Scottish Thistles Jersey Tour 9-11 May 2014

Socially, the tour was a great success, due in no small part to Tim Pollard, who took care of all the restaurant bookings, organised the pitches, and was on hand at all times to make sure everything went smoothly. Tim gallantly agreed to allow one of our three goalkeepers to take his place in the Jersey Hockey Club team and so did not have a game all weekend. Chapeau, Tim! David Ballingall helped out by arranging players for the opposition sides (and ringers for the English) and also turned out for Scottish Thistles on the Sunday

Friday 9 May was Liberation Day in Jersey, the 69th anniversary of the liberation of the island from German occupation, and many of the party attended the Liberation Day celebrations, including Peter Gordon's father, Arthur, who had an honoured place among the guests, and Kieran McLernan, who blagged his way into the guest seating courtesy of his Scottish Veterans rain jacket.

We played Old Victorians on Saturday 10 May at 16:00, and England LX the following day at 10:30 at Les Quennevais Park. Before the matches began, we knew that we were without Alan Bain who was still recovering from a hamstring injury in the Celtic Cup two weeks before. The hockey was not to turn out as sucessful as the rest of the trip, both matches ending in a 3-0 score for the opposition.

The goalkeepers drew lots and Dick Pearce won a place in the Jersey Hockey Club team which defeated England LX 4-1 on Saturday 10 May. Scottish Thistles, with George Black in goal, made a faltering start to their Jersey tour against a much younger local side, Old Victorians, which included two ladies and one youngster. Old Victorians started on the front foot, using their superior speed to flood down the middle and put pressure on the Scottish defenders, and with only three minutes on the clock they had a penalty when a net bound shot hit Ian Dunbar. The stroke was too close to keeper Black, who had an easy task to keep the scores level. The Jersey side soon changed that with two goals from penalty corners, Thistles replying with a couple of unsuccessful corners at the other end. The Scots reorganised at half time, tightening up the defence at the cost of starving the forwards of the ball, but lost a further goal when one of the very skilful ladies had a strong run fown the left wing, beating her opponent for speed, before slipping the ball in at Black's near post. Final score 3-0 to Old Victorians.

Scottish Thistles failed to get out of bed on Sunday 11 May after an excellent dinner the night before. A leg injury suffered by McNab had worsened overnight and he was unable to take the field, but Ballingall stepped in to his place in midfield. Leighton took his turn in goal. England LX were bolstered by the addition of the son of their captain and a number of younger, local players, including only one lady this time. Thistles, once more playing an attacking 3-4-3 formation, failed to implement it properly, the defence having a hard time of it as their opponents' midfielders again and again broke through the flat Scotish four. Within ten minutes, the English were two up, first from a stramash after a short corner shot was not promptly cleared and then from a move which saw an English attacker free on the left hand side of the circle, from where he was able to draw keeper Leighton into diving before looping the ball over him. Scotish Thistles then began to play themslves back into the game, winning a couple of short corners, but players constantly made the wrong decisions, were caught in possession or lost control of the ball and the English defence was rarely in any danger. Once more, the Scots lost a goal to a lady player, the English right winger losing her marker and hitting an accurate shot across Leighton inside his right hand post. After this, Thistles changed to a diamond formation in midfield to give their beleagured defence some support, and largely nullified their opponents. This continued in the goalless second half, though the new formation led to the Scots playing in only the middle three channels where the English were strong. Gordon had a couple of shots from short corners, one ending up over the line, but both were too high and were blown up. Sporadic English raids continued and only a good save by Leighton and some last ditch tackles from the Thistles defence prevented England LX from running up a higher total. The match finished 3-0 to England LX.

Squad and Partners

Alan and Pam Auld
Alan Bain and Christine Lambert
George and Ann Black
Alex and Pauline Cathro
Ian and Catherine Downie
Donald Dunbar
Ian Dunbar
Colin and Jenny Gallacher
Arthur Gordon
Peter and Linda Gordon
Guy and Margaret Leighton
Kieran and Joan McLernan
Alastair and Hilary McNab
Doug and Joan Morrice
Alan and Jackie Parker
Dick and Eileen Pearce
Sandy and Jean Weir

Alan Bain had call off playing after picking up a hamstring injury in the Celtic Cup, John Smith came over from Guernsey and played on Saturday 10 May and local resident David Ballingall played for Thistles on Sunday 11 May.

Social Programme

Friday 9 May was Liberation Day on the island and there were many events taking place that day.

Friday evening - dinner at Hotel Ommaroo, St Helier.

Saturday evening - dinner at the Moorings Restaurant, Gorey - transport by bus

Sunday evening - social buffet in the Hotel de France