Sidmouth HC Past Masters on tour
An early spring sale by the budge airlines and willing reinforcements from Belgium, Holland and Frnace saw Sidmouth make their eighth comsecutive appreance at the tournament.
Veterranos Zaragoza 4, Sidmouth Past Masters 2; Bracknell HC 3, Past Masters 0; Salisbury Veterans 4, Past Masters 1; Channel Island Vets 9, Past Masters 2; Banbury Touring Vets 3, Past Masters 4; Bordeaux AOC 4, Past Masters 3.An early spring sale by the budget airlines and some willing reinforcements from Holland and France enabled Sidmouth Hockey Club Past Masters to make an eighth consecutive appearance at the Tournoi des Chateaux in Bordeaux. In hot, sunny conditions, a break with the traditional pattern saw the team's performances peak on the final day to register a single victory and put in an impressive display against the hosts to salvage some pride. Votes for Player of the Tour saw the electorate divided equally between Keith Baker and new tourist Mark Seward for vastly differing reasons. Baker, registering five tour goals, peaked on the final day of the tour after an early night and, in an unfamiliar attacking role, he led the team to victory over Banbury and so nearly rallied the side to a shock draw against Bordeaux. Seward got his veterans' touring career off to a flying start when he scored an early equaliser against Zaragoza and later notched a second against Bordeaux. His votes, however, were mainly secured for impressive displays of tireless running over the three days in temperatures approaching 30 degrees. After an evening savouring the sights and culinary offerings of historic Bergerac, the Sidmouth campaign started promisingly. An evenly balanced opening match against the Spanish tourists saw the Past Masters enjoy a fair share of possession and attacking opportunities. Seward's equaliser came when he was first to react to a shot that had been parried by the Zaragoza keeper and he made no mistake from a yard out. After that, however, the difference between the sides was poor marking in the Sidmouth defence. A second goal from French midfielder Olivier Gilles kept the Past Masters in touch, and he was unlucky not to get a second, but it was not enough. The defensive frailties persisted against Bracknell and into the second day when the addition of the reliable Eric Pourchasse as guest player for the day was not enough to stem the flow. Pourchasse combined well with Baker to register a tidy goal against Salisbury, but events on the pitch on Friday were otherwise uninspiring and culminated in a heavy defeat to a well-organised Channel Islands team who had enjoyed a successful campaign in the national veterans' cup during the season. Over a hearty meal at Chateau Le Thil on Friday evening, some adjustments were made to the line up and the positional changes proved successful for the last two matches. With Nick Fitzgerald dropping from centre forward to put in a creditable display at full back, Baker moving to an attacking centre half role, and the addition of guest Argentinian playmaker Lionel Pupie, the team looked more balanced against Banbury. Even an early 2-0 deficit proved not to be problematic as Sidmouth rallied with four unanswered strikes, two short corners from Baker and two craftsman finishes from Chris Olive, to establish a 4-2 lead. With Bo Vanstone and Simon Olive solid in the half back positions the victory was secured. For the second year running Sidmouth saved the best performance for the final match against Bordeaux and nearly caused the upset of the tournament. The hosts had fashioned out a 2-0 lead by the half time break and the outcome seemed a formality. However, an early second half goal from guest player Ash Bracknel stirred up the match as a contest. Even after the hosts had responded with a third, it was Sidmouth who made the running. Seward scored his second of the tour, then turned provider when he pulled the ball back from the byeline for Ash Bracknel to convert a net-busting equaliser. Although the hosts later managed to grab a breakaway fourth goal, the second half was memorable for the uncharacteristic level of Sidmouth domination with the game being played in the Bordeaux half and ending with a flurry of Sidmouth short corners. A tour of variable performances on the pitch but memorable for the 'foreign legion' of reinforcements who were so willing to rally to the Sidmouth cause when legs were tiring and temperatures soaring!