Monday, 17 December 2012

My Night of Passion in Essex

Hopperational details
Date & Venue
Sunday 16 December 2012 at the Romford Ice Arena
Romford Raiders 5 Chelmsford Chieftains 5
English National League Division 1 South (Third Tier)
Rink 10 on my lifetime list and my first game at this level.
Pre-match preparation
First plays third in the division – and a keen rivalry between the two clubs.  Chieftains’ player-coach Gary Clarke has appealed in the local press for “cool heads”.  Yeah, right.
This match in one sentence
Chelmsford were so near and yet so far from an epic win in a bruising encounter, but Romford levelled the scores with nine seconds on the clock.
So what?
No change in the league positions.  Lots of work for physiotherapists.
The drama unfolds
There were two penalties for each side in the first three minutes – both teams seemed ready for a physical encounter.  Chieftains scored first, just under four minutes gone.  A great diagonal pass to the right allowed Danny Hammond to score.  0-1

The second goal came in the 7th minute.  A mistake at halfway let in Julius Sinkovic for a one-on-one, and as the netminder Michael Gray went down, the puck was flicked up and in.  0-2

Shocked at the scoreline, Raiders were still facing a powerplay as penalties occurred with regularity – so the shorthanded goal from Juraj Huska must have been particularly welcome.  1-2

The home side were now flying and netminder Ryan Bainborough made the first of many key saves at the 8.40 mark.  Here is my scene-setter clip from midway through the first period.  Romford are in white.

Huska was instrumental in setting up the equaliser by skating at pace round behind the goal and laying the puck back to Shaun Yardley.  2-2

However, Chieftains were ahead again through Gary Clarke just after 15 minutes had passed, and both netminders made good saves to keep the score that way.  2-3 at the end of the first period

The second period was calmer (though always competitive), and we got to the midpoint and my second clip, with no further scoring.

With 35.22 on the clock, Raiders drew level again.  Huska assisted Billy Phillips for a powerplay goal.  3-3

Tempers started to run high, and after a clash at the boards it took officials several minutes to calm things down.  I missed the first 30 seconds or so of this, but a few shots to the head were landed.

When all calmed down, Shaun Wallis (Raiders) and Michael Ranby (Chieftains) were penalised for roughing, with game penalties for resisting the officials.  With 16.02 showing on the clock, some of the lights went out so the period ended early and the Zamboni came out for its clockwise rotation.

No-one has yet debunked the Northern Hemisphere Zamboni Clockwise Rotation Net Coriolis Force Theory
With light restored, there was no further scoring in 3mins58 before the teams changed ends. The event was now running very late. 3-3 at the end of the second period

I’d long since lost track of the penalties, but at 43.37 Ross Brears put Chieftains back into the lead during a 5-on-3 powerplay.  3-4

The lead lasted only a couple of minutes.  Julian Smith, just the right side of the blue line, picked up a long pass out of defence, moved in on goal and scored a great goal.  4-4

I took several more clips at this critical stage of the contest.  The first one ends with a penalty, and the next ends with an injury to Ryan Bainborough.

Bainborough did well to save his team from the embarrassment of conceding another short-handed goal before they took the lead once more.  The score, at 53.24 has been credited to Brears, but there was a long delay before the goal was confirmed.  There seemed to be controversy about whether the puck had crossed the line.  4-5

I have some more clips from these closing moments.  Another Chieftains player went off injured, and the longest clip ends with a timeout.

With nothing to lose, Raiders withdrew netminder Gray, and the tactic paid off with 9 seconds left.  Matt Turner was the Raiders hero, caught in my last clip and as you can see, the house went wild.  5-5

After the buzzer, there was some unpleasantness on the far side from where I was standing.  The players gathered over by the edge and words were exchanged with some spectators.  I have no real idea what caused it, and fans of both sides have been accusing each other on Twitter.  All I can say for certain is that some adjacent youngsters were very upset and frightened by what happened, and it was ugly rather than serious.  Lots of Chieftains fans were saying that it was “as good as a win” as we headed out into the packed car park to cool down.  I’d been waiting for overtime until it became obvious that, in this league, tied scores are allowed.  Final score 5-5
The programme

Something random
Hello to any former pupils reading this – I have professional connections with both towns.  I was head of chemistry at St Edward’s, Romford from 1984 to 1989 and then deputy headteacher at Rainsford High School in Chelmsford from 1989 to 1994.  The educational landscape was very different in those days – much better in some, but also a lot worse in many, to be fair.  I was in Romford for the end of O levels and the arrival of GCSEs and a National Curriculum, and in Chelmsford for the start of grant-maintained status and the emergence of a national school inspection system.  The quality of teaching now is better than it was then, and we are better resourced – but the fundamental inequalities remain, and five governments later your educational prospects in this country still depend way too much on who your parents are and where you live.  If you ever get me started on this, please be prepared to listen for a long time.  There is still so much to be done.
Hopping for Moorfields Update
Nothing to report – I am only counting the football fixtures in the total.
What Next?
No definite plans as yet – follow @GrahamYapp on Twitter for details as they emerge.

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