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Barcelona Hockey Tour 2019:

It’s difficult to know how to sum up what has been 9 months of planning pre-tour and 6 days of actual tour in Barcelona.  However, what I do know is that it was a fantastic experience for the players and a very pleasing experience for all the staff. The check-in process was remarkably smooth and hassle-free and before we knew it, we were on the plane. Once on the plane we discovered that the tour company had very helpfully block booked the last seven rows of the plane out and everyone was to sit with their friends for the 3 hour flight to Barcelona.  On arrival in Barcelona we once again moved through the airport with ease and were met by Borja (one of the tour company reps) who led us to the bus.  On arriving at the bus we were delighted that Dani, our amazing driver from 2017 would be with us once again. It was all boding very well!

Less than an hour after check-in at the hotel, we were back out for the usual walk to the park to let off some steam.  This is always a good way to start the tour as the park is always full of children playing football and it is never very long before we have an ‘England v Spain’ friendly international taking place, and this year was no different.

Sunday saw the first training session of the tour at CD Terrassa, about a 15 minute drive from the hotel.  Training from 10am to 12pm went well and the energy levels were high.  Excitement was in the air as we then awaited the local derby of CD Terassa’s ladies taking on the might of Club Egara’s ladies.  There are 3 main clubs in this area; CD Terrassa, Athletic Terrassa and Club Egara and whenever these three teams meet, tensions are always high.  Indeed, in the first match of the day – a senior men’s match – between Athletic Terrassa and CD Terrassa there had been quite a violent altercation between the two teams and the umpire! This match was quite feisty but a very fair 2-2 result with CD catching up from 2-0 down meant that the home crowd went away happy.

Our next destination was a favourite of all of the previous tours; the beach.  The Mediterranean is never warm at this time of year, however, this never seems to stop the tourists literally racing into the sea.  Elisabeth M was the first in with a massive ‘backflop’, closely followed by Lydia B-L with a mightily impressive wipe-out.  George M was one of the first in and last out and could be overheard saying that he couldn’t feel his legs as he exited the sea.  The staff were all relatively sensible, with the exception of Mr Ewart who, while paddling in the shallows, was set upon by the masses and ended up rather the worse for wear and wet!

Once dry and sand-free, we headed for the Sagrada Familia, Gaudi’s remarkable cathedral that started construction in 1882 and he himself took over the design of in 1883.  He then steered the design until his death in 1926.  The Cathedral is due to be completed in 2026 to mark the 100th anniversary of Gaudi’s death.  This is a remarkable and iconic building and I think it would be fair to say that our pupils had never seen anything like it before – except Harry P who visited it two years ago with his parents!

That evening, it was lovely to catch up with William O’Connell, an OB who is now working in Barcelona.  Will was a member of the very first Barcelona tour in 2004 and was my 1st team captain in 2005.  It was lovely to hear him regaling stories from that tour and talking about something that took place 15 years previously with such fond memories.  I am sure our current tourists will likewise, look back on this tour with great fondness.  After a long day of playing hockey, watching hockey, swimming in the sea and visiting one of Antonio Gaudi’s incredible buildings, everyone was ready for bed and a good night’s sleep.

Monday morning saw our first visit to Pau Negre, the Olympic Hockey facility on Montjuic for a 90 minute training session.  Training went well and afterwards we all ate a packed lunch in the stands before heading off on our afternoon excursions.  The girls were dropped off at Casa Mila, (one of Gaudi’s houses built for the rich and famous of the time) whilst the boys made their way to Camp Nou for a tour of the stadium.  After the girls visit there was time to walk into the centre of Barcelona where the girls were able to visit Las Ramblas and La Boquería for a spot of shopping and experience of the famous food market.  The boys all appeared on the bus with several souvenirs from the club shop, although with Barcelona FC shirts costing a whopping 155 euros, the gifts purchased were socks, small footballs and tea mugs.  We then headed out along the coast North where we were due to play Iluro HC.  We visited Iluro in 2015 and they were wonderful hosts, so I was looking forward to the visit once again.  On paper this should have been our easiest of the three evenings as Iluro are a relatively new club.  They only have one astro and at present they are using portacabins as changing rooms and a clubhouse.  However, to think that any Spanish hockey club will offer you weak opposition is a mistake.  It was apparent from watching the opposition warm-up that this would be a tricky evening and so it turned out.  Our Boys 1st VII played out of their skins, as did George M in goal (man of the match) and ended up going down 5 – 2.  However, the boys could see how well they could play.  Dean Close the IAPS National Champions were also out on tour and they lost to the same team 1 – 0.  The girls 1st VII on the other hand didn’t play as well as they could and really should have drawn at worst, instead they went down 5 – 3 having missed several good chances to score.  The boys 2nd VII also had a tough game losing 3 – 1, whilst the heroes of the day were the girls 2nd VII who played well to win 5 – 2, Honor S scoring 3 of them.  It wasn’t until after the match whilst speaking to Iluro’s coach that he told me that they had a ‘golden generation’ of players at the moment, and that they were beating all of the other clubs on their circuit with their 1st teams. We enjoyed a friendly outside barbecue. It was a beautiful evening and this made for a great way to finish off the day.

 

Tuesday got off to a good start with everyone up on time, through breakfast and on the bus by 9.25am ready for the day.  I was treated to a chorus of ‘Happy Birthday’ by the tourists and several of the parents and very kindly, The Barbers, Mrs Marsh and Mrs Sizer had organised for a very special birthday cake to be made for me (along with 28 candles!).  We were once again headed for the Olympic facility for 2 hours’ training which went well and we finished off with two mixed teams playing against the staff.  The teams – ‘the stinky socks’ and the other the ‘un-hygienists’ – played with honour and it ended a 1 – 1 draw: although I think the staff did rather well, playing one player down and with Miss Williams hobbling around on one leg.

We then left training and made the short journey to Poble Espanyol, a walled village with architecture and monuments representing all,

then headed for CD Terrassa where we were treated to our usual pasta, chips and meat meal followed by a slice of my birthday cake each and a tub of ice cream.  CD Terrassa always look after us very well and it is nice seeing the same faces that we have seen for so many years.

By Wednesday morning, the group were all well into their routine and were used to the morning timings.  At Pau Negre, we had a skill based session working on keeping possession of the ball and on individual skills.  The afternoon trip to the Zoo is always a relaxing and enjoyable experience and due to the proximity to the hockey stadium, we were able to make a couple of stops en-route at the Mirador and at the Olympic Stadium to take some photos.  After a couple of hours at the Zoo it was then back onto the bus back up to Terrassa where the boys were dropped off first at Egara and then the girls were taken onto CD.

The boys’ teams were looking for their first wins of the tour having had a couple of chances and coming out with a 3 – 3 draw and a 2 – 1 loss.  This spurred the boys on, although they found themselves playing against Egara’s U11 boys, they were right not to be complacent, their opposition were all 10 and 11 year olds.  However, Egara had high hopes for these boys as they were stronger than Egara’s U12 boys who our 2nd VII played afterwards.  Egara’s junior section is led by Pau Quemada, a Spanish International since 2003, who currently has 235 caps to his name and he believes they have a special bunch of U11’s of whom several will go onto play for Spain in the future.  As the game got underway, it was clear that these boys were skillful and very switched on however, what was also clear was that they would struggle with the pace of Brad K on the right-wing and the strength and power of Seb P at sweeper.  I knew that the best chance we had to beat these boys was by getting the ball to Brad K quickly and letting him work his magic on the right-hand side.  However, the opposition coaches were also aware of this and so he was marked very tightly.  The game was very even for the first 15 minutes until Brad K managed to break free and pass it around the GK for George P to score.  Celebrations, however, they were cut very short as Egara equalised less than two minutes later.  This seemed to give our boys a bit of a kick as they realised these youngsters were not to be taken lightly.  At half-time the score remained 1 – 1 and we discussed how we could beat these boys.  The 3rd quarter got off to a good start with George P scoring his 2nd goal of the game in similar fashion to his first.    Then 5 minutes later when Brad K took on the GK and beat him at his near post the score moved to 3 – 1 and there was a bit of daylight between us and them.  However, Egara came back at us to make it 3 -2 with 7 minutes to go.  At this point the game was fairly open and we had several good chances to put the game to bed, however, a combination of good saves and missed chances mean that we were all in for a tense last few minutes.  However, when Brad K scored his second to make it 4 – 2 with only 2 minutes to go the win looked like it might finally happen and with the final touch of the game George P scored his hat-trick to make it 5 – 2 and a comfortable looking result.  However, our boys knew that they had been involved in a very tough match against some much younger boys.

With the 1st VII gaining a win, it was now down to the 2nd VII to see if they could also notch up a victory.  This however, did look like a tough ask as the boys were due to play the Egara U12 team who, although not quite as strong as the U11’s however, were bound to have several very skillful players, and they did!  Our boys deserve much credit for this performance and result, to grab the win 2 – 1 was an epic team effort. Each person put in a huge shift and worked their socks off for the team:  Albert W and Henry M being voted men of the match, Albert W for his attacking decision making on the right and Henry M for his defensive work on the left.  Each member of the squad performed their roles very well and I would argue that this was the result and performance of the tour by any team.  As soon as the boys had finished, I heard the news from CD Terrassa that both our girls’ teams had also won rounding off a brilliant tour from a matches’ perspective and a fantastic way for the 8’s (who have given so much to Beeston Hockey) to finish off their Beeston Hockey careers.

When the morning arrived everyone pitched in, checked rooms, packed the goalie bags, packed their own bags and jumped on the bus by 9.30am.  This really was a brilliant team effort and, in many ways showed how far the group had come from an organisational perspective.  On a tour such as this, if everyone pulls their weight it all functions far more smoothly and this was certainly the case with our departure from the hotel.

The group were all looking forward to one final trip to the beach prior to heading to the airport and were soon playing football and burying Clement O.  As we neared our planned departure time there was just time for some tour awards with players being recognised for a number of reasons, some hockey related and some not.  As we said goodbye to the beach and Barcelona and arrived at the airport it was also time to say farewell to Dani our driver; as expected he had been massively helpful all week which had allowed us to enhance the tour itinerary even more than planned.

On reflection, this has to go down as the best and most problem free tour.  The tourists were well-behaved, the itinerary worked well, the transport to and from training, excursion and matches was hassle-free, the movement through the airports was fluid, the staff were great, the parents were fantastic, the hotel was very accommodating, the clubs were excellent hosts and the tourists very appreciative. All seemed to have an amazing time and benefit from the whole experience in many ways.  My thanks to everyone for making the trip such a positive one.  I hope you all enjoyed a fantastic Easter.

Barcelona 2019 Results

TeamOppositionResultGoal ScorersPlayer of GameGoals For/Against
1st BoysEgaraWon 5 – 2George P 3, Brad K 2George/Brad
1st BoysCD TerrassaLost 2 – 1BradBrad K
1st BoysIluroLost 5 – 2George P, Brad KGeorge M8 / 9 = -1
1st GirlsEgaraWon 7 – 1Lydia B-L 4, Rebe 2, Honor SOosha M
1st GirlsIluroLost 5 – 3Rebe H, Lydia B-L, Oosha MRebe H
1st GirlsCD TerrassaWon 7 – 2Lydia B-L 4, Oosha

Bess C, Rebe H

Lydia B-L17 / 8 = + 9
2nd BoysEgaraWon 2 – 1Finny S 2Albert W / Henry M
2nd BoysCD TerrassaDrew 3 – 3Finny S 2, Ralf B 1Willem F
2nd BoysIluroLost 3 – 1Albert WWillem F / Clement O6 / 7 = -1
2nd GirlsEgaraLost 10 – 3Tara F, Bess C,  Kitty HObie H
2nd Girls IluroWon 5 – 2Honor S 3, Kitty H, Obie HMarnie Y
2nd GirlsCD TerrassaWon 6 – 0Honor S 4, Kitty H 2Tara F14 /12 = + 2

Goal Scorers

TeamPlayerPlayerPlayerPlayerPlayer
Boys 1st VIIGeorge P 4Brad K 4
Boys 2nd VIIFinny S 4Ralf B 1Albert W 1
Girls 1st VIILydia B-L 9Rebe H 4Oosha M 2Bess C 1
Girls 2nd VIIHonor S 8Kitty H 4Tara F 1Bess C 1Obie H 1

Team Goals

TeamsGoals ScoredGoals AgainstDifference
Girls3120+11
Boys1416-2

Tour Awards

TeamPlayer of the Tour
Boys 1st VIIBrad Keay
Boys 2nd VIIWillem Freeman
Girls 1st VIIElisabeth McCosh
Girls 2nd VIIHonor Spice

Overall Tour Results

PlayedWonDrewLost
12615

Positions of Responsibility

TeamCaptains / Vice-Captains
1st BoysOllie Proctor / Henry Means
2nd BoysWillem Freeman / Hector Lochore
1st GirlsBess Coke, Rebe Harrison / Eliza Denham
2nd GirlsHonor Spice / Lily Ashcroft