London's Members HC in fine touch

Principal Correspondent

KOCHI: Fitter and faster despite a 15-year disadvantage in age, London's Members Hockey Club players showed that they had lost none of their touch or wit at the Don Bosco Ground, Vaduthala, on Saturday evening. The lively bunch, some of them over 60, defeated Kerala Veterans 2-1 in the opening game of the four-match Friendship Hockey Series.

The visitors, who have come to Kerala with their wives to mix pleasure with sport, were in fine touch this evening, with captain Sutinder Khehar, a former World Cupper, controlling play smartly. Many of the Members' players were regulars in the veterans' league in Britain and two of them Adrian Robertson and Brian Perryman have even played in the veterans Worlds last year in Germany. This showed.

But it was Kerala, with an average age of 45, which took the lead through its captain Babu Divakaran, the former State Labour Minister. Babu, a former Kerala captain who was known for scoring through the scoop nearly three decades ago, uncorked another lovely one in the 18th minute.

The match was close all through and both the goalkeepers, Kerala's Soman and Members' Colin Campbell, came up with some brilliant saves. Michael Gallant, the team's manager and the brain behind the visitors' world tours, levelled the scores after being fed by Sutinder early in the second session. Sutinder, easily the star of the match, scored the match winner in the 51st minute after being put through by Adrian Robertson.

The teams will play another match at the same venue on Sunday and then move to Thiruvananthapuram for the last two games, on February 23 and 24.