Four courses, Two of them edible…

The Narwhals travelled to the familiar waters of Putney Leisure Centre on a warm Monday night to face the old adversary Avondale 2s. True to form, Avondale fielded a full squad of 13, and as usual a hardy 9 (including a late cry on from John ‘Punchy’Holah) turned up to represent Narwhal nation.

May 22nd Stats

One could consider the following hour as the plight of an early round Masterchef contestant, including grand ideas and flourishes of quality, infused with collapsing desserts and timing issues keeping John Torode and Greg Wallace interested, while ultimately falling short of culinary achievement. This was more than a Britain’s Got Talent cat whisperer with 4 ‘No’ votes, but Cowell would have recommended several improvements.

The game started as ever with a swim off. Perhaps a simple amuse bouche, probably involving Parma Ham and pineapple. The texture was wrong and the judges didn’t like the cut of the pineapple. Avondale ball. The ensuing 4 minutes saw dropped starters and items left in the oven, as in spite of organised Narwhal defending, Avondale cruised to a 2-0 lead. Phil ‘Floater’ Richards led the Narwhal rally, finishing a fine outside shot to bring a goal back. Avondale scored again as the quarter expired, 3-1 after starters, with John and Greg accepting the offering without being too impressed.

Improvements came with the first main course. The defence tightened up, with a strong press and some fine defending of the pit by Punchy. However as is often the case, the Narwhal attack remained a flavourless Jus. Maybe that is harsh – perhaps the judges would have felt it lacked complexity when added to the solid roast duck foundation the defence had cooked up. We conceded 2 goals this period, and Dan scored 2 hard earned goals from the pit. It was becoming clear that missed chances would come back to haunt us, with several players finding the woodwork (Rob ‘Woody’ Loveless an ever present culprit), over the bar (Punchy) and into the keeper (Chrissy Mann). One particularly memorable disaster involved a “fantastic” counter attack from Ed ‘Gimli’ Gamble, but the pass was not forthcoming, and a golden opportunity was missed. Overall a passable dish, 2-2 quarter, 5-3 half time score.

The third period, a second main course, proved to be akin to the difficult second album. The basics were still there, a well cooked chicken in defence providing a solid foundation to the dish. Here again the accompaniments were all wrong. There was no fusion of flavours in attack, and timing proved an issue. Dan worked hard in the pit to get open, but the pass in was frequently hesitant or indeed absent completely. The Avondale drop afforded Floater plenty of space on the arc, but again service was far from silver and too often he didn’t get the ball. A crown in the jewel of this underwhelming effort was when Woody had broken the length of the pool, only to be flustered by the onrushing keeper and blast a classic rising disaster over the bar of the open goal and into the stratosphere. Zach lost phone signal as satellites were taken out of orbit, and Rob had egg on his face, and fluffer sealed up. Gamble earned a major as the quarter ticked down, deciding a gourmet Portuguese meal wasn’t for him this week.

Overdone potatoes and poor seasoning meant Avondale pulled ahead again, 2-1 quarter and after the 3rd course (the weakest dish) 7-4 Avondale.

Desserts can make or break a fine dining experience, but perhaps the Narwhals efforts had left them too much to do to advance in the competition. Their effort in the 4th quarter however, was much improved on previous rounds. Again building on a solid defence (the chocolate bomb that didn’t collapse), the counter attack was the dark red fruit coulis that made the dish such a success. 2 goals from Nick ‘20-20’ Shute and another from Dan meant a comeback was on the cards. Fatigue set in however, and it was clear our hardy 9 wished we could have turned out a well fed 13 to provide some late game relief. Avondale managed another 3 goals this quarter, turning the screw on a tiring culinary team. Very conscious of his impending flight to the Algarve, having attracted lots of attentive defence to go with his wayward shooting all game, Woody found himself unusually open on 8m. Today was not the day to add a trip to Portugal to the already secured fluffer award, so with the usual overly long wind up, a bounce shot the the far top corner saved him a flight. This earned moment of the match, but earlier shooting woes meant a triple crown was never on the cards. The game ended 10-8 to Avondale, in what was a bruising but exciting game. Man of the match this week was Dan for his efforts in the pit (making that meringue with a furious egg beater), being open far more often than he got the ball, but offering an ever reliable stream of attack for a team who recently have been struggling with creativity. Off to Portugal were Chris and Zach, with a few weeks to top up the tan before our next encounter.

Forza Narwhali!

Special Olympics

Last Monday night saw the mighty Narwhals take on London Orcas in a battle of the Arctic Whales. Narwhals entered the fray horns up and ready to go, but the Orcas certainly put up more resistance than was expected.

May 21st Stats

Following a few training sessions with tictactical masterclasses from Woody, Narwhals certainly went in feeling confident that their homework would be rewarded with a sublime performance of tactical nuance. Fired up by a Westfield Nandos, the team even took to the pitch early and were warming up way before the start time. This caused panic and confusion in Poobacker’s mind as he saw the team already in the pool waiting to go while he was walking to the changing rooms. The pressure took its toll and no Pre-match Deposits were forthcoming which certainly did not improve that individual’s performance.

Narwhals raced into an early 5-0 lead buoyed on by our Ginger Ninja and 20/20 vision Winehands and all was looking well. However, it would appear that Woody’s reminder at the end of the first quarter that we should remember the tactics discussed over the last few weeks had the opposite effect. Bamboozled by too many thoughts of picks, drives, man-ups and other unrealistic plays inside heads that are generally somewhat lacking in matter, the Narwhals floundered and laboriously added to their lead – winning Q2 3-2, Q3 3-2 and the final quarter 4-3 to give an overall victory of 15-7. Ginge and Winehands both netted 5 apiece, with honourable mentions to Woody, Finch, Gamble and Floater. Spectacular failures on the man-ups were a particular highlight, with Floater standing out with an exceptional lob-pass to the opposition keeper.

An exquisite performance from Punchy Holah saw him managing to take home 75% of the total Narwhal’s majors for himself, and enabled him to get first pickings of what shower to use in the changing rooms. Spectacular stuff from a key Catas contender.

There were several notable high and low lights which deserve special attention in an otherwise somewhat routine victory:


  • Hotly contested this one between Woody, Dan and a.n.other who managed to miss a 3 on 0 situation in a comedy of errors, and our very own octogenarian Gary who performed a sensational lob straight into the keeper’s hands. Woody and Dan just nudged this one however


  • Close between Winehands and Ginge, with the later just sneaking it to the coveted prize


  • Sadly Weeble won this with his last quarter goal, however, this should be taken with a pinch of salt (See below)

Holiday update:

It was looking like a 3 man trip out to the Algarve this week, with a father/son Finch combo being joined by the destroyer of rings, however, due to a flurry of last quarter activity, the cancelation fees were activated for both Finch Senior and Weeble, leaving Finch junior out on a solo trip to this fascinating corner of Europe. Whoever passed to Weeble in the last quarter should sit down and have a think about what they have just done.

Until next time – Forza Narwhali!

In need of repair

Next report from guest writer Woody – live from Andy’s toy box. This report is accompanied by stats from both games. Goal hanger Bedford is taking his place at the top of the goal charts whilst Punchy Holah and Robo-hip Bowen are putting in solid performances to challenge Weeble for the Catas Trohpy… Enjoy!!

May 1st Stats

Thursday evening saw the Narwhal horde descend to the depths of Morden to take on Sutton and Cheam’s second (…) team. The opposition had clearly struggled to find players as they numbered only 7 in total, likely only achieved after some panicked last minute cries for help. The Narwhals, as has been the case in recent games were aplenty, a firm 10 turning out to do battle once again. It would appear this rally of numbers was where our achievement ended for the night, and what follows is a sorry tale of woe, floundering, and despair. The derelict and dilapidated Morden Park Pool, much in need of a coat of paint or a demolition contract, served as a fitting metaphor for the play we exhibited in what proved to be a long hour within its 4 high walls.

The first quarter started with a lost swim off (were we missing Gamble already?!). It rapidly became clear that the opposition’s main threat was former Olympian Matt Holland, who took a while to get used to in defence and attack. We tried a drop in the narrow pool, and while their pit had little success, we were too quick to leave shooters free and we conceded from the outside. Going forward we lacked ideas save for a couple of goals from Dan, the first in particular proving memorable for his sheer persistence under heavy pressure to put the ball over the keeper’s head. This was the moment of the match. After one quarter the scoreline read Matt Holland (and a few others) 5, Dan Bedford 2.

Cue the second quarter, and the Narwhals felt more comfortable defending in deeper waters, or so we thought. Our defence here proved leakier than the pool’s ceiling (which has a large net to catch falling roof tiles), and we conceded a further 6 goals. 3 exclusions and the resultant goals scored from Sutton’s men up had hurt us, but our poor passing, and poor finishing meant only Phil troubled the scoreboard all quarter. 11-3, and looking like our recent form had deserted us.

Phil and Dan scored a goal each in the third quarter, and remained the only Narwhals to trouble the net with only one quarter to go. On a more positive note, we held Sutton to only 2 goals of their own as we adopted a press defence which proved more effective (a draw for the quarter felt like a massive victory at the time). In one of the stranger episodes of the game, Rob attempted an ill-advised back hook shot from his right wing, and while the ball did little to trouble the goal, his flailing arm did connect with an unfortunate Sutton defender and split his eyelid open. Sutton now down to 6, blood everywhere, apologies all round, and surely now we might have a chance.

Its unusual to get such a prolonged opportunity to practice man up attack, and we now had 8 minutes of nothing but a man advantage. Sadly it quickly became evident that 8 minutes was nowhere near the time we required to make our man up play passable, and we continued to allow goals from a Sutton team a man short, while squandering opportunities at the other end. One particularly memorable failure was Phil’s attempt to put the ball in to Dan in the pit as we were 2-on-1, only managing to put the ball firmly in the grasp of the one defender. This earned him fluffer for the week. After this things picked up. Gary and Finch Sr. bagged a pair of goals each, and Holah once again left his post at pit defence briefly to score a self-branded ‘wonder goal’ ricocheting off the keeper, the bar, possibly a defender and the surface of the water all before finding the net. The final quarter was won 5-4. The match was lost 18-11. Man of the match was Dan for his efforts in attack and defence. At the post-match debrief in the pub, it was decided to send the Narwhals back to school, with classroom sessions beginning next week. Probably followed by several passing drills and man up.

Forza Narwhali

Probably the scariest man in the Universe…

Only a week late, but Finch Maximus delivers our first report of the day…

Narwhals vs. Enfield 2:

A Narwhals team buoyed by the absence of our resident Julio Englesias impressionist faced an unknown quantity in the mighty Enfield 2. We had two referees, a strong squad and were at home. A home win and strong performance was expected.

The Narwhals took an early lead with Dr Woody finding all deep home comforts much more to his liking than our recent procession of shallow pools. Our usual issue of decision making and poor passing saw us miss out on numerous other opportunities before Nick “Amy Winehands” Shute bagged a well worked goal. The oppo weren’t showing much but did score from the pit before our ginger destroyer restored our two goal lead. 3 – 1 to the Narwhals at the end of the first.

The second quarter saw our mighty Narwhals hit their stride another well worked goal by our team medic coupled with 4 from ginge, 2 from Nick and a deflected goal for Gary “more metal than man” Bowen saw us 11 – 4 up at half time and in complete control.

Then came our obligatory collapse. Our inability to adequately play a drop defence saw our TJ defending the pit by himself a couple of times and their big wallowing pit man took advantage, more on him though a little later. Our usually glorious reserve keeper (I.e. Me) forgot the dimensions of the goal and got beaten at his near post three times (oh the shame….), Dan, Woody, Amy and a “daddy” floater special kept our scoreboard ticking but the quarter ended with us 15 – 10 up.

The final quarter saw our resident enforcer and three time winner of our “Catas” trophy for services to excess violence introduce himself to the Enfield pitman. After a handshake, discussion of the weather and the merits of Brexit, our hard man very quietly and menacingly suggested that if he was “to do that again” then punchy would “redecorate his face”. Who knew that discussion on the relative merits of various passport colours could get so heated??? Needless to say their pit man swam away suitably chastened and utterly petrified of the Narwhals hardman.

The final quarter also saw an attempt by our leading goal scorers try to help Tim “patented guns” Young avoid a visit from the Portuguese police by giving him a recently won penalty. Unfortunately Tim’s pen was uncharacteristicly poor and for this he wins Fluffer for the game. The rest of the quarter saw three more goals for Nick and another man up goal for Floater. The game petered out with the Narwhals winning 19 – 14.

Dan and Nick both scored 7 but Dan gets the man of the match award. Moment goes to JH for his menacing threats and Tim gets fluffer for his missed pen.

Forza Narwali….