence, but JBB’s game was over.

Tom and I were brought into the backline next to Harry, looking like the Weasley twins fending off wave after wave of H&W attacks. Finally, a breakthrough came, a short corner wasn’t cleared and the Hampstead striker pounced on the loose ball. Soon after, the ball was in the goal again, once again from a poorly defended short corner. Heads were down, and the rain kept falling, as Adam brought the team in for a chat at half time.

After a slight tweak to the formation, Spencer looked a much more promising outfit in the second half. However, it was during the second half that things began to spiral out of control for me. With any sudden movement, the loose socks meant I was flung unceremoniously out onto the pitch. This was usually greeted with a few laughs from the opposition, and a few angry words from Tom and his teammates “Fucking shin pads”, before I was stuffed back inside the sock. Time and again this happened, each time more embarrassing for Tom and myself. However, this must have distracted Hampstead considerably, as they conceded two goals, one a rebounded short corner effort from Nico, which was followed up by a strong finish by Dan Henry.

The game was level, it was all to play for. Spencer pushed up in search for a final winning goal, after what would have been a remarkable comeback. However, the pressing left us exposed at the back, and before long, Tom was one on one with a Hampstead striker with appalling facial hair. He twisted one way, and then the other, before pushing the ball hard towards the goal. All the while, I had become dislodged once again from the sock, and I was now hurtling into the path of the ball. “Nooooooooooooooo!” I screamed, before I was cracked square in the face with the goal bound shot.

The entire Spencer team looked crestfallen, and our opponents were unsure of what was meant to happen next. It’s not often a shin pad obstructs play. Unfortunately for Spencer, the umpire awarded a short corner, which was duly dispatched into the bottom corner, under a diving Lax, and to the dismay of the entire team. The abuse was brutal “Just fix your feckin’ shin pad!” screamed the usually docile Jez, and I was duly thrown over the backline until the end of the game. I was inconsolable, but fortunately, my tears were hidden by the rain.

Back in the clubhouse, I thought the torment for the day was over.

Suddenly, I was pulled from the depths of Tom’s hockey bag, and taken outside. I wondered what could be going on; the game had finished, what could I be needed for now? Soon it became clear, as I saw Tom kneel in front of the baying mob of his Spencer teammates, and I was thrust towards his mouth. Then it came. A dribble at first, hoppy and fizzy, but before long it was a torrent drowning me. I screamed out in fear but nothing could be heard above the shouting and laughing of the ape-like pack who surrounded me. Soon I was completely submerged, I couldn’t breathe, I gasped for air. Just before I blacked out, I was tossed to the floor, where I lay lifeless and dazed, while the handshakes and high fives rang around me.

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