Banbury Boys Paint a Masterpiece at Van Dyke School

Banbury 4s – 2 Leighton Buzzard 3s – 2

It was Van Dyke School, Leighton Buzzard (LB) in the grey cold drizzle but the hockey played by Banbury in the second half would’ve made Van Dyck (the 16th century painter) blush. The LBHC pitch is actually at Van Dyke School – but the only Van Dyke I know is Dick van Dyke (the world’s worst cockney of Mary Poppins fame), and give me a break but I’m trying to make LB interesting. If it was Van Gogh School I’d understand it as the utter tedium of the place would’ve made anyone hack off their ear out of sheer desperate boredom. As it happens Van Dyck painted King Charles 1st…..who, as history had it, was beheaded. I actually think he chopped his own head off rather than suffer another night out in LB. 

Anyway, the team got to LBHC at 2.45 for the 3.30 pushback only to be told they were running late so we had an extra half hour to savour the delights of the town but chose to sit it out in the changing rooms instead as the blank walls were infinitely more interesting. 

We eventually exited our safe haven to start the match – It was raining so much it was wetter than a fish’s wet bits and that just added to the “LB experience”. The first half was a tough lesson for Banbury in structure and discipline as LB controlled the game with deft passing and movement. The defence of Henry in goal, Andy Camp, Dipak Tandell, Ethan Bissett,  Felix Webb and Zach Boynton worked hard and over turned a lot of attacks successfully but possession was lost too many times in midfield and attack. They scored from a penalty corner after 15 minutes after some sloppy passing by Banbury and then made it 2-0 before half time as a result of more sloppy passing and marking. Banbury did pull some great moves together down the flanks via Zach, Sam Chadbourne, Ethan, Felix and Toby Squire, but the LB keeper kept his side in the game. Banbury won a string of short corners at the end of the half but just couldn’t put the ball in the net. 

At half time Matt Allman and Andy Camp – the Old Masters (see what I did there?) painted a picture (and again?) of what was going wrong and how to attack the second half. And the lads listened! 

The second half couldn’t have been more different and the hockey played made theLeighton Buzzard sky shine – well the rain stopped anyway. Banbury clicked into gear from the start and played exquisite pass and move hockey, and, more importantly marked their opponents out of the game. Banbury dominated with the midfield of Allman, Squire, Britto, and Sam and suddenly the forward line of Jacob Bucknor Rowner and Jamie Marsh received more ball in the danger areas putting the opponents under huge pressure. The LBHC keeper continued to make save after save until Jacob broke the deadlock with 15 minutes to go with a deft flick into the top of the LBHC net. From then on it was one way traffic with Squire, Allman, Britto and Chadbourne running the midfield leaving Zach Felix and Ethan to overlap down the flanks and get Jacob and Jamie in behind the defence. Camp and Tandel snuffed out any breakaways so there was no respite. 

The LB keeper saved everything thrown at him – it was like watching a demented Michelin Man on Strictly doing the Charleston. With 2 minutes to go Banbury won a string of short corners which went to full time – so the whole team came up to the D and Camp took over striking duties. The aged elders of Camp, Britto, and Allman conferred like the 3 Wise Men at the top of the D and Camp went for the right slip to Allman who hit the backboard like a crack of thunder…..and the final whistle blew. The team erupted (as did the appreciative travelling supporters) and Allman got hugged and mobbed (he was hot sweaty and damp so it didn’t last long). A great come back by the lads who showed grit and determination against a well drilled and experienced full men’s team. 

So we left Leighton Buzzard with it’s dreaming spires and magnificent cathedrals, world famous restaurants, castles, vibrant night life, picturesque cottages and gleaming pavements of gold…….Nah…….it’s as attractive as Trump in Lycra.