- 12 Mar, 2020
U14 Girls - Latest News
EH Junior Championships 2019 / 20
Girls U14s Tier 2 – Division 10
Matches 3 and 4 – hosted by Richmond HC, Sunday 8th March 2020
Before 6:10am, almost all of the Rathbone Jersey Hockey’s U14s Girls travelling squad were sitting and chatting calmly in their seats inside the airport departure’s hall, and by 6:15am everyone was in place. That’s impressive taxi duty by the parents and guardians to jump (or is that slump tiredly) out of bed so early on a Sunday morning to drop off their young charges in such good time.
Contrary to last December’s trip, the girls oozed an atmosphere of “been here, seen it, done it” and the procession through security was about as seamless and uneventful as it could be. Except for a tiny bit of amusement when Grace unintentionally set off the alarms to receive a brief search [and what fun...she did the same on the way back from Gatwick).
Naturally, no incriminating evidence of any sort was found.
Those not in the know would wonder why to search a 13 year-old girl travelling with friends all dressed in sportswear. To those in the know however, this was a different story. Grace had amusingly (? depends how old you are I suppose) decided to put her tracksuit over her pyjamas to come to the airport and we all know that security machines detect pyjamas under tracksuits as a significant terrorism threat. Beeps , alarms and searches are inevitable.
With the minor sideshow over, the girls stocked up with goodies purchased from the shop – juices, sweets, healthy stuff, unhealthy stuff and a bit more unhealthy stuff on top for good measure – and it wasn’t long before the group were all swept up into the enclosed aluminium tube that was our aircraft and sent away to Gatwick. It felt like the day was going to be blessed with fairly pleasant weather too. Sunshine, a low breeze and relatively warm.
The Rathbones U14 Girl's Hockey Squad at Gatwick
Arrival at Gatwick was standard. Various rounds of traipsing between buildings, buses and more buildings followed by loo stops and grabbing our two travelling bags – Chloe’s Goalie bag and the “stick bag”. A note now to praise Duncan (Mia’s dad) here... he didn’t seem to mind dragging this stick bag around for us throughout the day. 12 hockey sticks, a large bag of hockey balls, face masks, a first aid kit with obligatory ice packs, bibs, shirts and socks. Thanks Duncan. We’ll see next season (all things being equal) if he suspiciously becomes unavailable for these trips to determine if he really didn’t mind, or in fact there was a lot of smiling through gritted teeth ;)
Once again with the ever-present doffed hat to Sarah Heelis’s fantastic organisation of our trip, and after the girls had re-stocked with goods foul and fair at the M&S in arrivals, the group made its way to the mini- bus pickup point. I don’t know where the driver was hiding, but he was worth his weight in gold by swishing the bus into place just as we reached the stop. No waiting, and contrary to popular myth two more buses did not actually arrive at the same time either.
Then we were off – the “back of the bus“ still being the most desirable place to be for an u14 girl. Interestingly this time the girls had conspired to bring a speaker on the journey, out of which various songs, tunes and noises blasted. I think the travelling adults were more than happy with it though. Neil even thought at least one of those tunes had to be added to his own playlist in due course, but kept it pretty quiet in case it would be taken as uncool for the young lady in charge of the blasting. One has to be aware of these things....
This time the venue was at the University Sports Ground, Chiswick. Richmond’s home ground and about 45 miles or so away from the airport. Close to Twickenham in fact.
It was slightly tricky to work out what was where when we arrived. An enormous building/ indoor sports facility loomed high and concrete grey, with a promise of it holding some pleasant café or seating options within. No chance. Like ants on a trail, we ended up at the hockey pitch where an extremely helpful Richmond coach (in fact the coach of the Richmond team we were playing later) set us right about where we were to go and where we weren’t. Needless to say, the changing rooms and the Richmond clubhouse were a good trek back and around the sports grounds, and the huge grey building nearby was in fact a private health club and presumably open only to those from a certain demographic. C’est la vie.
Once the girls had been allocated a changing room (by allocated I actually mean they detected and snaffled the most pleasantly appropriated changing room for themselves), blasted out some more tunes at monumental decibels, changed into their playing shirts and after packing up they headed back over to the pitch.
First up, Richmond played Teddington. The opportunity to observe the two teams as they played to see what the girls may need to be wary of for their matches afterwards was taken. Sadly for Teddington, they were dismantled 5-1 by Richmond. The problem there was Richmond’s counter-attack was rapid and very effective, with three big strong forwards who knew what to do. Teddington’s defence was AWOL far too often. 5-1 was a fair score. Food for thought.
Just before that match ended, dark grey clouds drifted over the pitch. Sunshine disappeared. Miserable, and for a brief time heavy, rain splashed down and the shelterless Jersey team ended up cold and wet. [That’s more like it. Since when was it suitable to play hockey in pleasant conditions. “They” even build astro-turf pitches in windswept and exposed locations on purpose to ensure minimum comfort]
The two EH cup matches followed, the first against Teddington and the second about 40 minutes after against hosts Richmond. Both matches were well fought affairs between teams that utilised speed, skill, presence and strength to try to win through. Both Teddington and Richmond had beaten the two teams Jersey had played back in December, and had beaten them quite comfortably. It wasn’t going to be easy at all.
Teddington 2, Rathbones Jersey 1
After their heavy loss earlier there was a good chance that Teddington may have lost morale and been much easier to defeat. In reality, this match was the hardest of the two. The Teddington team chased and pressed relentlessly when Jersey had the ball. Due to that, the girls were caught quickly and too often had to rush their individual play which resulted in rather too many misplaced or intercepted passes and turnovers.
But that’s to be a little too picky. Actually, after the first 10 minutes Jersey were somehow still on 0-0, after at least 2 golden and 1 “that was harder to miss than score” platinum chances were not taken. We could have been 3-0 up and what a different complexion that would have placed on the rest of the match. Teddington, presumably sensing they had better buck up their ideas really started to find their flow and they attacked and attacked for the rest of the half with 10 minutes of persistent pressure applied onto the Jersey lines. Inevitably they managed to grab a very well worked and deserved goal with the ball being swept into the bottom left corner from a flowing counter-attack up the pitch, having spent so long pushing the Jersey team deeper and deeper back into their own half.
After half time, the girls regained their shape and it was a more even affair although with Teddington having the greater share of possession. One of the many terrific points about our Jersey team is that as individuals and as a team they do not give up. It was with this spirit they fashioned up a wonderful goal. Having won the ball at left back, it was passed quickly up along the line up through midfield, passed across to the right hand side, driven along the opposition baseline into the far right of their D and passed across to the waiting Ava, who makes a habit of getting to the correct position in the D to pounce. Which she did, clipping the ball into the net from close range. 1-1.
After more to and fro, and with about 2 minutes left, the ball bounced around and deflected off numerous sticks in the Jersey D and somehow managed to end up at the stick of the Teddington captain. She made no mistake with her shot from about 10 yards. So the match ended 2-1 to them after Jersey could not find an equaliser in those dying seconds.
Rathbones Jersey 2, Richmond 2
Richmond started the match on a high. They had resoundingly beaten Teddington a little earlier in the day and thought Jersey were going to be easy prey. How wrong they were. The Jersey girls played very well indeed, full of energy and making great passes and driving runs, backed up with excellent defending all round. And a spot of luck here and there helped too of course.
It was maybe 15 minutes into the first half of good play and after a couple of chanceless short corners were awarded, a third short corner was given. Option C (direct slip) straight from our training ground was used resulting in Chloe powerfully pushing the ball into the right side of the goal across the Goalie’s front to give Jersey a 1-0 lead.
Come the second half, it was immediately apparent the Richmond coach had vented his annoyance with his team being one goal behind and they started the second half with an incredible playing aggression and drive. Jersey were on the back-foot chasing shadows for 5 minutes without a break. Once again our defending was superb but it couldn’t last forever and Richmond managed to finally create an overload and scored the equaliser they wanted. More Richmond pressure resulted and arguably it was inevitable they would get a second goal, which they did. 2-1 to them.
Action shots of Teddington v Jersey
That’s not to say Jersey didn’t fashion opportunities too with numerous pressing runs into the Richmond D and half-chances created but sadly the ball wouldn’t cross the Richmond goal line. It was after one such foray though that a short corner was awarded to Jersey after the ball hit a defender’s foot in the D. This time option A straight off the training ground was used - a direct hit from the top of the D – with Analise first controlling the push-in and then crashing the ball into the bottom left corner of the Richmond goal with an unstoppable strike. 2-2.
The final few minutes saw our girls continue the battle, with neither team making any inroads and so the match ended in a draw. A fair result in reality, and one that perhaps might have been unexpected if the days earlier results were anything to go by.
The Rathbones U14 Girl's Hockey Squad before the final match in a brief moment of sunshine.
Matches over, the group hot-footed over the muddy fields to the clubhouse to delve into chips and a shredded pork burger. More chips than burgers were eaten unsurprisingly. Due to warnings of delays for Southbound travel to Gatwick due to the M23 South being completely shut all weekend, we couldn’t stay long and by 4:40pm we were back on the mini-bus and off to the airport.
Thankfully delays were minimal, and we reached Gatwick in good time to check in the large bags, head through security (which was unusually quiet) and make base on the upper floor in the departures lounge. The girls used their last 30 minutes to do shopping (I reckon Starbucks ran out of Frappucino cream after the girls had descended) and more chatting.
Notwithstanding minimal delays, there was more than enough time on the bus for the girls to nominate their “player of the day” and their “donut of the day”. Leaving out who won the donut award under the long-standing rule of “what happens on tour stays on tour” the player of the day, with a fairly sizeable majority, was given to Olivia. Can’t argue with that.
In reality every girl played well. Special mention to Chloe C, who is an outfield player in our u14 squad but stood in as our GoalKeeper brilliantly for the day. She saved all the saveable attempts, kicked the ball out of harms way with power and direction and was so confident in what she did. Then the rest of the main defensive unit... Daisy, Phoebe, Mia, Isabelle and Analise. They were epic, contending with aggressive players, dealing with through balls, driving runs and crosses with composure and skill with no quarter given.
It stands to reason that our main attacking unit with forwards Ava and Lottie and midfielders Chloe L, Grace, Holly, Lucy and Olivia fashioned attack after attack, sometimes trying direct and skilful runs, other times employing strong and accurate passing all to get the ball into the opposition D. Pace, energy, drive and determination the order of the day on which they delivered.
All we missed as a team was more converted chances !
After shopping (for the girls) and finishing off their coffee and tea (for the adults), the group made its way to the departure gate and shortly after were back in the aluminium tube and flying to Jersey.
It perhaps should be noted that JHA coach assistant, Caroline, had to contend with noxious fumes (atmospheric ooze) of a different nature for the second u14 trip in a row. No more shall be written about that, but I sure hope it doesn’t stop Caroline attending trips in the future...
Arrival in Jersey was also without issue and the girls quickly picked up their sticks , passport/id and rushed out of the hall to meet parents and guardians and head home for a much needed full night’s sleep.
Jersey Hockey is generously supported by Rathbones
Rathbones Jersey Girls U14s Squad to Richmond, 2019/2020:
Chloe Cutting (GK)
Ava Le Cornu
Analise Merritt (c)
Lead Coach, Neil Merritt’s comments
This was going to be a challenging couple of games based on earlier results in the division. The girls knew the situation, and such was their confidence in themselves and their teammates they remained unflappable and in both games they really did themselves proud. They continued to play in the fashion that had been asked of them right at the start of the season – fast with quick transition- and held their own against girls from what are long standing and well-known English Hockey Clubs. The only negative was we just couldn’t get the ball into the opposition goal often enough to win the day.