Jamaica took Alex Horner props

The gallant Cayman Islands Mixed Hockey Team was thwarted in attempting to regain the Alex Horner Trophy against Jamaica last month.

Vanquished once again by a strong Jamaican Hockey Federation mixed team and once again by the slimmest of margins, 1-0, that goal was scored early in extra time. In the resolve and sportsmanship shown by the whole squad, not only in this last oh so agonizing game, but throughout the whole weekend, the team and the Cayman Islands can be very proud.

Of the nine games played at Camana Bay over the weekend of 19-20 May, Cayman won two, including the impressive three goal thumping of the Jamaican men’s team, lost two and drew five – including the four goal thriller that ended the proceedings on Saturday.

The weekend began solidly for Cayman, with Bryony Platt’s Cayman ladies team earning a draw against the powerful Jamaican women. It could have been even better for Cayman if they had managed to put away the best chance of the game.

With the keeper beaten a finishing touch was all that was required to slam the ball into the goal, but while Cayman watched, Jamaica’s Monique French reacted, scrapping the ball away inches from the goal-line. In putting her body on the line for her country, French sustained a hamstring injury and was unable to play for the rest of the weekend.

Following a brief respite for the opening ceremony at which club president Brian Uzzell officially opened the weekend, it was time for the Cayman Men’s XI to take on Jamaica HF’s Men.

The Cayman men were incredibly pumped up for the game, this being the first international match played on Cayman soil for many years.

Cayman did not disappoint and with two of their top players, David Lloyd and Bunny Remedios, on the wings, Jamaica faced an attacking onslaught.

Remedios opened the scoring midway through the first half, before Terry “The Cobra” Choudhury made it two. Choudhury, lethal from five yards, pounced on a fantastic defence splitting pass from Aaron Gardner and smashed it past the hapless keeper.

The stunned Jamaicans came out more resolutely in the second half, but could not prevent, man of the match, Gardner from scoring to make it a decisive 3-0 victory.

The Saturday afternoon comprised a mini-mixed tournament. Dividing each squad into two teams, the Cayman squad played under the banners of the Stingrays and the Turtles with the Jamaicans playing under the banners of ‘Asafa’ and ‘Bolt’.

Cayman continued their winning ways with the Stingrays securing a 2-0 win over the Jamaican Asafa team – Nigel Bates scored first after some fine work by Carien Roberts wide left and Petal Toby scored a fantastic individual goal.

The Cayman Turtles were led by Harold Forte, but could not break down the impressive Jamaican Bolt team. Forte galvanized his team and mid-way through the second half scored a superb individual goal to set up an exciting finale but Cayman still lost.

The final game of the day fittingly saw the two undefeated sides take on each other – Cayman Stingrays against the Jamaican Bolts.

Cayman fairly sprinted into a lead in the first half with two goals – another for Bates before Lloyd produced an absolute cracker.

The Jamaican Bolts crucially managed to lift their spirits by grabbing a goal back. This set the stage for a fantastic second half. After a rare mistake at the back, McGlashen produced the goal of the tournament. Seizing on a ball on the Cayman 23 yard line, McGlashen took three steps and upon entering the circle reverse stick undercut the ball into the back of the Cayman net.

With several penalty corners at the end Cayman could have won the game, but it was not to be.

The Sunday games kicked off with the Cayman Men and Jamaican HF Men playing out another draw, 1-1.

Then came the Alex Horner Memorial match for the Alex Horner Trophy – an antique mint condition hockey stick embossed with a plaque of dedication to Alex and the bi-annual memorial match between Cayman and Jamaica.

Jamaica were shell shocked in the first half hardly touching the ball as Cayman attacked relentlessly, but tellingly Cayman could not convert any of the pressure into goals – Gamba from eight yards out, at full stretch and with the keeper beaten, was just unable to steer the ball into the goal and Maggie Garnett’s fantastic snapshot agonizingly pinged off the post after Mark Williams had found her unmarked on the left.

There were plenty of chances for both sides in the second half with both keepers bringing off several stunning saves – Weber for Cayman and Dr James “Splitter” Robertson for Jamaica. After a tense final five minutes the game went to extra time.

In the first minute of extra time Cayman committed the cardinal sin of not playing to the whistle. Jamaica attacked on the right, the ball struck a Cayman leg – Cayman stopped playing.

The umpire did not blow for a short corner as Cayman had anticipated, but the next time he did blow it was to signify a goal for Jamaica. In the split second that Cayman had stopped, Lynett Mitchell of Jamaica from point blank range fired the ball into the backboards – perfectly justifying the decision of the umpire, Andrew Edgington, to play the advantage.

For the next 19 minutes and with renewed vigour Cayman drove forward, Pavel Vondra, Aaron Gardner and Jenny Jones working extremely hard in the midfield. The pressure partially paid off with Cayman winning penalty corner after penalty corner in both periods of extra time, but depressingly none were even close to being converted. And so eventually the final whistle came to send the Jamaican Hockey Federation into raptures and the Cayman Islands hockey team reaching for the nearest bottle of rum – rather depressingly, most of those were already empty too!

While the organisers of the tournament were duly thanked at the closing ceremony, there was one man that stood out like a beacon of selflessness without the plaudits adorned to others, Simon Barwick.

On behalf of the entire Cayman squad they extended thanks to him for ensuring a complete photographic record of the weekend is in place, updating the internet sites during the weekend and doing a sterling job of almost single handedly clearing up at the end.