The Avondale Double Header

We played Avondale twice in the space of two weeks. It was close, with the aggregate score 18-17 to Avondale. At times we played well, at times we didn’t. Our man-ups were awful, our man-downs were pretty good actually. Dubious refereeing on all fronts both home and away made for some interesting games.

The first fixture was the home leg at Whitgift. We snuck a last minute winner after a shot on goal was blocked with two hands by an Avondale defender. Up stepped Oggy to bury the winner with 14 seconds to go. What a hero!! Game was categorised by some great saves from Finchy (including 3 penalty saves) which earned him Man of the Match. Shute and Oggy shared Moment – Nick for a wonderful parabola lob (again) and Oggy for the aforementioned last minute penalty winner. Rob Loveless sadly won fluffer for wayward passing and shooting. (“who me?” you hear him ask…). Gamble was in close contention for a penalty/wobble double whammy – giving one away and then crying about it. Overall, it was nice to actually win a game – even though we made it super difficult.

The return leg game a week and a half later. This game was just as close and was characterised by Bedford getting beaten up in the pit with little/no return. The game became quite scrappy and fighty and despite Mr Shute’s claims of innocence, he probably did punch someone at some point… Sadly we lost by two goals, the final score 10-8. Man of the Match went to John Holah for some good fighting in the pit, moment of the match went to Shute who loves a lob vs. Avondale (you think they’d learn) and fluffer went to Finch Senior for some awful passing from goal…

Also, shout out to new boy Gio who has started his Narwhals career strongly. Our first Italian recruit, taking the Narwhals brand global!!

Until next time – Forza narwhali!!

Viscount Kingsborough vs. Penguin

[EDIT – a short but sharp match report today. The editor recognises there have been very few posts recently and apologises profusely. Finch Senior took time out of his 15 jobs and 32 redundancies to write the short blurb below…]

There was a game at some point last week. I got the dates wrong, it was a shambles. No-one was surprised!!

It was all somewhat overshadowed by the revelation that one of our team members was a Viscount (and had kept it very quiet). We lost the game. By lots. A depleted Narwhals played a 1 ½ Penguin team who had some very handy Eastern Europeans. However in the words of Mr Robert Dickinson, this was the “best 18 – 4 defeat he’d ever played in” and to be fair we didn’t play badly, they were just a lot better than us!!

Man of the Match went to Zach for being for only person on either team that could score a penalty

Moment of the Match went to Andy W in goal for saving what could only be described as a rocket, with his face and then needing a little time out afterwards (not surprisingly either)

Fluffer was yours truly having scored 0.003% of my shots and failed to pass to a wide open Rob D on 3 of them… Shooting practice required!!

For those who are interested: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Earl_of_Kingston

Stats will be updated in full once all match reports have been completed.

Big Daddy’s Big Send-off

[EDIT – This week see’s the debut of Gary “Garreeeeeee” Bowen, providing his very first match report. The games covered in this report were friendlies and therefore (due to considerable complaints from the voting public) do not contribute towards stats. As a result we only get to enjoy the words of Mr. Bowen.]

20th April 14:19 and the call comes from Matt ‘Million Dollar’ Finch – we have a “friendly polo” event against the Kingston Royal Warriors next Thursday 25th. With hindsight could this be the most miss-sold event of 2019?

One by one the yay and nay messages appear, but all slightly confused by someone [edit: a convict] called Birman who seemed to have hacked into the team WhatsApp group on that Saturday evening and was posting pictures of himself superimposed on images of some of the Narwhals having a quiet evening in Streatham. Birman even posted that Phil ‘Big Daddy’ Richards was having lunch with the in laws – he could have thought of something more original – what a poor excuse to miss some beers! And posting that our team elder statesman was still ill 10 days after attending a stag weekend was just cruel. [edit: I still want to know what happened on that stag do…]

By Wednesday, even with the many nays, Million Dollar had summoned a mighty team of eight. So, game on – but what the team really needed was a bit of pre-match training. What better than an extended Wednesday training session at the Khana Peena (http://www.khanapeena.co.uk) followed by a heated game of five-a-side Hungarian Dodgeball – not a game that has made Olympic status yet but it could challenge synchronised swimming (or artistic swimming as it is now known). At the end of the game we won and they lost.

Anyway, on to the match day. In spite of his almost agreed transfer to the US league, Big Daddy came through with an early confirmation that he was good to play. No mention of poo, so can only assume that he was still stacking this for a later mighty session. Perhaps as a left-over from the Saturday hacking, Million Dollar completely messed up his liaison with John ‘The Animal’ Holah and arrived at the pool before thanking The Animal for his offer of a lift. Great to see a bit of team coordination.

But what about the game you ask? Well we played, and it did involve a pool, but was it polo? Perhaps there was some rule confusion, should we follow the new FINA water polo rules or should we use the UWW freestyle wrestling rules? This confusion seemed particularly hard for Zac ‘The Undertaker’ Finch who achieved his second exclusion within 90 seconds of the start of Round 1. The rest of the team also struggled to get their holds right and at the end of the round the judges had scored the match as 3 to Kingston and only 1 to the Narwhals.

Round 2 was better as the hold and release training came back to some of the Narwhals, and the judges scored this 4:2 to the Narwhals with Nick ‘The Hacksaw’ Shute and Big Daddy being awarded 2 each.

Round 3 and Kingston had clearly got to the judges, so despite The Hacksaw being awarded 2 more points Kingston were judged as winners of the round by 5:2. Sadly in this round The Undertaker was caught trying an illegal backbreaker move and was eliminated from the competition.

So, into round 4. Could the Narwhals get Kingston onto the floor? The Hacksaw continued with his grip and release tactics to get two more points awarded and Ed ‘The Hulk’ Gamble and Gary ‘Rowdy’ Bowen were awarded 1 each for clearly confusing the opposition. But sadly Kingston were also awarded 2 points and had their hands raised at the final score 12:11.

Despite a severe lack of votes, in recognition of his valiant attempt to be remembered after his transfer to the US, Big Daddy (Phil-adelphia) was awarded the Man of Match award. The Hacksaw was given the award for the best ‘release from the opposition hold’ moment and The Undertaker was nominated as fluffer for his excessive use of illegal backbreaker moves.

Million Dollar, The Animal, Tim ‘Ultimate Warrior’ Young and Charles ‘Ravishing’ King-Tenison have all been sent to enhance their skills at the Portuguese training camp…….

A keeper, a keeper… my kingdom for a goal keeper!!

Last week saw the Narwhals take on Beckenham 2’s in the London League. Our first experience of the new London League rules and our first failure to grasp them. A sturdy 9 turned up for the game, crucially buoyed by the first appearance of the season by Dan “Iron Man” Bedford. Clearly Nick challenging his record for the year was causing him some concern… Rather unhelpfully, both our goalkeepers were on holiday, so Gary “Gareeeeeeeeeee” Bowen, in the style of Shakespearean tragic hero, volunteered to go between the posts.

April 22nd Stats

Pre-game we had a nifty little team talk. “Remember the new rules” we said loudly several times, “don’t let them shoot from corners, don’t foul them from behind. Job done.”. Oh how we wish it was that simple…

In honesty I don’t remember much about the game. They kept beating us on the counter attack and if we managed to get back and defend properly, we were picked off from distance. Whilst performing an admirable job between the sticks, Gary was very unlucky with some heavily deflected shots flying past him. Beckenham were also equally good at finding the top corner!!

Shute and Bedford shared the pick of the goals with Gamble and Richards chipping in with their own efforts. Holah made a triumphant return with a typical major and Finch Jnr gave away a spectacular penalty, absolutely nailing the pit man after being turned. Congratulations on putting yourself in firm contention for the Catas!!

Scores were 6-10 at the half; 10-18 at full time.

Man of the Match went to Bedford for his first appearance of the year. He did all the things we expected – growled grumpily from the pit, told us we were all rubbish, questioned why he played with us in the first place and scored a few goals. He also won Moment of the Match for a delightful lob into the far corner (of the goal). Not to be confused with one of my shots that went into the far corner of the pool…

Fluffer this week could have been a close run thing with the award being shared. Sadly for one of the pair, we were sympathetic to the one who took the bullet and went in goal. Despite having been warned of shots directly from the corner, and with Weeble’s shouts of “watch him, don’t let him shoot!!” still ringing in his ears, this member of the team decided to turn his back on the Beckenham player swimming to take a corner. Within a moment, the shot was taken and the ball was in the net. The narwhals fall foul of the new rules for the first (and definitely not the last) time this year. Congrats Charles, you win!!

Hopefully we will do a better job of trying to win the game next time.

Forza Narwhali!!

 

The Inevitability of Life…

This week the stats report has been updated to include three previous games vs. Orca, Avondale and Otter. Match reports are sold separately. The following tale includes heroics, stupidity, cramp and a sublime back shot from the least likely of candidates.

April 14th Stats

Some things in life are inevitable. Birth, Death, and Matt Finch forgetting we have a game. Last Wednesday was another one of those occasions. A sturdy 9 Narwhals turned up at Whitgift pool for a 9pm training session, all looking forward to what could turn into an early night. Just before we started our swim set, a warning shot was fired across our decks – one member of the opposition wandered cautiously onto poolside. We told him in no uncertain terms there was no game and he disappeared back into the changing rooms. Oh how we laughed…

Led by Rob D, we then conducted a 20 minute swim session where we did sprints, legs and butterfly. Suitably tired, we were then greeted by a full team of London Otter players who arrived on pool side for a 9.30pm game. Brandishing the London League fixture list, it was clear the game was on… With no table, no refs and barely enough players to service both, the Narwhal Horn was sounded into the night – “BADDOOOOOOOOOPPPP!! BADDOOOOOOOOOPPPP!!”.

“Too far, too tired” came the response from Shute. “I’m working” from Holah. A silent void from the rest – the beacons of Gondor well and truly ignored. Luckily President Ogg did come to our aid, importantly brandishing a match sheet as he ran onto poolside. Also buoyed by the long awaited return of Luke “finals and photo shoots” Penfold, the Narwhals were ready for battle.

In honesty, there is not a lot to say about the game. It was scrappy and Otter had clearly brought a mixed strength team including some (a) very good 1st team player. In the first quarter they scored 4 without response until referee Finch Snr rather expertly gave a penalty for an illegal entry. Even more surprisingly, Weeble dispatched the penalty with a bouncing effort into the bottom corner. 4-1 to Otter after Q1.

Quarter 2 ended 8-1 to Otter and we struggled to get into the game. No goals coincided with Gamble doing the refereeing. Read into that what you will. Unfortunately we lost Penfold to cramp at the end of the quarter. His “easy” return to training somewhat scuppered by this unexpected game. Two quarters on the table was his reward!!

Quarter 3 was a little better. We worked a bit harder and they only scored from outside the arc. A few misplaced passes didn’t help our cause and we struggled to slow down the play and use up the clock. Even so, we got a few good shots away and finally got the goal we deserved. A drive from halfway across the goal by Gimli was picked out by a looping pass from Ogg. Aided by a dubious Finch Snr pull-back, Gimli had enough time to put the resulting back shot into the top corner off the post and crossbar. Assists to Ogg and Finch? Q3 ended 12-2.

In honesty, we played quite well despite the situation. Our drop on the pit worked well and most of their goals came from counter attacks or from 8-9m off the arc. Quarter 4 saw goals from Oggy and Finchy, making the score sheet slightly less uncomfortable reading. 15-4 the final score.

Man of the Match went to Gamble as did moment for the back-shot. You flatter me guys. Fluffer unanimously went to Matt Finch, the Incompetence award wrapped up for another year.

Until next time… Forza Narwhali!!

Into the Archive: The Almost Epic Comeback

[EDIT: Another slightly late entry, this time provided by Mr. Shute. This report was provided in a somewhat more timely fashion, but sadly just after Dr. Loveless’, thus allowing our resident doctor to avoid any fineage. Seems like a good game.]

The mighty Narwhals, depleted by the missing Gimly, Woody, Oggy, Punchy, Floaty and Gingy, travelled to Putney for arguably their first real challenge of the season against Avondale. With so many star players out, victory was but a distant dream, but the Narwhals ploughed on with thoughts of a London Pride that took 10 minutes to pour keeping them interested.

Their hopes were lifted however, when Shutey won the swim off, went in the pit, “turned” his man and slotted in all within 25 seconds. Blows were traded over the next 6 and a half minutes, neither team taking control of the game. With 13 seconds remaining, Avondale took a 5-4 lead and the Narwhals looked like they would be going in behind. But, with 2 seconds left on the clock, Shute went for the audacious parabola from half way. It sailed through the air, rotating majestically, the buzzer went, but it carried on, the keeper could only watch as it sailed into the goal. What was he doing? 5-5.

In the second quarter we really showed what an absolute pile of rubbish team we can be at times. Slack passing, poor balls into the pit and bad shooting, combined with lack of fitness and awareness, allowed Avondale to score 3 unanswered break away goals. The one man up we did win came to nothing, and we went in 8-5 behind after losing the swimming race.

We contained this for the first 2 minutes of the 3rd and found ourselves 12-6 behind with a quarter and a half to play. What happened next can only be described as a Monday night miracle. To sarcastic shouts of “shoot!” from the opposition bench, Timmy “cannon” Young smashed the ball into the bottom corner from 5m. Some clever play (slash slack defending) from Dicky Dickinson and good saves from Andy got us 2 more, with one another lob from half way as the keeper rushed out to try and fill the gap left by the defenders. Another break away goal from Shutey to give Avondale a taste of their own medicine and take the score to 12-10 at the end of the 3rd, the come back well and truly on!

With their horns up, the Narwhals continued to push and Finchy chipped in with another goal, before a sublime blind back hand pass whilst being drowned by his defender found Shutey to slam home for 12-12. Shutey then added another to make it 13-12 to the Narwhals, the come back complete. Could the Narwhals see out the game?

Nope.

The effort it had taken to get us there was too much. Chrissy Mann couldn’t help but drown his man and they scored from the resultant man up. 3 more fairly sloppy goals in the final 2 minutes saw us slip to a 16-13 loss. Not a bad effort considering, a shame about the absolute collapse in the second and half the third quarter.

Man of the match this week goes to Shutey for his shooting. Another 8 goals to add to this seasons tally as he chases down Bedfords scoring record from the previous year. Moment also goes to Shutey for his audacious lob on the buzzer, their keeper certainly taking their fluffer for letting that go in. Shout out to Finchy Snr for his blind back hand pass. Fluffer was pretty unanimous this week with Finch snr picking up all but one of the votes, and that wasn’t even his own vote… Fair play to Charles for voting the whole team for the second quarter.

If we could all work on our fitness and awareness for future we’d win that game. Alternatively let’s just get Woody, Oggy, Punchy, Floaty and Gingy back in the pool.

Forza Narwhali!

Into the Archive – February vs. Orca

[EDIT: Following a long hiatus, we go back into the archives to look at a game that happened as long ago as February. Due to international doctoring commitments on the slopes of Mont Blanc, Dr. Loveless only managed to get this written 3 weeks after the game – this is despite telling us that “once I’ve knocked them out, I’ve got loads of time to mess about…”. The life of the modern doctor…]

Several months ago, the Narwhals took on the Orcas in the latest round of the Battle of the Arctic, this time taking place in the warmer waters of Whitgift pool. 10 Narwhals vs 11 Orcas, the stage was set for an epic battle. As aquatic mammals have evolved, the Narwhal remains in its prehistoric form, it’s majestic tusk a sign of its prowess and presumably used to spear fish when it isn’t grappling with rivals or foes. Such weaponry proved too much for the Orca pod early, as the Narwhals raced to a 4-0 lead, Rob D and Shute providing 2 apiece. Something of an orca comeback appeared after that with the first quarter ending 5-3.

The second quarter saw a resurgence from the men with tusks, as a well fought pit goal from Oggy and an outside shot from Holah combined with 2 more for Shute resulted in the Narwhals extending their lead to 9-4 at half time.

As the second half began the floodgates opened. This was the era of the Narwhal backhook shot as up to 4 shots found the net while eyes were turned the other way. Nick and Rob L both served up offerings of the now famous Wing backshot, one from each flank. These were both nominated for moment of the match with Rob’s effort narrowly winning the award. Also of note this period was a fantastic 1 on 1 save from Andy in goal, keeping the Orca charge at bay, and 4 goals for Shute. 16-4 with 1 quarter to go. A penalty was missed at some stage. No idea who missed it…

The fourth quarter continued in a similar vein with goals from Oggy, Holah and 2 from Rob L bringing the final score to 20-7 and another Narwhal victory. Man of the match went to Nick for 8 goals and an outstanding work rate. Fluffer this week went to Rob D, for several missed 1 on 1s and generally loose shooting. Next match report to follow very soon as we have played again in the time it took me to write this.

Forza Narwhali

2 by 2 is 4, 3 by 3 is 9

[Edit: Today’s match report comes from Finch Snr. Somewhat surprisingly late for someone who has a lot of time on his hands at the moment… we are all very disappointed in his tardiness…]

A long time ago (or so I’m told) [edit: 2 weeks to be exact…], a Narwhals side deflated by the presence of Weeble and shorn of all 3 of our recognised pit men took on a Kingston 2 side full of vigour and enthusiasm.

March 13th Stats

Narwhals, as per usual, started slowly with Kingston taking an early lead – but our brave boys fought back with a well taken 6m free throw goal from Rob ‘dependable’ Dickinson and a fluke (obviously) from Nick (3×3) Shute.

This was the first of many Nick goals, picking up a treble hat-trick (9 goals for the uninitiated). I wish I could remember them all, but alas I can’t. There were a few shots from the arc, a push shot and others. It would certainly seem that Mr Shute prefers us to play with no recognised pitman!!

The Narwhals went into the second quarter 2 – 3 down but had soon drawn level through a Nick goal. The quarter remained level pegged, 5 all at half time.

The third quarter went the same way as the second with both teams level pegging, only this quarter saw messers Lombardo (x2), Dickinson, King-Tenison and another Nick goal keep us level. 10-9 at the end of the 3rd.

The final quarter was dominated by the Narwhals, scoring 6 goals (4 by Nick) to Kingston’s 2, surely as a result of our superior fitness (LOL), in the end it was a comfortable result although the game hung in the balance until the final quarter. Final score 16 – 11 to the Narwhals.

Man of the match went to Ed for his assists*
Moment of the match went to Charles and Nick for the beautifully worked back post goal.
Fluffer went to me for being ill (and useless admittedly 😀)

Messers Young, Loveless and Finch jr have taken an early vacation and are tasting fine wine in the Douro Valley.

Forza Narwali!!

* no not really, Nick obviously won it for his 9 goals!

On a rainy night in Walton

[Edit: This game lacked a certain edge because Ed “Budapest” Gamble wasn’t playing, but apparently it still went alright… This report see’s the debut of Rob Dickinson – please give him some fair and honest feedback.]

February 6th Stats

10 intrepid Narwhal’s journeyed to a double-digit Kingston postcode on Wednesday night. Preferring to vacate the all deep, international standard pool for one where Peter Dinklage would have had a distinct advantage.

Early signs were good with an excellent swim off win. Despite the advantages posed of not playing with a shot clock, Narwhal’s key players continued to want to dump the ball whenever it looked like we might keep it for more than a few seconds. This was perhaps epitomised by Charles’ no luck, sorry, no LOOK pass straight to their best player. This commenter recognises the need for a competitive game, but such handicaps are perhaps a little far.

Oggy scored some terrific goals in the pit. Mr President seemed to be in a bit of a rush all evening. Oggy was first on all his swims. First to get to the pit. First to score. It was not a surprise when he was first to the pub. Zach, perhaps picking up on his comrade’s desire to get to the pub early, decided to get wrapped up on half way. Unfortunately, rather than an ice-cold pint waiting for him, all he found was the fluffer award.

As Narwhal’s superior fitness started to kick in, young guns such as Charles started to dominate. Charles managed to get in some great positions, always available. It was particularly pleasing to see him joshing a man twice his size. One counter attack was excellent with Charles scoring on the third attempt. A looping shot, straight through the keeper’s arms, on reflection, it reminded this commentator of a virgin thumbing in a softie. Everyone was very pleased it went in, but not quite sure it counted.

No team scores 15 goals without contributions from every player. Finch and Shute nipping in with two very good goals each. There is some dispute on their third goal. Finch got the lob to the back stick, Nick pushed it in. Like King Solomon, it feels harsh making them split such a precious baby. Let the records state that Nick should have it, for excellent emoji work on the team chat. Phil nipped in with a few goals, or was it one? The table certainly were not sure.

Chris and Gary proved that hard work pays off. Both scoring with excellent shots from man ups / counter attacks. Andy continued to be the main man at the back. Some excellent distribution and probably wins the long assist of the game award.

Overall it was a strong performance from a travelling Narwhal’s team. Final score 15-10.

MOM: Robert Dickinson

Fluffer: Zach Finch (honourable mention to Charles)

Moment: Charles’ goals

Forza Narwhali!!

Probably the best pass ever…

[Edit: Despite some artistic license and a rather harsh fluffer nomination (wobble) – this week’s report comes from Messer Finch Snr.]

January 30th Stats

There are few things in life where you can look back and think ‘that was the best I’ve ever seen’. Last Wednesday was one of those occasions. 9 Narwhals where honoured to witness probably the best Water-polo pass they will ever see, the fact that it was to our resident wobbler, Ed ‘Destroyer of Rings’ Gamble, took none of the lustre away from the quality of the pass.

The game had been arranged as a friendly against a mixed 2/3 Kingston side. A sense of foreboding fell upon us when a strong Kingston first team showed up and then when the talismanic Andy ‘El Presidente’ Ogg failed to show up, we thought we were in for a tough evening. Our team already shorn of Nick ‘Skiing’ Shute, Dr Rob ‘on call’ Loveless and Dan ‘Ironman’ Bedford rallied behind the experience of Chris ‘we’re going to get battered’ Mann and sent Gary ‘oh GAREEEEEEEEEEE’ Bowen out to win the swim off. He didn’t.

Things were looking bleak after we conceded in the first 30 seconds, a back shot from the Kingston pit man nesting in top corner of the Narwhals goal. Phil ‘Philly’ Richards was having none of it though and unleashed his trademarked bicep cannon to draw us level, a couple more goals conceded before a nicely taken Rob ‘Northern’ Dickinson goal brought us within 1 at the end of the 1st quarter.

The second quarter was a bit of a ding-dong, Kingston stretched their lead to 6 – 2 before being pegged back by goals from Phil, Rob, Stef ‘Lob’ Lombardo and Zach ‘Bully’ Finch. Score was 7 – 6 to Kingston at half time.

The third quarter saw some excellent play from the Narwhals both offensively where Rob, Phil, Stef and Ed all scored (more about Ed’s goal below) but also defensively where we restricted Kingston to two goals and saw Zach bully their pitman so much he started complaining to the ref…. As the quarter drew to a close, our “on the ball” goalkeeper (who at this point had been limited to making numerous okay-ish saves and a couple of interceptions) spotted that there was a mere 7 seconds remaining on the clock and put in what can only be described as a ‘sumptuous’ pass to Ed “golden arm” Gamble on our own 5m line. Ed dilly-dallied and then put in a 20m shot, this may or may not have gone in, [edit: top corner, off the inside of the post – a peach] alas the author cannot quite recall as he had been temporarily blinded by the beauty of his pass. The Kingston ref disallowed it despite Ed shooting a good two seconds before the whistle went. Not that I remember him scoring of course. 10 – 9 to the Narwhals at the end of the third.

The final quarter saw the Narwhals tail off a little with only a Charles ‘Mocks’ King-Tenison 2m goal to celebrate, Kingston scored a couple and the game ended with the big Kingston Eastern European slamming another one v one against the outstretched arm of our keeper. Final score 11 a piece. A great result from the Narwhals given absentees and the quality of the opposition.

Man of the match went to our keeper for his glorious pass (and a couple of saves…) and an honourable mention to Zach for his well taken arc goal and bullying the Kingston pitman! Moment inexplicably went to Ed for his goal, I can only think that people couldn’t see the quality of the pass to him from where they were. Fluffer is shared between Oggy (for his no-show) and Ed (for not shooting quick enough) with a whole two votes each. Stef voted for himself (a touch of the Burridge’s I feel). Messers Mann, Bowen and Ogg have gone snorkelling in Albufeira. Oggy enjoying it so much, he went back for seconds.

Forza Narwali……