A Few Good Men.

Report by: Anton Stephan
Game: Southampton Men’s 1st vs. Bath Men’s 1st (24/2/2018)
Score: 6 – 17

Unlike many of our biggest boy’s games, this was not a match we were overly confident about. Our Captain was away on national league or punching some drunkards, Neil was probably at the gym or pulling some unsuspecting freshers and Brian was once again skipping his course to galivant across the UK – hopefully learning how to speak English properly and indeed learn how to drive on the correct side of the road. This combined with an unforeseen knee injury from our Toursec and Kiwi Sam unavailable – maybe Nacho didn’t feel like the long car journey … – the team was low on numbers.

Nevertheless, our army of SEVEN piled into Chris and Anton’s cars to travel the hour and a half long trip up to Bath. The journey up was not overly eventful apart from Anton, Will, and Jonny shitting themselves upon noticing the speedometer which showed 100mph for large portions of the M4. However, we arrived in one piece (just) and after freezing our tits off on the walk up to the familiar site of Bath’s ‘alright’ sports facilities, we entered the changing rooms ready for action!

Having chosen the starting seven with very little difficulty, Anton re-greeted his old friend (the ref) whom he had done a table official course with six years ago and warned the team that our superior would not take backchat likely, most likely resulting in a major. Keen to demonstrate this theory to the team, Anton swiftly decided to chat shit in the first quarter resulting in our first major of the game, sorry Mike! This secured Bath an early lead as they quickly utilised the man down to secure their first goal. With another major from Chris, it was clear the refs were taking no prisoners … even if the adversary was an 8ft giant …! However, with another goal from Bath bringing the score up to 0-2, our heroes feared this was the beginning of a bollocking! With some tremendous early saves from Phil in goal, a foul from our opposition presented the first chance of a place on the scoreboard with a penalty being awarded to our boys. Anton, clearly inspired by Ali’s previous comments about never missing a penalty (Bullshit *cough* *cough*), stepped up to the mark and sent the ball past the keeper into the net securing the score at 1-2. As Bath re-took the ball from halfway, Phil once again saved an absolute blinder and with another exclusion from Bath, a chance of equalising was in sight. With the classic four-two formation in order and Backshot Banton on the right wing, he took the ball, walked it into what can only be described as the “impossible angle” and bounced the ball over two defenders and the keeper, equalising the score at 2-2.

As the bell sounded, our boys were clearly chuffed and amazed that we had held up so well despite five subs against none. Phil gave his remark on how we play better by keeping the play slow and steady rather than fast and vigorous, the latter being synonymous to Jonny’s pulling technique last Thursday #Legend!

As the second quarter began, morale was high amongst the lads and with Bath having two exclusions in the same attack, another goal seemed imminent. However, we failed to utilise the two-man-up situation and Bath retaliated with another goal. However, the attack presented Anton with a chance to force the foul and successfully blasted his third goal past the keeper from the free-throw securing the hattrick and the equaliser! After a major from Tom and a second apparent major from Anton which neither the match sheet or the team can recollect (apparently for pulling a player by the throat), our opponents once again got the ball past what mere mortals have called The Wall – or as we know him, Phil Cumner! One goal down once again, Jonny valiantly decided to spread the goal distribution of the Soton boys with a spectacular launch into the net from halfway. Amazing to think that this is his in fact his debut and that he isn’t a seasoned Hungarian/Greek/Italian/*anywhere else in Europe* athlete! Looking forward to seeing more of this hero in future games.

As the half time whistle blew, the ref came to talk to us about why mouthing off and pulling players by the throat is not allowed and that we need to watch the majors to avoid killing the game early. However, other than that, the boys were over-the-moon with their performance and entered the second half with confidence.

However, the third quarter is where things went a bit wrong, a second exclusion for Tom and another goal for Bath edged our rivals ahead again. However, in the midst of play, Jonny had the sportsman’s nightmare … the dreaded CRAMP. As any sane person would do, Jonny swam to the nearest side to stretch his hamstring out unaware that this is a breach of the rule which says one must only exit the pool through the red zone of the goal-line. Unaware of this violation the ref reluctantly told Jonny that he was wrapped and could not re-enter the pool. Alas, our already small team was reduced to five outfield players. Bath quickly utilised their advantage and scored two goals bringing the score to 4-7. However, Sam, or Michael Phelps shall we say, stole the ball from our rivals in their third attack and sprinted the entire length of the pool with the entire opposition on his tail and secured a cheeky push shot into the goal, proving that despite the lack of subs, his unbelievable fitness was not harmed! The rest of the third quarter involved another goal from Bath and a kick to the side of the face which dislodged Anton’s tooth stitching which he later found in his gumshield, ouch!

The final quarter was a flurry of goals, larking about and some SUWPC war chants – “this is our song …”. Upon conceding a goal after the swim off, the game-restart began with Phil calling a time out. However, instead of utilising the rest of the players who were still making their way up the field, Anton who was sat casually on ten metres received the ball and using his newly acquired strength from his vegan diet, blasted the ball into the water which bounced right up into the top right-hand corner of the goal showing that backshots are not his only strength, ultimately promoting a chant of the infamous SUWPC war cry!! With a further flurry of goals and a few very reputable attempts from Chris and Will, the gap was widening but our spirits were not hurt. Phil called our second time out and basically said we should “piss around” and backshots were the favoured shot of choice for the team. Anton, calling on his sensitive side, suggested that to make Jonny feel better, we should all try to get two majors by combining Water Polo with the sport of Mixed Martial Arts – a suggestion that was taken with scepticism. With our new tactics in place, Tom, who had played a spectacular defensive game, attempted a straight shot from the free throw at half way. However, he clearly confused the sport of Rugby with Water Polo as he sent the ball far above the cross bar (although still between the two posts).

As the seconds ticked down we knew defeat was certain but we all agreed that this was one of the best and funnest games we had ever played with a breakdown of each player listed below:

  • Chris – Fantastic pit defending and acute judgement throughout in tracking back to prevent the counter.
  • Phil – An amazing performance in goal and a spectacular improvement from when he first reluctantly took his place in the sticks at the start of the year.
  • Sam – Quite possible the most consistant player in the men’s team with brilliant attack and defence.
  • Tom – Having taken on previous advice about covering back, Tom’s effort exceeded any match we have seen him in previously – brilliant game!
  • Will – Solid defence, always in the right place and a very unlucky shot at goal in the final quarter! Solid effort.
  • Jonny – We’ve all been there – getting out at the wrong place on our first game and getting a wrap so no worries! Also, an amazing goal in the second quarter!
  • Anton – What can I say … the hattrick + one SUWPC legend.

As we left Bath for the last time this year we were all over the moon at how despite the low numbers, we all pulled through to deliver a brilliant performance. The final chapter of this story was the ceremonial Maccys in Salisbury where we could reflect positively on the day’s events.

PLEASE NOTE: This game presented me with my first chance to write a match report since the infamous piece that attracted a bit of controversy. If anyone is offended by any comments in this report, please message Philip Cumner who has willingly stated that he will take full responsibility for my actions – love ya bro 😉.

Man of the match:
Jonny Glenny – Accomplishing every major polo achievement in in his debut as listed below:

  • Shot from half way.
  • Top right-hand corner.
  • Getting wrapped for getting out in the wrong place.
  • Pulling a right 10/10 on Thursday night (allegedly).

Dick of the day:
Jonny Glenny – see previous point three which severely tested our team’s fitness!

Goals:
Anton – 4
Sam – 1
Jonny – 1

Majors:
Anton – 2
Tom – 2
Christian – 1

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