Whistling along the frozen tarmac of Jackdaw Lane, the wind carried young Gabriel Barrie down the potholed avenue and towards his awaiting carriage.
The sprinklers were emptying their contents onto the AstroTurf, the mist crystallising mid-air and raining icy shards onto the pitch.
Gabriel was carrying his trademark DofE rucksack which by this point in the season is severely depleted of the perfect white globes with which Gabriel wreaks havoc on defence lines across the South East Mens Lacrosse Association division teams.
He absorbed the shock of the speed bump through his elbows with nothing more than a slight grimace and a realignment of his handlebars, the minibus was within sight and it was time for Gabriel to gather his wearied senses.
The minibus was already rocking from side to side, swayed by the enthusiasm of the OULC boys who were chomping at the bit, very much ready to stick it to their Maidstone rivals at the 2pm face-off.
"Morning chaps, apologies I'm late!" Stammered Gabriel, as he tried to explain the hold-up. "I had to walk two girls home last night and they invited me in for coffee and mints, so I'm a little tired this morning."
"Coffee and bleeding mints!" Screamed George Dury from the rear of the minibus. "That's not what I saw Gabriel!"
Steven Hayes, OULC's one hundred and twenty kilogram goalkeeper, had heard quite enough by this point and was ready to fire up the engine. "Everybody in! We're leaving!"
Steve was a placid chap when left to his own devices and generally encouraged the revelry and showmanship of some of the younger players, but he was particularly short of patience this morning, probably due to the fact that his long term girlfriend had once again requested his company in the exciting and dynamic market town of Canterbury, just off the M26, third exit at the roundabout.
The team wasn't quite prepared for just how far away the fixture was, after a gruelling 26 hour journey to Maidstone Cricket Club the boys of OULC were greeted by an irate and dejected Brighton Lacrosse Club who had been told by the Maidstone seconds captain that the match was cancelled. Brighton re-boarded their battle bus and turned 180 degrees for a three hour journey home. It was at this point that OULC paused to reflect on how lucky they were to be playing Maidstone 1s. Brighton had learnt a valuable lesson about the capricious and fickle nature of South East Mens Division 2 Lacrosse.
A sluggish warmup for OULC Blues was certainly hindered by several of the club's star athletes seeing double thanks to the frivolities of the previous night. Almost simultaneously, the teams broke into their last warmup drill, the fast break. The fast break saw OULC's Pete Barry angrily ripping corners without making a single pass to his attackmen, all the while grumbling something to do with "culture", "performance" "pride" and words of the like.
At 14:02 the shrill of the referee's whistle was heard for the first face of the game. The ball went blue after a strong clamp and wrestle at the face by OULC's number 8, Charlie Serrano. Charlie, as one of the young guns in the team was keen to prove himself and made a bolt for the cage with the ball firmly rooted in his newly strung stick.
Coming up against a structured a poised Maidstone defence, Charlie offloaded the ball to blue number 26, Ed Smith, a veteran and ex-captain of the club.
Shamus observed that this was indeed great to see young and old players attacking side by side and that he felt incredibly fortunate to be able to watch such a high standard of lacrosse from the bench.
Ed made a deft and sharp movement with his stick, leaving the ball clinging to the roof of the Maidstone cage, and the opposing defensemen were understandably deflated.
Maidstone were quick to respond with similar firepower from the newest recruits of their own club. Within no time at all, Maidstone saw themselves lead the first half 9-6.
Tim Sweere and Gabriel Barrie, the blues co-captains drew together their men to give their observations from the half. Tim noted "De wortels terug naar huis zijn ongelooflijk duur en als Gabriel zou niet hebben gekregen zo dronken afgelopen nacht we zouden eigenlijk had een kans op het winnen van deze verdomde spel."
The lads took a moment to digest the in-game adjustments that Tim had suggested and resolved to switch on and make the early slides.
After venting his frustration, Tim took one last big swig of water, replaced his helmet, pads, clogs and gloves. He assumed his defensive position and the whistle blew for the start of the second half.
More lacrosse was played this half, generally of an equally poor standard, however one play did stand out to the match report editor.
OULC's number 69, Calum Matthews made one of his signature ground ball hustles in his own half, followed immediately by a fluid movement past two of Maidstone's aggressive attackmen.
Using his natural instinct for ripping corners, Calum made an athletic dash for the cage. By now, the outcome was sadly inevitable for the Maidstone defence, Calum of course finished the job in true style by ripping what those close to OULC call a 'C. Matthews big wun'.
An outside, off-hand bullet shot, fired straight into the top left of the onion bag.
Maidstone again played more lacrosse and the game finished 12-8 to Maidstone.
Deciding that Maidstone was a thoroughly uninteresting part of the world, OULC scrambled for the bus and began the 26 hour journey back to Oxford. Once again "taking a lot of positives from the game."
Men's Blues - Saturday 26th November 2016 - SEMLA East 1 - Maidstone Away