The return of Thameside

The return of the Thameside league sees a reversal in our fortunes. Like the monsoon rains revive the plains, so the Thameside league helps to rejuvenate our faltering scoring and end the harsh realities dealt to us by the London League. Due to the delay of a detour via Budapest, I bring you two games against opponents who also have staring roles in Blue Planet 2… Blue Marlin and London Orca.

Nov 20th Stats

Frankly – I forget what happened in the Blue Marlin game… we won it 12-5, making much harder work of it than we should have. A disappointing 2nd quarter saw a 5min period where no goals were scored by either team – riveting stuff!! Nick “counter-attack” Shute got man of the match with 5 goals, putting some distance between himself and the chasing pack. Zac got Moment of the Match for scoring despite regular emails between the Stats Department and the Dubious Maddy Committee (DMC) at Narwhal HQ. Fluffer was shared between Matt “poor push shot” Finch and Gary “dodgy lob” Bowen for some combined bad shooting. Regardless of the awards, we got the result and recorded a win. Back on track for the Narwhals.

Last week saw a visit from our Arctic adversaries – the London Orca. It is often documented that Narhwals are difficult to find in the wild – none more so than the legendary ginger narwhal – who hadn’t been spotted in months. That being said, the prospect of a feast meant that Dan “flat track bully” Bedford made a rare appearance – dominating our opposition and picking up a solid 5 goals. This was despite Gary stealing his no.8 hat… This time around Rob “there’s a snake in my boot” Loveless won man of the match for his 5 goals, narrowly beating Andy who made some good saves (and very nearly conceded from half way…). Moment of the match went to Phil “baby daddy” Richards for a cheeky back shot lob. The game was not close, with Narwhals winning 19-2.

Fluffer was well contested this week – Rob missed a one on one but his blushes were saved by a terrible miss from Ed “too many waggles” Gamble in the last minute. It would have been assumed that Fluffer was nailed on – but the voting public were far kinder than expected. Fluffer was shared this week – with Gamble getting his inevitable just desserts, but sharing his punishment with Zac “lazy major” Finch who was picked out for giving away a major whilst we had the ball. Wobble avoided for now…

So, with the Christmas dinner not far away, our attention turns firmly to the stats. It is tight at the top of the scoring charts, with Rob and Nick still in contention. Despite the number of majors being relatively low, it is still all to play for with Phil and John tied on 12 – not far behind on 10 are Ed, Chris and Gary. Could we be getting a new name on the Catas Trophy? I know Mrs. Holah hopes so…

Meanwhile, we have ties for Man of the Match, Fluffer and Moment of the Match. It is all very exciting and will definitely come down to the final games. Expect some fancy skills and outrageous passing to try and secure those final votes. Can the Finch’s make it a Father Son double for Fluffer? I’m pretty sure that is the easiest way to share that DVD…

Until next time, FORZA NARWHALI!!

What happened again?

Apologies for how late this post is… I have been very busy digging caves and destroying rings and so haven’t had much time to “mine” the depths of the stats report. As a result I am struggling to actually remember what happened in the game… although to be honest, that’s probably a good thing!!

October 27th Stats

October 18th saw a Narwhals team low on fitness and match practise come up against Avondale 2’s. Thankfully Nick “20/20” Shute had recovered from his eye surgery and so was actually able to find the pool (on time). The first quarter was slow and painful (2-2) with an equally awful second quarter (1-2) leaving us a goal down at halftime. The 3rd quarter went terribly as we shipped 5 counter attack goals without response and finally we finished the 4th (2-2). As a result we sadly lost the game 11-5. A not so perfect way to start the Thames League season…

From what I can remember, the high(low)-lights were as follows:

  • Phil “Daddy” Richards was wildly off target with none of his shots going anywhere near the goal
  • Andy “Spring Break” Ogg bagged himself 4 goals
  • Finch Snr missed a sitter
  • Charles “poorly leg” K-T couldn’t make the game as he had got lost in Portugal
  • He was joined by no less than 7 other Narwhals…
  • Nick “eye of Sauron” Shute got sent out twice. So violent…
  • We were very poor…

As a result, the awards this week were:

  • Man of the Match: Unanimous vote for Andy Ogg
  • Moment of the Match: R.O.N (so poor…)
  • Fluffer: Phil and Finch Snr share the responsibility – both for some dreadful misses

Only positive from last week was that we finally got a new member to the Narwhals family. Mr. Richards can confirm that mini-Richards will be at training next week and will start paying his subs with immediate effect. That will be one hell of a kitty… Other positive is that Baby Phil now shares his birthday with a certain stats report writing dwarf…

Forza Narwhali!!

Can we ignore the first quarter?

The day of a game is always fraught with tension. Finchy posts the team and then we have the inevitable nervy wait before a flurry of disappointing messages come in. Some running late, some stuck on trains, others pretending to tend to the medical needs of the UK. This time it took less than an hour before a number of our team declared their late arrivals. Nick “Laser” Shute sadly hadn’t quite recovered from surgery and accidentally ended up on a plane to Lisbon… Even so, we looked to begin the game with a plucky 12 – with Finch Snr looking to make amends for fighting a 12yr old… we were  also still awaiting the arrival of Andy “poor timing” Ogg.

September 22nd Stats

Sadly it wasn’t just Oggy who turned up late to the party in the first quarter. We quickly raced into a 0-3 scoreline, dampening our spirits somewhat. Despite some battling in the pit, majors were few and far between and so we had to up our aggression levels if we wanted to get ourselves back in the game. Buoyed by the arrival of El Presidente for the 2nd quarter, we re-group and began our fight back into the game.

The second quarter ended much better, a 5-2 scoreline showing we were at least getting some traction. Tris and Charles popped up with two good goals whilst our scramble defence kept Enfield to two goals from distance. Highlight of the quarter being a superb face block by Charles which sent the ball flying back into the oppositions half. Surprisingly Ed “speed merchant” Gamble managed to collect the ball and launch a counter attack. Sadly the rest of the team didn’t fancy joining him.

The third quarter saw the start of our comeback. The tone of our play was set by Weeble superbly winning the swim off. This was in no way related to the fact that the halfway marker was in the wrong place… Matt “flailing arms” Finch managed to bag himself two identical  goals, leaving his defender for dead and burying the ball into the goal from close range. Phil “Baby Daddy” Richards finally managed to find his range too. After two quarters of “wayward” shooting, he finally managed to find the top corner from 6m. At the close we were 5-7 down – but the momentum was in our favour.

At the start of the 4th, Weeble once more carried the team forward with a great win at the swim off. A mere 15 seconds later the Narwhals had a man-up and the ball was in the back of the net thanks to a Loveless-Gamble combo. 6-7 and the pressure was on!! Moments later, Oggy superbly won a penalty which Right-post Loveless managed to keep inside the woodwork. At 7-7 the “crowd” were going wild… We then managed to shoot ourselves in the foot. With a counter attack on, Andy W attempted to pass the ball out to Phil – sadly, the ball bounced off the back of Phil’s head and into the waiting hands of the Enfield attacker who had been left behind. He gladly took the opportunity and took the goal. Phil and Andy successfully share Fluffer this week…

Then came a gripping finally. With 2mins to go, Chris Mann ghosted in at the back post to finish a great attacking move and leave us tied at 8-8. A draw would have been a fair result but we could not hang on. A last attack gave Enfield a one goal lead and with 5 seconds to go, the responsibility fell to Rob to bring us level. Sadly the ball went the wrong side of the post. Bar the first quarter it was a good performance – we just need to make sure we turn up for the whole game!!

Man of the Match this week went to Andy W for some great saves which helped keep us in the game. After a long absence his return is very welcome, despite it allowing Finch out-field… That being said, Matt “Inhaler” Finch managed to pick up Moment of the Match for his two goals – glad he is finally finding the net and not pick on a people a third of his age. John Holah, despite a strong defensive performance was quickly escorted from the pool and dropped off at Gatwick to catch his flight. He is yet to return.

Hopefully we can beat Avondale next week!! Forza Narwhali!!

Matt Finch playing outfield… what could go wrong?

Wednesday 13th September saw the Narwhals take to the pool for the first proper game in about 2 months. As you can probably guess, we had all been training really hard over the summer, with a pre-season victory over a group of 17yr olds filling us with false optimism that we were “alright”. If the realisation that we were incredibly unfit and out of practise hadn’t caused some doubts, the promise that Matt “one minute special” Finch would be returning to an out-field position sucked away any of our remaining confidence.

September 18th Stats

We took to the pool against a 12-strong Chelmsford side. Elder team members continued to reminisce about a game about 20 years ago where there was a bit of a fight, but they were asked to actually focus on the game at hand… The first quarter started well, with the game at 1-1 after 6mins (and Ed Gamble scoring an awesome goal…). Sadly within the final minute we shipped 3 goals and finished the first 4-1 down. The second quarter was a physical affair but finished 3-3 – no majors to be seen and Oggy grabbing a brace. After 14 minutes of polo, Matt “inhaler” Finch was yet to make his mark on the game. Little did we know he was saving himself for the 2nd half…

Rob “right post” Loveless grabbed himself 2 goals in the 3rd quarter – the pick of those being a delightful left-handed back shot from 7m. Sadly, our fitness (or lack of it) was starting to show and Chelmsford began to break off us; 11-6 at the end of the quarter. At the start of the 4th we held our own for a full 2.30 minutes. A brief burst of energy let us keep up with the Chelmsford swimmers and keep the score as it was. We even managed an attack or two. It was during one of these attacks that suddenly the whistle went – holding the ball I expectantly looked at the pit hoping for a man up… how wrong I was.

To my dismay, the referee was pointing towards the top of our arc and a floundering (flouncing) Matt Finch. With three shrill blasts, he was excluded and wrapped. No more polo for Matthew. It turns out Matt had been “punched” by an 18yr old. He was then caught punching him back. Not only did he lose that fight, he also picks up fluffer… (unanimously).

The final score was 15-7. For our lack of match practise it wasn’t a terrible result, but it could have been better. Man of the match went to Rob “left hand” Loveless for his 3 goals whilst moment was shared between Rob and Ed “2m slap shot” Gamble. Race is on for Most Magic Moments!!

Special shout out to Andy Winterbotham who has returned to the club after a 5yr hiatus. It is a shame his return has meant Finchy has to come out field, but he did make some good saves – so welcome back.

Tadija, Gary and Zac are still missing in Portugal. Their next of kin have asked us to call off the search.

Until next time – Forza Narwhali!!

Floater – the Goal Machine Poo

A tale of 2 contrasting games this week. One so well organised it completely threw the team, the other so last minute it was organised 48 hours in advance in the pub after the first. One journey to the far north, one in our favourite local. One agonising defeat, and one steadying win. However both with distinct lack of players as has become too comment in recent times.

4th August Stats

Game 1 – a lovely 40 minute tube to High Barnet. Plus a 20 minute (30 if you include going the wrong way) walk from there. Or the age old question, clockwise or anti-clockwise on the M25? It makes little difference this far out.

There was a highlight for a lucky few though. Games where we leave straight from work mean we can have a Cheeky Nandos and a McFlurry. The food of Gods (champions). The Galaxy Caramel McFurry  was definitely the evenings high point, especially for one well known toilet connoisseur.

The man of experience did his business pre-match as usual – the whiff of medium-spice peri-peri wafting through to poolside. That’s more than can be said for Shute – whose Nandos promptly decided it had had enough time in the intestine just as the ref blew the whistle to line up. Needless to say missing the start of the game because of poor pre-match preparation wins him fluffer in game one before he even touched the ball.

We were under pressure straight away, but battled very hard and traded blows for the first half. We went in 9-7 down, their 9th being a shot from half way a good second after the clock had gone to zero. Spending most of the 2 minutes of half time complaining to the ref, he proceeded to let them kick the shit out of us for the second half, our tiredness kicked in and we went down 15-9 (or something like that, no one got the match sheet).

Highlight of the day was Floater, who pre-loaded his bicep cannon with ice cream, caramel and chocolate and banged in 5 to pick up man of the match. Moment went to Zach, who was left to shoot from the wing and gobbled it up with a lovely lob into the far corner. No travelling this week due to lack of known goals and majors.

Game 2 – Still recovering from getting home in the early hours on Monday the team were bolstered by Mr Punch confirming his attendance, but a last minute emergency for Finch meant Robo-Hip had to take one for the team and put the red hat on. Oggy was absent due to the 48 hours notice, Phil hadn’t loaded his cannon (which was a worry), but Shute’s dads risotto was not giving him the same jip as the nandos so he was able to start the game. With Holly heavily pregnant and still showing more commitment than most of our team, we had to help the table so were left with no subs. It wasn’t looking good…

But what a bunch of heroes. Super solid defence in the first quarter left us 2-0 up. We went in at half time 3-2 up, but only thanks to lack of juice in the cannon and their keeper somehow managing to guess where Woody was going to shoot every time. Again, and again, and again. It’s almost as if he always shoots at the same corner…

We ran away with it in the third. The cannon started firing, the keeper didn’t pay attention for one of Robs shots (that was mean, it was a good shot), Shute finally put it in from more than 2 inches (whey) and Holah noticed the keeper doing a Finchy and looped it into the top corner from 9 meters. A 4 goal lead was unassailable, and the Narwhals battled to a 9-7 win.

An almost unanimous MoM this week for Gary in goal, some cracking saves with his hands, arms and head! Hats off to Bummage who made the trip for the second time in a week and put in a cracking performance in the pit, they got 12 majors!! Moment goes to Holah for his lovely 9m goal on the man up. Special mentions for Gary saving with his face, Zach for his telling off by the biggest, fattest man in the pool he was bullying. Fluffer was hotly contested this week. Richards and Loveless get a vote as of the 12 man ups at least 5 were ruined by them. Shute gets a couple of votes for passing straight to the other team blaming his “eyes”. But taking the award today, along with a self nominated vote, is Zach for receiving the ball on 2m during a man up, catching it, pirouetting, then passing it rather than just putting it in the goal. Even the other team couldn’t believe it or you’d have got pummelled. A goal, major or quarter on the table means everyone stays clean this week.

There’s probably a game tomorrow, so see you there!

A blind man, a drunk and 2 minors went for a swim…

A long overdue match report for a game from the start of July vs Beckenham. A valiant effort saw the Narwhals defeated 13-12 with only 4 able sighted, non-drunk, over the age of 15 men. Nick “no eyes” Shute our guest contributor…

July 31st Stats

Getting my kit together for the game, I went into my bed side table and grabbed my box of contact lenses. It was quickly obvious it was empty. For those of you who don’t know, I cannot see a bloody thing without my glasses, so that was me more useless than normal – but still better than Gimli.

Pulling up to East Croydon, Mr Burridge was promptly waiting, however Mr Finch was certainly not. When he did appear, he quickly jumped in the car and proclaimed “I’m completely fucked!”. Good start.

This left a solid 4 men and 2 lads. Vs Beckenhams 12…

We made a pretty poor start, 3-1 down 1st quarter. But a strong second got us back to 5-5 at half time. For one goal, swimming forward I could just about make out our pit man turn his man and push off. I threw the ball in that general direction, and this hero majestically came out the water, caught and swivelled, and sumptuously lobbed the ball over the keeper into the far corner. Apparently, this hero was Holah! Don’t believe it to this day.

We struggled in the third, going down 5-2. The only highlight was a delightful SPS (shute push shot) – still effective from 2 inches (that’s what she said…). A good final quarter, including a 4th for Hero Holah, a brace for Mr Poo and 1 each for Loveless (was this your beautiful backshot from the right wing after a little wobble on the side over the ref?) and myself saw us get to 12 goals. But 4 goals in the second half for their number 8 who was obviously too good and decided to start playing meant we ended up losing out 13 – 12.

Man of the match this week went to Hero Holah for his 4 goals. Shame it’s rarer than a win for Mellows Park Rangers. Moment was shared between Holah and Shute for their goals. Fluffer went to Matt “shout a lot at the defence, oh he just shot and I was too busy shouting” Finch. Not a single major this week, which means the ref was probably shit. But a goal for all but one sees Finch Jr holidaying on his own this week.

Next up a trip to the Northern Lands. Can Holah maintain this form? Will Burridge make the 500 mile round trip? Will Loveless have another wobble? Can Zach get back from holiday alone?? Find out next time.

Wobble imminent… I think I need a sit down…

Monday 26th June saw 8 mighty Narwhals take to the pool for the first time in a month against Croydon 2’s. Seeing the dubious team selection from our opposition, we expected another heavy defeat – which may have played slightly into our favour, providing a relaxed approach to the first few quarters.

June 30th Stats

The first quarter started rather confusingly, with the table being cunningly moved to the other side of the pool, and so the ball was put in on the other side too. This meant that those sneaky left handers who try to avoid the swim off had to actually swim for the ball. Not wanting to break with tradition, we promptly lost that contest… We kept Croydon in reach at all times never letting them get more than one goal ahead. Highlight of the quarter was a swift counter attack where Ed “missing in Portugal” Gamble broke away and played a delightful lobbed “pass” off the far post into the path of Nick “blind man” Shute, who promptly fumbled the ball into the goal.

The second quarter was delightful as we successfully shut the opposition out and managed to grab a goal ourselves, bringing the half-time score to 3-3. We worked hard on the drop and limited the opposition from distance. It was an example of where when we work hard, we can be defensively solid.

We then went into the second half of the game and tiredness eventually caught up with us. As we became slower with our press and our drop broke down, Croydon eventually found their range and grabbed a couple of goals from 7-8m which Finchy was unable to keep out. We didn’t manage to grab a goal in the 3rd quarter and we slipped to 7-3 down.

The 4th quarter saw us make the terrible tactical decision to let Matt “stamina” Finch out of goal. To be clear, there is no correlation between Matt coming out of goal and the team conceding 7 goals. Absolutely no correlation at all. The quarter didn’t start well, with Gary “bad hips” Bowen forgetting he was supposed to save the shots, allowing the ball to fly over his head. That being said, we did then proceed to score 4 goals in the quarter. Shame on whoever let Finchy score… Having spent the game being held, pulled and niggled, Rob “NHS” Loveless started to get a little stroppy. Realising he wasn’t getting anything from the referees, he correctly identified a wobble was imminent and quickly took himself out to cool off. Thirty seconds later he got back in and showed the Croydon boys who was boss with a lovely backhand shot into the bottom corner. He promptly won moment of the match – wobble well and truly avoided!!

Rob also won man of the match for managing to avoid the woodwork and bagging himself 4 goals. Seems all that Kingpin practise worked out. Loveless was in the running for a triple crown, with two fluffer votes for his mini wobble – but he was nudged out by Gary “lobbed from 10m” Bowen who was (as is probably clear) lobbed from 10m in the final second of the game. Shhaaaaammmeee!! Shhaaaaammeee!!

Ed “Lisbon” Gamble and Zac “Porto” Finch are still missing and the police aren’t worried. Gamble claims two excellent assists but no one cares.

Forza Narwhali!!

The night of the Narwhal Massacre

Wednesday 17th May 2017 will forever go down in the chronicles as the worst day in Narwhals history. Yes – worse than ATTJ vomiting in the ladies toilets, worse than Abu bin Harwood coming back from Dubai, definitely worse than not going on tour in 2015 and certainly worse than Gamble dropping 13 pints all over Finchy. It was a massacre of epic proportions. At this moment Green Peace have abandoned protesting oil rigs in the Arctic and are racing towards South Croydon to save all the Narwhals they can…

A crippling and bruising 22-1 loss to Guildford 1’s… not a lot more needs to be said.

May 22nd Stats

For the first time this season our goal difference slips into the negative. Little better, a grand total of 7 narwhals have been found loitering uselessly near Portuguese holiday resorts. As a result of this defeat, the whole team were allocated fluffer. Similarly there was no award for Man of the Match. Reluctantly moment of the match was awarded to Charles “Rob Loveless” King-Tenison for picking up the only goal.

I don’t really want to say anymore as recollecting the game is putting me on the verge of a major wobble… Hopefully we can do a bit better next time…

Another draw snatched from the jaws of victory

A second game of the week, a second draw of the week. A home game to a below strength Sutton team, apart from their 1st team player, who decided to actually start playing at half time and rescued them a point.

15th May Stats

Bolstered by the late cry on of Dan “gladiator” Bedford and Tadija “back to full fitness” Popovic, the Narwhals quickly took a 3-0 lead with a classic top corner goal from Mr Potato Head and some lovely shooting from Woody. A second of the quarter from Woody, one for Gladiator, and a couple for them, meant we ended the 1st 4-2 up. 3 more goals from Woody (2) and Mr Poo (1) saw us in a strong position at half time, 7-4.

They were down, and we started the 3rd with solid defence and a goal apiece for Mr Poo, Gladiator and Goggles to go 10-4 into the lead. But then their 1st team player decided he should probably make some effort… The match sheet then reads Blue 5, goal, Blue 5, goal, Blue 5, goal, Blue 11 (because we dropped so hard on 5), goal. 10-8 at the end of the 3rd.

This continued into the 4th, and as we tired we struggled to get out to the shooters from the drop and blue 11 and blue 12 capitalised with some good shooting. Another goal for Woody and Mr Potato head meant we managed to pull 12-10 ahead, but 11 and 12 pegged us back again to end 12-12.

One thing I forgot to mention in this last quarter is during a blue attack we did manage to drop properly and win the ball. A quick counter saw Gladiator 1 v 1 with the keeper, but with the defender about to pounce he made the correct decision to pass the ball across to Woody. With 5 goals to his name already, his confidence was up, but somehow, with the goal as empty as Gimli’s bank account, he couldn’t apply the finish which would have won us the game. For this he unanimously wins Fluffer, including the self nomination. Hasn’t been a less close vote since Kim Jong-un.

However for his strong start to the game and bagging 5 goals Woody does get man of the match as well. Let’s hope next time he can keep it up further than half way. But what about the water polo? Shout out to Mr Potato Head for a couple of good goals and also Richard who sacrificed his maddy to play in goal. He also wins moment for a cracking penalty save, the first of his 45 year polo career!

In other news, Tony Popovic was spotted in Lisbon on Wednesday, presumably having a nice holiday now the football season is pretty much over. Zach is currently under review by the DMC, and may be joining Tony on his holiday soon.

Lots of Wobbles on Weebledown Farm

Monday saw the mighty Narwhals embark on a trip to Putney to face Avondale. Always a good game, we were optimistic about the result and keen to get going. Phil “Stallion” Richards, “fresh” from his Japanese exertions was back in the pool, and Charles “is this one Surrey League” K-T was finally allowed to play with us again by his mum… Game on!!

Sadly Ed “danger poo” Gamble missed the swim-off due to spending too long visiting the Putney facilities – he had clearly read the B-Log and couldn’t wait for a visit!! Instead the responsibility fell to Goggles McShute who didn’t let the team down by duly losing the swim-off. The first quarter was tight finishing 2-2 and the game was shaping up to be a good one. Our drop was working really well and we nullified their pit attack. Sadly our shooting was wasteful and we did not take the opportunity to build a lead. Nonetheless, a good long range effort from Chris “Moto” Mann and a typical counter from Goggles meant the first quarter went well. The second followed a similar pattern, with the score 4-4 at half time.

Some good consistent refereeing led to lots of majors and plenty of practise. Buoyed by the knowledge he could “score” and hit the target (whey) Phil “Sumo” Richards bagged himself two of four goals in the 3rd quarter. Going into the 4th, we were 7-6 up. The final quarter was a cagey affair, with the lead changing hands. With a minute to go, Avondale bagged a goal to go 10-9 up and the Narwhals were staring defeat in the face. With 30 seconds to go, up stepped Big balls Richards to save the game. In years go by, as he lined up a shot from 7m, we would have turned and swam back to defend, knowing the ball was already flying over the bar… but in an amazing change of fortune, Phil steadied himself, drew back his short little arm and rocketed a shot in off the near post. The game was saved!! 10-10 the final score – our second draw of the year (of the same scoreline).

Man of the Match went to Big Man Richards who grabbed 4 goals and was exceptional in front of goal. He also got moment of the match for his last gasp winner. Shout out to Rob “woody” Loveless who continued his fine run of stopping the ball going in the net by covering for Finch Snr. when he got sent out for smelly chat. Finch also gets a thumbs up for a good reaction save to keep us in the game. Fluffer went to Gary this week for a poorly executed Lob. Finch Jnr. is still visiting the dubious maddy committee.

Stats will come with the next report.

Forza Narwhali!!