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Hail Stones* (I-Roy, The Upsetters)

Monday morning this week broke new ground for a SHWFC April session The arrival of players had been diluted by heavy rain overnight but the hardy 'this is my time' brigade who braved the inclement conditions were treated to a dusting of hail stones to test their resolve A fierce wind blowing in from far end made the icy deposits even less appealing yet despite all of the above our intrepid band of brothers and sisters warmed up and assembled with steely determination

Lord Rainford's overnight appeal for further volunteers to set up the playing areas was met with enthusiasm or was it merely another way to stay warm in the chilly conditions? Either way play would start with 24 players assembled by Moneyball (the Club's fabled selection algorithm) in the following teams;

Pink - Cockney Rebel, Chris Willo, Gaz Clark, Wickie, Chopper and Anita

Black - Lord Rainford, Andy Man(anger), Grazer Clark, Barry Wizz, Little John and Haggis

Sky - Enoch, Snakehips, Tom Stretch, Tom Derby, Les H and Sheila

Purple - Monday Michelle, Kenny, Margaret, Aldo, Charlie, Spiro and Mark Dav

Referees Jeff Betty and Phil the Power took care of proceedings and in the first series of games a nip and tuck affair was settled with Black triumphant over a pluck Sky outfit by the odd goal in a 2-1 struggle Goals by Little John answered by Andy Enoch Powell for Sky A good test in the worst of the morning's weather Elsewhere the conditions reduced the Pink v Purple match to a battle of attrition Playing good opponents pls the weather not the easiest of circumstances 0-0 almost the inevitable score line

Round Two's fixtures proved just a tough with Purple overcoming Black thanks to a solitary goal scored by Mark Daverin Herr Betty was frustrated throughou5 the morning by the amount of blatant running on and off the ball Perhaps the weather ruined the chances of normal play? Sky managed a narrow 1-0 win in their game with Pink Tom Derby who showed some good link up work throughout the session was on hand to secure the win

The final round of games produced a blank with Black and Pink both off target in their dour nil- nil encounter There were a couple of bizarre incidents that caught the eye in the game however Gaz playing against his father Grazer (and determined to score in this rare match up) fired a speculative shot from distance that hit the post and bar but failed to find the net - all this while Grazer was returning a ball from the adjacent pitch Moments later Grazer on all fours was well placed to save another Gaz effort

That father and son could not find a goal summed up the whole game

The morning ended with Purple at last finding a winning formula for a comfortable 3-0 win over Sky Goals by Aldo, Spiro and Michelle proved the conditions could be tamed with accurate passing (easier said than done) and good teamwork

There was a now routine confectionery celebration (supplied by our Treasurer Mr Meldrew) The lower attendance numbers meant yet more cake was available for Tom Parr to stretch out his dietary requirements

Wednesday night's Sutton SoccerDome session was played with the backdrop of improving weather conditions Earlier there was a difficult passage of hours of rain and brief hail stone interlude But as the hourglass moved nearer to 7pm the weather gods worked their magic and we were able to commence in the comparative luxury of still cold wind sweeping from the Far End The teams selected were;

Yellow - Nigel, Simon K, Kidda, Kenny and Daz

Blue - Midweek Michelle, Enoch, Deano, Chris 4G, Andy Man and Jason

White - Grav, Steve C, Tom Stretch, Haggis, Martin Mc and Keith

Red. - Deggsy Kool?, Neil Stretch, Chris 10P, Les H, Little John and Les Meldrew

Lord Rainford's butler got proceedings underway with a heart toot on the Sussex Constabulary Whistle Blue raced into a lead they never gave up, when Deano latched onto a lose pass to plunge Red into immediate crisis Before the midway mark the lead doubled when Deano repeated his earlier action 2-0 down and effectively game over Deggs shed his RayBans and slowed enough to fire a consolation 2-1

El Presidente presided over the nights other opening encounter White v Yellow with an early chance for Yellow narrowly wide With just 5 players Yellow had a strong squad but White took advantage of the extra player with good patient passing and movement to good effect A poor clearance gave Yellow the chance that they didn't waste to grab a 1-0 lead Searching for a leveller White revert to Hail Mary 'killer' balls rather than using their extra player Time ran out with Yellow securing the victory thanks to the early goal

Blue v White provided the next test for El Presidente's legendary patience (sic) Blue committed to using the full pitch spraying the ball about in good style White applied more direct pressure but were unable to find a break through goal Deano finished off a great team move with a goal in the last minute Blue a goal ahead Deano claimed a second in the final 30 seconds to hand Blue a 2-0 win

Yellow were way too strong for Red despite being a player light Daz claimed a hat trick with Simon adding a fourth Chris 10P did hit a consolation But the defensive fragility of Red severely damaged any hope they had of a second victory

In the finale of games White and Red claimed 7 goals in a real end to end battle Red evidently decided that their defensive problems were best solved by out scoring their opponents Chris 10P inevitable was lethal in front of goal with another hat trick Deggs added a fourth White stayed in the hunt with goals by Martin Mc, Steve C and Grav but Red held out to win 4-3

Blue and Yellow finished the night with Blue continuing to utilise their superb passing game to full effect Michelle robbed Daz and hammered a shot that Nigel did well to parry Jason worked the keeper with the follow up but Nigel recovered well to save again Enoch fired narrowly wide as Blue continued the pressure play Deano finally claimed the opening goal despite a frivolous appeal - this lead to a series of similar 'let's shout for anything appeals' All of which were ignored by Referee Hollywood Star (the Ego has landed)

A scrappy passage of play was devoid of clear chances until with just 2 minutes left Andy Enoch Powell swept a pass into the far corner after Blue had pulled Yellow apart Deano wrapped up the win after Yellow gifted the chance having failed to clear their lines with Blue pressing their opponents The 3-0 win meant Blue finished unbeaten

Another great series of competitive games played with great spirit and sportsmanship to round off a difficult week in terms of weather conditions We look forward to more of the same next week

Hail Stones* - I-Roy, The Upsetters (reggae combo of dubious quality but SHWFC is after all a broad church)

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