22 Aug 2017
Mr Blue Sky

On Sunday, after a morning on the beach playing hockey (according to one of our senior members) it seemed apt that we then took a cruise with the Lovers Company. The girls enjoyed the sights from water level and some caught up on a little shut-eye as they prepared themselves for the task of supporting the English team at the Euro hockey champs.

A stop-off at the hotel then back in the battle bus for another journey that – miraculously – under-cut the usual 30 minute estimate from Pistol Pete. In the packed stands, the SG girls’ chanting and support for the England Team was sadly not sufficient to raise them to a win against our old friends Germany, who took an early lead and – despite much England pressure – held on for the win. The girls’ vocal support did not have the desired effect, but it was appreciated by the players’ parents who were sitting one row in front of us. Especially Mrs Hinch who had to sit and listen as our captain started on a list of boys who fancied her daughter. Fortunately the proud parent turned around and introduced herself to our horrified leader before the list got too long....

The second match resounded to the chant of what sounded like “One nil to the Arsenal” in Dutch as the Orange Girls cruised to a narrow victory over Belgium.

Monday

This morning the small matter of getting 33 tickets for the tram proved quite a challenge for the dynamic duo of Brown and Brooker, but that was nothing to the challenge of getting on to the tram itself. As the doors opened and the SG team tried to stream on, the driver announced over the PA “That’s not an entrance!” There were more embarrassed faces, but all Mr Brooker could think was – what would qualify as an entrance? Ostrich feathers, high heels and a tutu? Ta da!

The girls were dragged around the cultural attractions from a sobering and thought-provoking visit to the Anne Frank house, to the stunning Van Gogh museum. In between there was even a little “down time” before their lunchtime pancake, when the SG team were allowed off the leash and headed off to find the nearest vintage market. Some succeeded (a vintage Gucci handbag being evidence) while others were less successful. Christa (who had apparently considered hiring bikes) and Amelia E came rushing back breathlessly a little late, having got themselves lost. Every canal and bridge seems identical, don’t you think? It turns out they hadn’t gone too far.

Thank heavens they didn’t hire bikes…

A pleasant walk to, and around, the Van Gogh museum and the girls were delighted when Peter the Perfect Bus operator arrived in the campaign coach to whisk us away to the last match of the tour at Athena.

It was a little tense here – as the Athena coach tersely explained he was expecting us for a 6pm start (we were told 6.30) and then cast aspersions on our tour kit. “Shurely they are training topsh?” was his suggestion. He then told us he was worried his girls would be far too strong for our crew. Well, he needed to think again, didn’t he? The U18s played their best hockey of the tour and were desperately unlucky to lose 1-0 (seems to be a theme in this post). It could have been 1-1 if Georgie had not shot millimetres wide of the post in the dying seconds of the match. Oh, the agony.

Still, Mr B seemed to have fun. He appears to have gone native, deciding to wear his “shlacks” and getting down with da kids, wearing his cap in reverse fashion to emulate his new hero, the charming and charismatic Bernard with whom he was umpiring.

Elsewhere the much more amenable U16 coach from Athena agreed with Mrs M that the fair result of their match should have been 2-2. The fact that it was 1-3 was entirely down to a remarkable display from the home goalkeeper.

A final clubhouse meal of lasagne was followed by an ice cream – bought on the way home – which the team consumed while Mr B took time to thank the girls and other staff members for their tireless efforts and excellent work on tour.