The South East England triallists from Hastings 1066 did us proud.
The standard for the 050’s trial was very high and included 28 players from all over Essex, Eastbourne, Southampton, Bexhill and Hastings. Luck – it has to be said – was not on our side.
The triallists were preselected into four teams and we played a mini tournament including two teams already in the England set-up.
In the first game, El Jay’s troublesome calf muscle had him limp off and The Cat’s finger injury was made worse after he tipped the first thunderbolt shot of the day over the bar and out of the cage. Steve from Bexhill popped his knee after 15 minutes and had to watch from the sidelines for the rest of the session.
Each team was watched by eagle-eyed assessors with clipboards and every moment was scrutinised – all this after an hour-long warm-up which included instructions on how they wanted the triallists to play.
The set-up is 1-3-1 with a pivoting midfield and that’s a formation alien to most around these parts. Oh My Cod played as the pivot, El Jay as the one at the back and The Cat, obviously, in goal for their various trial teams.
Ali played a passing role in all of his four games, with only one goal (ruled out for running) and he was sent off in one game for excess speed. The standard of the reffing was mixed to say the list. The first ref was ludicrously lenient on contact and running, the second was a bit tougher and the third was so strict that the Cat was penalized twice for rollouts where the ball didn’t hit the floor immediately after leaving his glove. There was method to this madness to prepare players for differing interpretations of the rules and to learn to take cards and penalizations with a smile as well as playing to the whistle.
If Ali was forced into a holding role then it was business as normal for El Jay with surging walks from the back for his ten minutes of glory. The guess is that he showed enough to warrant a call-back in June. And the fact that he had played against one of the coaches when he played for Marbella against England a couple of years ago, and was remembered, was another plus point to his painful run-out.
Ali’s natural turn and shoot game was curtailed but the little fish fryer had a great time and enjoyed playing against really tough opponents.
The Cat made a 50-50 display of seven great saves and seven goals shipped in the four games. There were four really good keepers and a little bloke from Essex who made a string of great saves will probably get the nod.
The feeling is that anyone who gets the chance to try out next for the O60’s ought to go. Nobody from Hastings was outclassed and not one player there was out of his depth.
Email confirmation of call-backs is awaited.
The travellers enjoyed El Jay’s smoked salmon bagels, Ali’s coffee and drinks purchasing and Tony’s chauffeuring skills. I wouldn’t have missed it for the world. Great facilities, superb camaraderie from all triallists and a top-class four hour lesson in how to play the beautiful walking game. Can’t ask for more.