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…