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!!