As usual we had the club end of year dinner and awards. We had a bit of a mixed season. On the positive side James captained the Vets to success in the Vets cup but unfortunately hasn't been able to locate the silver ware. The previous bunch of old codgers have forgotten which bar they left it in. We finished 3rd in the Surrey league behind Amphibs and Avondale. No mean feat given we were playing the national league sides of those 2 clubs. The SER league was well within our grasp but we narrowly missed it and ended 3rd. In the London league we were plagued by the unfortunate clashing of social and work events of our top players. Roger was sorely missed, with his new appointment he spends a lot of time in the air but somehow he balanced his time between us and his family. Russell had time out for a hip operation that was thankfully successful. Trevor's goal scoring was limited having to play in goals, Killer spent a lot of time in Europe and Alan C also had time consuming work commitments. All things considered we are a realistic club and acknowledge we also let ourselves down by playing really poorly in most of these games. Hey sometimes life happens while we're making and executing plans. Coming in second last was no reflection on our capability.
Chris had an admirable initiation into the captaincy and in spite of being dogged by low match attendance figures throughout the year he achieved the results above. Furthermore we won our tournament, the army one and came 2nd at Crawley. However his greatest feat was beating Avondale's top side very convincingly. This was the first win against that team that I know of in 8 years.
The second team we knew would have it hard and Alf was hard pressed to fill the fixtures but what is important is that as a club we are providing games for the 2nds. Hopefully as our 1st team ranks grow us chronological empowered individuals can move down and continue playing a good standard of polo.
It's always disappointing to see players move on if only for what we hope are short sabbaticals. Duncan, Matt, Roy, Sam, Cameron, Andy H and others who only made brief appearances. Then as is the cycle of life, new people come on board, the 2 Johns, Mike Mc, Dan, Christos, Marco..... welcome all of you, and we hope you get as much from our club as we do.
The best player of the year went well deservedly to Callum Bailey. Not only for his goal scoring capabilities but his coaching and involvement with the club and the Uni getting us more practice time than most other clubs and integrating the two. The endeavour award went to Alf Ramsey. A great result in my opinion. Alf continues to improve his goal keeping skills with each game and is always there for the club to help, especially at the Mike Clark Tournament where he took over and ran the show, raffle, team sheets, refs, catering the whole enchilada. Following on from that casually included lead, the fun social we all enjoyed at the Son Of Sombrero Mexican restaurant. Alf organised the function and collected all the money on his own. Well done Alf a true club man. A further thanks to Alan C for recommending a fun venue(well for me anyway).
Golden gloves(best fight/ fighter of the year): Attila as usual, firstly for a game against OMW at home where he was excluded. The defender all but stood on his shoulders. Killer obviously bottomed out because suddenly the defender was lifted clear of the water in the prone position and after much posturing and indignation Killer was excluded. Big Tony for putting an opponents teeth through his lip, the only player to draw blood since I have been a member of Guildford. Then also his verbal chirp to Trevor when he told him to keep his comments for the referees and opposition. Beware, the wrath of Big Tone is not exclusively reserved for the opposition. Andy Dis for his over the water attack against Watford that resulted in being wrapped. Dis has to be castigated for this offence. He not only failed to hide his killer punch in the tackle but he took his fist to the rafters to fetch it. Killer again for his indiscretion against one of the 7 Oaks players when 4 minutes from the end of the game he retaliated for a foul against Chris and spent the remainder of the game in abstinentia.
I chose Dis for the award because its been a long time coming for him to be acknowledged for his passion and commitment to the game and our club. As I first said when i started these fun awards they are not indictments rather a backhanded acknowledgments and an opportunities to laugh at ourselves. Killer Karsai was given a governors reprieve at the 11th hour because when all considered his actions were of noble intent. He was reacting to a beastly attack on our captain and we all know, Chris being the quiet reserved, diminutive church mouse that he is could not have adequately defended himself. Man up Chris and stop getting our players excluded (that'll teach you to call me a miserable old grouch in the pub).
As a counter balance to the violence and blood thirsty nature of the last award I though I would moderate the proceeding with a softer award to Roger. In acknowledgement for finding his ......shall we say less masculine side during the Olympics. Roger mentioned to Martin that he was so moved by the syncro swimming that he felt it would be nice to have music to play polo by. Roger received a suitably pink Hello Kitty Advent calendar to commemorate this enlightenment.
Shot /goal of the year: Trevor for his astounding goal against S&C where he scored a goal from our 5m while playing goalie. Callum for his cheeky goal in the Army tournament. He lined up to shoot on the half way mark, looked at the clock saw there was 5 seconds left, decided that wasn't enough of a challenge so he put the ball on the water, paused and then with 2 seconds left slammed the goal home. Me for my masterly left handed goal against Basildon. When I play in the pit I am surprised to even get the ball, if I score, well the whole team demands an action replay but if I score from the pit with my left hand I have to buy a lotto ticket because the Gods are smiling on me.
It has to go to Trevor, I have never seen a keeper score and as Chris will attest to I am well old. Trevor is one of our more passionate and committed (in the other sense as well!) club players. It has to be a substantial crisis that keeps him away like driving over cyclist to get to Croydon on time. Last week even when he was ill he came down to help on the table.
Missing in action award (the most exclusions): Alan chitty for making a concerted effort not to be the running for this award thus kind of not doing his job. Alf who has been excluded more this year than Alan was obviously doing Alan's job. Trevor for managing to get himself excluded while we were man down..... and he was goalie! Matt Yoevils in his first match for the club got wrapped in the first 5 minutes against Kingston. Roy for being the last back when out on the lash after Russell's stag night(I was sick with worry and not for reasons Chris and Alf will tell you) also for leaving us at the end of the year. Alf was my choice because he has become such a consummate polo player in such a short time. He not only heckles the refs but his tackles (and subsequent penalties) on attackers trying to reclaim possession of a 50:50 ball can only be compared to a bar fight or a hippo mating ritual. Either way condolences must go to those who get between Alf and the ball. Roy got a runner up prize, of a bottle of Newcastle brown ale that may not be consumed till we meet again.