2017 Tilburg International Veterans Hockey Tournament

The travel to Tilburg was probably the biggest factor in the Scottish Thistles results in the first two matches on the Friday. Those who travelled on the Thursday were seriously delayed by lightning strikes at Schiphol Airport and following that, lightning put out the power grid in certain areas on the rail network. We arrived quite late in Tilburg and the rest of the team travelling on the Friday almost didn't make it in time for the second game after a long delay at Edinburgh Airport and Chris Kalman's keeper kit being stuck in the baggage handling system. None of this helped our start. Those are the excuses for the first and second games. The reality was that we played with an Aussie goal keeper and two England players in the first game, but finished with ten men when Alan Parker injured both his back and knee 'after not having time to do a warm up'. The Dutch team which won the first game 5-0 went on to win in the final against the Dutch team which we played second, going down 2-0. The standard of hockey played by these guys was was superb and both teams beat England LX comfortably.

In spite of some intensive physiotherapy on Alan Parker, he was unable to take any further part in the tournament and reverted to the role of manager/non playing captain with the help of Tim Lorimer and Chris Kalman as on field organisers.

By Saturday morning, Scottish Thistles were starting to look like a team. Morale was really good and players seemed to be listening to what the 'management team' was telling them.

The performance against the Belgians Old Lions was better than the result, a 1-0 win for Old Lions, but but the signs were promising. The following game was against England LX and we knew we would be having a tough game. Although we lost 2-0 we gave them a really good open game, playing the ball out wide with pressure coming from George "Flying" Pickett on the left and a revitalised Duncan Mitchell on the right. We were getting there and Tim Lorimer and the other forwards were getting good chances at last.

George Pickett defending at a short corner from England LX

George Pickett runs out no. 1 at an England LX short corner

The final game of the second day was against another Dutch team, Voordaan, but we were now set up and ready. We beat them fairly easily 1-0 through a short corner goal by Tim Lorimer, and we were a team not to be messed with.

Tim has been a stalwart for Scottish Thistles, turning up as manager while he has been unable to play, and it is great to see him back on the field, and even greater to have someone who can put the ball in the net for Scottish Thistles in the Netherlands! Tim's goal in the sixth match of the 2017 tournament was the first Thistles goal scored in Tilburg, the 2016 side having failed to score any goals in their six matches. There was no stopping Thistles after that, and they found the net in each of the following two matches after their eleven match run without a goal.

Saturday evening was the main social event at the club house and the organisers helped work out transport back and forth. The most striking advance in our seniors Hockey was the camaraderie shown to us by the England LX team. John Howsham, from Housham LX Red has known Alan Parker for some time through our links with Doncaster Hockey Club and he is keen that we all get on better. He was really, and genuinely complimentary about the team and we agreed to share the Whisky and Bols that evening, which proved to be a real Dutch social occasion with lots of singing etc etc. Two of the England LX players have expressed an interest in joining Thistles, as they are between age groups and they like the sociability of the team.

Sunday morning saw our last league game against Italy. Tim and Alan considered setting up for defensive play, as the team we were playing were all considerably younger and mainly the Italian Over 60 international team. Anyway, we said what the hell and went for it, Tim Lorimer getting a fairly early goal from open play to put Thistles in front. Again, we kept the formation wide and attacking, and almost got two more, but, after a bit of a defensive mix up, Italy scored to give them a 1-1 draw.

The final play off was against the Dutch team Voordaan which Scottish Thistles had beaten the day before. This time they came at us from the start, but we held them off and did the 'round the side' play, setting up the forwards for another go. A powerful hit from Tim Lorimer was skilfully deflected into the Dutch net by "Flying" Pickett with his reverse stick at the far post. The game ended 1-1 with a team manager with no voice left. Alan expressed his sincere thanks to Chris Kalman and Tim for all their help on the field.

Hockey is a team game and 'Man of the Match' awards can make one guy feel great and the rest not so, but the whole team felt that George, the "Flying" Picket deserves an honourable mention. A German coach once lectured Alan about what makes a good hockey player, and what 'looks' like a good hockey player. George's reverse stick tackling looks really strange and potentially ineffective, but when Alan counted up the sheer number of interceptions he made during a couple of games, he was amazed at George's 90% score rate - not to mention scoring a great goal with the same technique. The whole team appreciated the sheer effort George put in and his effectiveness and improvement as the tournament progressed.

Report by Alan Parker


Brian de Mattos, Donald Dunbar, Ian Dunbar, Chris Kalman, Tim Lorimer, John Michalik, Duncan Mitchell, Alan Parker (Captain/Manager), George Pickett, Keith Raper, Murdoch Shirreffs, Tony Walker, Neil Ward.

Scottish Thistles Team Tilburg 2017


Saturday 24 June

10:00 Old Lions Maroije 1 Scottish Thistles 0

11:10 Dutch Beversluis 2 Scottish Thistles 0

15.20 Pitch Scottish Thistles 0 England LX Housham 2

16:30 Voordaan 0 Scottish Thistles 1 (Lorimer)

Friday 23 June

13:45 Dutch Sluiter 5 Scottish Thistles 0

16:20 Scottish Thistles 0 Dutch Ten Bruggencate 2

Sunday 25 June

10:00 Scottish Thistles 1 (Lorimer) Italy 1

14:15 Play Off Voordaan 1 Scottish Thistles 1 (Pickett)