Last weekend was another good one for the club with twelve wins from seventeen matches plus a highly successful social event but I am beginning this week’s column with the Men’s 1sts who didn’t win. This is bound to strike the team as ironic as I have not headlined them during their splendid run of six successive wins and I do so now after their last gasp home 4-4 draw with Bedford. Such is life!

During the six games they scored a remarkable 36 goals and in their eleven games to-date they are East Premier ‘A’ top goal scorers with 51 from 11 games. But the other column doesn’t read so well with 27 against and if one member is to be believed (there some egos in the team!) the reason is solely due to him being moved to another position! Both these aspects of their play were highlighted against a very lively Bedford team but despite having less possession than their opponents, for whom former England U21 international David Appleton played well in midfield, Magpies were 2-0 up (Richard Larkin with his third goal in three games plus a rocket shot on the turn into the top right by the in-form Jack Knight) and 3-1 up (Archie Winter with the third) victory was in prospect after fifteen minutes of the second half. But things changed after a couple of errors in defence and with the Bedford penalty corner routine working well Magpies were soon 4-3 down and facing defeat for the first time since early October. With the remaining seconds ticking away Magpies won two penalty corners with the second leading to a penalty stroke. The umpires then consulted (purely to appease the protesting Bedford players?) and with the whistle blown for full time player-coach Ben Wright stepped forward to calmly despatch the ball into the net for his twentieth goal of the season. This coming Saturday fourth-placed Magpies are at home to second-placed St Albans (2.00) in their first game of the second half of the season and their last before the indoor break and they will be looking to make up for the 4-1 defeat they suffered in the reverse fixture way back in the middle of September.

AUCTION OF PROMISES Saturday 4 March 2017. Please put the date in your diary! Twelve ‘Promises’ have already been gratefully received – please see the club’s website for more information and for full details of the event including how to offer ‘Promises’ or items for auction! This is the club’s major fund raising event of the season and provides an opportunity for everyone to make a contribution by offering Lots and/or attending the evening to make bids.

The Ladies’ 7ths got Saturday off to a good start at Weybread with a 2-1 win over Norwich Dragons 7ths with goals by Shirley McAllen and Evie Tibbenham with the visitors’ goal coming late in the game. Meanwhile the Boys’ Development were returning to form beating Norwich Dragons ‘B’ 7-0 with six of their goals coming in the last quarter with Sam Emms moving into the forward line and creating chances for his team-mates. Sam scored twice with the other goals coming from Joe Wicks, Ben Emms, Ollie Currie, Matty Nesling and Archie Derbyshire. Over on the sand-based, while the Men’s 1sts were battling it out with Bedford, the Ladies’ 2nds were returning to winning ways edging past St Ives by two goals to one to move into second place in their league. Sarah Legg, promoted from the 3rds – after their game away to Ipswich 2nds was frosted off – put them ahead in the first half after good work by Lucy Field before Laura Tibbenham, who was still struggling with injury, added the second with her twelfth goal of the season. Kath Johnson and goalkeeper Holly Riches were in good form at the back for Magpies. St Ives hit back to make the closing minutes a little nervy for the home team who this Saturday entertain third-placed Dereham (12.00) who beat them 4-3 on the opening day of the season with a very late goal. With coach Sam Teal absent co-captain Plum Sweet has asked me to thank 1st team coach Rob Sorrell and “Mr Woolly” for running the bench. It was good to see David Brook at the game following very encouraging news regarding his treatment.

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Next into home action were the Ladies’ 1sts looking to put behind them their narrow defeat away to Wimbledon when they took on struggling West Herts whom they beat 5-2 away on the opening day of the season. For the first twenty minutes there was not much to choose between the teams before Annie Nunn, who is enjoying an excellent season on her return to the club, put Magpies ahead at a penalty corner. Tor Findlay soon added a second and on the cusp of half time Maria Andrews picked the ball up some twenty yards outside the circle before powering a reverse stick shot high past the goalkeeper. Lucy Whiting added a fourth before Tor and Maria (making her the league’s leading scorer with eleven) scored again to make it 6-0 to Magpies who go into their indoor season (beginning in mid-December) in a very satisfactory third place behind leaders Wimbledon and second-placed Sevenoaks. My MOTM was captain Lucy Belsey for another very sound overall performance.

In other home games there were wins for the Men’s 4ths, the Men’s 6ths and for the Boys’ Development and a narrow defeat for the Ladies’ 6ths. The Men’s 4ths conceded the opening goal to Pelicans 3rds before Kieran Peters equalised before half time. After the break Alex Kilbourn and Lewis Belsey (with his first goal of the season in only his fourth game due to work commitments) put Magpies 3-1 ahead and Saul Wells scored their fourth between goals by the Kings Lynn team. With captain Eric Davy playing for the 5ths at Ipswich the captaincy of the Men’s 6ths was in the safe hands of Ross Carter and he led the team to their first win of the season when they beat high flying Thetford Town 2-1 with goals by Simon Bardwell (yes!) and a second half winner by David Johnson. After the game Ross said he was doing a Sam Allardyce and resigning after just one game in charge! Meanwhile the Ladies’ 6ths had a 2-1 defeat at the hands of North Norfolk 2nds with their equalising goal coming from First Thepcharoen before North Norfolk regained the lead.

FUN CASINO EVENING It is a big ‘thank you’ to the 105 members and friends of the club who attended this event last Saturday and who helped to make it so enjoyable. The club’s thanks are also due to the organising committee under the chairmanship of Joe Cooksey and to our hosts the Taylor family for providing such a splendid setting for the event and for all their hard work before, during and after the evening. For the record the overall winner with the most ‘money’ won was Jon Aldridge – a winner at roulette and hockey! Well done Jon!

Away from home there was mixed fortune for our teams. The Men’s 2nds had the deep frustration of losing 2-1 to promotion seeking Wapping 2nds who converted a penalty corner with the last hit of the game after Duncan Steven had scored a twelfth minute equaliser for Magpies. On Saturday the team are away to Blueharts 2nds where a win would be a big boost to their hopes of avoiding relegation in a league where four teams drop down. The Ladies’ 4ths beat UEA 2nds 2-0 with two goals by Imi Meynell-Anderson and the Ladies’ 5ths had a 6-2 win over UEA 3rds. Captain Jose Tibbenham and Georgie Gardens put them two ahead before the students pulled a goal back. Georgie then made it 3-1 at half time before Jose scored again. After a second UEA goal Janna Freeman scored twice to round off a convincing win by her team.

The Men’s 5ths were up against a vastly more experienced Ipswich 3rds (who look certain to deservedly win the league with ease) and their cause in their 12-0 defeat was not helped by James Smith having to go off in the first half with a hamstring problem. They were reduced to ten players when Jude Pottruff had to leave the pitch due to injury with twenty minute still on the clock. There were no such problems for the Girls’ Development who eased to a 6-0 win over Dereham. In a good team performance, with all members playing their role, Anna Cogdell scored the first goal with the other five coming from Emma Williamson. The team, who have still to concede a goal this season, are at home to Norwich City on Saturday (10.15). All good runs in sport come to an end eventually and so it was that the Men’s 3rds, after ten successive wins, lost 6-1 against Newmarket and the defeat was in no way due to a lack of effort. 2-1 down with their goal scored by Tom Norton, Magpies were still in the game but a quick double by the home side decided the issue. Tom, Rob Neal, David Cadman and Ben Kilburn all promoted from the 4ths grew into the game to win praise from captain Matt Brand.

Last Sunday the Men’s O50s and Ladies’ O35s both made progress in their England Hockey events with good away wins. The Men won through to the quarter-finals of the Cup (against Cambridge City or Canterbury at home on Sunday 19 February) with a hard-earned 3-1 win over City of Peterborough. The home side opened the scoring midway through the first half but Magpies were soon level when Roger Kent deflected in a shot by Jon Aldridge. Soon afterwards Phil Cobbald put Magpies ahead at a penalty corner and early in the second half Roger scored again when he very skilfully went round the goalkeeper when put through by Phil who then went off with an injury. Magpies spent most of the rest of the game battling hard to keep the Peterborough forwards at bay which they did despite Clyde Camburn taking a nasty blow on a thumb. Fortunately it is not broken as first feared.

Meanwhile the Ladies progressed through to the 4th round of the Trophy beating Norwich Dragons 4-0 with first half goals by Anouska Stott (3) and Lucy Field. Magpies continued to press forward in the second half but were unable to convert a series of penalty corners and open play chances due to numerous outstanding saves by Dragons’ and former Magpies’ goalkeeper Kate Bond.

Last night at the UEA the U18 Girls edged past Norwich Dragons 4-3 to win the Norfolk Indoor Championship thereby qualifying for the East finals. The event was reduced to just two teams with the withdrawal of Norwich City after late call-offs. Alice Woollatt gave Magpies a first minute lead but by half time they were 3-1 down and heading for defeat. Whatever coach Rob Sorrell said during the break worked as they came out for the second half looking a much better team. Charlotte Seaman reduced the arrears before Alice scored another two goals to give her team their narrow win but only after they survived a last second penalty stroke.

Good luck to all our teams this weekend including on Sunday the Men’s O40s in EH Cup Round 3 action away to Luton Town (1.30) at Challney Girls School, Addington Way, Luton, LU4 9FJ. Please see the website for the full list of fixtures.

With kind regards
Mike Denham
[email protected]