The Hockey team at UEL has been through many years of hurt in the last couple of years. So when the final whistle went at Lee Valley last Wednesday, it came as a huge relief to our players – a 3-0 win over University College London gave us our first win in nearly two years.
Our team is a bit of a team of misfits with many players having never played hockey before they came to UEL, joining the team to try a different sport and for the social side. Our team includes a DJ, a triple-jumper, the Underground Bar manager and a few who fancy themselves as footballers.
The banter in the team is much like most hockey clubs across the country, with the traditional D*** of the Day award being given to one of our players after the game. I have only been given this once during my time at UEL after a particularly poor performance the day after Halloween where I was not feeling 100% for some reason.
Attracting new players to the team is a challenge. Often, we do not have enough players, leaving our current members of the team trying to persuade their mates to play. Often these potential future players have never hit a ball with a stick in their life.
I joined the team part-way through the season in my first year when I had the afternoon off. My then housemate Joe Nelmes who also played for the Old Loughtonians HC, said they were a man down. As I had a brief stint as a hockey player for Eastbourne College a few years back I thought ‘why not?’
My hockey career at UEL has not gone as well as I had hoped so far as we suffered relegation last season and often were on the end of a cricket score. It was devastating to return to campus and, with deep regret, having to admit our result.
People would come up to us and ask ‘why do you still play?’ and ‘what keeps you guys going?’ I guess that would be the closeness of the team with regular trips to the Goose for a few and a great attendance at TJ’s or the Underground Bar on a Wednesday night.
The Famous Day
This season in the league we have had two draws and last Wednesday came up against bottom-of-the-league Rums. We started the game well. However like always we did not make it easy for ourselves missing many chances to take the lead.
Our defence of Tim Li, John Binks and Elliot Taylor were resolute at the back and with Robert Clover, Isaac Charles and Josh Gwilliam controlling the midfield well. We had a record of three substitutes which was also a big boost for the team.
Our captain Isaac Charles finally managed to get the ball in with a great shot with the reverse side of his stick. The game continued to be frustrating for us as although we were playing good stuff we were still failing to kill the game for us by getting more goals.
In-form Gwilliam finally gave us a cushion with a great finish. Then we got a third as the two boys I had recruited (Ignacy Paprocki and Jordan Moule) from Futsal (the other sport I compete in), all linked up allowing me a simple finish to secure our historic win.
A few of us then had some well-deserved post-match pints and celebrated with a pub crawl all the way from Stratford and down to the Docklands Campus for the Wednesday night social. We hope we can build on from this win and there will be many more this season.
We are undefeated in the league and currently just two points behind lead leaders London City. This gives us a chance to redeem ourselves for our relegation last season and get back to where we belong.