Boys Hockey

A celebration of hockey

At the start of the 2021 season, there was very little hope that any hockey would be played. The team of 2021 wondered if the curse of the pandemic would befall them as it did the team of 2020 but they clung on to the belief that they would run out in their beloved Blocks…. even if it was just for one match!

First, permission was granted for practices but no matches. Then a gap opened between the waves and the Woodridge Derby became a reality! The match was a celebration of hockey, as winning was the last thing on anybody’s mind. Just to be able to compete in a match was a surreal feeling and highlighted what we have always taken for granted – the joy of play. The team won the match 3-0 and feelings were supercharged. And then another wave hit!

A lifeline emerged in the form of the Eden Mens Hockey League as Government permitted senior leagues to continue without spectators. The team once again proved maturity beyond their years and made it to the finals of the Men’s League, this after beating the NMU students (now known as The Leopards) in a nail -biting semi-final. Old Oaks Men were and are always a tough nut to crack, especially on their home turf, as they are blessed with a large number of men who have played provincial hockey. We lost 3-1 which was not a fair reflection of how well the team played. The ghost of not taking your chances was once again our downfall. Sean Slater was awarded the Top Goal Scorer for the Mens League in 2021.

With the completion of the Eden Senior League, we thought that we could pack and just be happy with the 10 matches played but another spark of light came out of the darkness!! The Fairmont Hockey Tournament which was postponed three times during the course of the year, got the green light to go ahead in the October holidays. Should we go??? You bet your bottom dollar we will go!!

This was another great opportunity for the team to play hockey but more importantly it would give our matrics their final tour for the school. The tradition of handing out a special jersey to boys who have reached the milestone of 100 caps for the 1st team was destroyed by the pandemic but we could celebrate two matrics who earned their 50th caps for the team. Congratulations to Michael Engelbrecht and Andre Claassen for achieving this wonderful milestone. As far as the Tournament went, the team won the Bronze Medal match, walked away with four man of the match awards (Keane Grieve, Sean Slater, Eli Whittle and Liam Galvin) out of the five matches played and Sean Slater ended the Tournament as the Top Goal Scorer with 12 goals in 5 matches. More importantly the team played a brand of hockey which was commended by the commentators and teams they matched up against.

The season ended on a high note and it was special to see the transformation in every one of the players on that tour. If anybody had any doubts of the benefits of a team sport and sport in general with regards to the emotional, physical and psychological impact on young children all they had to do is go on tour with us. I would like to thank my wife, Marlene, who was the tour manager for both the boys’ and girls’ teams. They kept her very very busy and she drove the girls to Cape Town and back to George. This may sound trivial but I believe it’s in the top 10 most dangerous jobs in the world, especially on South African roads. We carry precious cargo and the responsibility is immense!

 

This is also the time we bid farewell to our matrics. Captain Liam, Khazi, Michael, Andre, Connor, Kieran H, Andrew and Kieran B – BOYS, thank you for the contribution to the York 1st Boys Hockey Team! We faced tragedy, challenges, running, winning, losing – we cried and we laughed – all of life’s wonderful experiences and I trust you enjoyed every minute of the journey. I hope you will never forget your time in The Blocks and you will cherish the memories made. Good luck for what is yet to come and you are now proud supporters of The Blocks family.

Congratulations to the Full and Half Colour award winners. My take on this is simple – I wish there were no awards to hand out as it is a TEAM EFFORT! Those boys who were awarded Colours would and could not achieve this without the entire team! TEAM ABOVE INDIVIDUAL. I am taking nothing away from the award winners – you deserve the recognition.

My sincere thanks go out to the parents for their unwavering support. The biggest punishment for a parent is not to be permitted to support your child next to the field and this was the case for over 19 months yet we felt your support from the other side of the fence or from the roof of a combi.

A big thank you to the SMT and Governing Body for supporting the decision to attend the Fairmont Hockey Tournament. It was the right decision and we appreciated being given the green light for the tour.

In closing, good luck to those few who remain behind to take up the torch handed over by the 2021 matrics and have the responsibility to guide The Blocks into 2022. There is no guarantee that every player who remains behind will make the team for 2022 as there are promising young players knocking on the door and are eager to don the beautiful two-toned Block jersey!

Bring on 2022!!!

JGS