Monday, 18 February 2013

The week of Fantastic Fours

Hi friends!

Welcome back to the World of Haggy. As I sit here sipping on a well deserved beer I look back on a week full of action which culminated in possibly one of the most enjoyable and satisfying weekends of hockey that not only delivered in terms of excitement but in equal measures of bruises and agonising aches and pains. Anyway, just like any good story, let's start from the top!

Pancakes galore
This week was pancake week and when I saw week I mean week. On more than one occasion I made too much glorious pancakey goodness and ended up eating pancakes pretty much every day. With my better half enjoying her Spanish pancakes with friends a day early and chowing down on numerous sweet and savoury pancakes. I was not to be outdone.

On Shrove Tuesday it was a waiting game for the main event though. I was at work late and decided to take in a midweek Northern Conference Ball Hockey game between some of my fellow North East Dekstars. It was a good game with two hard-working teams really going to battle, but in the end the Supernovas ran out to 7-3 victors over the Stars. My team of super-awesomeness still stand top of the league having won all 3 games, but this game just went to show that winning the title is not going to be easy.

Anyway, back to pancakes! I got home and whipped up a batch of batter and set to frying up a treat. It was only then that I realised that I was lacking in the topping department and had to settle for the traditional lemon and sugar variety and a jazzed up lemon curd one just to jazz it up. What I would have given for some maple syrup at that point! Nonetheless pancakes are such a rare treat that you have to treat them like London buses. Once one comes so do many many MANY more! As the week continued I found myself whipping up more batches of batter for guests and it has taken me 4 days to finally finish off this year's batter mix. Roll on next year!

Celine in Vegas
Shrove Tuesday is meant to be about sacrificing everything for those you care about and in a very similar way I did that on Tuesday. As I have previously mentioned I am going a bit of an American road trip this year taking in the West Coast and regaling in the wonders of Vegas. This Shrove Tuesday I sacrificed all that is manly about me in the pursuit of making this holiday one to truly remember and bought a pair of Celine Dion tickets for me and Vic on July 4th.

Please don't be so quick to judge me. Vic is the Celine fan and has a shall we say 'eclectic' taste in 90s pop music. Judge her instead! Really though sometimes it is just cruel and unusual having to listen to Hearsay, Darius, Boyzone, A1 etc in a modern world. Anyone would have thought that the introduction of CDs would have wiped away this era of music along with the cassette tape. I have learnt to tolerate it though as it does give me some hope that one day I too can become a ghost writer for some god awful pop group and write a ballad about my first crush or the broken heart that all teenage girls will never recover from.

To be honest it was part of the deal. If I get to go to Vegas and gamble, then Vic gets to see Celine. Pretty much the whole holiday was booked around the hope that Celine would be starting her residential in Vegas the same time as last year and thankfully she is. After joining the Celine Dion fan club mailing list earlier in the year (I know, I know, the things you do for love) I was alerted to an early release of tickets to "fans". After 15minutes of frantic page refreshes I had acquired a pair of tickets in some of the best seats in the house - bang in the middle because if you are going to do it you may as well do it properly! Strangely I think I was more excited than Vic because I had gone through the trauma and worry that it might not work out as planned. I do love an adrenaline kick though.

What is worrying me most about all this is that it is not the first time that I will have seen Celine live and secondly that I am kind of looking forward to it. She is a real performer and gives a good show and as we all know she can belt out a song. Anyway I will stop before I lose all my dignity! Feel free to mock at this point.

An unorthodox Valentine's Day
 This is the first Valentine's day I had spent away from Vic in quite a few years. When we are together we don't usually buy in to the commercial enterprise that is pink sparkly cards and restaurants charging more just for setting the mood with a scented candle at your table. So in my foolish man way I assumed that it would be the same again this year with us having a Valentine's Day part 2 when we reunite in 2 weeks time for a long weekend. However, she had other ideas and sent me what can only be described as the loneliest meal for one you could ever eat! A cracking cut of rump steak, mushrooms, asparagus and a bottle of Porcupine Ridge red wine (highly recommended by me). Sounds great but imagine cooking this up for yourself on as a  'romantic' meal only to be greeted by an empty home. I can just imagine the solitary tear rolling down my face as I tucked in.

Luckily for me my brother was to hand to pull me out of my solitary misery and take me to my first Newcastle United match of the season. Steak would have to wait for another day and having just consumed it now it was well worth the wait! The match ended as a 0-0 draw and was far from a rip-roarer but at the same time it wasn't dull and the Ton had 2 goals ruled out for debatable offsides.

What came as the biggest surprise this night was the fact that that upon going for a post-match drink at the Hancock there was a one in one out policy and a queue had formed. I have known it to be like that even on a derby day and I don't imagine students were wining and dining their significant others in the Hancock. Without wanting to embarrass myself with the whole "don't you know who I am, I'm Haggy" spiel we left and headed home. An anti-climax to sum up a Valentine's day spent with your brother watching football.

Dinner date
During the week I found that one of my old University Ice Hockey family was coming to Newcastle to play in the ball hockey tournament and opened my doors to him and some of my team mates for a bite to eat and some Friday night company.

After some thinking I settled on making pork saltimbocca, potato dauphinoise and green beans followed by a roulade. In other words I made meat and 2 veg followed by a meringue and it was good! Come the end of the meal I was tucking in to leftover potatoes with a huge serving spoon so that must say something about it and since then I have become slightly addicted to dauphinoise. I had previously thought making them was difficult but creating a creamy potatoey treat could not be easier. Trust me try it and your life will be transformed.

After dinner we played one of the most random games I have ever played. It was right up my street. The game is called Cards Against Humanity and the concept is you have a set of answers on cards and you have to give me funniest answer to win. I won't be able to describe it well so just take yourself on over to their website (after finishing my blog) and check it out for yourself - Cards Against Humanity. Let me just say it is a good bonding experience and shows you that every single one of your friends has a twisted mind too!

The next day was to be a big day so we all went to bed at a reasonable hour, well apart from me and Rob who spent time reminiscing about the joys of hockey road trips and watching a bit of hockey. It would be rude not to after all!

Fantastic Fours
Firstly, let me give a massive shout out to Lynch and King for organising one of the greatest weekends of hockey and to everyone else that helped made it run so smoothly. There are too many to mention but please know that your contributions made it a great experience all round. Also, any hockey pictures I have used in this blog come straight from the camera of Paul Lynch so go check out his site here or his blog, which I have linked at the side of the page.

Fantastic fours is a a four on four ball hockey tournament that attracts about 170 players from all over the country making up 16 different teams who compete to win the coveted trophy and bragging rights each year. In my first year with the North East Dekstars I was honoured to be chosen to represent the 1st team

Day One saw us face off against 3 of our local rivals with varying effect. Northumbria gave us a physical game, but we saw them off 4-2 and I bagged a goal which I still don't think went in. Next up was Newcastle who we turned aside in a one-sided 7-0 affair, again I scored after some epic board battles. Finally the surprise of the tournament was Dekstars 4. They covered themselves in glory all weekend giving everything in every game and playing some awesome stuff along the way. They had us on the back foot for a long period of time and we couldn't get our game going, much to their credit. In the end we saw out a 4-1 victory but that score does not do their effort justice!

Day Two was when our successes on Day One see us seeded and move on towards the ultimate prize. It was also the day that I promised myself it was time to start celebrating my goals. Firstly we played a solid Shaw Millionaires team and for a long time it was close, but I always had confidence that we would go on to win. I scored the game winner and celebrated with one of my favourite cellys, the Jagr Salute. Next up was probably the toughest of draws, the reign champs London Jets. This game was feisty to say the least and flared up towards the end with one of the team getting banned for a game in retrospect, unfairly in my eyes. We gave it everything and gave them a serious run for their money but lost 2-1. In the next game of the round robin we drew 1-1 with an Ealing team who's keeper played out his skin and somehow they managed to pinch one. In the end that was enough to see us seeded second in our group and through to the quarters where we were drawn against the Northumbria Sharks. Having played Sharks and won already we went into it with confidence but it was tough. For a while I didn't think it was going to happen and Sharks have the talent to take a game like that away from you, but I managed to grab a goal that led us to a 1-0 win and into the semis. I celebrated with The Archer.

On to the semis where again we faced London Jets. This time both teams knew what to expect from each other and it was another close fought game, but London came out victors with a 2-0 win. London went on to beat Arnold Wolves in the final, but I am proud of what we did this weekend and proud to be a Dekstar. Everyone gave everything and in the end we lost out to a team who train in the four on four format all year round and luck was just not on our side.  

Ultimately I was disappointed to not be the ones lifting that cup, but London played solid all weekend and took their chances and were deserving winners. Don't get me wrong though, when I come to look back on this week I will look back on it with a warm feeling because the sore muscles and bruises will fade, but the pride in the performance of all the Dekstars teams. Besides Nationals are ours for the taking!

Then as the dust settled from a weekend packed full of hockey we went to Shark Bar and let our hair (less so in my case) down. It was great fun and the smiles on everyone's faces just showed how much the weekend had been worth it. I unintentionally broke a table that got everyone laughing and generally we had a lot of fun with 2 pint steins of Coors!

Have you heard what Haggy's heard?
This week's have you heard what Haggy's heard are less about ridiculous newspaper stories and more about videos you should check out to make you smile a little bit, whether it's because they are inspiring, gratifying or just funny!

  • Awful awful hockey - the trials and tribulations of a developing Notttingham University Ice Hockey Team set to some intense music, with some of the most underrated commentary you will ever hear
  • Every hockey players dream - a rec hockey team given the surprise of their lives. Ask any player and this would be their dream too!
  • Fantastic Fours in the news - this pretty much speaks for itself, but it is made great by the main footage of my team is Johnny playing on his back - turtle power!

Quotes of the week go to my main man Justin for his one line genius even after a long weekend of hockey and a few drinks. The stories behind these quotes are long, but feel free to ask to hear more:
"Conclave!" and "Viking Smash!" 

Another shout out to the entire Dekstars 1 and Ali in particular for pumping us up against London by telling us they were all bankers and they took our money. Possibly one of the best pre-game chants I have ever be witness to let alone part of:
"I want my money back" which led on to this amazing South Park clip - Video

So that's me for the week. I plan to go tend to my aching body, recover and go at it again! Life is meant to be fun so go live your life in the way it should be lived. Smile lots, laugh more and appreciate everyone in your life, especially your loved ones, friends and family because they make your journey memorable.

Peas and love

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