High Wycombe Man Selected for England Masters Hockey
2011 has proved to be an exceptional year for RAF Masters Hockey and, in particular, three of their players.
Having successfully regained ownership of the Inter-Service Masters Trophy by beating both the Navy and Army convincingly in Portsmouth this year, the RAF Masters provided some 7 players to the Combined Services (CS) Masters side that competed in the Over 40s Divisional Tournament in Bristol in May. Although the CS side did not fare so well in the Tournament, three of the RAF players were selected (after further trials) to represent England in the Home Nations Tournaments. Flt Lt Dave ‘Rosie’ Oatley (RAF Masters Captain), currently working on the A4 Tornado Desk at RAF High Wycombe, was selected for the England Masters Over-40 side. Sgt Sunil ‘Rav’ Raval (Motivational Outreach Team South East RAF Halton) and Flt Lt (Ret’d) Graham ‘Peanut’ Cartmell were both selected for the England Masters Over-45 side.
All three players have been stalwarts of the RAF Hockey scene over the last 18 years, with Flt Lt Oatley who has represented the RAF Seniors side every year since 1994, captaining the side for some 9 yrs and coaching them for 2, before making the step up to Masters Hockey. Raval has been the RAF No1 Goalkeeper for the last 10 years and Cartmell has been the scourge of the Navy and Army for many years with his blistering pace and deadly finishing.
The England Over-45s competed for the Home Nations in Belfast and were victorious with convincing wins over all three oppositions beating Scotland 4-1, Ireland 2-1 and Wales 8-1 (Cartmell scoring after 48 mins in the Wales game).
The England Over-40s side, playing in Swansea, had a much tighter tournament although they were still ultimately victorious. Their first game was against the Welsh hosts who came out fired up and got off to a strong start and with a well-executed short corner routine they unexpectedly took the lead. England slowly but surely wore down the Welsh resolve, equalising just before half-time, finally getting the winner with only a few minutes to go. The second match was against Scotland who had beaten Ireland comprehensively in their first match and are a notoriously tough side. England got off to a flyer, however, and dominated the first 20 minutes, with Oatley running riot down the right flank. The pressure soon told, with England taking the lead after approximately 10 minutes and then Oatley, getting just rewards for his energies, scoring his first international goal a few minutes later. England went on to dominate the match, adding a third goal in the second half and, despite Scotland getting a goal back in the dying seconds, the result was never in doubt. The final match was played on the Sunday against Ireland, who had turned their fortunes around, beating the Welsh hosts in their second game.
They played an excellent game and in, what turned out to be, a frustrating match for the English, they managed to hold out for a well-deserved 0-0 draw. With Wales beating Scotland in their final match, the results meant that England retained the Home Nations Trophy, ready to defend their title in Scotland next year.
All RAF players performed superbly in the tournaments and having competed in a European Tournament in Germany in late August, will be taking part in the International Masters Hockey Tournament in Singapore in late October.
England Masters Hockey is totally self-funding, with players having to meet all their own costs for travel, accommodation and their kit and equipment. Flt Lt Oatley and Sgt Raval have been well supported by the RAF Sports Lottery, both having been members since its inception, which has been a great help in meeting their costs. The RAF Hockey Association has also been extremely supportive in the top level coaching and fixtures that the players have been fortunate enough to receive and be a part of over the years. This, along with their personal dedication, has undoubtedly played a major part in their success.
By Flt Lt Dave Oakley