|23 Mar 2021|
The previous season had all but finished, with only the very last match not being played. Entering straight into lockdown left us all feeling a bit empty, however we were soon all engaged in competition as each OUHC team raced against each other to run the distance to Krakow (1734 Km) - the planned destination for our summer tour.
As a club we covered over 12,000 Km and I was delighted at how fit my team would be as we commenced preseason.
On September 1st the Men’s Blues all returned to Oxford as preparations began in earnest for the forthcoming season, unfortunately, our start was rather tumultuous. Armed with new England Hockey COVID-19 guidelines, and several litres of hand sanitiser, we arrived at Iffley Road ready to go, only to encounter our first hurdle: we had no pitch...
We were informed that the Iffley re-opening had suffered another delay and we would have to wait two more weeks. Fortunately, we were able to arrange the use of another local astroturf for that very afternoon.
Over the next three weeks the team made great strides and were counting down the days before competitive playing could get under way again. The next hurdle then arose, a mere 16 hours before the pushback of our first game, all Oxford University Sport Teams had been banned from playing any fixtures involving travel to/from Oxford City. This decision was a crushing blow as it seemed our entire season had ended before we could even start.
Over the next few days I received emails from England Hockey asking if we were forfeiting our season and as a result being relegated, and calls from local clubs asking if they could poach OUHC players to bolster their teams.
The situation looked bleak but we refused to take this decision lying down.
An appeal letter was swiftly drafted and sent to the Pro-VC, and following lengthy consideration and consultation with England Hockey, both Blues teams were granted special exemption to compete in their leagues. Special mention and thanks must go to the OUHC Senior committee (many of whom are Vincent’s members) for the success of this appeal, and in particular our Senior Member for all his tireless work.
We were delighted and very grateful for the opportunity to start playing, we were four matches behind but ready and raring to get stuck into the league. Our first match resulted in a 2-2 draw, a good stepping stone for our second match which was a comfortable 5-1 win. Next came the third hurdle, a second lockdown. Unfortunately, the team had to put brakes on just as we were getting going, but our competitive desire still lives on.
With the league being extended deep into December maintaining fitness over lockdown has been paramount and as such the Men’s Blues Strava group has been very active.
Whilst the future remains uncertain I am excited for whatever challenges come next. It was certainly a welcome comfort to see Vincent’s Club open its doors in October and it became our home again, with perhaps even more time spent there than usual – a welcome benefit of online lectures.
I’m excited to see the Club to open up again; an indicator of normality and a sign of comfort; and the whole Hockey Club is most grateful to the Vincent's alumni members for their generous support in enabling this to happen.