LUC Ronchin Tournoi Jacques Lévy

Lille, France Friday 16, Saturday 17 and Sunday 18 March 2018

This is an excellent, well run and sociable tournament in which Scottish Thistles have been regular participants, never finishing lower than fourth in the last six years. As with all Scottish Thistles events, everyone is guaranteed a fair share of pitch time.


Jacques Lévy Tournament 2018

Unfortunately, Egypt has been unable to send a team as they could not obtain visas, and the tournament has been re-drawn with a round robin on the first two days and two pools of 3 to decide the final standings on the third day.

For the first time, we entered two teams for the Jacques Lévy Tournament: Scottish Thistles Blue, captained by Derek Johnstone and Scottish Thistles White, captained by Tim Lorimer.


Scottish Thistles Blue

Derek Johnstone (cpt), Nigel Dixon (gk), Ian Downie, David Ballingall, John Bennett, Ian Pett, Murdoch Shirreffs, Ian McCreath, George Pickett, Dannie Onn, Gerry McBride, Kieran McLernan, Sandy Weir, John Candlin

Scottish Thistles White

Tim Lorimer (cpt), Dick Pearce (gk), Alan Parker, Mike McInally, Graham Conkie, Tony Walker, Neil Ward, Duncan Mitchell, Peter Klein, Peter Haines, John Smith, Donald Dunbar, Brian de Mattos, Keith Raper, John Sudale

Tournament Draw

There were six teams in the tournament: England LX, France A, France B, Scottish Thistles Blue, Scottish Thistles White and Welsh Dragons. They each played all the other teams in the round robin on the first two days. All teams played a total of six matches of two twenty minute halves.

Scottish Thistles White finished in sixth place in the group stage and the Blue team was fourth. Because of the weather conditions, the format of the final round was changed to allow matches to start later. Whites played France A for fifth place and Blues played France B for third. The final was between Welsh Dragons and England LX. A 1-0 loss saw Whites finish in 6th, while Blues avenged the defeat of the first day by winning 1-0 against France B to end the tournament in third. Welsh Dragons capped an unbeaten display by winning the final 2-0. Scottish Thistles performance at the dinner on the Saturday evening, when two thirds of the guests were from the Scottish party, won them the team of the tournament award.

Scotland LX Blue had a lot to do on the second day to make up for a lacklustre defeat by the French B side, after looking good but failing to score against France A. Both matches followed a similar pattern, Blues dominating the first half and creating numerous chances, though the level of domination in the second match was much less than in the first. The best chance against France A fell to Murdoch Shirreffs, whose reverse stick effort from close range was kept out by a great save by the French keeper. In the second match, the Scots scored early when Ian McCreath sent John Bennett's injection at a short corner back to him and John tucked the ball away to score Thistles' first goal of the tournament. The pattern in the second half of both games was again the same, this time because Scottish Thistles footered about with the ball, being caught in possession and unable to find a team mate with clearances. In both matches, the French drew encouragement from this, though there was never any question of the A side pulling back the deficit. France B made good use of the long ball, though the Scottish defence should not have allowed their forwards to pick the ball up. A short corner goal for the French with ten minutes to go changed the whole complexion of the match, and Blues roused themselves, playing some good, passing hockey. Suddenly, against the run of play, a long ball caught out the Scots, the forward playing it on to the defender's foot. A quickly taken free hit with seconds to go found a French forward in the circle and he put the ball away to win the match, leaving Scottish Thistles Blue wondering what had happened to them.

Scottish Thistles White had earlier played England LX in a one-sided match in which only the occasional Scottish breakaway threatened the English domination. The match was tied 0-0 for the first fifteen minutes, credit to a strong display by the Thistles defence, which made if very hard for their opponents to find any space in the circle. When a goal came, it was because the Scottish system broke down and all the defence clustered around the man with the ball. His cross found three English players all on their own in the circle, drawing lots as to who would put the ball into the net, and all the good work was undone. Another goal followed before half time and England LX netted their third, gaining three bonus points, in the second half to leave the score at 3-0.

The Whites had to wait till the last match of the first day before finishing their account, and were unlucky to lose to France A in a closely fought match in which the French scored a fortunate goal in the second half to thwart the Scots who deserved at least a draw out of the match.

The second day saw a change in the weather, a biting, easterly wind bringing flurries of snow and temperatures hovering around freezing. Blues played first against the so far undefeated Welsh Dragons side which contained a number of the current Wales Over 60 squad. The Welsh side made life difficult for Thistles by crowding the player on the ball, preventing them from moving the ball upfield, but the Scots should have taken the lead when Ian McCreath found himself one on one on the Welsh keeper Glyn Thomas, who was able to smother the Scottish striker's attempt to keep the score blank. Most of the match was played in midfield but Dragons took the lead when a run down the right wing and along the goal line produced a shot from the narrowest of angles which beat Nigel Dixon at his near post. There was not much between the teams but the Welsh scored again in the second half, once again from a run down the wing - left side this time - and a cut back which was despatched to put the Welsh side in a comfortable position. Blues upped their effort but found it had to break down a stubborn Dragons defence and the match ended 2-0 to the Welsh.

Scottish Thistles White started the second day with a match against the French B side. There was little between the sides but, as on the previous day, the French side claimed victory with a single goal which left them 1-0 winners.

Next up was the eagerly awaited clash between Scottish Thistles Blue and Scottish Thistles White. The White team took the game to their Blue opponents and could have opened the scoring if they had not been thwarted by a goal line clearance after a stramash which saw the ball heading past Blue keeper Nigel Dixon. Gradually, the Blue Thistles came into the game and they took the lead when Danny Onn, run down the right wing and cross into the centre found Derek Johnstone, who crashed the ball into the net past keeper Dick Pearce. The same player scored again after a fine passing move once more found him in the circle, and once again he made no mistake. Derek completed a fine hat trick by leaving Dick Pearce flat footed with a cute pass into the right corner of the net. The Whites continued to compete but the Blue defence became more and more dominant as their opponents tired. John Candlin's tricky running was causing all sorts of problems at the other end and he gained due reward when he scored a great solo goal after one of his mazy runs. Finally, Ian McCreath turned one of his many chances into a goal to finish the match 5-0 in favour of the Blues.

The Whites acquitted themselves well against the very strong Welsh Dragons team in their final group match, withstanding virtually constant pressure and going down by a single goal in a one-sided match.

Blues took on England LX in their last group match, going into the match with a real chance of taking second place; all they had to do was to beat the English. Unfortunately, that task proved beyond them, England LX scoring twice from breakaways to go two up before John Bennett clawed one back for the Scots when the ball was not cleared from a Scottish short corner. By that stage, England LX were visibly tiring but Thistles could not find the two goals they would have needed to move into second place, their opponents claiming a berth in the final against Welsh Dragons, who were a class above everyone else.

The third day began in sunshine, though the temperature was only just above freezing, and at times the Thistles White/France A match looked in doubt ss the snow began to fall. Fortunately it did not lie and eventually petered out, and the match was played to a finish. Whites came close to scoring what would have been their first and only goal of the tournament when a shot came back off the post, but the majority of possession was with the French, who scored the clinching goal to run out 1-0 victors.

Scottish Thistles Blue were in virtually complete command in their 3rd/4th place match against France B, and did not make the mistake of allowing their opponents time and space to mount any concerted attacks. A single goal, scored by John Candlin after a good run down the left and cross by Ian McCreath, was enough to see the Blue team through to third place with a 1-0 victory.