European Grand Masters report from Jan.

European Grand Masters report from Jan.

By Barry Coe
6 July
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Jan and Mary in Belgium with England LX. Read on for full report.

19th – 29th JUNE 2019
Lots of catching up with friends, old and new, as players from across the UK found their way to the Tryp Hotel in Antwerp on Wednesday 19th June to play for LX.
The tournament included 35 national teams and 39 tournament trophy teams with 1500 players coaches and managers and officials involved in 200 matches in 10 days of competition. Mary Schwier and I were playing for England LX 65+ team and Sherry Shawcross (ex KHC player) was playing for the youngsters – the England LX 60+ team.
Games began the following day and both teams worked hard to get to know each other with the 60’s recording a useful 0 – 0 draw against Alliance 60’s whilst the 65’s had a hard-fought game against England 65’s losing by four goals to nil.
A day off on the Friday gave us the opportunity to explore the area. Some visiting the museums, monuments, attractions, architecture, markets and parks of Antwerp whilst others travelled further afield to visit Brussels, Bruges or Gent.
Saturday saw the 60’s take on the Netherlands and a very hard-fought game ended with a well-earned 1 – 1 draw. Unfortunately, the 65’s found themselves 3 goals down at the break in their game against the Alliance 65’s but in a determined second half performance managed to pull the score back to end up with a 3 – 3 draw.
Sunday saw a day off for the 60’s while the 65’s took on Alliance 60’s and we were very happy to settle for a 1 – 1 draw leaving it as usual until the final ¼ to equalise.
The following day both teams were in action with the 60’s recording a convincing 2 – 0 win over Alliance 65’s while the 65’s fought hard but eventually lost 2 – 0 to the USA 60’s team.
Two days off for both teams and the opportunity for further exploration of Belgium with our new friends. The chance to suss out new bars and restaurants and generally have fun.
At last, the big day arrived FINALS day.
The 65’s were on first playing Alliance 65’s and with temperature soring to 35 degrees plus extra drink breaks proved to be very helpful. 0 – 0 at full time resulted in the dreaded shuttle penalties and five very brave players stepped up to the mark. 0 – 0 after five penalties each and we were into sudden death. Unbelievable saves from our goal keeper Sue Bowen and a well taken shuttle from Sandra Collar secured gold for the team. Sandra and Sue were our two heroes of the day without any doubt whatsoever.
With four teams in their section our 60’s were drawn to play against Alliance 60’s for the bronze medal position. Excellent play saw LX with greater possession and they pushed forward creating chances with many penetrations into the Alliance “D” With so many chances it seemed only a matter of time before a goal was scored and sure enough Lee Edmond-Ward aka Skip latched onto a great cross into the “D” and fired home giving the keeper no chance to save the shot. Good defensive work denied Alliance the equaliser and the team came away with a well-earned Bronze medal.
It was a great 10 days and I would just say to our youngsters – keep on playing and who knows where it will lead you.

LX stands for 60 (not extra-large !!) and is a side selected from players across the UK and is recognised by England Hockey as an England 2nd team or touring side.
Alliance draws in players from across the world and plays in many tournaments throughout the year.

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