It was a game in aid of charity but there was nothing charitable about the performance Great Britain put on. They put the Northern Invitational XI to the sword at Brooklands Hockey Club in front of a sell out crowd.Bobby Crutchley ordered his side to “Go out and give these people their money’s worth” and that’s precisely what they did. Doubles from Sam Ward and Mark Gleghorne did the damage in addition to strikes from Ian Sloan, David Condon and Phil Roper as GB racked up seven unanswered goals.
It was actually the North who fashioned the first clear chance of the game, Stefan Ray-Hills burst into the circle at pace and forced a superb block from George Pinner in the GB goal. The North then forced a penalty corner which they tried to work back to captain Jack Waller but it was well read by the defence and GB cleared.
It was at this point that Great Britain began to impose themselves on their opponents. Their searing pace breaking forwards caused The North all manner of problems and after a swift attack Ian Sloan, recently returned from injury gleefully picked up a loose ball in the circle and slotted home the opener.
Gleghorne rifled in a trademark penalty corner for his first and despite some spirited defence and the occasional foray forwards by the North it wasn’t long before Condon made it 3-0 with a neat finish from close range.
Gleghorne added a fourth with a fierce penalty corner which found the roof of the net and it was looking grim up north for Mark Aveson-Bateman’s side.
Sam Ward got in on the act with a sublime close range finish and then a bullet strike from the edge of the circle as Great Britain swarmed forwards in numbers, suffocating any attempts by the north to break forwards.
Gleghorne almost completed his hat-trick from a penalty corner but Tom Sorsby produced a superb clearance off the line to the delight of the crowd.
With time running out and the crowd lapping up the efforts of both sides, GB put the icing on the cake with a sublime team move culminating in Gleghorne playing in Chester’s Phil Roper who betrayed his northern roots with a lovely finish for the 7th.
A beaten but not despondent Pete Flanagan, also known as The King in the North told The Top of the D afterwards:
“We really enjoyed it. Obviously we were a team thrown together but the guys did well and we were fairly competitive. We had a couple of chances and generally we gave them a game. It’s been a great occasion and I am glad we could contribute to that. It’s fantastic to see Ben here and I hope despite the result we did him proud.”
“It goes without saying I’m a northern boy so I’m proud to represent the north. Even the boys from the north on the GB side were egging us on, so I’m very proud of everyone tonight.”
“I’ve played at Brooklands 16 years and I’ve never seen a crowd like it. It’s a great cause and we’re proud to support Ben and do something positive for him. The GB squad coming here is a rare occurrence and the club has really embraced it. Hopefully we can get Ben up to the target he needs. That’s the most important thing.”
If you missed the match or wish to watch it again you can watch it via the good people at Match Home. You can buy the game for £5 at matchhome.team/gb/keep with the money going to Ben’s cause. You can also donate by texting MATCH to 88802 or by visiting the just giving page.
A truly superb night where once again the hockey family were in their droves. I hope we can get Ben up to the target he needs.