Thursday, June 13, 2024

Young Finlay ‘finally’ nets in debut season for Merton!

By Richard Bright

Finlay Walker, a budding teenager at Merton HC, was jokingly given the nickname ‘Finally’ thanks to a WhatsApp spelling blunder after the 15-year-old scored his first senior goal in his debut season with the club’s vets side.

Finlay, who turned 15 in January, plays for the oldest club in south west London and stepped up to Merton’s senior Boars team, which plays in the Surrey Open Hockey League Division 3.

Playing on the left wing, he scored in a 7-0 win over NPL, assisted by his fellow teenage team-mate, Adam Holmes, the only other player under 40 in the team.

“This is the second season that we’ve had juniors at Merton and Finlay has been there from the start,” dad Chris told The Hockey Paper. “When he turned 15 we felt he was ready to play occasionally in the senior along with his friend Adam, whose dad also plays in the Boars.

“They have significantly reduced the average age and brought a breath of fresh air and fresh legs to the team!”

Finlay’s moniker came about after Adam scored his first goal last month, which “brought tears to his watching mother’s eyes”, according to Finlay’s dad. Chris added: “Finlay scored Merton’s seventh and final goal against NPL. This was fitting, as his nickname has become ‘Finally’ due to auto-correct on the team’s WhatsApp group – finally, Finlay gets his goal!”

While the team were celebrating afterwards “with a round of J20s” and the two teens “more interested in discussing Fifa 20”, the Boars calculated that the defence’s cumulative age was six times that of the forward line, where the teenagers play.

Merton celebrated its 125th anniversary last year but this season has marked only the second year of the junior section. Yet the club seems to have already found success; Finlay and Adam’s rise seeing them become the first graduates to the senior vets side, along with Ali Martin and Vihas Jayakody who have played in friendly development team fixtures and making the switch from playing football.

Merton HC has been working with neighbours Wimbledon HC and its ‘Quick Start Hockey’ outreach charity, which aims to bring hockey to around 20 state schools locally. Merton now has 80 junior members while the club also celebrated its first two girls playing senior hockey last month for the Ladies 2s. No more ‘finally’ across both genders, it seems!

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