Old Wulfs make it all the way to the final in Lilleshall O’50’s Tournament

Posted by Chris Nightingale on 30 July 2016

Last Sunday Lilleshall hosted the annual “Saga O’50’s” tournament with six teams from around the Midlands doing battle for the “Kath Cup”. Old Wulfs put out a fine squad, ably augmented by guests David and Martin from Bridgnorth HC.

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No doubt recognising the importance of the occasion, Lilleshall had put on a “warm-up act” involving Scotland and India’s U21 squads, which we settled down to watch and were more than happy to help out with some friendly advice and tips as to how the youngsters might improve. I am sure they were suitably grateful. Anyway, once they had left the field to the grown-ups the six teams were split into two groups of three teams, with Old Wulfs down to play both Lichfield and Wolverhampton & Tettenhall Ladies.

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Old Wulfs opened the campaign playing against a skilful and extremely confident Lichfield side who clearly fancied their chances in the tournament and it took us a while to settle into the flow of the game. The result was that Lichfield went ahead from a goal taken on the break. However, we soon settled and in the second half pulled back a well-deserved equaliser so that the game ended honours even. We then had a break whilst Lichfield played the ladies and so we went into our last pool game knowing that we had to beat the ladies by four goals to come out top of the group and secure our place for the 1st/2nd place play off.

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As is usual when we have success in sight we did our level best to chuck it all away, playing in what was described as a gentlemanly, rather than competitive manner (the actual wording during the half time team talk was somewhat more colourful) and got to half time winning 2-1 and frankly were lucky to have any lead at all. In the second half we buckled down more and came out with a 4-1 win, exactly the same as Lichfield had achieved. Both teams instantly knew that there was no way to separate us and after considering a range of increasingly fanciful permutations this was finally confirmed… so the best of three penalty flicks was to decide who went through to the final.

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“Bridgnorth Martin”, Roger Cooper Doc Savage all stepped up to the spot and scored despite valiant attempts from the Lichfield Keeper. Steve Rowlands adopted a far more subtle approach to keeping the flicks out by consistently “diving” in completely the wrong direction. This clearly unnerved the Lichfield  players to such an extent that the third flick was put miles wide so Old Wulfs were through to the final against a very good Stafford side.

By now the tension was unbearable with the air thick with the scent of bacon butties, Deep Heat and enough medication to make even a Russian track and field team blush. Battle commenced and Old Wulfs finally managed to get into the swing of their game from the off. The game was end to end with Stafford probably looking the more powerful and fitter side, but when the Stafford keeper decided to take out one of our players on his way to the ball a penalty flick was awarded which our guest Martin slotted away. Our lead was not to last long though and just before half time Old Wulfs faced a short corner with Steve returning the goalkeeping faux pas by leaving a gap between his pads which the shot taker felt was rude not to take advantage of. So half time arrived and honours even at 1-1. The second half was a tense affair with neither side gaining the upper hand or a goal and with extra time looming it was clear that any goal in the last few minutes would be crucial and so it played out with Stafford slotting home a rebound off a saved shot with less than two minutes to go to win 2-1.

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Congratulations to Stafford who were worthy winners and played the final in excellent spirit. Everyone who played in the Old Wulfs team really pulled together and we were fully deserving of our runners-up spot… I say “runners-up”, but this term was slightly re-defined when Doc was asked to come up and collect the “trophy for the losers” – a term we decided to make no further issue of, bar the fifty or sixty repetitions in the pub afterwards!

In all seriousness this was an extremely enjoyable day and these events do not organise themselves, so many thanks are due to both Tony Orton and Quinney for all the work they put into making this happen and the food/photos and beer afterwards. A fun day of good hockey played in the right spirit – no one is ever on a “losing” side with that combination!

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Photos - Paul Quin

 

 

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