Fourteen teams, over two hundred players and one wonderful weekend in Dundee. This was the first large event organised by the newly formed Scottish Thistles Masters club, with the leadership of and all our thanks to Mike McInally and Dundee 'Wanderers'.
Because of the large number of Thistles teams taking part match reports for the invidual squads will appear via links on the menu (right).
Also, as there are a very large number of images, they are hosted on a Facebook page, but I have made quick links below to speed up looking for the images you may be interested in. The whole group of images is at https://www.facebook.com/ThistlesDundee/ . Please note that you need a Facebook page to view all of the images.
When we look at the stats: the sun shone, the wind didn't blow, the rain hardly fell - it was easy to forget it was all in Dundee. We welcomed:
- Four ladies teams with our Ladies looking proud in their new Thistles strips. Ladies over sixties is an expanding market and I hope that Thistles Ladies can wear these shirts regularly in festivals where previously only LX Ladies have gone.
- Four over 70s teams - like a home nations mini-tournament.
- Six teams from 60s and 65s including two from LX and one from Dundee; this is highly likely to be an international event next year.
- Then, the joy - more than 60 Thistles men involved in one weekend; almost everyone knew everyone.
All the background services were well organised: medical, physio, dog-walkers and even a cricket match to watch. I also wish to commend the umpires - perhaps I didn't always agree but I so admired their light touch approach; very in tune with what was wanted.
Saturday between matches we sat in and around the pavilion tucking into a peh or a roll, with beer or a large coffee and still getting change from a fiver. Sunday there were rolls a plenty but who ate all the pehs?
Socially in the evenings, with the uncertainty of the Covid rules, it was always going to be a challenge. Friday we had to split into small groups but Saturday it was surreal: after a long sixteen months to have 200 in a grand dinner only slightly spoilt by some fool who grabbed the microphone during coffee. But when Mike spoke from the heart about what this whole Dundee festival meant you could feel the room glow with appreciation.
Roll on next year; we may need more pitches, we may need more pehs, but we'll never top the spirit that came with the 2021 Spirit of Masters Hockey Festival in Dundee.