Tuesday 1 July 2008

Tom Dwyer Cup Final 2008
Avondale 29 - Blue Marlin 24

One sided games are getting to be a speciality of mine of late, but this one was forecast in advance by it's very nature. The Tom Dwyer Cup is a handicap tournament and history has a clear view on the matter of the type of winner. The congnoscenti will tell you that it's usually the Surrey League's strongest team, but occasionally a well handicap underdog turns over the favourite. Tonight's final had cliché engraved on it. Avondale were by some way the strongest team in the league last season and Blue Marlin, the current holders, have prevailed against strong opposition many times in this event. Rocky and I even had what would be considered a crowed for company in the stands this evening.

I've seen games like this before and from the a impartial spectator's perspective it's rarely a thing of beauty. Blue Marlin started with a 20 goal handicap in their favour and I've see them strangle opposition with a much smaller advantage than this as their opponents press just that little too hard. When the goals fail to come quickly it doesn't take long for the advantage to become overwhelming.

So, as our two referees lined up the teams there was the tangible air of anticipation about the encounter. My money was on the much stronger Avondale team, who had close to a full squad, but were missing Standley, Jotic and Bind, enough talent to make the boat wobble if not tip! At the visitor's end Blue Marlin seemed to have brought most of Walton On Thames. I had the distinct impression that there had been a three line whip applied and the bench was groaning!

The first quarter is often crucial in these games and so it proved tonight. I have rarely seen a more comprehensive blitz than that delivered by Avondale in the first seven minutes. Blue Marlin did have three shots in the quarter, all saved, one moderately well, by the aged Avondale keeper, but at the other end it was carnage! How may times have I see this Avondale team completely dominate the first quarter and yet come away with perhaps a two or three goal advantage. Tonight they were unstoppable. Bond was lethal, Jacobs deadly, Konrad delivered a trademark backhand from the half way that rebounded off the back of the goal onto the keepers head before he could twitch.... It was all a bit of a blur! The impressive thing was that Avondale not only shot accurately and decisively, but they delivered the ball intelligently for the final pass and several goals were into a vacant net as the keeper was stranded. The quarter finished 13 - 0 and the game was as good as over.

As might be expected Avondale's dominance slipped in the second quarter, which they won only 4 - 1, as everyone tried to get in on the goalfest, but it was really only a lull and the third was won 8 - 1, including a couple of impressive stands by the Orca like Ford, imperious in the pit. So we started the final quarter with a net score of 25 - 22. Both Rocky and I had rather lost interest by now as the home team cruised onto the podium, but as I left the pool I reflected on the fact that it might have seemed easy in the end, but only because Avondale had played so well for the first quarter. An object lesson in how to render a potentially slippery banana skin unslippery.

I leave you with something I overheard whilst leaving the pool, as two of the staff were talking and one mentioned that his father had died recently. Apparently a few weeks earlier his mother had covered his father's back in lard.... and he'd gone downhill very fast after that.

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