Lacrosse – Day 45
Part II of my epic journey to the Home Counties was to play Lacrosse with the Hatch End Hawks in Watford. It took me an hour and a half in London rush hour traffic to cover the 17 miles to the Sports Centre. The rain was heaving down so badly, I could barely make out the road markings at some points and I started to panic at the possibility that it might be cancelled. The fact I hadn’t packed anything which constituted waterproofs didn’t register until I stepped out of the car.
In my eagerness not to be late, my first foot out of the car went straight into a puddle, followed shortly after by the other. My feet were soaking already and the only thing I could wear to ward off the sheet rain was my M&S rain mac! I looked ridiculous and cursed myself for packing so optimistically. Never mind, I told myself. I am a hockey player and used to training in this weather.
After being introduced to the club and completing the warm-up, I was sent off with John the coach to try some of the techniques as the heavens opened even further than before. Being a hockey player, it did feel a bit alien to lift the stick above shoulder height but I got the hang of the having the ball in the net bit and I seemed fairly OK at catapulting the ball out. However, just like baseball and catching with the mitt, I had a bit of difficulty catching the ball properly. We moved on to picking up the ball off the ground and that went well, so it was just the catching to work on.
Once the girls felt I’d got the basics, I was invited to take part in one of the training drills, which involved attack against defence in the last third. I opted to watch for five minutes to get the feel of what was going on. Lacrosse is an 11 a side game and the idea, like in hockey or football, is to score a goal. Defenders marked their assigned player and I watched in amazement as an attacker made a “cut” into the scoring area and almost like a rugby player dodged past several defenders, whilst shielding the ball, to score. At this point, defence would shout “RED!” and if you were a defender, you had to run to that attacker, like bees to honey, to block a shot.
I was subbed on into defence and given the task of man-to-man marking my player. In hockey, you do not leave this player to follow the ball. If you do, you get shouted at by your sweeper, so I missed the first call of “RED!” and was dutifully told off by my team. This logged, I carried on chasing my player around the pitch and when there was a bolt from the attackers, I sprinted into the melee. I wasn’t sure how to tackle, so I waved my stick about in the air and considered coupling it with an aggressive noise but realised I would look a complete fool, so stuck to waggling it instead.
This chasing was hard work, so I was delighted when we changed to attack. This was my time. I have spatial awareness. I understand field sports, making runs and calling for the ball. What I forgot was that I couldn’t catch the damn thing, so any good positional play and call I made was a complete waste of my team’s effort, as the damned thing went sailing past my head.
We finished up and I said goodbye to John and the girls, who were very welcoming. Lots of them questioned me about my challenge and took a few pictures of the back of my T-shirt. The fact that I was driving back to Cornwall afterwards must have made them think I was a particularly odd individual.
When I got in the car, my tracky bottoms, top and trainers were sopping wet and when I typed in my postcode, it emphatically relayed the information that I wouldn’t get home until 1am. Maybe I am strange? This behaviour can’t be normal. I’m minded to liken my quest to Frodo travelling to Mordor. I’m sure people pointed at him and said: “Oi Frodo, you’re an idiot, what are you up to, messing about on a quest? Go and do some housework!” I can’t exactly remember how that all ended but I am sure he probably trudged about in the rain, meeting loads of new people, miles from home. I'm still not sure how my ultimate quest will end but the journey is certainly an interesting one!
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