Senior Flags Final 1997
Purley Break the Kenton Stranglehold
Janet Harrop reports from a thrilling Southern Flags which kept everyone on their toes right to the final whistle.
The Southern Men's Flags Final between Purley and Kenton was a thoroughly gripping match. These two have played each other twice this season, with Kenton winning by two goals each match. By the end of the first quarter of the Flags, it was beginning to look as if Kenton were going to win by considerably more than two goals. Despite superb defence by Purley, Kenton's John Jessop, Chase Tydings, Martin Duckworth and Pat Cunningham between them had managed to put five goals past keeper Adrian Walters. Purley had yet to score.
Purley's fortunes changed however at the beginning of the second quarter. John Jessop had his second goal of the match disallowed when the Purley coach requested a stick check on ]essop's stick. The stick was found to be too short and not only was the goal disallowed, but Jessop incurred a three-minute penalty. Purley were determined to take advantage of the situation, Tim Richmond and Darren Novell both scoring past keeper Simon Savage during the three minutes with the third of Purley's goals from Graeme Holland following hard on their heels.
Having stopped the rot, the will of the Purley squad to win was almost palpable. Their determination to maintain the momentum paid off with Richmond scoring two more goals in the quarter. For Kenton, the incident of the illegal stick when they were on a roll seemed to unsettle the squad somewhat, and no one was able to break through the Purley defence. When the whistle blew for half time the score was 5-all.
In the third quarter Purley seemed unstoppable. Matt Payne and Mark Gold took the score to 5-8 but Kenton, seeing the Flags slipping away from them, shifted up a gear and a real fight-back began, with Russell Croft, Martin Duckworth and John Jessop (with a borrowed stick) bringing the score to 8-all by the end of the quarter.
With everything to play for, the standard of play in the fourth quarter was truly spectacular, lacrosse at its very best. Tim Richmond scored twice for Purley and Pat Cunningham once for Kenton, and up to the last few minutes of the game it could still have gone either way. However, Darren Novell scored again for Purley and in the dying seconds of the match Purley's Mark Gold took the score to Kenton 9, Purley 12.
This victory was particularly sweet for Purley, as they are the first squad for five years to deprive Kenton of the Flags. Added to that was the knowledge that they were going into the match as the underdog. Kenton are indeed a fine team and have not lost a league match since they lost to Bath in February 1996.