South Indoor Finals Qualifying:
The Wessex Walruses March On
Indoor team qualify for the National League entry tournament against all the odds
The Sweaty Squad in their lovely new kit
After 2 training sessions with no boards or goals and a single practice match, it could be argued that the newly formed SUMHC indoor team could be better prepared for the National Indoor League preliminary qualifying round. To gain entry to the South Indoor Finals would mean finishing in the top 2 against 3 other teams who play at least 2 leagues above our 1XI in outdoor hockey, so we arrived before our first game with the lowest of expectations.
Our first game was against Trojans, who had beaten our old indoor side in their last ever match 3 years previously: That game had ended 19-1, so it is easy to see why the club then took a 36-month sabbatical from indoor hockey. If the warm-up was anything to go by, we looked like we might get spanked again.
In the absence of any warm-up routines, we tried to copy the drill that Trojans were doing (in an attempt to pass ourselves off as a well oiled indoor hockey machine). Rather than making us look less bad, this provided a very clear display to the onlooking Bournemouth and Woking teams as to who was the better side: it took us about 6 or 7 tries to complete all 3 passes and I'm not sure Marcus felt at all warmed up by the time we began.
Despite the shaky preparation, we started brightly and looked dangerous, even after they sneaked a breakaway goal for a1-0 lead. Late on in the first half, aged club veteran HBD continued his impressive scoring form to slot home and send us into half time tied up at 1-1.
Unfortunately, the class of the well-drilled, clinical Trojans team shone through as they came out swinging, notching up 4 short corner goals against a tiring Wessex defence. We walked off at Full Time, philosophical about our respectable play but knowing that we would likely have to win both of our remaining games to qualify.
Then came the breakthrough, from none other than club coach and former Wessex indoor captain Tim Claridge.
His wise words of tactical advice and box of glazed gingerbread made all the difference as we dismantled the Bournemouth team by 5 goals to 1, with Jesus and Dan Smith running riot through the middle. Our final game was directly after, and we knew that the winner of that game would advance to the coveted South Indoor Finals.
A nailbiting match ensued, in which a fatigued and injury-hit Wessex clung on to a slender 1-0 lead in an end to end encounter. Heroics from Marcus in goal and Pidge in defence kept our lead intact, and we sealed the deal with a second late on to send us to the finals, where we will play the likes of Fareham, Havant and Brighton & Hove, all of whom currently play in the second tier of Engish Hockey, some 6 leagues above us.