HBU Kings begin well in St Omer
Member of HBU’s senior squad travelled to St Omer at the weekend for a pre-season tournament. United travelled with 8 players and 2 keepers. (A number of players were missing due to other commitments including ND1 tournament in Soham).
Manager Phil McVey wanted to use the weekend to introduce some of the new signings into the team in competitive matches, and to try out a few things.
The first game on the Saturday afternoon was against the National French ladies team (who are heading to the world championships in a couple of weeks with a realistic chance of winning the competition). HBU had received requests from the Ladies coach asking us not to take any slap shots during the game so as not to injure his players. This actually benefited United as it forced to move the ball around as a team. Everyone played and HBU ran out comfortable winners 8 – 1.
United’s 2nd game saw then face the hosts, top French side St Omer. United took the early lead and at half time the score was 3-3. The second half was as close as the first, however some dubious reffing and some bad luck saw St Omer score 3 goals in the last 3 minutes of match to run out victors 7-4. It was an extremely tough test for United, St Omer are semi professional, however they have some fully professional players in their ranks (from Portugal & Argentina). United showed they have taken huge strides forward in their own game, pushing the French all the way.
On Sunday United faced 2 other French sides (Ergue Gabric & Noisy Le Grand), both were to provide a stiff test to United however United dominated both sides running out comfortable winners in both games. The English cup holders winning 7-2 against Ergue Gabric and 5-2 against Noisy Le Grand.
HBU finished the tournament in 2nd place behind St Omer. The only negative from the whole weekend was a serious leg injury to United’s debutant striker Dave Todd. An accidental collision against Ergue Gabric resulted in goal machine Dave “Toddy” Todd having to be taken by fire engine to the local hospital to have 4 stitches in a nasty looking cut to his knee. (Later that day Toddy put out a statement saying that he did not hold the Ergur Gabric player responsible, it was a freak accident, he went on to say: “At one stage I was concerned that my roller hockey career might be over, but due to the professionalism of the French medical staff at the hospital, I should be able to resume training in a couple of weeks”.
Other debutants Tom White, Peter Halvorsen and Luciano “Tati” Difeo all performed well.
Following the tournament HBU Head Coach Phil McVey said: “Aside from the injury to Toddy, the weekend was an unqualified success. I could not have wished for more. As a team we have definitely raised the level of our play. The last time we came to this tournament St Omer thrashed us 13-1 and we also lost a couple of other matches. The move to the new rink in Herne Bay, and the fact that I now have the opportunity to coach all of the senior players in the club twice a week is making a huge difference. It has given me the time needed to work on the players as individuals and as a team. Our all round game as a team has improved, and so have the players individual technique.
The players who attended this weekend have shown to me that they can perform at a very high level. They have bonded as a unit. 4 of our summer signings were in the side, and all 4 impressed me immensely. Tom White, Pete Halvorsen and Toddy have all made huge leaps forward in terms of their ability and their discipline in both defence & attack. They are not the same players that people will remember from last season. I have to give them credit, they have all worked extremely hard in training, and have taken on board everything I have said. If they keep on working hard at training, there is no reason why they can’t keep on improving.
I must give a special mention to our latest signing “Tati” from Argentina. He has fitted in superbly, having not played for at least 18 months he is only to get better and better, the more rink time he gets. He’s a great lad, and his reading of the game is very very good.
This is an exciting season for HBU, the senior squad is big enough that we have entered into both the premier League and ND1. There is competition for places in both teams, there isn’t a player in the club who is guaranteed a place in either side. I do not see the ND1 side as a separate entity. If a player performs to an extremely high level on a consistent basis in ND1, there is no reason why they cannot force their way into the Premier League side.
HBU Kings Team list: David Garlick, Tom White(2), Richard Walker(1), Peter Halvorsen, Luciano Difeo(1), Simon Hosking(Cap)(7), Neil Austin(1), David Todd(2), Brendan Barker(10), Jay Williamson
I have to say I am pleased and impressed by the start our U11’s have made this weekend. 3 wins out of 3. The reports I have had back were that we played very well, and that we played the game the right way from start to finish. Well done to all concerned.
We are currently sitting top of the table in ND1 following the 1st tournament this weekend, with 2 wins and a draw it is a steady start. I expect the players to push on from here in that competition. The players know that they are all fighting for their places this season.
We have a lot of young senior players (Under 25 years of age). I am expecting them to push not only for a 1st team place, but for a place in the starting line up of the 1st team.
As a club we have managed to create a healthy competitive atmosphere among the players. All the players in the senior squad (of which there are about 30) respect each other, and they realise we are all striving for the same thing. We want to be the no.1 club in the country, and we want to win every competition we enter. I know that is a very big ask, but I believe you should set the bar as high as you can. That has always been the case, but the new rink has enabled us to redefine ourselves as a club. There is a clear line of progression from the U9’s all the way up to the 1st team. When I look at the U15’s I see players that should be competing for a 1st team place in 3 or 4 years. The same thing goes for the U13’s, U11’s & U9’s.
It is also good that the players of all ages can see that there is a clear line of progression. We are fortunate enough to have very good coaches at all levels within the club. The only barriers for any player within HBU is talent and how much effort they want to put in. If you have the talent and you put the effort in, you will reap the benefits.
Overall a great weekend for HBU. We now look forward to the rest of October. Next weekend our U13’s travel to Lichstadt for a tournament, the following weekend (22nd October) we have our 1st premierleague game against Invicta, and the weekend after that (29th Oct) our U15’s play in Eastern Counties U15’s tournament.