Weekend Preview – 120th Varsity Hockey Matches (29/02/2020-01/03/2020)

After a blissful nine days without a single Ox*n in sight, this week saw the Wandies draw with the ‘Os’ in BUCS. Insistent not to tarnish their emphatic Varsity performance (W 5-2 if you didn’t know), the Wandies put in a performance that probably merited a draw, against a side that looked quite different. Despite the differences in appearances, there were still a plethora (22 to be precise) of questionable lids on show.

The Wblues’ latest scalp

This weekend sees the return of the University Hockey Matches (their official title) for the 120th time. In the Men’s match, Cambridge return to Southgate to defend the trophy, hoping to be the catalyst of a string of results akin to the glorious days of 1896-1901 (23-6 on aggregate). 

Meanwhile, the ladies look to beat the so-called dark blues for the first time in five years. Captain Amy Edwards has been looking back to previous victories for inspiration. I assume she will have started in the only logical place (the start) with the famous ‘unbeatables’ of 1898-1911. I’m told Mr Greenbank is still looking for the results from the earlier Women’s matches, so if you were there then please get in touch!

With our beloved light blues preparations for the big day now firmly underway, the CUHC media team asked our Blues Captain’s for a tiny bit of time to ask them a few questions. Sadly the Wblues were too busy making a high-quality promo video. If you haven’t seen the Oxf*rd Ladies Blues ‘video’ then there’s no need. Absolutely no need as I’ve provided a transcript here:

A captain with clearly with no friends walks 9 paces and puts her right leg on the bench next to her bag as she forgot about the bags on bench rule. She puts her captain’s armband around her right shin, because she forgot about arm day, and puts a signet ring on her right little finger. She takes off her puffer jacket, turns around and makes 45 slow paces (over 38 seconds), successfully navigating several difficult turns and a flight of steps. She does this all while awkwardly staring into the camera. She stops and the video editor remembers that we live in a world with more than one wavelength of light. A stick is then thrown (an automatic 10-minute yellow, I might add) which she catches in her right hand. I immediately appealed, and the umpire deemed her out. She successfully combats a second step and makes 14 further paces. 11 other Oxf*rd blues come and join her (although one is male and so isn’t meant to be there), who make an estimated 225 collective steps. They then stand in a scalene triangle formation looking very grumpy because they hate fun and their sticks in their left hands on the left-hand side and their right hands on the right-hand side with their sticks at 15±10˚ to the vertical. They stand asymmetrically about the halfway line with the varsity trophy/bowl/cup approximately 2 cm off-centered to the right (as viewed). Three heavily pixellated bitmap images are successively superimposed on the screen, with the white background showing, albeit intermittently. An *UHC production. Song: ‘Feeling Good’ by Michael Bublé.

Nevertheless, despite our severe disappointment at the unavailability of our captains, we’d spent a long time preparing the questions and in this new age of recycling, we didn’t want to waste them. Hence, we took this as an excuse to get abnormally creative and envisage what they might have said.

MoW: Good morning both, how are you?

Greg: Hi, I’m really well thanks. With all this veggie food, I feel like I’ve gained an extra 400%.

Amy: Top o’ the chuffin’ marnin ter yer, oi’m soun’ t’anks. oi’m so excited for de big day. Woo ‘ockey!

MoW: Fantastic, well I really don’t want to take up too much of your time, so to start things of, why don’t you tell me a bit about yourselves?

Gregg: Ah, my favourite topic! I am in my second year studying Geography at Sidney Sussex College. The big thing about me is that I just love beekeeping (let me know if you want to buy some award-winning artisanal honey). Less big is hockey I guess. Darrel thought I played for England when I was younger, but no, never really achieved anything with hockey, just won the odd national title and played in a load of both indoor and outdoor national finals, but really nothing major. I have a twin brother called Ed that, as they say, ‘larks’ about doing something up north.

Aim here: I’m in me turd year studyin’ engineerin’ at Caius, ‘avin’ played in de blues for de past two years. Previously, oi ‘av played for Ulster at u15-u21 an’ Oirlan’ at U16 level, competed in de UK school games, an’ played premier league for Lurgan Ladies ‘ockey club.

MoW: Ah well, thanks. Surprisingly I knew all that because that’s what you said on the website, but cheers for the reminder. Right. Easy question, who’s your favourite team in CUHC?

Greggs: Has to be the Men’s Blues. Some of the nomads are alright, I guess, but girls are girls (very scary). The squandies are just choppers, left, right and centre, and although I coach the Blundies, I’ve no idea what their names are. Meanwhile, as you all know, the Wanderers have been increasingly presumptuous about their status within the club, to the point where they now refer to themselves as ‘The Wanderers 1s’. As the real alphas, we put them back in their place a few weeks ago, showing them that we are better, whilst they’re just beta. All of this is, of course, non-toxic.

Target: Ah dis is a tough wan. dare are so many teams! While Ah’ve got ter nu de teams quite well, Oi’m wan av dem soshal butterfly thingys, oi canny say anyone ‘as caught me mince pie. Ter be ‘onest, as wan av me teammates said, anythin’ wi’ a gauld lion is de craic. However, oi’m gonna ‘av ter go wi’ de women’s blues. Such a great groop av gals (an’ daz caz).

MoW: Ah interesting. Don’t quite agree with all that, but who am I to talk in your presence? Next one. Favourite Committee Member?

Bulls Eye & Northern Pret: Master of the Webs (Master av de webs)

MoW: Aww, you are two kind. Can I ask why?

Amy: If yer write an essay each week for craic, yer may be quite fierce quare but you’ll fit write in at CUHC!!

Greg: It’s reassuring to know that there’s always someone with worse chat.

MoW: Aww, you too are just the best. Such nice compliments. Moving on, how are you feeling about the big day?

Amy: Oi really want ter win wan av dees cup things. 

Greg: Beating Oxf*rd last year was the highlight of my life. I could just put these highlights on repeat, but that would require burning lots of fossil fuels, even with an energy efficient OLED screen. Hence I’ve decided to beat them every year.

MoW: Well, from what I’ve seen you both stand a great chance. How’s your season going so far?

Amy: ’tis ‘eadin’ dead on. We’re kind av in de middle av de league in both BUCS an’ saturdays. We canny go up an’ we canny go down, but we can club Oxf*rd.

Greg: I can probably best describe our season like a river. At the source, it wasn’t great. Pretty feeble in fact. The flow rate was low and as a result, we didn’t gain much momentum. After a few key tributaries later after pre-season, and we really got going. A high volumetric flow rate you might say. We really started eroding our opponents and cut out a lovely v-shaped valley for ourselves as we cruised up the league. Then as BUCS really got going, we started to meander a little and things flattened out. But now that we’re at the delta, it’s really time for things to change. A big 4-1 win against Oxf*rd in Blues the other week really puts us in good stead. 

MoW: On this note, here’s a tough one. Describe your season so-far in three words?

Amy: Jist gettin’ better

Greg: Hockey was played.

MoW: Right well. Not really what I was looking for, but hey ho, I shouldn’t ask stupid questions.  I know that you two are great captains, but I’m going to ask you to make some tough calls. Now that selection’s sorted, who’s your favourite fresher?

Ed: Hmm, tough one. It could be Phil. But then, Phil can also be the worst, and at times he’s just quite average. Can you let me have a think?

MoW: Of course. Amy?

Amy: At de start av de season, we were really worried aboyt de los av ‘atty me ud flower. Tankfully, Cheltenham gave us a new wan. We must ‘av still been under warranty or somethin’. Oi don’t nu. Woo Ella! She’s proper gran’ at de back an’ she’s been a crackin’ addishun ter our short corners.

MoW: Yeah it looks like you’ve got some really decent fresher talent this year. I can’t wait to seem them all in action come Sunday. Greg?

Greg: Going to have to go with Phil. Can’t think of anyone else.

MoW: On a similar note, whose your now-not-so-secret weapon?

Amy: Ahh, oi’m not tellin’ yer dat. We caught oyt Oxf*rd last year whaen oi slapped it into de middle av de goal, an’ we want ter treck dem again.

Greg: Vegetables

MoW: Nike shorts/skorts or Playerlayer shorts/skorts?

Greg: I was told by old people that PlayerLayer shorts didn’t used to have anywhere to put the Oxf*rd center-forward. Now that they’ve invented pockets, it has to be PlayerLayer. Such a game-changer.

Amy: Oi don’t nu really. A skort is a skort. Oi loike de wan wi’ de bigger gauld lion. Is dat de shwooshy wans or de shieldy ones?

MoW: Honestly Amy, I don’t know. If I went around checking everyone’s skort I’d probably get in trouble. Yeah Tylo, the pockets have revolutionized KitSwap, you have no idea how much we suffered. Right last of all, a piece of advice for freshers?

Amy: Mind dare are cameras everywhere.

Greg: For freshers? Do not panic. Thankfully, there’s plenty of people on the sideline to remind you. All of this is, of course, suitable for a family event.

MoW: Cracking stuff. Right, ta both for all your answers, I’m sure these’ll make a top-notch weekend preview.

In other news, there are five games on Saturday. The Wandies take a break, but everyone else is back in action! The Squandies and Wblues are at Wilby, hosting the Vets (10:00) and Bedford (11:30), while the Nomads go to possibly the strangest hockey pitch ever at Bury St Edmunds. I won’t spoil the surprise, but if walled gardens aren’t your thing, then go watch the Beds at Long Sutton or the Men’s Blues in Ipswich!

I tried to let go, but I could not. See you Sunday!

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