Those of you that keenly follow the fortunes of the second team may have noticed that there is a missing match report, our trip away to Portsmouth last week. Unfortunately it turns out that I have a degree to complete and three match reports in a week was a bit of a hurdle too far. So the short version is we lost 11-2, but did have an excellent McDonald’s.
On to Bath away! Completely unforeseen events (The Freshers Christmas Ball) had severely limited the choice of talent that was at my disposal for this Friday evening away trip Bath. Regardless 8 men were gathered to attempt to exact some revenge on Bath for their awkwardness with regards to playing in our pitiful excuse for a swimming pool. Bit awkward we don’t have a London 2012 legacy pool, sorry about that Bath.
For once we had a smooth journey and arrived in plenty of time for the “throw-down” (C. Laurent, 2015). We had a nice chance to admire Bath’s facilities (which admittedly are very nice), and got in our standard warm-up of about two widths and some shots at Lawrence. Be arsed with this dynamic warm up crap, real men strain their shoulders while shooting. Throw-down time and we got pumped and went for it.
A good start saw some good controlled Polo and attacking play. Despite only having 8 to their 13, we were more than holding our own fitness wise, and weren’t getting done for speed either. We set up a few good attacks, leading to Jan scoring his first Polo goal, a nice shot across the keeper into the top far corner. Bath equalised, 1-1 end of first quarter.
Even this early on, some problems were starting to emerge with aspects of the game. Firstly was the quality of officialdom, which I will very kindly label as ‘incompetent’. I normally back refs to the hilt and say even if the decisions aren’t always popular, they do a difficult job to the best of their ability. These guys couldn’t get a handle on the game at all, were giving some very soft decisions towards Bath and offering quite a few of our players absolutely no protection at all. Perry in particular got absolutely battered, and I don’t think won a foul the entire game.
The second quarter was tighter even than the first, with only one goal scored. Thankfully it went our way, Perry managing to shrug off the attention of the pit defender long enough to leather home. 2-1 half time, and despite being a tough game it was intriguing and looking winnable. A particular pleasing point was a defence of a man down situation that we had at the end of the quarter. Bath do like to take advantage of time outs, so took a minute to set themselves up for it. We did likewise, and proceeded to perfectly defend the resulting disadvantage. Who even takes time outs anyway?
At this point Christian pointed out that Bath’s first team captain had started in goal, but was now outfield. Nevertheless, we had a game to play and we were going to keep battling. Unfortunately a battle is definitely what ensued next, with some very dirty tactics going on from both teams. I can’t say how it started exactly, but without strong refs getting on top of it the game it wasn’t getting clamped down on. More frustrating referee decisions happened, we conceded 4 goals. 5-2.
Frustrations were reaching a bit of a peak. Things seemed to be conspiring against us, so despite playing pretty well we were losing. We regrouped and got ready for the last throw-down. I scored with arguably the most pathetic backshot in the history of water polo, with it somehow managing to trickle past the keeper into the far corner. Phil got a nice goal from the right side of the goal. Bath scored 4 though, including 2 from their firsts captain. The extra pace was just a bit too much for us at this late stage, meaning they broke through a couple of times and capitalised. Conal scored with I think the last throw of the game, leaving the final score at 9-5.
This was a hugely frustrating game. I completely understand playing first team players in second teams, it’s rare to get large enough squads to have enough players for two separate team, and I’ve regularly had to ask Perry and Horlock to play for us. There’s a massive difference between that and having your first team captain play in a second division match, especially when you actually have a good number of players. We had a discussion with their seconds Captain afterwards, and he generally agreed with us it was unsporting (it was a massive dick move imo) considering we were (Perry aside) a completely genuine second team. I suppose it’s a bit of a compliment that Bath were so insecure about our visit that they resorted to such measures. That or their parents not loving them enough as children compels them to be massive tools.
In spite of whatever is happening in the Pool, one area we are starting to excel consistently is our post game McDonald’s. We hit up the one in Trowbridge, which included the highlight of having our food delivered to our table. There was some terrific chat as well on the journey back, with 5 different degrees/PhDs coming together to produce some quality interesting conversations, as well as some shit about feathers or something.
As ever thanks a lot to all the boys who came.