Sunday, October 31, 2010

England Hockey League and Spectators...

Well, I haven't managed to get to any domestic matches yet, but I'm looking forward to a few in the coming weeks.

It is often remarked that not that many people go to watch hockey games during the season, but I'm interested to hear people's favourite games that they've been to see over the years.

There was two very exciting matches between Leicester and Reading last season in the EHL and Surbiton have played some great games along with East Grinstead.

Do you have a memory of watching top-flite hockey in the UK? And what made you go and support?

Please post a comment...

Thursday, October 14, 2010

England Men Miss Bronze

Is there a bit of a curse on the England men and the Commonwealth Games?

They've only ever won bronze once in 1998 in the first Commonwealth Games hockey tournament, compared to the ladies who've taken a medal from each tournament since the beginning.

Still the men have had two very impressive matches, one against India and now this one with New Zealand.

There was a big crowd as you can see from the pictures.

Again poor Adam Dixon he'll feel terrible for the penalty save, but hopefully this will make them all stronger for 2014 and Glasgow.

 And Australia were on fire as ever, interestingly Chloe predicted an 8-0 win by the guys from downunder the previous night. I'd said surely a single goal victory for India? Well, I'm big enough to admit I'm wrong!

Well that's just about it from Delhi. We have the domestic season in the UK already up and running, and I'm already planning hockey trips for next year! Champions Trophy in the Netherlands and a European Championships in Germany - should be very good!

Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Bronze for England Ladies

So, 1-0 was the tight score line against South Africa. I think it is interesting to note that the top ranked teams are closing in on each other, especially in the women's game.

A year ago we perhaps wouldn't have included New Zealand and England in the faster developers, now we do.

Next year will be very interesting for the England women's team, with a Champions Trophy in the Netherlands and a European Championships in Germany - both very exciting prospects for the ladies.

Possibly there was a few tired England players out there, 3 top international tournaments in as many months is a big ask of players.

I'm glad that some of the players don't feel satisfied with a bronze this time round. I remember back to Melbourne when we'd scrapped through a penalty shoot out with New Zealand and the feeling was bronze was the best we could have hoped for.

Now it is much, much more.
Above: Me and guy from Melbourne radio who was going to different events at the Commonwealth Games to support Australia.
Above: My first tiger in India! This is the mascot of the Commonwealth Games in Delhi, he did one lap at half time and decided he couldn't take the 40'C heat!

Above: Chloe Rogers gets her second Commonwealth bronze medal from Dame Kelly Holmes.

Above: Australia celebrate winning gold again
Above: Australia and New Zealand players walk around the pitch at the end of the final

Above: Marion Seymour and flag!

We have England Men in action tomorrow and I have a ticket for the India v Australia final!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

England Lose on Penalties

I caught the end of the Men's game against India 3-3 after extra time and then penalty flicks. I have to just say I feel terrible for Glenn Kirkham, such a shame. But on the positive side the men are playing for the first Commonwealth medal for some time - the last one they got was in 1998.

As for the ladies well a game against South Africa awaits them tomorrow.

I went to the synchronized diving today, and saw Chelmsford's Rebecca Gallantree in action, well done to her - although she didn't win I thought she was very good. Anyway, it is difficult to see much in it between dives for someone like me who knows very little about the sport.  

Above: England's women's hockey players pose for a photo in the special meeting area.

Above: Carol and Annie Craddock at the diving.

Above: Rebecca Gallantree from Chelmsford dives.

Monday, October 11, 2010

England Disappointed

A 1-0 defeat to Australia in the semi-finals and to be fair we dominated but failed to convert chances. The Aussies and the English both contained each other, with Charlotte Craddock getting the best chance early on in the game.

40 degrees Celsius was shown on a thermometer on the large screens in the National Hockey Stadium at the beginning and at half-time - a suggestion to the umpires it might be a little too hot to play? For me in the stands it was boiling.

My feeling is the two semis should have been played in the evening - no disrespect to Scotland against Wales, but England v Australia is the bigger game.

Danny Kerry, the England Coach, is right to question this scheduling of the match during the hot part of the day.

But at the end of the day, Australia produced the goal, congratulations to Madonna Blyth for scoring and setting up an exciting final against New Zealand.

Let's hope the men do a little better against India.

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Shimla and Pinjore

On the advice of my lungs, and Chloe - who said: "Don't watch the hockey all the time, do stuff" - I decided to come to Shimla for a few days.

It is around 8 hours north of Delhi, however it took us closer to 12 hours to drive here, due to the crazy traffic and stops along the way.

I had a look around the gardens at Pinjore, just before we entered the foothills of the Himalayas (See pictures below).

Above: Yadavindra Gardens in Pinjore, on the border with Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh. Just about the start of the Himalayas.

I was first attracted to Shimla and the hill stations after watching the BBC's excellent series of documentary programmes on 'Indian Hill Railways', narrated by the wonderful voice of Bernard Hill (Yosser Hughes in Boys from the Blackstuff).

Shimla known as 'The Queen of Hill Stations' was featured in one programme and it looked like an English town. Well, that was the idea when it was constructed by the British.

Since the mid-nineteenth century Shimla became the cold capital, all the Brits would decamp here when Kolkata and Delhi became far too hot.  

The Viceroy of India would reside here and there is a huge Viceregal Lodge to view on Observatory Hill, along with other great houses to view on Summer Hill and along the Mall.

I particularly want to visit Scandal Point, more on that later.

The Oberoi Hotel is stunning and makes London Mayfair places look a little cheap, apparently Rudyard Kipling used to stay in the house they converted into the hotel, when he visted Shimla.

A day of sight-seeing follows then leave for Delhi tonight to make the semi-final between Australia and England.

In the Lord Curzon suite at breakfast this morning, I raised a rye smile at the sight of Essex jams and honey from Tiptree. Well done Wilkin and Sons, 125 years of jam making in the Essex town and still going strong!

Above: The hotel and some views from the mountains looking out from Shimla.

 Oh and it is very 'Tunda' - cold, lovely and cold!

Friday, October 08, 2010

New Zealand Defeat

It was a little bit disappointing to lose 4-1 to New Zealand, especially after such an amazing opener from England.

I understand there may be some sickness in the England camp, so that could account for a few problems - but on the day you had to say Katie Glynn was in fine form, scoring a hat-trick.

Charlotte Harrison also played some good hockey, and it is a credit to Mark Hager, their Australian coach, and the work the team have put in over the summer - getting a result against the number five ranked international side.

South Africa drew with Australia, another big result today 1-1 - so the semi spots are quite wide open going into the last women's pool matches.

Above: Me outside, there is plenty of police and army soldiers to protect visitors like me.

Above: The Dhyan Chand National Hockey Stadium in New Delhi. A sign up says it is only the second best hockey stadium in the world! This is crazy, this is the best purpose built stadium only for hockey in the world. No question. With out a doubt. Could do with some roofs on the stands to protect visitors from the sun!   

Above: England after the match against New Zealand, it's no way near finished yet.

Thursday, October 07, 2010


I feel a little sorry for the Indian women's hockey team, I have now seen two pieces in national newspapers and a feature of the TV all starting with... 'The problem with Indian women's hockey is...'

1. The goalkeeping
2. The defence
3. The attack

Well, hang on that doesn't leave much else to pull apart.

I think lack of marking lead to Australia's first goal, but they recovered and played well in parts. I think being critical of the attack does get somewhere near the problems with the India team.

I would say fitness levels between Indian players compared to some of the top teams in this competition and at the World Cup are very noticeable.

If you look at the top female sides they're players do a lot more running for the ball and pulling the defence out wide.

That said the Indians do have some great penalty corner routines, if this is what Sandeep Somesh can achieve in a couple of months, and yes he had been around the coaching staff for some time, imagine what they'll be like next year.

It was good to see India making use of the aerial a lot, and effectively in cases and what the commentators seem to forget was that India could have drawn or gone on to win, if the forwards had put away a few more chances.

India are certainly an improving side and one to watch.  

It was good to see a few more fans in the stand for the India game as well.

Rest Day

Had the chance to do a bit of sight-seeing in Delhi, went to the Presidential Palace, and Parliament building. The spectacular buildings look out onto a vista that includes India Gate in the distance and were designed by Edwin Lutyens and took some 18 years to build. This is was originally constructed for the Viceroy of India to live in during the British period and wasn't finished until 1931.

The scale, size and beauty of the buildings really are hard to convey over my little pictures.


And also a chance to catch up with Chloe ahead of the big clash with New Zealand. People often wonder what the athletes get up to during tournaments (when not training). Well, sometimes they watch TV, or movies - I don't think I'm giving too much away when I say, Chloe took the 'Mistresses' boxset of DVDs to Argentina.

And then at least one day they're forced to meet up with people like me ! 

 Above: Team England have a special area at one of the Delhi hotels for athletes to meet up with parents, friends and family.

Today, I also learnt the Hindi word for beautiful... However, I've forgotten it. :(

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Looking Hot!

So England win, India lose, and England win!

Rani Rampal is wearing pink trainers just like Luciana Aymar, and Rani showed her class towards the end with her excellent goal.

Above: Me wearing my India hockey shirt from Sandeep Somesh, signed on the back by the whole India women's team out in Argentina - it caused a lot of interest!

India will be at their base cursing the missed opportunities towards the beginning of that game with the Ozzies. I had India down to beat them, but it wasn't to be with a 2-1 victory to Australia.

There was a few more people in for the India game, even if the guys I was chatting to had mixed up the days and thought they'd be seeing India's men! So, they taught me the 'Chaka de India' song and we had a bit of a sing-a-long.

'Chaka de India' is Hindi for 'Go India!' and is from the excellent Bollywood movie about the Indian women's hockey team.

Great goal from Chloe Rogers; get your stick out and low when in the circle and you'll get a touch, top of the net - fab!

Now I understand there is a bit of debate going on in the UK about the music of 'Jerusalem' being played at the start and the England teams non-singing of it.

Well, its stupid - isn't it?

It is not the national anthem of the UK, and the women spend all the rest of the year singing 'God Save the Queen', so let England stick with that.

Also I notice that a lot of the anthems are shortened versions anyway, obviously only the complete song of 'Jerusalem' has been provided - so it goes on and on and on and on and climaxes with a less than impressive ending.

We don't play all 4 verses of 'God Save the Queen' anymore, so why play all of this? (If you must have it at all). 

Above: The top of India Gate viewed from the National Hockey Stadium.
Above: Alan Craddock cut a bit of a lonely figure in the stand, as England supporters moved to the top to get a bit of protection from the burning mid-morning sunshine.
And more volunteers wanted to speak Hindi to the funny foreigner, one volunteer even said: "I'm friendly"- isn't that nice?!

So, a very hot day all round - spent mostly in full sunshine. Phewwwww! Rest day tomorrow.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

India, First Days...

Well, I have arrived and England won 4-1 against Wales today. So, start as we mean to go on.

It was an okay match - England did what needed to be done. 

Above: The stunning India Gate war memorial next to the National Hockey Stadium in Delhi

Above: Me with marigolds!

Above: Some volunteers wanted a picture taken with some English people, so here we go!