Over 50s Are National Champions

Posted by Mike Debenham on 12 September 2020

In 2014 Shrewsbury Hockey Club Mens Over 50’s, led by Gary Davies, made the trip the Nottingham Hockey Centre to play the England Hockey Championship Mens Masters Over 50’s Final (Tier 2) and suffered a disappointing loss against a strong Tunbridge Wells side.

Early in the morning of Saturday September 12 2020, again under the leadership of Gary Davies, a Shrewsbury team made the trip to the same venue to play Old Cranleighans in the England Hockey Championship Mens Masters Over 50’s (Tier 3) Final (9.00 am push). Because of the need to be “COVID 19 Secure” the atmosphere and arrangements at the Nottingham Hockey Centre made for a very different pre match experience for 9 of the Shrewsbury team ( Lyndon Boyden, Richard Coggins, Kevin Coleman, Gary Davies, Keith Kendall, Andy Howitt, Graham Moore, Ian Styles and Steve Thomson) who had played in the 2014 Final but certainly no less tense.

The first quarter of the match saw Old Cranleighans in control of much of the game with greater ball possession and some good attacking play but with Shrewsbury defending pretty well and making some threatening counter attacks. Both sides created a few good goal scoring opportunities and it was Shrewsbury who came closest hitting the outside of a post with the OC’s keeper beaten. OC’s continued to press, forcing Shrewsbury to concede more short corners than they would have wanted and it was OC’s who came very close to taking the lead when a strike from a short corner went into the net narrowly above the backboard. Shrewsbury finished the half strongly with some good breaks down the centre of the pitch orchestrated by Jonny Davis and Robin Jackson but without creating a clear cut goal scoring opportunity.

Shrewsbury started the second half as they had finished the first and began to take the ascendancy. Controlled play at the back by Boyden, Paul Glendenning, Ian Mould and Moore provided a sound platform for Shrewsbury to string together some good moves. The midfield battle remained very evenly balanced but with Shrewsbury creating the more dangerous openings in the OC’s defence. Shrewsbury’s attacking players came more and more into the play with good hold up and link play from Martin Hall, Jerry Revans and Coleman. It was Shrewsbury which was now applying pressure to the OC’s defence with Moore and Howitt forcing a number of errors from OC’s down their left flank and it was from a free hit just outside the OC’s D  that Moore set up Boyden’s far post strike which was brilliantly turned in by Stephen Parnham to make it 1-0 to the Shrews. Both sides began to play well, with the midfield battle still remaining very even and keenly contested. But it was Shrewsbury that were still making the greater incisions into the OC’s defence and mid way in the second half, from another useful Shrewsbury move a perfectly directed and weighted pass from Coggins found an unmarked Parnham in the OC’s D and his superb first time strike beat the advancing keeper to make it 2-0 to Shrewsbury.

Shrewsbury came very close to being awarded a Penalty Stroke when, following a well worked  short corner routine, Davis’s near post shot was deflected off the goal line by an OC’s foot but was judged to be just going wide. The outfield play by both teams remained good and OC’s threw everything into the last 10 minutes of the match, generating some good moves and threatening attacks, which only some excellent old fashioned last ditch defending notably by Mould, Boyden, Glendenning and Jackson and 3 excellent saves from Goalkeeper Ian Styles thwarted. With less than 5 minutes OC’s converted a short corner to make it 2-1.  Shrewsbury did well to manage the last few minutes of the game sensibly, preventing OC’s from having any good moves or sight of goal.

It had been an excellent game of hockey with both sides playing good hockey and 2 -1 to Shrewsbury was a hard won but well deserved win enabled by a strong team ethos and all round team effort under the leadership of Gary Davies who as the delighted successful Captain of the  Shrewsbury Mens Over 50’s lifted the England Hockey Mens Masters Over 50’s Trophy for 2020 with a huge smile on his face which was great to see. Captain Gary Davies was rightly proud of his team's achievement: ”This was a complete team performance from Shrewsbury. There were outstanding performances all over the pitch and all were necessary to overcome a strong opposition. It was backs to the wall for the first 25 minutes but the Shrewsbury defence was resolute. Shrewsbury grew into the game and by the second half were the dominant team, fully deserving victory. The team spirit has been excellent throughout this campaign and it is hugely satisfying to be victorious at a national level"

 

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