Thursday, 30 October 2008

Bexley v Avondale II (London League 21st October 2008)

The first thing that crossed my mind when I heard about this game was, "Where the !?*£ is Bexley?" Evidently, after some serious google searching and rereading the email to find the postcode, it turns out to be in Swanley, Kent. I thought Kent was supposed to be a really pretty county full of green forests and rolling hills. Oh well, clearly I know nothing about the English geography. Turns out this is in South East London. Images of burnt out trains and wrecked cars flashed before my eyes before I got a grip and reminded myself that South East London isn't quite as bad as Soweto....yet! The gunfire was only sporadic at best!

We were pleasantly surprised to find that the pool itself was a good one, wide and deep at both ends with floating goals, unlike the building that housed it which could have been mistaken for a throw back to the seventies even IN the seventies. It looked like some architect had got excited about his new set square while puffing on some of the good stuff. Either that or box construction was in that year. Anyways, we had found the pool situated in one of South East Londons up and coming areas...which is more than can be said for our polo caps. Turns out that Stratford is quite some way from Swanley!! So our merry bunch of ten was down to eight with no goalie and no caps. Not a great way to start against the team with the best record in the league. And sure as nuts Bexley turned out with a full compliment of players and luckily for us, some spare caps. Dont worry Maarten and Wayne, the game next week actually IS in Stratford. At least you know your way there already.

To say that a tough game had just got tougher would be a slight understatement and one could argue that we had defeated ourselves even before the beginning of the first chukka. And with an unfit Zimbo in goals making a fairly good impression of an overweight hippo sulking in the cabbage weed, who ever that one is would have a fairly compelling argument. Having said that though, the effort showed by the 2nds in giving the opposition a good game cannot be faulted and had we had a decent goalie and a couple of more subs, then the game would have taken on a very different tone.

Bexley proved to be a tough game, strong on defence and quick on the break. With more subs and some quick players, Avondale 2nds quickly tired. Despite rallying in the 3rd chukka, the 4th brought more of the same as the first two and the one sided game ended with a decidedly one sided score. Despite the boys not being able to sub regularly, Avondale still managed to get on several fast breaks only to be let down by the final pass or to have the shot saved by a REAL goalie. The boys did manage to break down the opposition D on occasions and put some well taken goals in the back of the net. Av'it!! Being the author of this report and the previously mentioned Zimbo hippo, I have to put my hand up and take the blame for giving away two majors although I am still trying to figure out how I gave away two penalties. But I redeemed myself by saving one.....ok so it hit the crossbar, which I could barely reach, but still, it didn't go in.

All in all, Avondale 2nds should be proud of the effort they put in and the fighting spirit they showed in not giving up. And maybe lets just leave it at that and not mention the score.

Tuesday, 21 October 2008

Basingstoke 5 - Avondale II 16 (London League 19th October 2008)

Basingstoke!!! Too much on a Sunday night for your South London correspondent, especially with the early start Monday to get all the copy typed on his trusty old typewriter, circa 1972, for this week’s deadline. Coincidentally an old mate, a southern hemisphere correspondent, was in the old country to dig some dirt on the English team going to the 2009 Lacrosse Women’s World Cup to be held in Prague. No second rate events for this journo and tonight’s contest truly tested my mettle. The journey out there was quite a trek, I know why my cobber decided to hand the baton over to me. It felt like a truly terrible Bermagui winter standing on the platform at Clapham Junction, and they reckon it’s only Autumn. Luckily my hip flask of Bundy provided all the warmth I needed to get me to Basingstoke. Unfortunately the limited column inches prevent me going into detail about my journey to the northern parts of Hampshire, I’ll save it for a chapter in my forthcoming memoirs, “A Bermagui Bludger Bums around Blighty”.

What a pool, too small, too shallow, and seating for only 100! Although overhearing the Avondale Twos talking before the game it sounds like this was pretty decent by English standards. I also gathered that this was an important game to avoid relegation so the Putney locals had their big guns out. The first quarter set the scene for the remainder of the game, except by score. Avondale Twos certainly outplayed the Hampshire locals but failed to capitalise with balls in the back of the net. The home team looked promising, if a bit green, and will certainly be a force to be reckoned with in future years. Despite the Avondale Twos valiant efforts they only came away with a 1-1 draw at quarter time.

The second quarter was quite different with Avondale goals coming from all over the place including a moment of madness in the middle few minutes when the referee gave a total of four 5 meter penalties. I’m not sure if this is common in the northern hemisphere, but back home I’ve had blowies create more of a nuisance on my back than the Basingstoke opposition. Credit to the bearded Dutchman and the Bluey Saffer in converting the penalties to points on the board. A few more goals from the field, including a perfectly placed outside shot from a hairy bloke who looked like an older version of a youngster I once witness play with the legendary Lepers in Melbourne many years ago.

The third and fourth quarters were more of the same, with some incredible defence from the goalkeeper, who valiantly played on despite a bloody nose in the 3rd quarter. The goalie was ably supported by a bloke who had a passing resemblance to some chap I remember seeing in the BBC commentary box at a major swimming event, was it the Commonwealths in Melbourne? Anyway this chap had countless interceptions pulling the ball out of mid-air like he was walking on water and despite not putting a ball past the opposition’s goalkeeper I think he ably earned the man of the match title. The visiting team came away with a well deserved 16 goals to Basingstoke’s 5 and have hopefully saved themselves from dropping a division at the end of the season.

I came away feeling a little more optimistic about British water polo; it will be a long time before it reaches Aussie standards. Next weekend I’m going to have to brave the cold to watch some lacrosse, and the hip flask is almost empty, does anyone know where a bloke can buy some Bundy around here. I think I saw a bottle shop near Clapham Junction…

Monday, 6 October 2008

Thought you'd ruined that light coloured garment?

Dave "Vanish" Brooks will be delivering his famous Stain Buster master class this Thursday evening after training at The Crooked Billet pub. Miss it at your peril.

Play Water Polo and you too could look like this .....