Kent was again the location for the third successive senior boys hockey tour and once again it was incredibly positive from all aspects.

Arriving in good time, having left Brandeston at lunchtime and having an effortless journey south, including the Dartford bridge, the boys prepared themselves for what has always been a tough game against Kent College. The 1st team game ebbed and flowed in the first half with Brandeston taking a half-time 2-1 lead, having played some good, aggressive hockey. The second half brought greater pressure from the hosts and a sense of panic from the visitors, who lost their shape and composure. Despite battling hard the game ended in a 5-2 defeat for Brandeston. Meanwhile, in the 2nd’s match, where there was a slight mismatch Brandeston ran out convincing winners.

We all got back into the warm and had a snack for team team after which bedroom allocation took place and a briefing for the evening ahead. The senior boys then made their way to the YHA in Canterbury. It was a slightly eventful journey, which included a drive in entirely wrong direction, before a U-turn and a deliberation whether or not the minibus was narrow enough to fit through the Westgate Towers gatehouse – which it was sensibly adjudged not to be!

After unpacking, a quick change and a short stroll into the centre of Canterbury, we found our destination – Pizza Express! We were shown to our private room, I can’t think why, and proceeded to order 16 portions of dough balls and two bruschetta followed by a variety of pizzas and desserts. The mood was light and the boys impeccably behaved. After saying thank you to the Pizza Express staff we took our satisfied tummy’s for the return journey to the hostel for a good night’s sleep.

Rising at 7am we headed downstairs for our hearty full English breakfast and a catch up with the Under 11’s. Feeling full and ready for the day, we loaded the trailer and hit the road for Sutton Valence. Arriving with plenty of time to spare we took a wander to a local farm shop and rustic café, where we relaxed with 14 hot chocolates and 4 coffees. With plenty of time before the matches we walked back to the changing rooms to prepare.

Having played Sutton Valence for the last two previous seasons we knew it wasn’t going to be an easy fixture by any stretch of the imagination and we were right. Both games were played in tremendous spirit, with great determination and with great skill with all four goalkeepers making some excellent saves. The 2s went down narrowly 2-1 and the 1s worked tirelessly to a one all draw. When the matches were over we thanked the Sutton Valence staff members; had a bite to eat;  loaded up the vehicles; set the SatNav and started the journey home.

We are incredibly grateful to both Kent College and Sutton Valence for hosting us and looking after us and we look forward to returning again next year.

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