A murder of sorts took place in Cambridge yesterday. The victim? Bearsted KC National League team (alas.) The culprit? Tigers NL team (fortunately.) The location? Under the post mainly. The weapon? Chris’s bottom. But let’s just leave that thought for a minute and take you back to the first game of the weekend….
T1 travelled to a new-look Littleport Sports Centre on Friday evening for a bottom-of-the-table clash against their fellow, wannabe-relegation-play-off avoiders, Lions 1. Fans of the old Crossroads Motel/Little Chef/Bingo Hall/Phoenix Nights/Roller Disco/Darts Emporium-inspired Littleport Sports and Leisure Centre will be concerned (or keen) to hear about its demise. I am afraid the old lady has been demolished and replaced with a blander, more sanitized, posh, new upgrade. No dartboards, no slot machines, no turnstiles, no random winding staircases leading to random broom cupboards and toilets with no paper, no low-hanging beams, no balconies to rest your pints of beer on….just a sterile, Latte-inspired continental-style café next door. Not that it’s a bad thing. In many respects, it’s not bad at all. The hall itself is huge, has good grip and has acres of space at the side and back. You could literally swing two cats at both ends – a lion and a tiger – and still not scrape the walls (of course, you’d be flittered and cut to pieces in the process.) It’s quite reminiscent of the Perse in some ways and is a good, wide-open venue for Tigers to play in…..
…..as T1 demonstrated against Lions 1. Our game flourished. We were like dogs being let off the lead (except Billy, who was tied up on the bench, waiting for her owner to sub her on.) Rather like the SERL team this season, T1 has been a testing ground for a number of our young, upcoming pups to have a good sniff around Division 1 (not literally – yuk.) Joseph, Molly, Tom, Hana, Jonny (and the absent Becca and Jude) took their first nervous T1 steps a few months ago, yapping and snapping around the bigger, grumpier (sometimes-bearded and slobbering) older dogs of other teams (and as for the boys, well…) All the while they have been guided by the steadying hands of dog-whisperers Billy & Jess (the Barbara Woodhouses of the team,) Jerram (Bernie Winters,) Kev (Noel Fitzpatrick, naturally) and Rhodesy & Ross (Paul O’Grady – take your pick, lads.) Friday night saw Ross control the post, paving the way for the ‘Hannihilation’ to begin – that is to say, a masterclass in disciplined and pragmatic shot-taking from Hana, who scored 4 and set up lots more. Indeed, it was the girls that (almost) won it for us, Molly chipping in with two and there were constant threats from Daisy, Jess and Billy. Fine goals too for Jack-in-the-box Jonny, Towering Tom and really mature, composed shooting and play-making from Joseph ‘The Cog’ Rodgers, against a dangerously tall opponent who, after scoring a couple, just got tired of Joseph and needed subbing off. I say an ‘almost’ victory because if it wasn’t for the last-minute replacement ref, this would have been a win and not a draw. Any other ref would have given a few more penalties our way and not ruled out a perfectly legitimate goal for being defended (and blown the full-time whistle a few seconds earlier so as to avoid the last-second equalizer that Lions scored to make at 12-12 at the final whistle.) That’s what happens when a Tigers ref does a Tigers match, I guess – keen to ensure impartiality….and then some. A slightly deflated Tigers team left a greatly relieved Lions team to regroup and refuel – next door in the new continental cafe, which, of course, does beer, sausage and cake. Those guys know their market.
On to Sunday and the Tigers Bearsted SERL appetizer before the main course NL encounter. Wait for it….a ‘new-look’ SERL side (of sorts) actually had a field day for once, beating their opponents 23-6 in a one-sided encounter. We had plenty of subs coming on and twelve players were used in total – none of whom played in the NL encounter. Everyone is suddenly free of other obligations and players are starting to come back from injury (better late than never.) We had new girl Diana playing and she certainly knows where the basket is. She scored five and I think she could have scored more but didn’t want to show off (ah yes I know the feeling, Diana.) Ross popped in another 4, plus a penalty. Obviously, the move away from the hectic distractions of Korf-mad Cambridge to the cleaner air of Newmarket is keeping his head clear (save for the whiff of horse manure.) We had two each for Jonny, Alex and Daisy – Jonny rivalling Keira now in the distance-per-match charts. Two for Gracie also, cancelled out by two for the opposition, scored directly afterwards when Gracie was still celebrating her goals. Two for a blubbering Rob, who was ‘torn between two lovers’ indeed – having played with Bearsted since when he was knee-high to a grasshopper. He needed subbing off for yours truly at half time, the emotion of it all getting to him. Goals for Oscar, Jess and a returning Thomas Northfield, doing his best Sonic The Hedgehog from the second he subbed on, chasing after anything that moved, including the ref. Honourable mention to expert shot-clocker Cozzo, who can now consider himself a brown belt in the art (black belt of course only being achieved with simultaneous score-board control.) Honourable mentions too to all of the Bearsted team, who were very sportsmanlike and all-round nice guys. The SERL team still have one more match to play – away to Norwich Ice on Sat 28th. That’s a good chance to have another run-around for some returning players….and perhaps for Diana to show off her shooting skills a bit more (and score the ten that I think she can.)
Well, you already know that the NL team beat Bearsted and assured ourselves of another season in the top tier. 15-12 the final score here but that doesn’t tell the whole story. The call was put out and the crowds came to watch, many from Kent on a heaving opposition bench too. The glitterati were all there, including Mike and Nicola Northfield (welcome back!) who were pressing more flesh than an overworked masseur. Rebecca and Sarah West – the 3am girls – where there again, FOMO undoubtedly at play there. There were Wollertons and Armitages and Llewelyns and Siebers but all eyes were on the match. Both of these teams have been up and down all season like a yo-yo with the string cut – that is to say, down …… but not for want of trying and not for a lack of entertainment and drama. We have had awesome displays of injury, untimely illness, cars running out of fuel, people getting lost, video splicing and editing, fire alarms, last-second equalisers, unexpected thumpings, vuvuzelas and added to that list on Sunday we were also treated to Chris West doing his best John Wayne (or Yosemite Sam) impersonation under the post. As for the details, Josh scored a penalty and 3 goals, Chris 2 penalties and 1 goal; Dutchie scored 3 of her high trajectory mortars (prepare, load, stand back, fire;) Jenny, spurred on by the success of England’s netball team, scored 2; there were goals too for Rory, Lia and Toby. And then there was poor old Liv, who went to Canada and was sick, but still played and did her duty under the post – poor thing was locked up there for most of the match like a discarded bicycle at the train station (a nice Ladies Chesteron 7-speed with wicker basket though.)
At various points in the first half, the match could have got away from Bearsted, with Tigers leading 3-0 and then 12-7 later in the half. Fair play to them, they didn’t panic and came back each time, ending the first half at 12-9 and then clawing it back to 12-11 early in the second half. And there it stayed. For eternity (well, about 15 minutes.) 12-11. The sidelines were uneasy as each attack broke down or shots skimmed off the rim of the basket. 12-11 still? Hmm. Nails were chomped and Martha on the scoreboard couldn’t look at her mobile she was that tense (and fed up that she couldn’t flourish the numbers on the scoreboard.) 12-11, really? But it’s been, like, hours? Things were constipated in the Tigers attack and the referee didn’t care much for Chris’s buffalo stance under the post. We were all thinking it but at least his opponent was admirably restrained in only referencing the twerking once. 12-11! Come on! Seriously? The system was clogged up and something had to give. It was less va-va-voom and more cough-choke-grrr-bloody-well-start-will you? Something. Had. To. Change. ……………..Off went Rory, prompting a collective in-take of breath! Suddenly, cameras were poised, notebooks out and phones drawn from pockets like guns from holsters. On with the shirt (a little tighter than last year maybe, but understandable) and on with the laxatives came Paramedic James Northfield! In went Dr Lia with the medicine and pushed it right down that basket and we were off once more and the goals began to flow! Phew! That was a relief. Josh went to work then and we were home and dry. We should say commiserations to Bearsted as they have a lot of upcoming young talent, are well supported and play the game in the right spirit. Let’s hope they get promoted right back up as soon as possible.
Of course, there was also a dessert to be had, not in the pub afterwards but at the Perse at 7pm, when 7-man team and Division 3 champs, Tigers 3 played their final game against City 5. It was 4-4 at half time in this one, when injury meant that City also went down to 7 in the second half. That’s when the foot went on the gas and young Ollie Francis went to town, with three goals. He sent his defender sliding dementedly around like a McDonald’s worker on his way to the chip pan. He couldn’t fathom this young fellow’s skill at all. There was awesome rebounding (and penalty-taking) from his dad, ‘Little’ Nick Francis and goals too for Zoe and Harj. Clarkologists will have spotted another goal for Steve too to jot down in their notepads. The National League call-up may yet happen, Steve. Keep popping them in and putting in the hours.
But wait! We are not done yet. There are still games to play this season and we may (or may not now) have a friendly or two in the coming weeks. If we don’t, then we will certainly have some proper inter-club games for all players in training. Here’s what’s coming up:
|Sun, 22-Apr-2018||1730||V3||v||T4||Ely Community College|
|Sun, 22-Apr-2018||1800||C2||v||T1||Impington Village College|
|Sat, 28-Apr-2018||tbc||NICE||v||TIG2||UEA Sportspark|
|Sun, 29-Apr-2018||1900||T1||v||C1||Perse School for Boys|