Fixture: In2Hockey Club U12 Championship National Finals
Date: Saturday 12 May 2012
Score: Team Bath Buccaneers are U12 National Champions
Venue: Cannock Hockey Club
The championship consists of 10 teams taken from five regions. The teams are placed into two pools and to reach the final, a team has to top its group.
The TBB boys were fast out of the blocks in their first match was against Harleston with Sam Young and Will Arney scoring two early goals. The boys had learnt a valuable lesson after throwing away a two goal lead in the Regional final and protected their lead well despite Harleston scoring in the second half.
On paper our second pool match against Thirsk should have been one of our easier group matches but every team in a National final is quality opposition and the boys choose this game to have their ‘near miss’ and ‘post hitting’ match but the boys patience paid off and Henry Brearey calmed the players, coaches and parents nerves with two beautifully taken goals.
Our next match was against Leicester, another tense affair. Despite going 3-0 up, a couple of the Leicester boys were super skilful and capable of scoring at any time.
Defender Finn Eaton worked tirelessly all day but in this match it was winger Tomas Reeman that made an astonishing goal line stop.
When Leicester scored to make it 3-1, the TBB boys continued to run until they were literally dropping, making key tackle after tackle which ensured the score remained 3-1.
In the last of the four pool matches the team was in the highly unusual position of knowing it had already made the final.
The coaches made excellent calls during this match on when to rest key players whilst ensuring the boys went into the final maintaining a winning momentum. A penalty flick and goal from Henry and a further goal from Sam meant a 3-1 victory against Guildford.
So the boys had made the final. Our opposition was Avalon hockey club who had beaten us in the Regional final 3-2. What an advert for West of England hockey, with both teams having made the final.
It was an amazing match and fitting of a final. The TBB boys needed to defend exceptionally well in the first half and Harvey Heap had to be at his very best in goal. The half time team talk from the coaches was tactically spot on; the boys had to go on the attack to stand any chance of winning.
With about four minutes left on the clock, and the score still 0-0; Sam Young got his ‘must score’ chance and got hold of a reverse stick shot firing it into the top right hand corner of the net.
Avalon continued to battle hard but the boys held on to become In2Hockey Club Championship National Champions.
The TBB boys were the hugely skilful Henry Brearey (captain) who simply led by example all day, scoring key goals, whilst never allowing a head to go down if a tackle or goal was missed.
Up front Sam Young made some great runs into space, often drawing two defenders out of the game and scored important goals, Will Arney was solid in the centre of the field, running both farther and faster than I suspect he even thought he was capable of, Tomas Reeman and Dan Henly worked tirelessly on the wings switching between attack and defence as the game dictated, In defence Freddie Saunders, Max Bartlett and Finn Eaton were well organised and solid, all making match saving interceptions many times every match.
Last but by no means least Harvey Heap in goal was one of the smallest goal-keeper at the tournament but he played big and brave, only letting two goals slip past him all day.
Throughout the whole day these boys conducted themselves with professionalism well beyond their young years, the work rate in every match was phenomenal but it was the desire to win for the team that really shone through.
I know the boys are enormously grateful to their two coaches Guy Bartlett and Mark Brearey whose calm (most of the time!) approach, positive encouragement, tactical brilliance and targeted training sessions were invaluable.
Thanks also to Jon Williams at Advalus for sponsoring the team shirt and shorts, the boys looked magnificent.
My final thanks to all the parents and grandparents that came to Cannock to support the boys, you certainly played your part during the matches, providing the right amount of gentle encouragement between games and most importantly ensuring food and water was constantly taken on board. I know you all enjoyed the day.
I am so proud of your boys – a fantastic team who have been an absolute pleasure to manage this season.
Hockey Development Manager
University of Bath