So it arrived, Match Day 1, slight hiccup, due to some tribal rivalry, players leaving Lytham to join Garstang prompted the away side to bring out the big guns.
Garstang got off to a dream start, Dave Gee to Callum Merrick, return pass to Gee and the ball hits the backboard 1-0, all within a minute of the league debut. This only proved to awaken Lytham’s National League players, who we were pleased to have gracing Division 4 with their presence. Far superior they were and the speed and movement of the ball was there to be seen. Goalkeeper Rory Mower did all he could, but balls driven across the goals, neatly deflected into the top corner, reverse stick strikes from the top of the D, none of it befitting the standard of hockey Garstang are possibly going to encounter for the remainder of their season.
The midfield worked tirelessly. Special mention to youngsters, Jack Thornton, Chris Saunders, Rocco Giannone and Adam Ball, who all put a shift in working backwards to aid their defenders, but still found time to set up and drive several attacks of their own.
Mick Hayes and Travis Pieters, in his final game before returning to South Africa, kept the engine room stoked, both finding individual skills, nearly opening opportunity’s for their forwards.
A baptism of fire for debut boys, Hayden Price and Jim Proctor, along with the overworked defensive unit of Ross Kelly, Simon Long, Neil Ball, Brendan Cookson and Tony Marsh, the only downside was that we couldn’t play all 7 defenders to help stem the tide, even then it may not have been enough.
A welcome flourish at the end was to see a Simon Long pile driver from a short corner add to The Reds goal tally and send the team off with a positive feeling to next weeks game. Nobody got disheartened and as one of Garstangs coaches said, with the strength of Lythams side, coupled with the fact that 7 of Garstangs team had never played a competitive game of hockey, anything less than a 10-0 victory to Lytham is to be counted as a win, the whole team came off the field with smiles on their faces, having gained a moral victory and thoroughly enjoying their first encounter of League Hockey.
Special thanks to Helen and Jemma for umpiring, all who came to support and it was many, friend, family and especially the Garstang Hockey Family, with the Girls from a wide selection of Garstang Ladies teams voicing their support and encouragement, all very gratefully heard and received.
Finally to The Brockholes Arms for your continued support with refreshments, grateful enjoyed by us all.
Oh, final score 8-2 down, but it wasn’t to dampen the spirits, onwards and upwards.
Written by Neil Ball, Captain
Pictured - the opening goal celebrating moment ( Dave Gee out of shot)