Saturday, 4 August 2012

Hockey Hockey Hockey

If you are looking for thoughtful insight/political comment on the Olympics then this is not the place for you, this is a simple tale of my enjoyment of Hockey in London.

It may not be travelling far but for me any trip to London is an excursion that I don't always enjoy. This is because London is far to big an a hassle to get around. Coming from a small city such as Bristol I much prefer being able to walk everywhere, however sometimes you have to take the trip to the 'Big City' for proper events and predictably this time it was for the Olympics, and not to leave/return to the country like the last few times.

It was only ever going to be for the hockey, I really don't care too much for any other sport and it is rare to get such a good opportunity to watch the sport be played at the highest level. This was the main motivation behind going to the Olympics, rather than to "be a part of a once in a lifetime event" that so many others have (and rightly so)... although saying that, Rio  now looks rather tempting.

In the days before I was getting more an more excited and finally it was time. I made my way to London on the train, navigated (the relatively simple) trip, collected Savage and arrived in Harringay to get sleep before the big day ahead.

Day One of Hockey

We started the day with a trip to Westfield shopping centre to meet our old friend Alison, who berated us for being terrible at keeping in touch, for shooting off around the world. It'd been over a year since I'd last seen her... probably longer for Savage.

After brunch we headed in to Olympic Park, which was a lot bigger than we had expected but, in hindsight... of course its huge. We headed straight to Riverbank Arena and claimed our seats and got ready for game one: Belgium vs China....

This is actually day two but its a better panorama shot
It was a fairly dull game with one goal disallowed, for the hockey lot it was because the first strike at a short was too high (as this next photo demonstrates... boom!)
Short Corner

Hitting the ball

Running

After that it was time for the highlight of the day.... GB girls versus Korea. This was an immense 8 goal thriller with GB throwing the lead away before finishing strongly to smash home two more to secure the second win 5-3.

Bristols finest saying hello

Britain

Short Corner

Goaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaal! 
Deflected short into the goal
After the thrilling encounter it was time to meet Dave and Jan at the entrance (and in Jans case) outside the park this meant a 30/45 minute walk trapsing through the huge crowds all heading in the same direction. It was a task, we decided the best plan was to send me alone and meet after.

Successfully collecting both new parties Jan demanded we go to the bar as she needed a drink, understandable after working 12hr shifts over the weekend. We ended up in the "card only queue" and learn't that the draft beer was broken, the first major foul up of the Olympics! This is an outrage was yelled, however I claimed in that case they would have to sell bottles at the same price as a pint, as it turned out I was right; take that £7 a pint cost at Olympics it only cost a measly £4.60.

Back in the Arena this time we were sat behind the goal for two more games.

A good Save

Riverbank Arena at Night

Another Cracking Save
Afrer this it was the end of a long day.... not, it took about 2 hours to get back to Davids. Once back we watched some highlights on the tv, both types of Volleyball and some Basketball.
The Olympic Stadium All Lit Up
Day Two of Hockey

In the morning I met with Jan for an early lunch and to actually spend some time wandering around the Olympic Park to really get a feel for it. It is nice, the atmosphere is random with lots off people moving about, the crowds aren't that ridiculous an we barely queued more than ten minutes to get in both days.

It did at times feel a little like 1984 with corporate madness on steroids. People walk around holding nothing but a sign that says 'Visa'. At one point they announced that there was 'entertainment' at the Band Stand and we should make our way over to it. This felt rather autocratic in the sense that "Entertainment is happening now, You will enjoy it". Otherwise there was enough choice in food that McDonalds wasn't constantly rammed down your face, no they save that for all the billboards at the tube stations. Oh and that tower thing that looks like a Helter Skelter is equally as bizarre... I mean what is it supposed to be?
Helter Skelter and Onezies

Jan in Front of the Olympic Stadium
 Once again time for some hockey after refreshments, first up New Zealand vs India. India started like a rocket, dominating and after 2 minutes won a short corner where they launched a rocket in to the top of the net. However those 2 minutes seemed to be it for the Indians as they never really shone again and New Zealand played solidly netting themselves 3 goals thanks to a flick and some tidy shorts to go on to win against the odds, the first real upset of the competition.
Penalty Stroke

Drag Flick

Slinnnng

Once again
Again it was time for the main event, GB vs South Africa. GB played well for the most part although South Africa held them and for a large section were the dominant side. GB scored first but allowed South Africa to equalise and go ahead. A frantic and spirited last five minutes from GB netted them a contested equaliser and almost a winner but it was too little too late having to settle for a draw.

Pre Games Formalities

Ashley Jackson Short

The Ballet

Splash

Team GB
This brought to an end the hockey and for me the Olympics. It was an enjoyable few days with an immense amount of hockey in a few hours. The journey home was again quite busy.

The Olympics has come to London(Britain) and it has inspired a lot of people, many are jealous I secured tickets and I thoroughly enjoyed myself. Mitt Romney is totally clueless and hopefully GB Hockey will win the Golds. I've finsihed this just in time to watch the girls play there 4th match, this time against China hopefully making it 4 wins in 4 games.

Hockey Hockey Hockey!

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