Bognor defender thought his injury meant Burgess Hill would win Sussex Senior Cup
It has been exactly a year since Harvey Whyte jubilantly lifted the Sussex Senior Challenge Cup: a moment that brought the Rocks their first triumph in the competition since 1987.
In a game packed with drama and tension, it was the composed substitute, Doug Tuck, who sealed the win for Bognor, coolly slotting the ball home midway through extra-time.
Although it was a moment of euphoria for all sporting green and white, Bognor’s Chad Field was fearing the worst, having sustained a bad injury to his knee in the build-up to the goal.
The pain, however, was the least of his concerns.
“It was quite strange really. I was on the ground in agony and all I could hear was the crowd cheering. My immediate reaction was that their striker had gone through and scored and that I’d blown the whole thing for everyone. It wasn’t until I got stretchered off that I realised we were 2-1 up and would hopefully win the match,” the defender explained.
Fortunately, Field was still able to join in with the post-match celebrations. The medical team informed him that no treatment could be performed at that time, so armed with an ice pack, Bognor’s wounded soldier limped back to the bench to see out the final few minutes.
Although Burgess Hill deserved all credit for battling back, Field explained that the game should have been decided long before his extra-time injury, as the Rocks missed a catalogue of simple chances at 1-0 to extend the lead.
“We had so many opportunities in the first 10 minutes of normal time to go 3-0 up – Jimmy Muitt had a great chance to score and Jimmy Wild went one on one with the keeper. As soon as we missed those chances, I knew it was going to be a very tough match the longer the game went on,” he said.
According to Field, the message before extra-time was to stay calm and stick to the game-plan as nerves began to set in. Although the defence were tempted to kick the ball long and hope for the best, their coach Robbie Blake and manager Jack Pearce reiterated that keeping the ball on the ground and maintaining possession would eventually tire the opposition out and force mistakes.
This calm and collected mentality in the dressing room gets the best out of the defender; Field explained that overthinking the occasion can often be counterproductive and that managers rarely give rousing speeches in order to keep players focused.
“In finals especially, keeping calm and relaxed is what’s important. Obviously, different players react to different approaches and may need a good shouting, but honestly the best advice I’ve ever been given is to play the game and not the event,” said Field.
Unfortunately, the minute of Doug Tuck’s goal is still the last time Field wore a Rocks shirt, with the nasty ACL injury keeping him on the side-lines for over a year.
The defender is hopeful that he can make a return before Christmas and contribute to Bognor’s promotion charge next season. Who knows, with the ever increasingly likelihood of preseason starting far later this year, there is a slim possibility that Field may even start the new campaign.