Classy Morpeth leave it all on the by-line in table top clash
I coulda had class. I coulda been a contender. I coulda been somebody, instead of a bum, which is what I am.”
And so in the words of Danecki, it proved to be, on a grey afternoon in North Shields, that a top table clash between two good teams was summed up for Morpeth by ‘ifs’ and if-onlys’.
Tynemouth 2s remain top table as Morpeth 2s remain the most feared team in the league, capable of periods of quality hockey and mesmerising skills, gelling into a formidable force that is greater than the sum of its parts.
The single spectator was treated to a feast of exciting and end to end hockey from the start. Both teams demonstrated skill in attack, good line play, and a competitive spirit forcing short corners at both ends. Morpeth’s attacking force of Tordoff, Danecki, Hudson and Craggs ran intelligently and soon forced a short corner.
A well struck drive was saved down low to the keepers right, only to be bundled over by the long left arm reach of Shafiq, following up from the push out.
The inevital Tynemouth reaction, resulted in a string of short corners, defended capably by the unflappable Jackson in goal, and the brick wall stalwarts of James (playing despite a dodgy kebab the night before), Malecki (feeling the cold responsibility of Captaincy weighing heavy on his balding pate, like the interminable drizzle), Ash, (man of steely silence and Morpeth s man of the match) and the classy Hinshaw . At one of these, Jackson initially half saved but a mangle of bodies on the floor allowed Tynemouth to equalise from close range.
Chances came and went, notably a clever dribble by Danecki leaving Tordoff with an empty goal from the top of the D, only to see his shot rocket over the goal, the fencing and into the neighbouring estate, Scotland.
Hinshaw twice saved off the line from Tynemouth shots in open play in a period of frantic defense.
The half ended, honours even, with Malecki challenging his Morpeth teammates to play laterally as well as forwards, retain possession and gird their loins.
The second half saw end to end hockey. The midfield of Sanders, Shafiq, Calder and Minty, working hard to limit the opposition build up play and support the pacy attack. Hudson, growing stronger and taller by the week, beat the keeper but hesitated fractionally to finish, allowing the defense to save his shot. Meanwhile, two break away goals saw Tynemouth increase their lead.
At this point, it is worthwhile stating that the measure of a team s potential is not in the manner of their victories, but in the way they react collectively at times of impending loss. This Morpeth side now played their best hockey, pressing defenders on the ball, challenging hard for each fifty-fifty and creating chance after chance. Tordoff turned inside and shot to see the ball head goal bound to be saved brilliantly. Danecki struck the post from one short corner and had another deflected effort disallowed controversially.
The last 15 minutes was a one sided affair, which on any other day might have borne fruit.
At the final score, Morpeth rued their missed chances.
In the bar afterwards, after a healthy calorie-rich meal and cold orange juice, the Morpeth forwards determined to make telling runs to the by-line in coming matches, and the Morpeth defenders to ignore their midfielders advice at all times.
Thus it was that a small rectangle of hallowed turf, on a dank drizzly day in winter, hosted a hockey match that lit up a cold Saturday in January to warm the spectator s heart.