LUC Ronchin Tournoi Jacques Lévy
Lille, France Friday 15, Saturday 16 and Sunday 17 March 2019
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, though in 2018 we sent two teams and only one finished in the top four. As with all Scottish Thistles events, everyone was guaranteed a fair share of pitch time.
Once again, we had two teams competing, Scottish Thistles Blue and Scottish Thistles White. The White team had a lower average age than the Blue team and that was reflected in their finishing positions, Whites narrowly missing out on winning the tournament, going down 3-2 on penalties after drawing 0-0 with the holders, Welsh Dragons, and having beated England LX in the semi final. Blues were unlucky to miss out on the 5-6 play off but a convincing win against Alliance in the final game gave them seventh place and reason to go home happy.
Eight teams took part, playing in two pools:
Pool A: France A, France C, Scottish Thistles White, Welsh Dragons
Pool B: Alliance, France B, England LX, Scottish Thistles B
Each match was played in two halves of 15 minutes. There were three points for a win, two for a draw and one for a defeat, with an additional point for each goal scored up to three.
Each team played three pool matches on Friday afternoon/evening and Saturday morning before quarter finals A1-B4, A2-B3, A3-B2 and A4 B1. The winners of the quarter finals played off for positions 1-4 with semi finals and finals, and the losers played off for positions 5-8 with the same format. All teams therefore played a total of six matches.
Scottish Thistles Blue (15)
Peter Burns (C), Rob Campbell, Graham Conkie, John Connaghan, Ian Downie, Peter Haines, Chris Heeps, Tim Lorimer, Mike McInally, Dick Pearce, Martin Petty, Keith Raper, Murdoch Shirreffs, Tony Walker. Peter Klein was injured and could not play.
Scottish Thistles White (15)
Brian de Mattos, Graham Dick, Paul Docherty, Gurdial Duhre, Donald Dunbar, Chris Kalman, Alan Kerr, Ian McCreath (C), Clifford Martin, John Michalik, Duncan Mitchell, Alan Murray, Dannie Onn, Alan Parker, Ian Pett
Mairi de Mattos, Linda Docherty, Catherine Downie, Eileen Pearce and Jackie Parker were there as cheerleaders. There was a visit to the Palais Beaux-Arts in Lille on Saturday 16 March.
Friday 15 March
|Time||Team 1||Team 2|
|13:30||France A||0-1||Scottish Thistles W|
|14:15||Welsh Dragons||2-1||France C|
|15:00||England LX||5-1||Scottish Thistles B|
|16:30||France A||0-3||Welsh Dragons|
|17:15||Scottish Thistles W||2-0||France C|
|18:00||France B||1-2||England LX|
|18:45||Scottish Thistles B||0-0||Alliance|
|Scottish Thistles W||9||2|
|Scottish Thistles B||5||3|
Saturday 16 March
|09:00||France A||2-1||France C|
|9 45||Welsh Dragons||1-1||Scottish Thistles W|
|11:15||France B||1-0||Scottish Thistles B|
|QF2||Scottish Thistles White||2-0||Scottish Thistles Blue|
|QF3||France A||4-3||France B|
|QF4||France C||0-2||England LX|
|1-4SF1||Welsh Dragons||1-0||France B|
|5-8SF2||Scottish Thistles Blue||0-1||France C|
|1-4SF1||England LX||0-1||Scottish Thistles White|
Sunday 17 March
|Places 7-8||Alliance||0-2||Scottish Thistles B|
|Places 5-6||France B||5-0||France C|
|Places 3-4||France A||0-1||England LX|
|Final||Welsh Dragons||0-0*||Scottish Thistles W|
|Welsh Dragons won 3-2 on penalties|
France A 0 Thistles White 1 (Martin)
In a keenly contested match in which Whites always had the upper hand, it took until the final minutes for the deadlock to be broken. The French keeper was on top form and looked to be unbeatable but the Scots finally scored when the keeper saved a shot from a short corner and Cliff Martin was on hand to scramble the ball over the line for victory.
France C 0 Thistles White 2 (Parker, Duhre)
The second match of the day against a French side was a much more one-sided affair, Thistles having the lions share of possession. As the game went on, the worry was that they would not break down the French defence as chance after chance went a-begging. Alan Parker calmed the nerves when a rebound off the keeper's pads found him all alone on the left of the circle, and he slammed the ball into the net to put Whites one up. The second half continued as the first, with Gurdial Duhre's strong running threatening to bring more goals, but he was thwarted more than once by last ditch French tackles. It looked as if the same had happened again when he was tackled at the top of the circle, but Gurdial managed to recover the ball and put the result beyond doubt.
Thistles White 1 (Duhre) Welsh Dragons 1
With the Welsh also having won their first two matches, this was the decider for the pool positions. The Welsh took the lead through a penalty and held on grimly in the second half against a barrage of Scottish attacks. Finally Gurdial Duhre ended one of his strong runs with a goal to restore parity, but the Scots could not find the second goal which would have given them first place in the pool, and they finished second.
England LX 5 Thistles Blue 1 (Connaghan)
The Blue team was hampered by the non arrival of Murdoch Sherriffs whose satnav had let him down, and by the non-appearance of Peter Klein who was suffering from an achilles injury. They started the match playing with confidence and looked comfortable for the first few minutes. However, the odd misplaced pass and fumble started to appear and the English side were quick to take advantage, running in three goals in quick succession, each after a mistake from Thistles had gifted them the opportunity. John Connaghan brought the side back into the match with a goal from a through pass by Chris Heeps but another mistake, another goal and the half ended 4-1 in favour of the English. Thistles regrouped in the second half but could not prevent LX scoring again to make it 5-1.
Thistles Blue 0 Alliance 0
This was a game that Thistles should have won and the goalless draw left them in a poor position to make second place in the group. The nearest they came to scoring was when a fierce reverse stick shot from John Connaghan went past the Alliance post in the first half.
Thistles Blue 0 France B 1
Scottish Thistles Blue were desperately unlucky to lose a match in which they played their best hockey of the tournament, playing the top French side which included nine members of their Over 60 World Cup squad from Barcelona. Mike McInally proved an insuperable barrier at the back and Peter Burns in front of him showed great composure in helping to blunt the French midfield threat. Dick Pearce rose to the occasion and pulled off one fantastic save to keep the Scots in it. It took until the final second to break the deadlock when France were awarded a short corner. Mike McInally broke the line and was banished to the half way line and the French shot was deflected to an unmarked player who scored after the final hooter.
Scottish Thistles White 2 (Duhre, Martin) Scottish Thistles Blue 0
The reward for Whites for coming second in their pool was a match against the Blues. The average age of the Whites made them the favourites and it was not long before they took the lead through a fierce shot by Gurdial Duhre. A few minutes later, the box defence at a short corner failed the Blues when Clifford Martin sent an unstoppable shot past Dick Pearce in the Blues goal to go two up. With John Connaghan unable to play because of a hamstring strain, Blues could not mount much in the way of attacks, though they had a couple of forays into the White circle. Whites continued to put their countrymen under sustained pressure but once again the Blues defence stood firm and saw out the game without further loss.
Scottish Thistles Blue 0 France C 1
In the bottom half semi final, Scottish Thistles took on France C for a place in the 5-6 playoffs. Hampered by a number of injuries, Blues were down to twelve fit players. The match was evenly contested but, once more, Thistles could not convert midfield possession into chances. The French had some strong and skilful players and began to dominate as the Scots tired, and the loss of Keith Raper just before half time left them exposed down their right hand side. A great save from Dick Pearce looked to have thwarted France C but the ball bounced into the air and was poked in off Mike McInally to give the home team a lead which they comfortably retained until the end.
Scottish Thistles White 1 (Duhre) England LX 0
Scottish Thistles Whites took on England LX in the final match of the day, with a place in the final the reward for the winners. The game was closely fought with neither side dominating possession, but the difference was that the Scots were penetrating the circle while the English could not find the way through a solid Scottish midfield and back line. The impressive Gurdial Duhre broke the deadlock with a fine shot from the edge of the circle and Whites ended the half a goal up and in command. The second half opened with a sustained spell of English pressure but once again Chris Kalman in the Scottish goal was not troubled. Whites were guilty of sitting too deep and found it difficult to clear the ball to their forwards and it began to look as if the game might slip out of their grasp. However, the effort began to tell on their opponents, allowing the Scottish midfield to push up and return to their effective pattern of working the ball forward through the midfield. The match ended with Whites on the front foot, giving LX no chance of finding an equaliser never mind a winner. The reward of a magnificent performance was a place in the final against Welsh Dragons.
Alliance 0 Scottish Thistles Blue 2 (Lorimer)
The Blues recorded their first win of the tournament in their final match to claim seventh place with an assured display, their best of the competition. The instructions of the management team of Peter Burns and Mike McInally were to take the game to the opposition and the Scots obeyed the instructions to the letter, putting Alliance on the back foot from the outset. The central midfield pairing of Rob Campbell and Peter Haines gave the Alliance playmaker no room to make his presence felt and they were quick to pounce on any mistake and set the forwards on the attack. Both John Connaghan, in spite of a weak hamstring, and Tim Lorimer made a series of forcing runs into the circle, from one of which Tim Lorimer opened the scoring. John Connaghan put one past the left hand post and another past the right hand during a spell of incessant pressure on the Alliance circle. The key second goal came deep into the first half when the ball was fed up the right hand side to Peter Haines, whose cross was met by Tim Lorimer to fire the ball in for his second goal. The second half started with Alliance pushing forward and the Scots were guilty of sitting too deep, bringing on their opponents and giving them hope of recovery. The Blues defence was under pressure but coped manfully. A tactical switch was needed, and Rob Campbell and Peter Klein were urged on to find their second wind and resume their pressure on the Alliance central midfielders. This once again swung the advantage towards Thistles and twice good passing moves ened with Tim Lorimer one on one on the Alliance keeper. Unfortunately the thought of having to buy his team mates beers inhibited the Scottish forward and he was unable to convert for the hat trick he deserved. The match finished 2-0 but it could have been much more. All in all, it had been a good tournament in terms of teamwork and comradeship if not in terms of the final position. Allez les Bleus!
Welsh Dragons 0 Scottish Thistles White 0
Welsh Dragons won 3-2 on penalties
The final was a second chance for Whites to take on the holders, Welsh Dragons, and the first final for Scottish Thistles in Lille for many years. Sadly, it was not to be and Welsh Dragons retained the trophy after a penalty shoot out. There was little between the teams, the Welsh perhaps having the edge in midfield but the Scottish defence forming a solid barrier in front of keeper Chris Kalman. The best of the Scottish attacks came in the first half through Gurdial Duhre with his trademark driving runs, but he was unable to find the target. As the match went on, the Welsh midfield began to impose and there was a growing gap between the Whites defence and their forwards as the legs began to go. The match finished 0-0 and it was on to a penalty shoot out. Dragons took an early lead but failed to score in their next two efforts, then the Scots brought it back to equality. The next two were successful but the final attempts failed again, and sudden death was the next step. The Welsh keeper beat away the Scottish shot and it was down to the Welsh to win or bust. Sadly for Thistles White it was win for Dragons and the trophy went to the holders. Whites can be proud of the fact that they went through the whole tournament undefeated and lost only at the bitter end through penalties.