After a good 5 months since last hearing a BUCS or saturday game full time whistle, for many of the 1s and 2s players, it was finally time to dust off the kit and head back to Bristol for preseason. Much like Tony Blair's "education, education, education" catchphrase, coach Ben Dudley believes whole-heartedly in "fitness, fitness, fitness" and therefore chose to forgo the August bank holiday in favour of an extra day of preseason.
Ben's controversial move appeared justified as somewhat questionable and varied levels of fitness returned from trips abroad, sun loungers and bars. South-mediterranean-like weather greeted the lucky returning group, adding to the brutal fitness exercises and intense drills over the next few days.
However, great progress was made, with a few of the Freshers showing that they are more than capable. Club Captain, Tom Davies was soon to praise fresher, Tom Minall who "as a fresh looks good, can bin a flick", a trait that everybody enjoys (especially those of you eagerly awaiting the return of Fantasy Hockey and looking to get ahead of the transfer market game before the new season. Details about Fantasy to come soon).
Following 4 gruelling days, it was time for a little R&R (rest and rehydration) with the team declaring on Twitter (@bristolhockey) that it was "time for a traditional spot of hydration at the Cori[nation] Tap #jars". A lack of updates about the evening following this tweet at 19.30 gives the impression that much fun was had, as per usual.
After a rest day on Friday, Saturday saw the team embark on a weekend trip to Cannock (somewhere north of Birmingham, for those who, like me, didn't have a clue). This tournament would pitch our boys up against some of the strongest National League sides in the country. Unfortunately, the results reflected the quality of the sides at the tournament, with the boys losing all 4 games. However, many positives were taken from the tournament, not least the performances once again of the freshers, particularly Tom Minall and Josh Hallett who according to Club Captain, Tom Davies, "played extremely well and quickly bedded into the team".
Coach, Ben Dudley and 1st Team Captain, Jake Vincent had the following to say:
BD: Overall, I have been really pleased with the guys, especially this weekend. 4 games against quality opposition was a real test and a great way to start our pre-season; we are now much clearer about what we need to work on over the coming weeks to be ready for our first league match in the Premiership on 30th September against Wotton-under-Edge.
JV: After a week of preseason, the Cannock tournament, was always going to be a tough test for us, against some quality national league sides. An unforgiving, two-day tournament schedule of four matches in two days was tiring, but has allowed us to get in some vital match practice, and further improve our fitness. The two days away has also offered us an opportunity to bond as a group and integrate some new faces into the squad. Although the results did not necessarily go our way, many positives have come out of this tournament, and I would like to take this opportunity to thank Cannock Hockey Club for organising and inviting us to this prestigious preseason competition.
The boys will have a much deserved rest day on Monday, before getting back to it on Tuesday. Looking ahead, this week will include normal training sessions, no matches. Next friendly match will be against Westbury at Coombe Dingle on Wednesday, 15th September with the Girls playing at the Cardiff Met Triangular Tournament the same day.
For a more visual round up of the week's action, take a look at an excellent video put together by Todd Dudley here.
Updated 18:10 - 4 Sep 2017 by William Stonehewer-Smith