Thursday night. 2130hrs. Somewhere in North Cambridge. The blend of youth and experience that is T1 gather to try and save their season against the greater experience and partial youth of Phoenix 1. There were veterans lining up on both sides – McGuinness, Carswell, Laffling, White. There were tall people – Hall, Tasker, Clift. There were short people – erm, you know who you are. There were twins – loads of them, like a convention. There were Scottish people too – again, you know who you are, Ross. And canine-friendly Keira, taking a break from Crufts to cheer the team on. T1 – joint bottom of CKA Division 1, perched over the ledge alongside Uni1, Lions1 and just below City 2, with Phoenix 1 a few points further on – having played all season with a new-look younger set of players, throwing them onto the cliff face and telling them to climb. And they’ve done well indeed. Now, just a win here would have been a grand reward for their efforts this season….
…. but a win was not achieved. We were certainly looking good for a win after 15 minutes with a 5-1 lead, ‘wee’ Tom Clift cavorting around the post, snapping up the Potter shots and recycling to Hana and Becca like a post office sorter, flinging those balls under-wrist, over-shoulder, guiding that ball to where it needed to be …. most of the time. Billy had snuffed out the main Phoenix girl threat and the opposition were resorting to one-armed hail mary shots from the halfway line. Unsurprisingly, these non-functioning parts of the Phoenix machine were subbed at half-time and the comeback then began. A flurry of subs on the Tigers side in response had mixed results, as the Phoenix rose from the ashes, the Terrywall Terror came upon us and clawed back all the way to actually lead 7-6 with seconds to spare. Relegation was a distinct possibility now for T1. All the cards had been played: Thomson on for McGuinness, J Rodgers on for Rowland, Washtell on for Carswell, McGuinness back on for Clift, Carswell back on for M Rodgers. In the end, we twisted once more on Clift coming back on for McGuinness. Could the young leaping buck do what the knackered old stag couldn’t? The clock shows 2226hrs, the final seconds, the ball pings around, the opening desperately sought, the caretakers wait to lock up…but hold on intrigued by the events unfolding….just to see….just to see…just to see….. the ball launched high towards the basket, sailing over the rim, over the bearded Phoenix giant that is Simon Hall and into the waiting hands of Laughing Cavalier Clift! Clift pivots, swivels, transfers the ball to the other hand, guffaws, prances back into the post, glances at his opponent as if to say: “A-ha I have you now. Yield, I say.” Everything slows. The bearded one howls, the Phoenix mouths drop open, the other defenders turn in horror, the Tigers bench rises, the Clift legs push, the big feet lift (a few millimetres albeit,) the ball perches on the finger tips…and off it goes…..onto the rim of the basket………….AND IN! Yes indeed! The bench erupts in elation as the buzzer goes and the ticker tape explodes. Cliftmania hits Arbury and Tom is hoisted up on shoulders and carried over to the bench where he signs autographs. That’s a bit of an exaggeration. We should have won of course but weren’t sure how to counteract the second half comeback. We’ll know better the next time. Good show Tom and good show Joseph.
It doesn’t stop there though. Mr and Mrs Clift showed up for the second T1 match of the weekend on Sunday. Now, Sunday was Best In Show day at Crufts and T1’s young puppies were once more let off the lead in the evening to see if they could keep themselves in Division 1 with another crucial relegation battle – this time against fellow basement dwellers Uni 1. Uni beat pretty much the same Tigers line-up earlier in the season and had their own various breeds of player on display. Their Japanese Shih Tzu/Pitbull cross, Hajime was a big threat. Needless to say, Tigers’ own Irish Setter was tasked with marking him and floundered initially. Who better to take over that task than Jude, the snappy little roller-blading Jack Russell of the side, who got stuck in and pestered his opponent into making mistakes. There were some heavy collisions there, I tell you. CERN scientists could have identified a few new particles had they been monitoring. Uni also had their fleet-footed girl whippets flying around the place, a great Dane at the post and a muck-splattered Alsatian who left a trail of muddy paw prints everywhere. He was quickly subbed when a late-arriving Pug arrived. Tigers’ very own Pointer (‘Potter’ we call him) kept the Uni captain busy with his laser-like distance shooting/assisting/dropping off. It was mainly the role of the boys to free up the girls to nip, yap and ultimately savage the living daylights out of their girls (the defeat earlier in the season obviously rankling with them.) The Nanonator celebrated her upcoming 18th by hitting the detonator 4 times and the Hananator duly followed up with 3, as did our purebred greyhound Molly, who showed those Uni whippets exactly how to run into space and score, getting three of her own. She’s a special talent for sure. We’ll let her off the lead a bit more. Coming out of retirement too were Jess’s calves and they were up to the challenge, scoring 1. Jess was happily sniffing around the scoreboard for most of the match and wasn’t expecting to be taken out for a run so soon. Good job we had Numbers Man Pete Rodgers on the sideline too keep tabs on every statistic generated. The best form of defence is attack, but some wise words from the sideline also help and we certainly had that in Liv, who masterminded this performance. Forget Sharon Osborne and Will I Am. If you want a vocal coach, Liv’s the ticket. Poor Jonny and his knees had had enough come the end of this match, pleading to be subbed. Age came before beauty, then, as the Pointer made way for the Irish Setter to see the game out in an epic, nail-biting 18-16 victory that all but assures T1 of Division 1 survival. Alas, Thursday’s hero Tom couldn’t get on the score sheet this time, with Mr and Mrs Clift looking on expectantly. However, he was the axis around which everything rotated. Every team needs an envelope sorter.
With the important stuff out of the way, we turn to the ehem, minor details of the National League team’s 17-33 defeat away to Tornadoes. Note: all of the following dog breeds have great qualities before anyone asks and these are all highly complimentary comparisons. Once more it was Dawes v Dawes as our Prancing Poodle of Tricks Josh was pitted against his energetic Siberian Husky brother Jacob for some of the match. Josh scored 2 penalties and 1 goal. Jacob scored 7. We’ll call it a draw. Faithful Old English Sheepdog Chris kept the team together, scoring 1 goal and 5 penalties, while our nippy little Chihuahua Toby and clever Boxer Lia chipped in with 2 or 3 each. With Doberman Liv (you know why) and Dachsund Daisy also getting on the score sheet, that only left old faithful sheepdog Rory and Pitbull Dutchie (fighting spirit, of course) without a score, which is highly unusual indeed. Ah well, no treats for them. They’ll just have to eat scraps for a week. Dutchie was actually being picked on by her player a lot so we swapped things around and she joined Liv in one the oldest ever recorded divisional line-ups in National League history (the Guinness Book of Records is being updated as we speak.) Like the busy mums that they are, they were at times slightly overrun by their younger, more hyper opponents – think Kindergarten Cop. We did have our very own younger, hyper Daisy to boast of too – and she scored…..but she also stepped on the free pass line once or twice. That will be ironed out in training with positive reinforcement (i.e. snacks.)
The SERL encounter afterwards saw the first outing for young terrier Jonny Potter and his notorious knees. Jonny Be Good was indeed good, scoring a hat-trick and nursing those knees of his. His mum had kissed them better in the morning, doing them all up in plasters, sending him on his way to Kent with a warning not to do any silly celebratory floor slides any more. He was a good lad and earned a treat for his efforts. Meanwhile, Tigers very own friendly St Bernard, Jerram, played against Tornadoes grizzled oul’ bulldog (and former England coach) Dave Buckland. There was lots of fun and games, playing fetch, slobbering a bit and crashing into each other. Poor Alex was a poodle caught in headlights, though, when she got a ball to the head and had to come off, to be replaced by a disbelieving Liv, who had to unfurl herself from her lovely warm blanket and trot out again for another walkies. She barked furiously at the young Tornadoes, who trampled all over her patch on their way past her to score a few easy runners. Scottish highland terrier Ross (what else) scored 3 penalties and 2 goals and will now be yapping wildly to everyone that he is top scorer in SERL. Oscar wasn’t as up for walkies though with his sore back (I shudder to think what he was doing to get that.) Daisy also managed to have her foot on the line for a free pass in this game too. Again….snacks. Final score: 13-26.
A quick shout out to our Under 11s for their fine performances at the weekend too. It’s a production line of talent (that many people work hard to keep going, lest we not forget.)
VERY important weekend coming up everyone. Cozzo has promised to shot-clock the SERL match on Sunday. He is sufficiently recovered from his er, knee injury now and I will not accept ‘Ebola-like symptoms’ as an excuse or any other self-diagnosis off the Internet. Apart from that, it’s crunch time for the National league team on Sunday as we host Birmingham City in a bottom-of-the-table clash. It’s a crunch match that all the other matches have been a preparation towards. Brum are already safe but we are not. Please support the team. Who knows? You may even get a mention in the next weekly update. The Under-14 bandwagon also continues rolling this weekend. How many goals can they rack up and who will step into young master Potter’s shoes now that he’s become a grizzled old veteran like the rest of us?
|Sun, 18-Mar-2018||900||U-14s||v||Vikings||Cambridge Regional College|
|Sun, 18-Mar-2018||1000||U-14s||v||Royals||Cambridge Regional College|
|Sun, 18-Mar-2018||1245||TIG2||v||CITY||Perse School for Boys|
|Sun, 18-Mar-2018||1415||TIG1||v||BIRM||Perse School for Boys|
|Thu, 22-Mar-2018||2125||P3||v||T2||Cambridge Regional College|
|Sat, 24-Mar-2018||1300||BIRM||v||TIG1||Woodcock Sports Centre|
|Sun, 25-Mar-2018||1145||TROJ||v||TIG1||Trinity School Sports Centre|
|Sun, 25-Mar-2018||1245||TIG2||v||NICE||Perse School for Boys|
|Sun, 25-Mar-2018||1900||T3||v||C4||Perse School for Boys|
|Sun, 25-Mar-2018||2000||T2||v||P2||Perse School for Boys|
|Sun, 08-Apr-2018||1200||NKTS||v||TIG1||UEA Sportspark|
|Sun, 08-Apr-2018||1330||NKTS2||v||TIG2||UEA Sportspark|
|Sun, 08-Apr-2018||1600||C3||v||T2||Hills Road Sixth Form College|