During one of our summer training sessions last May my eyes were drawn to a bright orange 'object' at the side of the pitch. It was the vivid colour that first caught my eye but then I watched as the 'object' grew before my very eyes. Every player that arrived for training was sporting a bright orange hoodie. Intrigued as to whether I had clearly fallen behind in the fashion stakes or if there was 'more' to the wearing of this orange attire, I began my investigation…
The history behind the orange hoodies is that we have had an alliance with Zevenbergen hockey club in the Netherlands for the past xx years and we alternate as hosts for the home/away tours. Zevenbergen hosted us in 2009 and so it was for us to host the event this year. Those players that went on the tour in 2009 regaled stories of the weekend, namely the fun had by all both on and off the pitch!! It was apparent that some long standing friendships were made, as evidenced on Facebook and so all involved on the 2009 tour were eager to start planning this year's tour.
Bob Smith has always organised this event, with a sub-committee formed to assist with the organising, which for a 2 day event such as this is no mean task. The committee this year was made up of a number of parent helpers, most of whom did not know what they were letting themselves in for… A number of meetings later and Bob had managed to draw up teams, schedule of events, task lists etc etc. Tasks were shared between the committee members (alias Team 'Z') who then sprang into action drawing on the many offers of help that came from both players and their parents. It was during one of these meetings that the great debate regarding the colour for this year's hoodies was first aired. For those that were not sporting the current fashion trend it was their chance to ensure they would be one of the first to step out in the 2010 Spring/ Summer collection.
Friday 30th April:
At last - the day of arrival for our guests! Unfortunately the Zevenbergen team were delayed by an hour, having missed the ferry by 10 minutes. (Please note this was not the fault of the coach driver who had to stop for 10 minutes to have a cigarette break).
The weather was good as they landed in Calais and they had a good journey to Danbury Outdoors, home for the weekend. The weather remained favourable as tents were pitched and then it was on to the club house for supper.
A number of Team 'Z' were there to greet our guests as well as a number of players keen to build on the 'relationships' formed last year, all eager to see what colour hoodies the Dutch would be sporting this year and hoping that we would not clash!. No clashes this year for the guys arrived wearing baby blue and the girls pale pink.
It is good that our Dutch friends speak good English for the numbers of us in CHC that speak Dutch are few – still awaiting confirmation of the number(s) that actually can. After a light supper and a few drinks our guests were taken back to Danbury so as to catch a few hours sleep. Tiredness enabled most of them to sleep, even through the torrential rain that ensued.
Saturday 01 May:
6:30 am and activities at Chelmer Park were already underway. Team 'Z' were preparing breakfast for 200 which was scheduled for 8:00. It was good to see a number of our players turn up for breakfast, all keen to receive their hoodie and participate in the fun day of hockey planned.(And for those of you who missed out on this year’s fashion ‘must have’ please note the colour was emerald green).
And what a fun day it was! Each team, resplendent in a different colour T-shirt played a number of games throughout the day. The weather was kind to us until around 4:30pm when the skies decided to open. The good thing was that the Dutch were prepared for our weather, the bad news being that we weren't. Play was abandoned at 5:00pm but with most games having been played.
Having the mixed teams on Day 1 worked very well as it gave everyone the opportunity to get to know each other and learn each others' names. It also enabled the 2 sides to look at their 'opposition' in readiness for the serious games on Sunday.
With the rain still falling and temperatures dropping, players were 'warmed-up' with supper of chilli and/or chicken casserole. Events of the day were discussed, more mobile phone numbers exchanged and then for most it was time for a shower and a change of clothes ready for the disco in the evening.
Spirits were high as the party made their way to the disco. Those parents who were brave enough to stay at the disco reported that the music was very loud, this being the only thing they did report on…
Sunday 02 May:
Knowing that all would be a little jaded this morning, Team ‘Z’ gave themselves the luxury of an extra half hour in bed and reported for duty @ 7:00 am. Although breakfast was not being served until 9:00 am a number of our U18Bs, desperate for a bacon roll and black coffee, arrived early. It was during breakfast that the full report of the disco began to emerge:)) After a hearty breakfast it was on to the serious business of hockey.
Chelmsford, determined to retain the trophy, took an early lead in their matches. The two sides were evenly matched in strength, determination and ability resulting in some excellent play. Only one injury occurred, a ball in the eye of a Zevenbergen player, which was attended to immediately by 2 parents, both doctors, who between them administered 2 stitches. (Many thanks to Mr Ashford and Mr Agar).
After all games were played and points tallied it was time for the presentation. CHC was victorious once again and so proudly retain the trophy. Well done to Zevenbergen who gave us some excellent and challenging play. Keen to show there were no hard feelings (and to reconvene events of the previous evening) it was time for the hog roast and karaoke. I believe everyone took to the microphone, whether solely or as part of a group, although some did require a few ‘snakebites’ before doing so...
The singing and dancing would have continued all night if allowed but our guests needed to get some sleep before their departure early on Monday morning. Speeches were made, gifts exchanged and a few tears shed when Bob Smith announced he was ‘stepping down’ as organiser of this exchange. Fortunately Bob has agreed to participate in the exchange in future years but as a ‘guest’ as opposed to organiser. His sole task for next year is to choose the colour of the hoodie. Fashionistas – watch this space)
May I take this opportunity of thanking Bob for all his hard work over the past 11 years and for making our alliance with Zevenbergen such a long and successful one. Long may it continue!!