Old Boys In Blue

LUC Ronchin Hockey Club, Lille 15-16 March 2002

HAVING ENJOYED a highly successful foray into Europe in September 2002, it was hardly surprising that the 'Old Boys in Blue' would be ready for more -and it came in the shape of an invitation to Lille on March 15/16, to the 'Neuvieme Tournoi International Super Veterans!'

Scottish Thistles squad Lille 2003

Back Row: Ally Philip, Doug Caren, Ian Downie, Sandy Weir, Doug Morrce, Coln Skinner, Davd McIntosh, Peter Monaghan
Front Row: Alan Auld, Alan Bremner, George Black, Rab Keddie, Alan Strachan, Keith Forster

There was never any doubt we would accept, but it was a blow to find that one of our Paris top goalscorers, Jim White, was to be celebrating his 70th (birthday, not goal) in Benidorm that week. Poor chap! However, a younger, untested, Anglo-Scot, from Bowdon, Colin Skinner, stepped up to take his place. Nearly all the teams from Paris were there, except the Germans (they are hosts for the September 2003 European Tournament and are keen to keep their team and tactics under wraps! - clearly this is a story yet to evolve).

Play at Lille Ronchin University Hockey Club was scheduled to start after lunch on the Saturday - regular Hockey Scotland readers will not be surprised to learn that lunch included the regulation three bottles of red wine per table of six. However, they may be surprised at there being no morning matches. This is easily explained - our entire squad had to go to Auchan, the local hypermarket, to stock up with cheap booze, and as far as could be seen, everyone then got seriously lost on the way from there to the hockey ground!

When play eventually got underway, we despatched Eburons (Belgium) and Superveterans (France) with something to spare. However, the Sunday morning was not so funny (they rarely are!) and we never quite got going when losing to LX1 (England). So subsequent wins over LX2 and ZestigPlussers (Holland) were going to be insufficient unless LX1 also dropped points. The opportunity came when Eburons asked for some help for their match against LX1, and Alan von Strachan, Sandy van der Weir and Dougie Morritz came to the rescue. Unfortunately, this is a 'nearly' story! -it was not quite enough. The match was still all-square when there was a call of 'last two minutes' and LXI collectively thought 'Oh my God!' One very long ball, one slash, (which could have gone anywhere), the match was over and we were committed to being runners-up (but, truthfully, fairly happy with that).

There was no Fair Play Trophy to be won on this occasion, but we did receive a special commendation for our efforts on the Saturday night dance floor! You see, the 'band' consisted of one fellow (who could play his keyboard with one finger) and one girl (who had two points in her favour, but neither was singing). You could say that their repertoire was a trifle limited. After the introductory quickstep, followed by a waltz, there was clearly some difficulty as to what dance should be next, and their selection of a tango was not wholly greeted with favour -so we quickly formed two sets for an eightsome reel, which readers will be aware is a natural for that rhythm ?!? Of course, the poor keyboard man had no way of knowing when to stop (and the eightsome is a long dance) and therefore whenever he made the attempt, he was greeted with a loud roar for more (we suspect that could have been a first).

The next dance, obviously, was a rumba, and so it just had to be a Strip the Willow, with consequences similar to the previous dance. We shall leave our readers to visualise our response to the Paso Doble which followed! (there were some who thought the use of the kilt was a little flamboyant). Well, you can only take so much, and Scottish dancing is thirsty work -and there comes a time in every hockey player's life when the lure of the bar becomes irresistible, however good the cabaret! At least on this occasion, there was no bus home needed - we had booked into the hotel holding the Saturday night dinner (our thanks to Tim Pollard for the early advice in this connection). So there we are - third in Paris, second in Lille. Can we keep the sequence going? -time will tell, and Hockey Scotland readers will be told!

[report from Scottish Hockey Magazine, Spring 2003]

In fact, Jim White was not the only one missing from the original Scotland LX squad of sixteen which took part in the European Superveterans Championships in Paris in 2002. Howard Andrew, Craig McCall and Harry Phillips also dropped out, while Sandy Weir joined Colin Skinner as a newcomer to make the Lille squad up to fourteen. Information on goal scorers is scarce but Doug Caren recalls scoring one goal.