Men's 1s
Sat 10 Feb 2024  ·  South Central Men's Premier Division 1
Henley Hockey Club
Men's 1s
E Foster (20'), (30'), J Taylor (70')
Oxford Hawks 2
Joyce Ball Reigns Supreme

Joyce Ball Reigns Supreme

Samuel Heaver13 Feb - 12:29
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Last gasp winner secures 3 points for home side in Oxfordshire derby

Jubilee Park welcomed Oxford Hawks to its famed paddock on a perfect Saturday afternoon for a vital lower mid table clash.

An important game though and with Hawks under scrutiny, Henley kept a close eye on the team sheet to ensure no ‘A. Jacksons’ or ‘S. Mantells’ popped up. This close and observant eye was the reason many in the capacity crowd thought former interim manager Ian Heggie was hiding in the bushes on the entrance path to the pitch, however the reasons remain suspiciously unconfirmed.

A sprinkling of rain mid-morning meant the pitch was moist and ready for action. The squad left the changing room after a few rousing words from captain Sam Heaver and a sprinkling of something more colourful from Coach Rhys Dyche.

The formation? 4-4 Frickin’ 2.

The tactics? Pass exclusively right.

The mood? Focused.

The starting line-up? A few surprises and a few staples of the Henley 1st XI.

Fireman Sam returned from his canoe training to back up the physical defensive three of Mortimer, Pistol and Kyle who oddly were once again were joined by midfield maestro Hetherington. A broad range of the how-to-play hockey text book made up the midfield of Taylor, Dyche, Riches and Dr Gupta. Learner driver Ed Foster tucked in behind captain Heaver making up the 120,000/1 favourites going into this must win clash. Sutherland and GOAT Green making up the bench. An understandable but still strange omission from the match day squad was Jef Gosph. Goeff chose to leave his wife and kids for a fun day drinking with his mates at the football.

The game got underway at 13:31 prompt and straight away the gulf in class was obvious. With 116 charges to answer, Hawks perhaps decided to send their 4th XI as this was truly Men against boys. Henley carried on their resurgent form from the last 2 weeks and controlled the ball beautifully between the lines and attacked with ease often opening up Hawks defences like a bag of monster munch. Screams of the historic Australian war chant “Hot Hot” from the Henley bench rang around the stadium at 30 second intervals to keep Hawks players in a state of hypnosis whilst Henley continued to pepper their defence.

But Henley found it difficult to find the onion bag, only through their now famous lack of precision in front of goal. As the afternoon ran on, a calm swept across the hallowed (fake) turf - the birds were tweeting, the sun was out, the pitch was moist, Henley dominated possession. Think of a Federer forehand winner, Lewis Hamilton qualifying lap at Monaco, a Pirlo cross field ball, a James Anderson outswinger ticking the top of off, all sporting perfection.

It was just a matter of time before delicious interplay led to the sleep maestro finding a foot in the D to bring up a Henley short corner. The crowd murmured in anticipation for the impending disappointment, Henley's short corner conversion rate this season is 0.00597%. A customary bobbling injection was expertly trapped by someone in a Henley shirt, Foster stepped through and delivered his iconic slower ball drag push which wrong footed the defence to seal a deserved 1-0 lead.

The ease with which Henley retained possession and quashed any attack from Hawks called from some in the crowd to whisper about potential match fixing. More ‘well good play’ as Geoff Walker would put it and Henley were again breaching the Hawks D and it was Foster once again, cleverly using the oppositions stick this time, to steer his pass into the Hawks net.

Half time was called, team talk delivered, few pints consumed and back to it.

Hawks decided to deploy two goal hangers in a tragic attempt to gain anything out of the game which Henley had to this point held 98% possession.
The Matrix glitched and suddenly the scoreboard read 2-2. The game was stopped for a lengthy VAR check and Stockley Park once again made glaring human errors and declared the score was correct.

Henley decided it would be best for the capacity crowd to win the game so set about opening Hawks up once again like a tin of beans. From back to front – front to back – back to front Henley strung together over 100 passes (opta data only available up to 100 passes per play). It was once again a majestic interpretation of the sport of hockey. Like a Swan Lake Grand Pas de Deux, it was Hetherington, to Riches, to Gupta, to Dyche, to Kyle, to Heaver, to Green, to Hot Hot, to Taylor, to Cam, to Mortimer, to Pete, to Foster, not to Geffo (because he was having beers with his mates) and finally the wilting Hawks defence were on their knees. Didcot sensation Jonny Taylor, in the 70th minute cooly top edges it into the Hawks goal.

Celebrations were raucous, spectators flooded the pitch, car horns in Henley town center sounded, the Matrix was back online.

But no? There was time for one final demonstration of the gulf in class. Hawks attempting to run the clock down to limit the embarrassment further, fizzy drinks dealer and Slough 5-aside manager Riches was having none of this and closed the space down quickly to put the game to bed. With that delivered a tackle as clean as a surgeon’s scalpel, as accurate as O’Sullivan on a 147 break and importantly without body contact, and Riches had whipped the ball away from the opposition player. The umpire was dumbfounded, much like in Semi Pro after Jackie Moon and Clarence link up for the first ever alley-oop, Father Pat whimsically blows the whistle in disbelief of the beauty of the challenge. Game ball called and Riches walks away with an early Valentine’s day card from the umpire.

Short break now for the heroes of Henley to recover ready for another run of winnable games.

Short story by; Anon Ymus

Match details

Match date

Sat 10 Feb 2024



Meet time




South Central Men's Premier Division 1

League position

Oxford Hawks 2
Team overview
Further reading

Team Sponsors

Men's 1st XI sponsor - Penny & Sinclair