One bottle of wine, One glass Club

Several Wednesdays ago, the Narwhals played Sutton and Cheam 2’s at Whitgift in a London League match up to add excitement and intrigue to the usually empty water polo month of August. This report was intended to be written at the time, but like a fine wine we can only hope it improves with age. Our regular report writer has spent the last 2 weeks sampling France’s finest reds, whites and fizz, so we shall consider the game as a wine tasting experience for you, our global fanbase.

August 30th Stats

There is a gentle start to our gastronomic voyage of discovery, a smooth, light Pinot Noir from somewhere in South America. Jut as the fruity notes of cherries, raspberries and strawberries offer a perfect but distinct contrast to the vanilla middle, the Narwhals were, in stark contrast to Sutton, informed of the correct start time of 9pm due to school holidays. We were optimistic of our chances when, at 9:10, we enjoyed a distinct advantage in manpower of 10 to zero. Alas this pinot noir had a bitter finish, as where one would expect a smooth rounded palate, the opposition duly turned up.

For those of you not so well versed in wine appreciation, there are 5 main elements to a wine’s profile: acid, alcohol, sugar, tannin and water.  While the Narwhals might claim to be experts in the water (and almost certainly the alcohol), a fine wine requires that all 5 elements come together in harmony to form a well-balanced taste. The next glass on our tasting card is a French Bordeaux red. Specifically Chateau Norbert, 2018 vintage. An evenly balanced wine (specifically 1-1 after 6 minutes of the first quarter thanks to a fine goal off the arc from Phil), fragrant and ripe in character, but this particular offering had perhaps been corked as the finish was sharp and not to the Narwhals taste – a generally stoical and well organised defence found Sutton’s combination of strong pit and accurate outside shooters too much and fell to 2-4 by the quarter end. One diamond in the rough of this forgettable wine was a particularly handsome goal from Dan, ghosting off his defender at the back post to catch a lofted pass and convert into the back of the net.

Moving on from the Chateau Norbert with a shattered reputation and tastes of bitter disappointment we come to a pleasant surprise. We next travel to Georgia, to sample their signature red, a piercing and punchy Saperavi. The Georgian traditional grape, grown in clay soils on the terraced vineyards of the Kakheti region, is the upstart of European reds, and its high acidity and phenolity give it a razor sharp edge, with a sweet finish. This is the Narwhals second quarter, a fine comeback (albeit from a familiar source with Dan scoring twice in much the same manner as his excellent first quarter effort) meant the Narwhals drew within 1 goal at the half, a well poised contest at 4-5.

We enter the second half of our tasting in a similar vein with balance of acidity and body being the order of the day. A hearty Argentinian Malbec of a struggle awaits us in the third quarter, with hints of plum and chocolate. A strong full bodied contest, with quality pit defence and disciplined drop in equal measure held a challenging Sutton team to just 2 goals, with the Narwhals answering with 2 of their own from Dan and Nick. The finest of these two was Nick’s long range bounce shot, combined with the hearty punch of 2 Gamble majors formed a strong middle to this well apportioned offering. 6-7 after 3.

4 wines in already, and the Narwhals are starting to feel the effects of a long evening’s tasting. Perhaps it’s the alcohol causing a haze to set in, or perhaps its just that August holidays have meant leisurely drinking as opposed to effective training for such a wine tasting challenge. Either way, as giggles appear and chairs are fallen off, the pickled Narwhals had put up a strong fight, but now needed an Uber home while trying not to vomit over Pietr in his Prius. There was a final goal for Nick, and a rare Gamble special, but these 2 goals did not make up for a tired defence cracking and 5 Sutton goals finishing the game off to a disappointing 8-12 final score.

Hungover reflections would see this experience as a tale of excellent defence only tiring at the final hurdle, and some good individual moments in attack not quite making up for a lack of effective attack from set play.

Man of the match this week goes to Dan, for 4 well taken goals (almost all of them at the back post). Moment also goes to Dan, for the second goal of the contest, the aforementioned perfectly placed lofted pass to the back post with a strong break and a great finish. Fluffer this week was Matt, who succeeded in letting in a 12m shot just as the quarter expired in truly embarrassing style. 5 Narwhals head to Portugal this week, Oggy, Chris Mann, Zach, Tim and Rob will all be hoping for more success against the Amphibs next week.

Until then, Cheers! And Forza Narwhali!

The Local Derby…

Wednesday 25th July saw the Narwhals take on their local rivals Croydon at Whitgift Pool. Given that was a week ago and I have been drinking heavily, I can’t remember much of what happened, but I’ll give it a go…

August 1st Stats

The lead up to the game started in unexpected circumstances as we were told by our referee for the evening that if we gave him any back chat, we would be told to “F*** off”. That left us with no ambiguity – the only remaining question was whether to drop or press…

For all intents and purposes, we started the game pretty well. Our defence held (for the majority) and we scored some good, well worked goals – for example – a peach of a pass from Ed “BBQ Boozer” Gamble that went inside the defender found the swim of Nick “I like 12yr old… whisky” Shute who promptly put it in at the near post. A Further two pit goals from Dan “treasure hunt” Bedford left the score 4-3 at end of Q1.

Rather surprisingly we did pretty well in the 2nd quarter too – screamers from Chris “fillet steak” Mann, returning Narwhal Bren “the other Heath” Heath were roundly applauded and we all welcomed back the return of Tim’s bicep cannon. The half-time score was 8-7 and we seemed relatively surprised to be where we were. Sadly it didn’t last…

Fitness and decision making showed in the 3rd quarter (7 goals to 3), with Croydon scoring a number of breakaways. The score could have been a lot worse had it not been for some superb one-on-zero saves from Andy “face save” Winterbotham. Cynics said he was showing off to the crowd (having brought supporters) – loyal Narwhal fans know it was more to do with the Monday swim session he’d had two days before. Andy was definitely heard praising Coach Weebs after the game for ensuring he was in tip-top condition.

With the score 15-10 going into the 4th, we tried to stage our come-back. Two quick goals put us in touching distance before Croydon scored 3 in reply. A final score of 18-12 not a true representation of how close the game “could” have been.

Man of the match was pretty much unanimous this week following a host of great saves, Andy ran out a clear winner. Shout out to the ever present Dan “gold bar” Bedford for grabbing some votes and a cheeky nod to Matt “far post lob” Finch for his brace of goals (including a well executed lob).

Moment similarly went to Andy for a superb three-on-zero save. I think we can all agree the main highlight of the game was Barry missing 2 such opportunities and proceeding to blame his own team mates. If only Croydon had a fluffer vote…

Speaking of Fluffers, this unanimously went to Gary “passive aggressive” Bowen for his poor lob attempt. Eventually we will teach you not to do it!! Lobs are a cruel mistress – get it right and you are in the running for MoM, get it wrong and well… you know…

Sadly assists don’t count, so Messers Lomardo, Gamble and Finch Jnr take the trip out to Obidos. Its lovely this time of year.

Forza Narwhali!!