Into the Snake Pit

When I caught wind that Chelmsford had a Women’s Ice Hockey team I made the sad but correct assumption that, like many women’s sports teams, they wouldn’t have a lot of supporters in the stands. That, and the discovery that their home games are free to watch, was enough for me to make a point of putting their next match in my diary.

On Sunday 19th February, the husband and I pitched up at Riverside Ice & Leisure and wandered into the ice rink to watch the Chelmsford Cobras versus the Kingston Diamonds in the English Women’s Premier Ice Hockey League.

img_3754Taking our pick of the yellow seats, we held up the ‘Go Cobras’ banner I’d made in the car and made ourselves known to the ladies warming up on the ice, who smiled graciously at the noisy loonies who they didn’t recognise. Some friends from my club joined us, giving me the opportunity to cobble together a second banner.

The match began and I was startled to see players swapping on and off the rink during live play and very frequently. Despite having seen the odd televised match before, this was the first time I’d seen the players high speeds in the flesh. It was a reminder that hockey with the added complication of slithering about on ice is an energetic business. As the game went on the ladies got faster and more ferocious. The ‘special ladies mix’ blared out of the PA system in every second of downtime and when the first goal came from our team our little crowd went wild!

I was really getting into it now.

I was buzzing. I wanted the team to win. I hadn’t felt like this about watching sport since school. When the Diamonds scored in the second period I was gutted but our girls came back swiftly and with a vengeance. Goal after goal came, punctuated by the odd sin bin visit for over zealousness, making play even more nail-biting. We saw set plays maneuvered masterfully, with a spectacular goalie/attacker switch as the offensive players moved forward at speed, ending in a very satisfying goal. The second period ended 6-1, during which we had mastered the art of banging obnoxiously on the plexiglass walls to register our approval.

The third and final period saw just one goal, from the Cobras, who were just nailing home their win. Our little band counted down the last ten seconds at a yell and then it was all over and we were exhilarated. We got three cheers from the players, took some snaps and headed off for lunch in a jubilant mood.

I can’t quite believe that this experience was free.

We watched an hour and a half of exciting sporting action and had our pick of seats. The squad of Chelmsford women was fierce and they pulled out all the stops. Although the Cobras often make it into the local papers, the men of the Chelmsford Chieftains generally steal the limelight. Their matches are well-attended, usually leaving standing room only, at a cost of £10.50 a head. I’ll go and see them soon I’m sure, but I’m one for supporting fellow Essex Girls and so I’ll definitely be at their next home game.

The Chelmsford Cobras play their final match of the season against Streatham Storm at Riverside Ice & Leisure on Sunday 14th May, starting at 12.20.


Electric Pow Wow Drum ~ A Tribe Called Red


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