The 18th John Spight tournament, for me a weekend that I look forward to so much each year, being able to see players old and new coming together and playing all for the memory of my dad, seeing teams like the GB juniors who are in preparation for a huge tournament and having teams like The Retros coming together full of players who want to be there for the memory is an amazing thing to see. The weekend is always full of laughs and tears and this weekend was no different. This year the family were very grateful to have Vesterbro Stars come over and join us for the tournament as I know it's a long way for a tournament and I appreciate all the effort they put in.
So Saturday, with Johns shirt hanging over the timekeepers box on the half way line it was time to start the weekend, it was a day of group games where each team played the other 3 teams from their groups, and there was some amazing games from that day. Some hard fought games like the Crusaders v Vesterbro game where the score line was only 2-0 to Crusaders, and many other games where there was only 1 or 2 goals in it, to other games where the score line wasn't so close. But one thing that was noticed that was every team skated off at the end of each game with a smile on their face. The friendly nature of the tournament shone through and even after some big defeats everyone kept skating and kept playing hard but more importantly enjoyed their time out there. That comes from a personal level as well, where this year 'The Retros' was a team made up of some older players who haven't played ball hockey for a while thanks to my brother Garry, I decided to lace up the skates and play in my first ever hockey tournament, and even after losing out first game 8-2 to Hawks, our whole team came off smiling and laughing. Ready for the next challenge ahead. The Saturday came to a close and we had placings of the groups ready for the Sunday's games.
3rd The Retros
4th GB u19s
3rd Sprint Raiders
4th Crusader Kings
Sunday morning and some teams nursing sore heads saw an eventful morning, Hawks playing Kings and winning to make their way to the semi final, followed by the Crusaders beating GB U19s to make their way to the semis, the next 2 games found their opponents, firstly the Knightz beat Sprint Raiders to join the Crusaders in their semi final and then Vesterbro beat the Retros as the 4th team to get to the semi finals and were faced up against the Hawks. The semi finals saw 2 very good levelled and fast paced games. Havering and Vesterbro playing very level hockey while 4 on 4 and the first 4 goals of the game all came from PP goals in the favour of 3-1 to Vesterbro, however the 2nd half Vesterbro found some extra lift and pulled away from Hawks and found their form to book themselves the first slot of the final. Next up we had Knightz v Crusaders, a game which reminded close throughout with Knightz going ahead 3 times and the crusaders pulling back every time, at the end of the game the score remained 3-3, which meant we were heading to our first game of extra time, 5 minutes were played and there was still nothing in it, which meant we were heading for penalties, and with Ethan and Tipple in goals ready it was time, Tom Dickinson went first and scored for Crusaders, followed by Will Kouao for Knightz who also scored, the next 4 for Crusaders came from Jon Laird, Steve Dickinson, Lee Hayter and Dexter, and all 4 penalties were saved. For Knightz Barry James, Adam Shirley and Jakob Horstmann all had their penalties saved, so last penalty for Knightz with Jeryll stepping up, and in it went, which saw Knightz win 5-4 after penalties and heading to the final to play Vesterbro.
Placing games followed next with The Retros beating Crusader Kings 5-4 after extra time as the Crusader Kings levelled the game to 4-4 in the final minute of the game. Then we had GB playing Sprint Raiders which saw the Raiders coming out with the win and finishing 5th. Crusaders outplayed Hawks in the next game to take 3rd. Just before the final we had the Knightz and Vesterbro lining up either side of the shirt, the Crusaders and Kings players joined by myself and 2 brothers lined up infront of Johns shirt ready for a minute silence to remember John. It was time for the final. A very fast paced game, where the Knightz 6 players kept up with and Ethan in goal stood strong. Vesterbro had a lot of shots and seemed to control the final from the off, just before the end of the first half Vesterbro broke through and scored the first goal. The 2nd half again saw a fast paced half with the Knightz desperately fighting to get the game level, the game kept pushing and in the final 2 minutes of the game Vesterbro again managed to break through and secure their 2nd goal and going on to win the final.
The presentation followed with the following trophies being awarded: 8th place Crusader Kings 7th place The Retros 6th place GB U19s 5th place Sprint Raiders 4th place Havering Hawks 3rd place Borehamwood Crusaders 2nd place London Knightz 1st place Vesterbro Stars
And the dream team was announced as:
GK: Ethan James (Knightz)
Player: Will Kouao (Knightz)
Player: Oliver Sommer (Vesterbro)
Player: Marcel Maly (Knightz)
Player: Theo Bundock (GB u19s)
And that drew a close to the weekend. Firstly I would like to send well wishes to Marcel Maly, who during the semi final took a ball to the face which resulted in the ambulance being called and a very swollen eye, latest update from that injury was that he has a fracture of the left nasal bones and a fracture through the walls of the maxillary Antrum and a fracture of the maxillo zygomatic arch and has to stay in hospital! We wish him a speedy recovery and hope to see him back playing very soon.
Lastly I need to thank some people for this weekend, the first one being Jan Dickinson who works immensely hard behind the scenes to ensure the weekend runs smoothly, another being Tanya Ayliffe, without her this weekend we would have had any refs for the games, chasing up players to ref is no easy feat but she ensured that the weekend went without hiccups. Following on from that, Carl who reffed most of the games this weekend, and the players who not only played but stepped up and reffed, I know it's not an ideal way to spend your games off but I really appreciate it as without you doing that we would have been stuck. And finally a big thanks to everyone, mums, dads, girlfriends, wives, players, everyone for being there, for making the weekend enjoyable and being there with me and my family to remember a man who will never be forgotten in the world of hockey, A name that even if you weren't born when he died it's a name that will be remembered, John Spight.
Thank you all from Michelle, Garry, Martin and Christine Spight