At an early 8.45 four of our Phoenix Flyerz met me at the Mencap base in Braintree. Len (Boone), Chris (Whitfield), Robert (Sands) and Callum (Moss) piled their bags into the back of my car and off we set towards the Copper Box in the Olympic park Stratford.
On route the value of a packed lunch and the additional bits Jan had added was the main topic of discussion. It was difficult to discuss what we were going to do as I didn't know. We were fortunate with the traffic and arrived early, parked behind the copper box, and ventured into the box having met with our fifth member Teresa (Fitten). We were registered and we should thank the young girl who squeezed Robert into a twoXL tee shirt, I now believe in miracles!
While we waited to get involved we watched one of the international Parahockey games and assessed our chances. We were all called to the start I was sort of pulled away from the musical warm up, Chris leading the way with his moves, I'm not sure that was what they intended but it looked like Chris's version was adopted by the majority.Way to go Chris.
Then after a short delay everybody went into games and our guys took off the brakes and went out and showed what our Flyerz can do. Setting up with a one, two, two formation we destroyed all comers. Our competitors teams soon expanded with more players and helpers added. Robert was very solid at the back playing in front of goal with Len and Teresa in front. Callum ran tirelessley and with Chris knocking the goals in we did really well!
Our guys were now attracting a lot of interest, I was kidnapped so they were left to get on, I thought I might be of some use with my advice, that was soon shown to be false as they just carried on winning and drawing the the crowds in. The men's England manager Andy Halliday came over and watched but refused our offer of a knock about with the national men's team but has invited us to St Albans for a fixture later in the season.
Back to the car to load with provisions and off we went to the hockey stadium about a mile walk, that's when the rain started, we found some seats and settled down in the rain and watched some hockey. The two umbrellas the coach had thoughtfully bought proved useless in the wind but England Hockey had kindly made an area called the club house available to all the players with disabilities and helpers. This was dry and out came the grub soon to be devoured and Jan's extras.
In a break in the rain I ventured out and found some pac-a-macs disguised as hockey ball rings, negotiated a deal for six of them. Much entertainment getting them on but then we didn't worry about the rain.
The finals of the Parahockey was poorly supported but not us, we were out there. The winners were Portugal, with Germany, Holland and Italy getting the minor places. Then it STOPPED raining. We enjoyed the Dutch ladies win at a canter then the big game, England v Germany, a great game England running out winners quite comfortably and the gang making their support very vocally.
We had to deal with a diversion on the way home and didn't get back to Braintree until about 10.30 ,now dry ,but tired.
I had a great day out with five friends, not a cross word spoken and weighed down with thanks, roll on next Tuesday.
Neil Cowen (Flyerz Coach)