Reading I 10 - Avondale I 12 (
Rocky and I braved the journey westwards from Putney to
Reading, in parts, and the Central Pool in particular have all the aesthetic charm of a slag heap, but we were in good spirits when we arrived, buoyed by the memory of the two previous Avondale games in the London League. We were looking forward to our first view of
Avondale lost the toss and began defending the shallow end. I find myself tutting and muttering to myself more and more these days as senility beckons, but really, the standard of facilities for Waterpolo in England is lamentable and Rocky and I exchanged a few choice words about the state of the shallow end. Avondale’s evergreen keeper barely had his trunks wet as the game started. Mind you, watching the old boy warming up he didn’t look particularly sharp and the support of the pool floor appeared welcome.
I had forgotten how entertaining Avondale’s “Beast from the East” is to watch – and clearly judging by the fact that most of the Avondale team were now venturing no further than the half way line, they were enjoying the show as much as Rocky and I. The game was but a few minutes old before he had scored three outstanding goals. His backhand is a particularly dangerous weapon and based on the fact that the keeper’s first move in response is to retrieve the ball from the back of the net I suspect that there’s little warning of the impending missile from the recipients perspective. Avondale somewhat cruised through the first chukka, leading by tow at the close, but Reading posted their intentions clearly with one excellent long range shot into the top of the cavernous shallow end goal and a second well worked effort aided by some slack Avondale defending.
The advantage of playing into the deep end became evident in the second quarter.
For a change there was what appeared to be real concentration at the Avondale end during the break. I noticed again that Mark Bind has emerged as the player with the ability to see what is important and to communicate that to the team. He was animated and the team were attentive. Despite the extravagant contribution from TBFTE, in the absence of their other leading goal scorers Avondale were not going to simply outgun the opposition tonight.
The team responded well to the entreaties of their de-facto coach and played a very solid quarter. I’ve noticed both Eakins and Brooks finding “Binder” with the long cross pass and when it’s delivered on target he misses few. Avondale’s old keeper managed to block out a couple of strong shots with the effective use of his face, he’s probably getting too slow to avoid them now. This resistance, coupled with a much tighter defence frustrated
But, the game was far from dead and Rocky paid scant attention to the remaining Marmite sandwich crumbs beneath his seat, rapt with the entertainment as the whistle started the final quarter. He knew that three goals might not be enough given how dominant