The weekend saw more success for the Lions who completed a league and Cup double at East Grinstead. The Cup competition took the format of a round robin with matches between Lewes Lions, St Francis and Horsham. In their opening game Lewes beat St Francis comfortably 4-0 with goals from Alex Cooke, Will Wycherley, Henry Parnell and Nick Cornish. Their final game against Horsham was a suitable finale to the season and the Cup competition to decide the winners. Both sides showed skill, commitment and hard work throughout. Lewes took and early lead through Josh Toynbee and in the second half Jack Meacher scored with a thunderous shot from the top of the circle. Horsham creditably fought back and scored late on to ensure a frantic finish with Lewes midfielder Rob Cope bravely blocking a penalty corner shot from Horsham in the final seconds to ensure victory 2-1. This was a fitting end to Manager Charlie Wycherley’s three year tenure of the Lions and the Club hope the nucleus of this side will work their way up the club in future years.
Written by Charlie Wycherley
If it is arrogant to say that I knew we would win then I am arrogant. This group of boys have grown up on a hockey pitch together, they like each other, support each other and will even tell each other off, not in an upsetting, agressive way but in a positive manner. This is because they are highly confident in each others ability and so in adversity they fight back knowing they can do it. If we are beating a team easily and I have to pull them off or change their positions they do it without question and I really believe that Lewes Hockey Club means an enormous to them. Respect is not easy to achieve from young, modern boys and we have it, so I hope the Club will now respect them….more later.
Michael Wood broke his wrist two weeks ago and was beyond gutted that he could not play, so he came along to support and warm the team up, huge respect for that. Ben Cooke had a knee injury. That aside with Will Wycherley back from a major knee scare we were strong. We did not play an adult. If we are to play senior hockey next year I felt we had to prove we did not need a crutch, but these boys were all bona fide Lions Hockey players who have only had a handful of senior games between them.
So weirdly a triangular tournament, the Cup (which was a shield) which was us and the Plate (which was a shield) which was the lower achieveing teams including East Grinstead (which wasn’t us!). The top brass of Sussex Hockey Assoc were there and full thanks after a little bullying from me to John Murphy for organising the tournament. Conspicuous by their absence however were the Junior Development hierarchy and their coaches. One would have thought that this was Sussex Junior Hockey on show and a chance to see boys that they were unaware of or who they had discarded in the past. Certainly on the day there were reputations shot to bits and others starred and it is astonishing that no one of any authority was there to see it.
Our first game was against St Francis who won the veterandivision and was our only loss this season in a friendly. Mark Butcher manages St Francis, and has done a superb job, but they were slow out of the blocks and we were not. Johnny Rea has a habit of pulling out a top game when it counts and so it proved. Think pass Johnny! James Heaton had a belter but it is difficult to single out because they are all at least 4th Team standard. Will Wycherley came on and immediately set up Alex Cooke to deflect in and soon after Alex turned his ankle, two Cookes spoiled in wrath! Again Wills combination with Nick Cornish tormented St Francis down the right and continually got round the back door. Wycherley after an amazing run got the second and Parnell from a Wycherley short corner slip with a fierce shot and deflection to put his name in the frame for top scorer . Garton, Tapping, Cope Kirwan, Fuller and Bridgeland all top quality defenders who in truth were not troubled. 3-0 at half time and St Francis rallied but only in defence and we missed a few but Nick Bacon and Dan Stokes put in great performances in midfield and Nick Cornish capped a fine show with the fourth goal, James Moorey having made a couple of good saves.
David Colbournes umpiring was strict and excellent and the boys saw the future, that they have to be a bit more accurate with some of their tackling.
Horsham beat St Francis 3-0 which made our fourth goal important and so the “final”. Horsham played an adult but their no.10 who I will nickname Fred Flintstone was arguably the best player on the pitch and such a nice humble nature with it! He was a real handful….and mouthful and so it was game on. In truth we struggled physically in a couple of areas on the pitch in the first hhalf but I always knew we would score although it was 0-0 at half time.
Again Wycherley & Cornish combined well in the first half and Dan Stokes, Harry Bridgeland and Nick Bacons workrate was key to keeping Horsham at bay. Then we pounced, Henry Parnell had a strong game just pipped always at the last minute but this time got in a shot and Josh Toynbee appeared at the far post to finish. Although Josh has football commitments I was thrilled for him and hope he sticks with his hockey. Then another well worked move and Jack Meacher at 13 years struck the shot of the tornament which may even have rocked the East Grinstead Clubhouse which was now closed!. Jack has scored many goals this year but you can put that one in your little box of memories, as the most crucial one to date Jack.
I kept my physically strongest side to lat and it was just as well because the red head Horsham defender started to pick us off and caveman Fred told us again how good he was. Ollie Tapping went into right back and shut the door, Harry and Pete Fuller kept cool heads. George Garton put in good tackles and Rob Cope showed his class particularly when it counted in the vlast ten minutes. Horsham scored and James Moorey made some spectacular saves. This 12 year old has played every week often not touching the ball but making breathtaking saves in training and so showed his talent in the showcase final. Well done!
Typically in my life nothing is easy and we gave away a short corner just as Colbourne was about to blow for full time. Even their goalkeeper came up but Rob Cope steamed out made the tackle hit the ball into row Z and the fat lady put in a rendition of “We are the champions”.
So back to the question I asked at Christmas. What do we do with this wonderful group of boys? Some have major school committments so you need to have someone to be very efficient and patient to accommodate but we would be mugs not to keep them together. If this is not the first team of Lewes in the near future then my uncle is named Bubbles, and if we don’t progress them then I will be moaning and groaning at the bar for many years to come. You have been warned!