Bordeaux sun benefits players' creaking joints

Large helpings of sun, fun, food and wine in Bordeaux inspired the Sidmouth Hockey Club veterans to some unexpectedly good performances on the pitch during an eventful 2008 tour.

Large helpings of sun, fun, food and wine in Bordeaux inspired the Sidmouth Hockey Club veterans to some unexpectedly good performances on the pitch during an eventful 2008 tour. With new tourist Pete Ayres breaking his wrist two days before departure, and then tour youngster James Thomson arriving at Gatwick airport without his passport, a last minute team reshuffle had to be undertaken before the traditional Wednesday evening tour opener against Villa Primrose. The remaining squad of 12 rallied, however, and enjoyed a keenly-contested match against the Bordeaux city club. Despite trailing 2-0 at half time, Sidmouth drew level with two goals in a five minute flourish. Andy Mapson's penalty flick started the comeback before Chris Olive snatched an equaliser 10 minutes from time. The half time agreement with the opposition to extend the second period to 30 minutes instead of 25 proved to be an unfortunate one when, against the run of play, Villa Primrose scored a spectacular breakaway goal with the very last hit of the game to secure a 3-2 victory. Thursday's opponents in the first match of the Tournoi des Chateaux were Banbury Hockey Club veterans, who later went on to win the event. A 1-0 defeat after a sterling performance from the Past Masters was somewhat disappointing due to the controversial nature of the goal, which appeared to come from a shot that was struck outside the D. After some discussion, and an apparent admission from the scorer that he was not sure he was inside the area, the two teams had reached an agreement that no goal would stand. However, a feisty intervention from the Argentinian umpire ensued and it became apparent to the teams, after some rapid translation, that she was overruling the gentlemen's agreement. Sidmouth's attacking threat was subdued thereafter and an equaliser could not be registered. With squad numbers limited, tour stalwart Bo Vanstone had found his new hip replacement being unexpectedly pressed into action for a second match in 24 hours, but the new joint stood up admirably to the rigorous early testing as Vanstone put in another solid performance in the left half position.Copious amounts of duck and dancing on Thursday evening seemed to ignite the Sidmouth performances on Friday. Squad numbers were swelled too by the late arrival of James Thomson and Pete Ayres via the rural airport at historic Bergerac and a lengthy taxi ride. A 4-3 morning victory over Chiswick Polyplegix was all the more impressive as it saw Ayres scramble in a first tour goal while playing with his broken wrist in a plaster cast. Mark Mingo, Andy Mapson and Stewart Vincent also got on the score sheet. Vincent was quick to point out afterwards how, with the match delicately poised at 2-2, he had gathered the ball on the half way line and dribbled all the way into the opposition D before scoring the goal of the tour. After a hearty lunch Sidmouth's afternoon performance against the Linkebeck Black Radishes was equally encouraging, with a 4-2 victory registered against the Belgian side. Ayres again defied medical opinion by contributing a poacher's goal and Keith Baker proved that his worn out knees favoured playing in warmer climes with a trade mark goal from a short corner after dribbling around the goalkeeper. Chris Olive added the other two and proved that a large lunch had not dulled his reactions when he applied an incisive near post deflection to a speeding ball.An 'early' night after another hearty feast at Chateau Bertinerie had obviously done the power of good as Sidmouth turned in their best ever performance against the hosts, Bordeaux AOC, on Saturday morning. Past Masters commanded an unexpected first half territorial advantage and looked comfortable in possession and passing. Chris Olive's constant threat in front of the French goal saw him convert two delightfully opportunistic chances after Bordeaux had twice taken the lead. At half time the French side appeared relieved to still be in the match with the scoreline at 2-2. Unfortunately the Sidmouth walking wounded were added to when club talisman Keith Baker, who had been orchestrating the Sidmouth performance, was struck on the shin by the ball. Even more unfortunately Baker had packed his tour bag in the hazy aftermath of his 50th birthday celebrations and had left his shin pads behind. The child's shin pads that he managed to borrow offered about as much protection as two pieces of cardboard so the hefty shot was enough to bring Baker's participation in the Tournoi to a bloody end. Bordeaux AOC seized on their opportunities early in the second half to wrest a 4-2 lead, but Sidmouth rallied again with an Ayres' deflection glancing fractionally wide of the post before a debut tour goal for Adrian Posta brought the visitors back to within touching distance. With a short corner to take as time expired, Sidmouth were poised to share the points, but James Thomson's shot was beaten away by Jean-Marc Sicet in the home goal and the hosts clung on for victory.Unfortunately the Past Masters' momentum could not be sustained in their final match against Bracknell. With Baker unavailable, having had three stitches applied to his shin by the Banbury team doctor, and with midfield dynamo Andy Mapson suddenly declaring that he was afflicted by a mysterious leg injury, the Sidmouth team never sparked into life during a sun-drenched match. Richard Stenning made another impressive contribution in the right half position, and Ian Please was resolute in defence, but an early lead was progressively added to and there could be no complaints about the 3-0 final scoreline.The Past Masters did not come away empty handed, however, as during the closing ceremony it was announced that 'Mr Bo' Vanstone, team refreshments officer, was the recipient of a special prize for having purchased the most beer during the three day Tournoi. His emotion-filled acceptance speech drew hearty applause, as did his sharing of the regional produce that he had been awarded with. Chris Olive, having capped a series of impressive performances with some outstanding individual goals, was deservedly voted Past Masters Player of the Tour.

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