Tim Pitman reports on a fantastic community event, which brought together Old Westbournians, current pupils, staff and parents:
As the players and spectators for the third Westbourne House Hockey Festival gathered, so did the excitement and expectation. The turnout for this event has grown annually and this year was no exception with at least 70 players, plus many supporters. Players ranged from year 3 to age 53 and possibly beyond.
Slick organisation got everyone off to a prompt start and for the next three hours there was non-stop hockey. The standard was extremely high and as one parent commented
“This is what Westbourne is all about: a high standard, competitive and sportingly played including all levels of ability and age”.
There were representatives from all vintages of OWs from the 'Seniors' through to the 'Young' Old Westbournians, 2018 leavers and the 'Millennials'. There were many who came last year and it was nice to see one or two teams being organised from scratch with a promise that they will return for next year's festival. There were representatives from many public schools including Sherborne, Canford, Seaford, Wellington, Radley, Lancing, Hurstpierpoint, Portsmouth Grammar School, Cranleigh, Brighton College amongst many.
Parents and staff were also well represented. The Westbourne House staff side fielded one OW in Brandon Hanley, who brought his three-week-old son Blake to get his first taste of hockey at Westbourne.
The junior hockey players were made up of children of OWs and also keen current pupils. It was lovely to see one of our international boarders in his fifth week of playing hockey confidently taking to the field with the other youngsters. They played three matches which were enjoyed by all.
As important as the hockey, as ever, was the camaraderie on the side lines. It was a great opportunity to welcome back some familiar faces supporting their children, proof - if it were needed - that parents are still keen to come and watch their sons and daughters play in school matches even if they are 24 years old!
The opportunity to play sport, reminisce and enjoy the company of old friends was clearly something everyone was enjoying. As one 24-year-old said, “Things have changed but the Westbourne essence and spirit remains the same.”
Certainly, there was no rest for the goalkeepers with the four kitted keepers each playing for at least two or three sides!
All matches were tightly contested but the winning team was the only team to spend the afternoon unbeaten. And so it was that “The Millennials” were crowned the winners for the second year in a row. It is possible that the staff regretted lending their goalkeeper to the Millennials as they beat the staff into second place in the final countdown!
As the final hooter went and closed three hours of competitive hockey, players dragged their tired bodies over to the Millennium Hall to see a score line of 44 points to 8 in favour of England in The Six Nations. It was a great way to end the day alongside cups of hot tea, glasses of cold beer and a traditional Westbourne House match tea.
Thank you to everyone for coming along and making it another successful festival.
Please put a reminder in your diary about next year: the hockey festival will happen in early February 2020 and the confirmed date will be emailed around as soon as possible.
Our thanks to Ian Wilmot and Lainey Franks for their hard work in organising the event. There will be a trophy to play for next year!
The Winning Millennials Team: Archie Dunlop, Rory Kesley, Alex Walker, Tad Mather, Felix Irwin-Brown, Edward Clarke and Robert Clarke.