Roller Hockey: HBU in Darmstadt for the Heinerfest!
Rain, Sun and Sunday Morning
Herne Bay United at the Heinefest 5/6 July 2014
HBU travelled to Darmstadt in Germany for the Heinefest tournament over the weekend. The Heinefest is probably the largest street funfair in the World and is held over 4 days the first weekend in July. One of the 2 local roller hockey clubs, RSC Darmstadt, holds an international tournament at this time each year and this was the 47th edition with 1st and 2nd division teams from Germany, Switzerland and France and a team of German “Allstars”.
HBU’s pool looked tough with both Darmstadt teams and the strong Swiss team Thun to play. First up was TSG Darmstadt and HBU won a tight match 2 – 1. This was a very promising start but then the heavens opened. The tournament is played on a terrazzo surface outdoor rink. There is a standby indoor rink to use if rain sets in, but the weather looked changeable and so play carried on outside in the rain.
There are many ways to play roller hockey and the least that can be said is that HBU’s approach does not suit playing in the rain. Only the 2 older players in the team even knew that roller hockey can be played in the rain and the youngsters found it hard to even think about it; they failed to adapt and HBU lost 6 – 1 and nursing quite a few bruises from heavy falls. We were not very happy but everyone else thought it was jolly good fun!
Hurting a bit and thinking about the cost of the kit that was getting ruined, we were not really up for another match in the rain and it was a match against Thunerstern that we needed to win to play for the top spots on Sunday. Good news – the rain stopped. Bad news the rink was not fully dried up and was slippy in some places and very grippy in others. On balance OK but, as in the first match, we gave away early goals and ended up chasing the game. 4 – 3 down at half-time, HBU kept composure in the second half not wanting to give away a further goal while trying to get back on terms. As is always a possibility in these circumstances, Thun got a late breakaway and put the match beyond HBU, it ending up as a 5 – 3 loss.
HBU were 3rd in the group and would play Roubaix from France on Sunday morning for places 5 to 7.
The Heinefest is there to enjoy so a night on the town is mandatory and, even without a late night in a fairground, HBU never start well on Sunday morning. The players kept themselves in reasonably good shape and were all up and ready for the 9am match. Here we met a new problem – the sun was low and it was difficult to see into it, especially for goalkeepers. When the coin is tossed there are 2 choices, ball or ends. Choose to face the sun in the 1st half and know where you stand at half time or choose to play with the sun and hope it is better in the 2nd half. There was another challenge that we had failed to spot. Roubaix came bottom of their pool but had come short-handed and had managed to pick up another German player over night. HBU chose to play with the sun and were 3- 1 up at half time. However, the sun was more blinding in the 2nd half and HBU conceded 5 goals for only 1 in reply so lost the match 6 – 4.
So, in three matches we had gone from trying to play for the top spot to trying to avoid the wooden spoon. However, we had to play Bern which was better than another match with TSG.
The rink and light were in reasonable shape and we went into a 2 – 0 lead. Then we conceded 2 stupid goals in about a minute before regaining our composure to go 3 – 2 up. As the 2nd half drew to a close, Bern took their keeper off so as to have 5 out-players in attack. The benches had not bothered to change ends so we did not immediately spot this but when we did we shouted at Neil Austin to shoot from our penalty area. He slapped the ball up the rink and one of the Swiss players got a stick to it. The ball ricocheted into the air and came down in a slow motion spiral, bounced a couple of times and went in the goal. That shot pretty much summed up the adventure, it could have gone anywhere and any match between any of the teams could have gone any way and so could the weather they had to play in. We ended with a 4 -2 win and in pretty good spirits and 7th and not 8th.
The HBU team was very much a “select” or as we would have said a “touring team”. And, in the vein of the cricket analogy, we could sit outside the club house, drink, eat and watch play albeit with a characteristically German flavour. Our hosts were great and it was so long since they had an English team there they had to get a Union Flag from the town hall. Us older folk met some old friends and it was a great experience for everyone and a reminder of many things we have forgotten about playing roller hockey.
HBU Team: Joe Singleton (Capt), Neil Austin, Karl Smith, Fabio Vicente, Tom White, David Martindale, Kristoff White (GK), Rob Amos (GK)
HBU 2 – 1 TSG 1846 Darmstadt
RSC Darmstadt 6 – 1 HBU
HBU 3 vs 5 SC Thunerstern
HBU 4 vs 6 CP Roubaix
HBU 4 vs 2 RHC Bern
HBU scorers Fabio(7), Joe(2), Tom(2), Neil(2), David(1).