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What a start for Britain's men's hockey team.

Just as Steve Harmison's wayward first ball of the 2006 Ashes set the tone for the whole of the series, they'll be hoping James Tindall's crashing strike is an omen for their Beijing campaign.

It certainly set tongues wagging at the Olympic hockey venue.

The New Zealand TV commentator next to me was cooing with admiration, so too my German counterpart just below me.

All four goals were of the highest quality - Rob Moore's reverse stick effort my personal favourite.

Below my position in the stands, Sean Kerly beamed a smile. He talked afterwards of aggression, creativity and a positive approach.

This was Kerly's kind of hockey.

I spoke to Matt Daly shortly after the final whistle, a hastily snatched two minutes before the warm-down routine.

He was clearly delighted with their start, happy to have corrected GB's abysmal Olympic record against Pakistan, and yet mindful of what might happen yet.

The Netherlands loom on Wednesday... Teun De Nooijer Taeke Taekema et al.

The task is a tough one, no question, but what are the Olympics about, if not dreaming the dream?

GB's women were visibly relieved when I spoke to them after their 2-2 draw with Argentina.

Like many in the stands, they knew that something special was needed after a first half in which they were well below their best.

The coach Danny Kerry told me he'd had a few blunt words for them in the half-time talk.

Something along the lines of - "This is the Olympic Games, and they're just about over for you unless you pull something out of the bag".

The wake-up call worked a treat.

It was entirely just that Sarah Thomas grabbed the first goal - she had a blinder in the second half.

thomas_ap438.jpg

And what a moment for Mel Clewlow, who retired after they failed to reach Athens four years ago, but was talked into a return by her Dad amongst others.

She knew she'd made the right decision when her shot sizzled its way into the Argentine net.

So is it enough to set them on their way? At least they feel like their Olympic campaign has begun.

Clewlow spoke eloquently after the game about the squad feeling stung by the hefty defeat to Germany.

They've had it tough, the GB women... Olympic champions first up, and then the world's second-ranked team.

NZ are next, and they must surely look on that with confidence. Let's hear your thoughts on their performances and prospects.....

Alastair Eykyn is a BBC reporter and commentator focusing on hockey. Our FAQs should answer any questions you have.


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  • 1. At 1:12pm on 12 Aug 2008, W.Underbar wrote:

    Great result for the men, and especially heartening to see chances being taken for a change, one of our big failings recently. However it wasn't a flawless performance: too much possession and too many soft penalty corners conceded. Holland won't miss 8 PCs as did Pakistan - they tend to convert one in every two.

    The emphasis on attack was a refreshing change from traditional strategy, even if it left the way open to counter attack. If we can chisel out a draw against the Dutch, anything could happen. If they have a good day, Pakistan are perfectly capable of taking points off Holland or Australia.

    But we need to make sure we beat the lower ranked teams S Africa and Canada convincingly - easier said than done.

    And if our budding stars Middleton, Moore, Jackson, Mantell and MacGregor improve with every game, they could just spring a surprise.

    Alistair: for the benefit of TV viewers, please ask Sean Kerly to speak a little more clearly (he tends to mumble) in his commentary and to say more, particularly on tactics and skills. Barry Davies does his best but his hockey knowledge is limited, and unfortunately the commentary just didn't reflect the drama of the game.

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  • 2. At 4:17pm on 12 Aug 2008, tsmedley123 wrote:

    Let's not talk the men up too early, even if they did look good, it wasn't a great performance from Pakistan and they don't look like a great outfit, should only go uphill from here for them. Also McGregor of Loughborough was superb between the sticks, we'll need more performances of that calibre from him if we're to get far in this competition, not that even he would have kept out 8 of Hollands short corners though. GB are big favourites against SA and Canada, we'll have to steal points from either Holland or the Aussies to make the Semi's. I still feel this is the best prepared GB team since 88, so maybe a shock or two is in store, we are big underdogs though.....come on GB!

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  • 3. At 4:21pm on 12 Aug 2008, Epitome wrote:

    I agree, it was a good performance, but lets not start polishing the medals yet.

    I was going to point out Mcgregors performance but you beat me to it. Some of his saves were astounding, particularly at short corners. If he does have a weakness it would seem to be when coming out of goal, though his reflexes more than make up for that. Have you seen him warming up the guys a freak!

    Good to see the chances being taken always helps to have a good start and get some form and momentum going.

    Heres hoping!

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  • 4. At 4:52pm on 12 Aug 2008, MagpieRH wrote:

    If only the matches were shown on BBC1...

    So far, the only hockey I've seen was a bit on one of the cable/satellite/online channels, why is it not on one of the 3 freeview interactive channels?

    We endure rubbish events which just aren't interesting in any way and yet one sport which is quite accessible to most people and can provide as much excitement as football is shunted to somewhere where fewer people can access it.

    Well done Beeb(!)

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  • 5. At 5:36pm on 12 Aug 2008, alewing wrote:

    i go to the perse school in cambridge where Glenn Kirkham the Great Britian hockey player coachs us. he inspires loads of us and makes us enjoy the game and more people would enjoy it if there were more oppurtunities to play and watch it. i think it should be on bbc 1 on the weekend. Good luck Glenn and Great Britain!

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  • 6. At 8:14pm on 12 Aug 2008, Fi_Diddy wrote:

    MagpieRH - totally agree.

    Yesterday our choices on interactive included basketball between china v usa and beachvolley ball between I don't know who - not GB at any rate. This on a day when our mens hockey team beat pakistan fairly convincingly. It barely rated a mention on the round up programme at 7pm either and the womens efforts today against the 2nd ranked team in the world didn't fare much better.

    The olympics and commonwealths are the only times hockey is on the tv and so far the coverage has been rubbish on interactive which those who work during normal office hours rely on to see the games. It's also pretty difficult to watch hockey on i player.

    I'm not saying we shouldn't see other sports involving countries other than GB but hockey is a huge participation sport in this country and the BBC should reflect that in its scheduling. Rant over

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  • 7. At 8:59pm on 12 Aug 2008, juniorone wrote:

    I would like to add to the comments above. The BBC should show the hockey in full especially compared to what else is on offer. Teenage divers and USA swimming monsters, archery bottlers and no wind sailors..rant continuing.......

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  • 8. At 10:48pm on 12 Aug 2008, dazzlingskhan wrote:

    Well done GB for an excellent result against Pakistan. However it's too early to talk about a medal for Jason Lee's team after just one game.

    As for BBC's television coverage it definitely requires a fresh approach. The obsolete duo of Barry Davies and Sean Kerley are trully past their 'sell by dates'.

    Barry, in the GB/Pakistan match kept referring to Pakistan as India in his commentary.

    Once can be classified as 'gaf' but he did it least 3 times. In the sub-continent this is excusable

    No doubt India would be honoured to be mentioned in the Olympics as they are absent from the games for the first time in its history.

    Let's hope Barry's performance improves and also Kerley's is able to speak clearer.

    Good luck GB in the rest of the matches.

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  • 9. At 11:03pm on 12 Aug 2008, Saffavescent wrote:

    dazzlingskhan - don't want to go too far off topic here, but why aren't India here?

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  • 10. At 11:16pm on 12 Aug 2008, dbpugh wrote:

    Man, Sean Kerly's commentary is really dooing my head in! He makes some comments that are so far off the mark, "down low to a keeper's right is the hardest place to save a drag flick" (or words to that effect) NO IT ISN'T! It's the EASIEST place to save a drag flick.

    Not wanting to take away anything from McGreggor, he was outstanding and seriously deserves his place ahead of the other guys who were being considered.

    Also, why is it that Mantell is still given the chance to flick when Jackson is on the pitch?

    Great result by the boys, nice to see them play like that when the backs aren't against the walls. We normally save performances like that for once we're out of the running anyway!

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  • 11. At 7:09pm on 13 Aug 2008, W.Underbar wrote:

    GB 0 - NL 1 What a truly terrible way to give it all away! Just when Holland were beginning to lose shape, down to 10 men, passes uncharacteristically going astray - and we gift them a PC by scything a guy down just inside the 25.

    73 minutes of gritty discipline, only 4 PCs conceded, some good chances created - we'd have fully deserved the point, and opened up a path to the semis. Now we'll have to get a result against the Aussies - with the best will in the world, very unlikely - or hope for a miracle in the form of other results going our way.

    I thought Alistair completely misread the game in his half time R5 comments, implying that GB were hanging on by the skin of their teeth. The fact that we had won 3 PCs and had denied the Dutch a single one was a fantastic achievement, and the strategy was working out as planned.

    Yes the Dutch went close a few times, but there was never a loss of discipline in defence, and Rob Moore and Jackson both came within a whisker of snatching it at the other end with some outstanding pieces of skill.

    We'll have to see if they recover from a big self-inflicted kick in the goolies..

    ** Not to labour a point, but the TV commentary was dire!

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  • 12. At 8:24pm on 13 Aug 2008, quickGK14 wrote:

    TV Commentary was abysmal, if it's not mispronouncing names it's getting them totally wrong and then saying players were on the pitch when they weren't. I know the pollution's reported as pretty bad over there but Taeke Taekema would feel severley disoriented if he'd had an earpiece into the BBC commentary! And all those 'mistakes' McGregor made? How about reaction saves?! And don't get me started on "Dutch free kick".
    Anyway, 1-0 loss is no shameful result, a real pity we went off the boil in the last 10 but it shows progress. Roll on the next game!

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  • 13. At 04:00am on 14 Aug 2008, scamp51 wrote:

    Well I think I would be happy with three points out of six having played Pakistan and Holland.
    After dismal performances for the last two olympics it is nice to read (cannot see, living in the USA these days) that GB are playing disciplned hockey.
    Will reserve judgement until we play Canada and SA, that is where we traditionally lose out.
    Need to feed of the unbeaten performance at the qualifier.
    Also its nice to see another decent keeper emerging in the GB goal. Mason was sorely missed, maybe not so much this year.
    I hope Mr Lee gave the muppet who gave the corner away a good rollicking

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  • 14. At 1:17pm on 14 Aug 2008, georgewcover wrote:

    The links that you are using for the Great Britain hockey squad are out of date. The link for Rob Moore takes you to a page that still lists Garcia as a player in the squad as well as others who have retired from international hockey.

    The site you should be using is http://www.greatbritainhockey.co.uk

    I'm sure Surbiton would have a bit of a problem with the BBC linking to a page that says Rob plays for Teddington - just as I'm sure Teddington would be more than happy to claim him as their own!

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  • 15. At 4:03pm on 15 Aug 2008, W.Underbar wrote:

    GB 2 - SA 0 What hard work we made of that! Until the second goal went in five minutes from the end - following a rare piece of individual skill by Hawes - this had all the makings of a major cock-up. Disturbing lack of dynamism and concentration, considering that a draw would have have put us out of any chance of a medal.

    Despite our overwhelming possession, SA could scent a chance and might well have snatched the equaliser. Having conceded 15 goals in their two previous games they were obviously smarting and determined not to be humiliated, but we were far too one-paced and predictable to be much of a threat.

    Unless we sort out the PC routine quickly (another five wasted today), we won't be going much further in any case. Richard Mantell had one of his doziest performances. Distinctly unthreatening with his PC flicks, almost made a gift of a field goal right at the end, and lost count of how many balls he hit straight at the oppo.

    That being said, good vision and quick ball from Rob Moore to put Tindall through, and excellent skill by Tindall to chip it at speed over the keeper.

    Suspect the game against Canada may be similar, unless Jason Lee injects some pep.

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