An update from the men’s masters…
The Wales Men’s Grandmasters Dragons travelled to Lille last weekend for the 21st Tournoi Super Veterans Jacques Levy; an event Wales won from 2009 through to 2011 but has since been won by England LX with Wales often runners-up! The Welsh ‘scratch squad’ came together from all age groups including 7 x O60s, 5 x O65s, 1 x O70 and 1 x O75! By the end of the round robin stage, which was completed by Saturday evening, Wales were clear leaders of the table thanks to wins over Super-veterans France B, England LX, Scottish Thistles A and Scottish Thistles B; and a draw with France Superveterans A; all without conceding a goal!
Friday’s matches were played in warm sunshine but Saturday was extremely testing with temperatures below freezing and a bitter wind. With the bad weather conditions continuing, Sunday’s play-offs were cut back and the Dragons went straight into the final against old rivals, England LX.
The Dragons have so often come up short in this situation and any England team is at its most dangerous when its pride has been dented in the round robin stages. The Dragon’s situation was seemingly not helped when two players unavoidably had to leave before the final due to prior commitments but if anything this inspired the remaining 12 players. The Dragons came out playing attacking hockey, forcing England to play in their own half and make mistakes.
From one of these mistakes, Mark Dykes scored with a perfectly struck penalty corner goal and England were clearly rattled by the dangers posed by ‘Smokey’ Atwal, Mark Dykes and Peter Williams, all making penetrating runs from deep on both flanks. Welsh nerves settled when Lez Saker pounced on a loose ball in the circle to add the second and his first ever goal for a Welsh side. England LX stormed out of the blocks in the second half and put the Dragons under severe pressure but the defence held out and the Dragons had at last regained the trophy!
A special mention should be made of the remarkable way in which a scratch team from 4 age groups came together so quickly to play quality hockey, with such a strong team spirit! Playing throughout with a bad back was our 77 year old goalkeeper, Glyn Thomas; keeping a remarkable 6 clean sheets! A big thanks to our leading goal scorer Mark Dykes; and to physio Zena Clark for keeping us all in one piece for every game.
Over 60s – Lakbir ‘Smokey’ Atwal, Don Clark, Robin Davies, Mark Dykes, Huw Hampson-Jones, Stephen Howard, Nigel ‘Doc’ Wood,
Over 65s – David Assheton, Bob Preece, Jeff Robinson (Captain), Peter Williams, Antony Wyatt
Over 70s – Lez Saker
Over 75s – Glyn Thomas (Goalkeeper)
Physio – Zena Clark
Report by Jeff Robinson – Wales Men’s Masters