It had been a night of wind and hail, but there was little hope of cancellation; this was, after all, the Parent/Staff v School match. An intrepid few duly attended on Pavilion for a warm-up (this meant keeping your coat on until play began) only to find that, to an extent, the parents/staff team had been let off the hook. The 1st XII, in training for a tournament, had been pitted against the worthier opposition of Stowe, and we, this year, were to take on the 2nd XII. Having seen the 1st XII earnestly practising, we weren’t complaining… Also the 2nd XII pitch, being slightly smaller than Pavilion, was more suited to our limited lung capacity.
We may remember that last year our 17-strong team held the School to a 7-7 draw. This had been accomplished by the use of Superior Adult Tactics (cheating, mostly). We were fewer in number this year, with only 10 players, so we really needed to use our Advanced Intelligence to outwit the girls. We were gutted to find that Rob Baird, with a back injury (sabotage by Sophie?), and Sarah Portsmouth, skiing wounded, were out, but we still had our Secret Weapon, Rebecca Goldsworthy (or ‘Goalsworthy’ as she will be known hereafter) in goal. Having perfected the feared high-pitched yelp, she has now developed a bat-away tactic so effective that I think the England team should adopt it immediately. Despite some severe onslaughts on our goal, she had conceded none by half time.
Midfield, to counter the School’s more skilful stick and footwork, a little rough tackling occurred, and there was a certain leeway given to our team (who seemed blissfully unaware that lacrosse is not a contact sport) by the absolutely impartial umpire. Only when Geoff ‘Strongarm’ Phillips, having manhandled his opponent to the ground, was seen to be standing over her pinning her down, was a free pass awarded to the School! The School’s frustration was evident. There were calls of "Coach, if they are allowed to do that, can we do it too?" to which the answer was always an emphatic "No". A bizarre shot by Jon Spavin went between the legs of the School goalie, Sarah Peters-Harrison, and the parents began the second half one up.
I scored the next Parent/Staff goal; having failed with a wild shot that bounced off the goalie’s pads, I courteously asked the goalie if she was alright. Baffled with this politesse, she was distracted for a moment, and I was able to flick the ball up and into the net. Irregular, yes, illegal, no. This proved to the dumbstruck girls around the goal that politeness really does pay off. The School was then galvanised into a flurry of activity; Lucy Joseph easily outran her mother, and Livia Bridgman Baker seemed miraculously to be at both ends of the pitch at the same time! Ashling Coyle finally broke through our hitherto unshakeable defence (provided by the formidable Sibley mother and daughter duo) and the School were off the mark.
However, the speed of such players as Steven ‘frying pan’ Smith and Mel ‘movealot’ Phillips, as well as the determination of newcomer Roger ‘turbo’ Bowden served the Parent/Staff combo well, and with Jane (Best Supporting Actress) Joseph’s dramatic falls to distract the School team, further goals were scored by Steven and Geoff.
By the middle of the second half the Parent/Staff team was definitely flagging and the School came into their own. A couple of quick goals from Ashling Coyle, Sissy Reutter and a mysterious 3rd engendered nervous responses from the Parents/Staff who, having had the match within their grasp, suddenly saw their lead slipping away. We managed to hold firm though. It is only fair to say at this stage that the match was shortened to enable the adults to remain well enough for work on Monday; had it run its normal course, the difference would have been more than made up. That said, I am reminded of an old cricketing tale, that of the County batsman who protested to the umpire "That wasn’t LBW", only to receive the response "You read tomorrow morning’s papers, lad". Similarly, what counts here is what will be read out in Lists, which is a win 4-3 for the Parent/Staff!
After the match there was much camaraderie and comparison of injuries sustained, over a slap-up tea in the Pavilion, and the Parent/Staff opinion was that the School had been jolly good sports. The School’s opinion of their opponents is unprintable. Well played to all those who participated!
Paula Bridgman Baker