Friars vs Maidstone 5s (Away) | 30 Nov 19

Drew 3-3

Scorers: John Ratcliffe, Pete Ratcliffe, Pete Bowell

MoM: Chris Paine

DoD: Not awarded


With both teams having been unbeaten in their last 3 matches and with the Friars being last week’s England Hockey Team of the week having beaten the League leaders (yes we know that’s amazingly hard to believe but this is all true -see pic below and link here this promised to be a cracker of a game and indeed so it proved.

With GK Chris Paine (Local Hero doing 2 away shifts) drafted into action at the last minute to replace Paul Donno called into work on urgent national heroic duty off we went to the graveyard slot in Armstrong Road in downtown Maidstone. Great debate, again as last year, about the colour of the ball under difficult lighting but pink was this year’s choice as opposed to blue last year (yes really these reports are fact and not fiction as Mr P Dowling alleges!). On 10 minutes Maidstone struck first with the Friars defence frozen; however on 20 minutes John Ratcliffe equalised and at half time it was 1-1.

Maidstone took the lead again from a goal mouth melee but Ratty junior (Pete) not to be outdone by his dad – equalised shortly after. Geoff Philpott fresh from his muddy fields laid his body on the line crashing to the ground as he cracked balls upfield and on debut Mike Barton was picking out our forwards John Aikin, Dr Nick Tan and Paul accurately. 10 minutes from time Maidstone once again took the lead. Friars as is their never say die habit this season, then pressed hard so much so that the gorgeous pink ball split in half. From the resultant bully John Aikin luckily lost it, and Maidstone missed their pass for Pete Ratcliffe who with pin point accuracy found Pete Bowell on the left and from the D’s perimeter hit home with yet another equaliser 4 minutes from time. Pete, predictably and deservedly was very excited about this event.

Both teams pressed hard for the winner and with Birchy competing with the din of motorbikes (see below) exhorting his troops for one last effort honours justly remained even in a highly competitive game played in excellent spirit. The only intense irritant were some anti social youths illegally speedwaying round and round the pitch during the game on 125cc bikes with exhausts removed – the din spoilt the game. Apparently this is a common occurrence which PC Plod deems fit to ignore or so we were told.. If our Donno had been playing that would have made for an interesting diversion!

So at the half way stage of the season Friars are in the top four of the breakaway pack at the top of the League with 16 points, just 2 short of their total for the whole of last season when at the equivalent stage they had got 4 points only, and were propping up the League.

Squad: SQUAD: Chris Paine (GK), Tony Jones (C), Brian Hurlow, John Aikin, Geoff Philpott, Chris Ward, Pete Bowell, Neil Birch, John Ratcliffe, Pete Ratclife, Dr Nick Tan, MIke Barton, Paul Batchelor. UMPIRES: Mick from Maidstone and Geordie Hayward