Sarah Jamieson (far right) scores Grove Menzieshill's second of three goals.
Developing maturity and calm self assurance.
Kelburne ladies coach, Adam Bain, seems to be doing less shouting from the sideline this season as he watches his troops play with more confidence than ever before. They've had a great start to this season so far.
However, no matter who they play, the ladies from Paisley cannot afford to be too respectful of their opposition, as that will ultimately send the heads down, and the good, sometimes really good hockey they can play, will disappear alongside this season's new found purpose of actually believing in themselves. That's not to say that they just throw all caution to the wind, but they have to ride on that self-belief and give every match a real go.
Well, despite losing 3-0, that is exactly what they did yesterday. They gave it a real go! Indeed, they were so unlucky not to go one goal up themselves in the first few seconds of the game pushing back, after an immediate attack down the right flank that saw an open-goal miss by one of their strikers. It's okay, we can't name her - it all happened so quickly!
The trouble is you don't get many chances like that against a side like Grove, and the Dundonians quickly closed the ranks at the rear, with sweeper Louise Carroll quickly back to conducting play in her usual calm. concise fashion, helped by fellow stalwart, current Scotland captain Leigh Fawcett playing not too far in front of her.
Grove, with new coach Linda Clement in charge, came into this game as favourites, but this Kelburne side, unlike last season, don't look intimidated by any side now. And they kept pressing at every opportunity.
The Kelburne engine room is in excellent working order with Stevie Mcinally constantly on the move and at speed; her running style appearing effortless as she bounces gracefully whilst in possession of the ball, always looking to give a killer pass. She was a bit unlucky on a couple of occasions to be pulled up for dangerous play as she entered the opposition circle bouncing the ball on the end of her stick. It's a bit of an art-form from a lot of players in the the modern game these days, but unfortunately Macinally's adventurous spirit, yesterday, was stifled by possibly a nervous guest Belgian whistle.
And then there's Drew Berry. The Kelburne and Scotland U21 squad member is a highly gifted hockey player who is, certainly at the moment, technically head and shoulders above the rest of her team mates and indeed, many hockey players throughout the country. That might sound like a harsh criticism of her fellow team members for a start, but rest assured it's not. It's just the simple fact that she stands out from the rest with ball-possession and passing skills that are more astute and akin to a seasoned internationalist than a woman of her young age, with the very little experience that she has. Berry rarely wastes a pass; and if the pass isn't on - even under real pressure - she'll hold on to it until it is. She did this so well yesterday and going forward is always such an exciting player to watch.
However, and it really pains to say it, she is slow. Brilliant but slow. Her talent over the piste, so to speak, possibly outweighs this, but you can't help but wonder what more this girl can give at club and international level - especially at such a young age and with so much genuine potential and definite star quality. National 1 is full of new, young exciting players coming through at all the participating clubs. And they're all breathing down each others necks looking for those all-important club team places...and in some cases, international spots. Time, however, won't stand still for any of them.
There's the developing maturity of Kelburne, and there's the calm self assurance of Grove Menzieshill. Like most of the ladies national 1 sides this season - especially Clydesdale Western Ladies - Grove have had to adapt to a number of changes in personnel with players leaving and younger inexperienced players coming in. And of course there's a new coach. Linda Clement needs no introduction, but she's got big shoes to fill after the retirement of long-time coach, the highly successful Charlotte Jones. There's always been a no-nonsense modesty from the most capped player in the history of the women's game here in Scotland - and whilst she can get flustered and frustrated like any player within any given 70 minutes, she exudes a calmness that seems to filter through to her players.
The good news is that coach Clement is still playing in the team; and she's got her highly experienced fellow players from down the years still with her - the likes of Louise Carroll, Leigh Fawcett, Pauline Stott, and back after the birth of her son, Ailsa Wylie.
Ailsa Wylie had a brilliant Commonwealth Games and it's great to see her back playing at her club.
It was after a fair bit of pressure from Kelburne ladies that, 15 minutes in, Louise Carroll stepped up and scored Grove's first penalty corner of the game. In truth it wasn't the greatest of games, and was fairly scrappy at times. The ladies from Dundee maintained their 1-0 lead into the second half against a hardy performance, from a Kelburne side who opened up a number of chances themselves at the other end. Grove's veteran play-maker, Pauline Stott, had a great game and was hot to handle, but Kelburne ladies defended well and cut off many of her passes to the ever-lively Ailsa Wylie, Sarah Jamieson and youngster Katie Robertson.
Sarah Jamieson has been a great goalscorer for Grove down the last two if not three seasons. She's a sort of unsung hero who just gets on with the job at hand; and yesterday she did just that with two good goals in the second half that made the difference. And for that she has to get Man of the Match.
The match itself was well umpired and managed by Dawn Alexander (one of the most underrated umpires in National 1) and guest umpire, Anne van den bosch, from Belgium.
For Kelburne, it was probably frustrating for them that they didn't get on the score sheet in a game that was always going to be tough for them. A few months ago they'd have been taken to the cleaners by the "Grovies". But not yesterday.
Coach Adam Bain can put last season's throat lozenges away - his shouting-out-of-frustration from last season isn't required right now...