UNSTOPPABLE CURWEN INSPIRES CHAMPIONS LANCASTER
City of Manchester must have felt that a first British League title was within their grasp when they ended day one at MAC (21-22 January) with a crucial advantage over rivals Lancaster.
By then, it was clear that the team finishing with the superior goal difference (assuming victories in their final games against Cheltenham and Penguin respectively) would be crowned champions. And Manchester were in poll position – three goals better off than their rivals, which equated to a sizeable margin bearing in mind the number of close Super 5s matches this season.
Lancaster – and Tom Curwen, in particular – changed all that. They were first on against Penguin and demolished the London side 22-7. Penguin’s cause wasn’t helped with the dismissal of Hungarian star Attila Banhidy early on for misconduct.
But, despite several superb one-on-one saves by Penguin goalkeeper Chris Hodgkinson, the goals just kept coming – much to the dismay of Manchester. Curwen scored eight and Declan Ellwood five, leaving Manchester with the almost impossible task of beating Cheltenham by 13 goals in the very last game of the season. Manchester won – but only 16-10.
At the start of the weekend, Lancaster knew that a point in their crunch match with Manchester would make them champions.
However, Manchester triumphed in a thriller, 10-9, Craig Hammond scoring the winner with 52 seconds remaining.
This avenged a 12-11 Lancaster victory early in the season and so meant an equal record in matches between the sides (same points, equal goals) – hence the all-important issue of goal difference in the Super 5s season as a whole.
It will be no consolation now to Manchester that just one more goal against Lancaster would have given them the title. It was as close as that! They can only reflect on missed chances – not least, a penalty saved by Lancaster goalkeeper Dave Bush with the game tied at 7-7.
Lancaster coach Rysz Detko was delighted with his side’s success. “We had a very poor first half of the season and, to be honest, were lucky to qualify as one of the top five,” he declared.
“Since then, our performances have shown a significant improvement, even though we are still erratic at times. To
give the other teams credit, they have made this a very tight contest. There are certainly no easy games in the
After losing their first six matches in the Super 5s, Portobello bounced back superbly to beat Penguin 14-6,
including four goals by Dan de Vecchis, and Cheltenham 13-7.
Our picture shows the victorious Lancaster squad with the Super 5s trophy.
Back row (left to right): Duncan Holmes (team manager), Colin Burgess, Tom Curwen, Mike Brown, Sam Smith, Hamish
Crichton, Dave Bush. Middle: Rysz Detko (coach), Zak Sly, Decland Ellwood, Marc Robinson, Giannis Paraskevopoulos,
Fotis Paraskevopoulos, Jeff Parker (team manager). Front: Skipper Chris Hartley, James Wannop.
INVICTA EARN TOP THREE SPOT IN DRAMATIC FINALE
In a pulsating conclusion to the men’s Championship 1 campaign at Guildford (8 January), Invicta edged out Rotherham by the finest of margins to clinch a top three spot and promotion to Division One for the 2012 season.
The title went to Bristol Central, with Polytechnic celebrating a return to the top flight in second position.
Rotherham had looked well placed to rejoin the league’s leading eight clubs after beating Croydon 16-12. But crucially they dropped a point in a 13-13 draw with Invicta, missing a penalty late on after a seventh goal of the match by Callum Bailey had brought Invicta level with two minutes remaining.
Even an 11-11 draw with Bristol on day two in an end-to-end thriller seemed likely to ensure safety for the Yorkshire club, who knew they could only be overhauled by Invicta if Invicta defeated Welsh Wanderers by a minimum four goals.
Invicta won 15-11! This left Rotherham and Invicta level on points and with an identical “goals difference” record of plus six! Because the teams had drawn their Championship match, the issue could only be settled by taking their overall Championship goals records into account. And here Invicta held a minute advantage – 74 compared with Rotherham’s 70.
Rotherham will count themselves unfortunate. For Invicta, it will be a matter of reflecting on a weekend when they played with great spirit and when their luck held at key moments. With 22 seconds remaining against Welsh Wanderers, for example, their lead was 14-11. At that point Tom Brown notched an all-important goal to increase the gap to 15-11. And that made all the difference.
Polytechnic, National League champions on so many occasions in years gone by, took five points from their last three matches to win promotion and earn a return to the top division after a lengthy gap.
They were 9-5 down against Invicta before snatching an 11-11 draw with a last minute goal by Giannis Panopoulos. It was close, too, against Croydon, who were in contention until seven different Poly players each scored a goal in the final quarter to give their side a 12-7 victory. Poly rounded off with a 13-7 defeat of Sutton & Cheam.
Jon Hutchings and Sean Coles both claimed hat-tricks in Bristol’s hard-fought 10-9 victory over Welsh Wanderers. Bristol also beat Sheffield 12-7.
Sutton chalked up their first win of the Championship season – 13-12 against Welsh Wanderers – with ex-international Chris Evans scoring seven.
Top: Mark Taylor (blue cap) in action for Welsh Wanderers against Bristol Central. Below: Bristol goalkeeper Andy
Crawford makes a fine save. Pictures by Trevor Hyde.
WATFORD TAKE CHAMPIONSHIP 4 TITLE
Watford claimed the men’s Championship 4 title when they beat the previous leaders Grantham 15-14 in a stunning finale to the season at Walsall (8 January).
Grantham’s struggles to convert man-up situations proved particularly expensive as Watford prevailed despite conceding 17 majors and ending the match with four players excluded on three. Paul Skerm led the Watford scoring with four. The third quarter provided the turning point – Watford won it 8-2 after trailing 8-4 at the halfway stage.
Earlier, Watford earned what turned out to be a vital 12-12 draw with Ealing.
Jon Hilliger and Jamie Bailey both scored four in Invicta Marlins’ 14-12 victory over 2nd City Birmingham.
LANCASTER’S FIRST DEFEAT
Last quarter dramas are nothing new to Cheltenham. Five times this season, they have won matches by a single goal – the latest, ending Lancaster’s 100 per cent record in the Super 5s at Loughborough University (10/11 December).
Cheltenham began the final period with a 6-4 lead but were then stung by a quickfire hat-trick from Tom Curwen. It was not until the last two minutes that man-up opportunities gave Cheltenham the chance to steal an 8-7 victory with goals by Novak and Mark Banwell.
The last four minutes proved Cheltenham’s undoing against Penguin. A match that had been close all the way saw Cheltenham take an 8-7 lead with a Joel Thomas goal early in the last, but then slump to a 10-8 defeat as Kevin O’Brien (2) and Attila Banhidy responded for the London side.
Penguin almost pulled off a shock result against Manchester. Midway through the second period, Manchester appeared to be cruising with a 6-1 lead. But Penguin battled back to trail only 9-7 at the end of the third – and equalised at 9-9 with four minutes remaining. Manchester eventually won 10-9 when 1.47 from the end Craig Hammond claimed his sixth goal. The picture above (by Trevor Hyde) shows Hammond scoring one of his goals past Penguin goalkeeper Chris Hodgkinson.
Portobello have not been outplayed in any match so far, but are still seeking their first points after losing 11-8 to
Lancaster – who remain top of the table – and then 13-10 to Manchester.
TITLE FOR TEAM NORTHUMBRIA
After qualifying in fourth place from Division Four, Team Northumbria (pictured) took men's Championship 3 by storm and made sure of the title at Blackpool on 10/11 December by drawing 7-7 with near rivals Manchester Hawks.
Although Cambridge, Otter, Swindon Dolphin and Bedford still have matches to play, the promotion issue is already settled, with the Hawks and Carlisle joining Team Northumbria in Division 3 at the start of next season.
Team Northumbria led Manchester Hawks 4-2 and, with little over three minutes remaining, 7-5. But Manchester claimed a point as Sammy Badawy notched his fourth goal and then Gareth Potts equalised 1.22 from the end. Northumbria team - Back row (left to right): Richard MacAlister, Josh Brown, James Paterson, Patrick Bennett, James Kirkham, Paul Renforth, Alexis Georgiou. Middle: Rob Holland, Joe Reed, Stuart MacManus, Neil Bowers. On ground: Sebastian Reichel.
The Hawks also left it late to claim both points against Carlisle. The score was 8-8 midway through the last period. Then goals by Jason Salt and – with 20 seconds remaining – Potts clinched a 10-8 win.
Carlisle‘s 19-9 defeat of University of Bristol included five goals by Dan Barker. Team Northumbria also defeated the
Bristol side – 11-4.
HUCKNALL STEAL TITLE FROM BATTLING CALEDONIA
The Championship 2 title was settled at Watford (3 December) in the final quarter of the very last game when a goal by Brett Perkins gave Hucknall a 7-6 victory over Caledonia.
Caledonia began the match needing one more point to take top spot – and they led 4-1 after two quarters. But Hucknall, who knew they had to win to sneak past the Scots, staged a determined fightback, drawing level in the third and then, thanks to Dan Siddons’ third goal, level again at 6-6 with less than four minutes remaining.
Perkins’ winner came a minute later. After that, there was goalmouth drama at each end and unproductive time-outs by both teams before Hucknall were able to celebrate. The trophy was presented by delegate David Bathurst (far right, above), the former international referee. The Hucknall players are (left to right): Brett Perkins, Danny Evans, Daniel Siddons, Jason Hawksworth, Joe Cooper, Stafanos Christophides, James Hadlow, Tom Wall, Gregg Oldham, Sam Joyce and Adrian Taylor.
Consolation for Caledonia is that, along with Hucknall and third-placed Tyldesley, they earn promotion to Division Two at the start of next season. Exeter lost out to Tyldesley when they went down 14-10 to Caledonia on day one. Caledonia produced the stronger finish, winning the last quarter of an otherwise evenly contested match 4-1.
Tyldesley’s forward Mike Cowburn once again proved too hot to handle in Championship 2. He scored 13 goals in the 27-8 defeat of South Derbyshire and 12 more against Birmingham, who were beaten 24-13. In all, Cowburn’s haul in six appearances was a remarkable 60 goals!
South Derbyshire rounded off their season with a first Championship victory – 11-8 over Worthing. This included four goals by John Dyer.
The action pictures above show Tyldesley's 60-goal Mike Cowburn; and Birmingham goalkeeper Tom Carpenter in action
against Worthing. Photos: Trevor Hyde
DOUBLE BLOW FOR MANCHESTER
Two last-gasp defeats undermined City of Manchester’s title ambitions in a weekend of spectacular men’s Super 5s action at Crystal Palace (26/27 November).
Manchester went down 7-6 to Cheltenham when, with the game all square and six seconds remaining, one of their players was excluded for a brutality offence. It was left to Mark Banwell to coolly slot the penalty and give Cheltenham their first Super 5s win.
Against Lancaster, Manchester led 3-2, 5-4 and then 9-7 after the first three quarters – and were then ambushed by Tom Curwen. He scored four of his six goals in a thrilling final period. The last, with 47 seconds remaining clinched a 12-11 Lancaster victory. Declan Ellwood was also on target for Lancaster with four, while Alex Murphy contributed five for Manchester.
These nerve-racking finales were by no means the only drama in the division. West London Penguin cruised into a 9-3 lead after three quarters against Portobello, including five goals by Gergo Szabo, and then saw the Scots recover to 9-8 – before conceding a further goal to lose 10-8.
Five goals by the outstanding Nuno Oliveira kept Portobello in contention all the way through their match against Cheltenham. The score was 12-12 with three and half minutes left when Maxim Gerasimov claimed the goal that gave Cheltenham a 13-12 victory.
TZAMTIS’S LATE, LATE SHOW
Welsh Wanderers’ prospects of taking maximum points from their two Championship 1 games at Crystal Palace (26/27 November) were thwarted when Polytechnic’s Spyridon Tzamtis scored three times in the last three and a half minutes to take his side from 10-7 down to a 10-10 draw. Two of the goals were scored in the last minute.
Wanderers remain the division’s only unbeaten side, Chris Taylor scoring six in the 10-7 defeat of Sheffield.
Bristol Central are top of the table on goal difference, however. They beat Sutton & Cheam 9-6. Then a close match against Invicta was settled in the final quarter when Bristol went from 7-7 to a 10-8 win with goals by John Sissons, Jon Hutchings and Sean Coles.
Poly rounded off a good weekend when Danny Davis’s goal 30 seconds from the end clinched a 9-8 victory over Rotherham, for whom Jerome Gabarretta scored four. Gabarretta notched four more to give his team a 6-4 victory in the Yorkshire derby against Sheffield.
A brilliant goal by Callum Bailey with just three seconds remaining edged Invicta to a 10-9 win over Croydon.
Picture: Rotherham goalkeeper Matt Birch. Photo by Trevor Hyde.
BADAWY HITS NINE FOR HAWKS
Team Northumbria, Carlisle and Manchester Hawks are leading the charge for top three places in men’s Championship 3 after the latest matches at the splendid Newport International Sports Village pool (26/27 November).
The experience of five-goal Neil Bowers was evident in Team Northumbria’s 17-7 defeat of bottom club Bedford. Then Stuart McManus (5), Josh Brown (3) and Bowers (3) were on target against Cambridge, who were beaten 13-7.
Carlisle defeated Cambridge 11-7, including six goals by Matt Little, and then slammed luckless Bedford 26-8.
Sam Badawy’s nine goals spearheaded the Hawks’ 16-14 victory over Swindon. But the Manchester team then narrowly lost for the first time – 13-12 to Otter.
For Otter, it was an excellent weekend. Goals in the last two minutes by Tom Gaunt and Toshio Tachikawa earned an
11-9 win against University of Bristol. The University were then happy to settle for a 10-9 win over Swindon – after
leading 10-5 towards the end of the third period.
TOP THREE PLACES UP FOR GRABS
The battle for the three top “promotion” places in men’s Championship 2 will be decided at the final weekend at Watford on 3 December. And, after the latest matches at Walsall (19/20 November), the likely scenario is that one of four main contenders will be disappointed.
Who will miss out? Caledonia, with a 100 per cent record so far from five matches, are obviously strongly placed, but even they will be taking nothing for granted because their last two fixtures are against two of the challengers – Exeter and Hucknall.
The dark horses are Tyldesley, who jumped into contention with wins over Worthing and Exeter – games, incidentally, in which Tyldesley’s Mike Cowburn once again proved unstoppable, scoring a total of 18 goals.
Under this season’s new league structure, the top three from Championship 2 will join the bottom five in Championship 1 to form Division Two in the first phase of the 2012 season.
Exeter’s hopes suffered a setback at Walsall when they picked up just one point from two pulsating matches. Against Hucknall, they led 8-5 and then 11-9 before their opponents staged a strong finish to scramble a 12-12 draw when Brett Perkins bagged his sixth goal with 13 seconds remaining.
Against Tyldesley, the score stood at 9-9 towards the end of the third period. Then two goals apiece for Chris Gilbertson and Mike Cowburn in double quick time without an Exeter response settled the match and Tyldesley eventually won 16-13.
Earlier, Tyldesley outplayed Worthing 20-10, with Mike Cowburn scoring no less than 12.
Caledonia beat a youthful Leeds team 10-5 and then cruised through 20-10 against South Derbyshire.
Birmingham led early on against Hucknall, but paid eventually for missing two last quarter penalties – one saved by Tom Wall, the other hitting a post – and went down 15-13.
South Derbyshire led Birmingham 10-8 after three periods but lost the last 7-1 for a final score of 15-11. Worthing’s
weekend finished on a more positive note when four goals each for Matt White and Richard Hooper featured in a 14-11
win against Leeds.
GRANTHAM ON TOP
Grantham hold the only 100 per cent record in men’s Championship 4 after a narrow 13-11 victory over closest rivals Ealing at Walsall (19/20 November).
Four goals for Grantham by Ben Cocksworth eventually made the difference in a match that had been closely contested all the way through. Ealing’s Keith Considine, Radostaw Puton and John van der Flier each scored three.
Bridgefield beat 2nd City Birmingham 13-9 and then walloped Invicta Marlins 30-5.
Tightest game of the weekend saw Watford recover from 13-10 down at the end of the third period to draw 14-14 with Scottish Students thanks to late goals by Ciaran Walshe (3) and Matt Chapman.
CHELTENHAM struggle in super fives
After storming through the divisional programme with seven wins from seven matches, Cheltenham came unstuck when the BWPL’s first-ever Super 5s weekend took place at Lancaster (12/13 November).
Cheltenham crashed 8-6 to Lancaster on day one and then lost a remarkable match against West London Penguin, 16-14. Penguin, inspired by seven-goal Attila Banhidy and Gergo Szabo, who scored five, somehow managed to hang on for victory despite conceding 18 majors and, crucially, having to play a man down for four minutes in the final period following a brutality offence.
The score was 12-10 to Penguin when the brutality happened – yet only 14-12 when the team returned to full strength with two minutes remaining.
Lancaster completed a second win – 8-6 against Portobello after building a 6-2 lead in the first two quarters.
But it could be Manchester, demonstrating real all-round firepower this season, that prove to be the team to beat as the battle for the league title develops.
They never looked back against Portobello after racing into an early 4-0 lead and, with Alex Murphy scoring four and new recruit Nikola Kocic three, they eventually won 13-9. James Scobie scored five for the Scots.
Manchester followed up with a 14-6 defeat of Penguin, including hat-tricks by Robert Rae, Kocic and Craig Hammond.
CROYDON STUN CHAMPIONS BRISTOL
It’s an indication of how competitive the new Championship 1 will be this season that none of the eight teams managed to win both their games during the opening weekend at Lancaster (12/13 November). The three sides that dropped from Division One – Bristol, Rotherham and Invicta – all lost to teams from Division Two.
Perhaps the most notable result was Croydon Amphibians’ 11-9 defeat of 2010 BWPL champions, Bristol. After three periods, Bristol seemed to be cruising with a 9-6 lead. Then, a hat-trick by Brendon Heath inspired a remarkable turn-around in which Croydon scored five goals without reply in the final quarter to grab the points.
There was more late drama in Croydon’s clash with Welsh Wanderers. The Wanderers were well placed with a 10-8 lead at the end of the third period but, once again, Croydon refused to lie down. It was still 11-9 to Wanderers as the last minute began. But Heath scored with 30 seconds remaining; then Wanderers conceded a penalty and, with five seconds left, it was converted by Csaba Rekasi.
Sheffield were also involved in two close games. They drew 5-5 with Polytechnic thanks to a late goal by Chris Howard. They were 4-0 up against Invicta but in the end were relieved to settle for a 6-5 victory as Callum Bailey led an Invicta recovery.
Invicta’s 12-8 defeat of Sutton & Cheam included six goals by Bailey, including three in a decisive third quarter.
Bristol were in no mood to make a mess of the final period against Polytechnic. They scored four without reply – two
each by Matt Thresher and Carl Wyatt – to secure a 10-4 win.
TEAM NORTHUMBRIA’S EMPHATIC START
Top five teams from Division Four fared much better than sides on their way down from Division Three when Championship 2 began at Grantham (12/13 November).
Team Northumbria defeated Swindon Dolphin 17-4 and Otter 11-10 before gaining emphatic revenge for defeat by Carlisle earlier in the season with a 12-3 victory, including three goals by Neil Bowers and two apiece for Josh Brown, Santiago Marques, Richard MacAlister and Pat Bennett.
Manchester Hawks also won their three matches, making a remarkable recovery from 7-1 down early in the second quarter against Bedford to win 13-10. The fightback featured hat-tricks by Stephan Walsh and Gareth Potts. Justin Irvine contributed five of the Bedford goals.
Matches between Cambridge and Manchester Hawks are always tight affairs and their latest clash was no exception. Cambridge lost their grip on the game when the Hawks recovered from 6-2 down to 6-6 in the second quarter. Eventually, the Manchester side won 10-9, with Sammy Badawy netting six of their goals.
Dan Barker scored eight for Carlisle in a 20-12 defeat of Swindon, who then beat Otter 12-9. Simon Pemberton (4) and Dave Lambie (3) were their main scorers.
Nick Ludford was on target five times in Cambridge’s 11-8 defeat of University of Bristol.
STRONG START BY EXETER AND CALEDONIA
The first weekend of the British League’s new divisional structure saw Exeter and Caledonia emerge as the only teams with 100 per cent records in Championship 2 at Leeds University (5/6 November).
Of the three teams that dropped from Division 2 after the opening phase of the season, Hucknall came out best, beating Tyldesley 11-10 and South Derbyshire 13-7 – including four goals each for Adam Ellis and Brett Perkins – before being held to a 13-13 draw by Worthing, whose final equaliser came 12 seconds from the end by Sam Abbott.
Five goals apiece by Andy Barry and Andy Margetts ensured Exeter’s opening 16-11 victory over Worthing. A 14-9 defeat of City of Birmingham was followed by a 20-9 success against South Derbyshire, featuring six goals by Darren Heagarty and five more from Barry.
Caledonia were level with Birmingham at the halfway stage but then three goals from Callum Fraser in the third period set up a 12-8 win.
Fraser scored six in a 15-9 victory over Worthing, who recovered to some extent after trailing 7-0 midway through the second period. Against Tyldesley, Caledonia’s main challenge was containing Mike Cowburn. He scored ten – yet still ended up on the losing side, 17-13.
Leeds were cruising at 13-7 and 17-12 against South Derbyshire before their opponents rallied with four goals in the
last three minutes – even then, not quite enough to avoid a 17-16 defeat. Later, Leeds avoided another late scare,
beating Birmingham 14-8 after the match stood at 7-7 after two periods. Gary Tonks scored five of the early
CLARKE GIVES GRANTHAM THE EDGE
Five goals by Max Clarke made the difference as Grantham edged out newcomers Bridgefield 12-11 in men’s Championship 4 at Walsall (5/6 November).
Grantham, Ealing and Watford were the only teams to win both their opening matches, Ealing triumphing 15-13 in a close affair with Scottish Students. Four Ealing players notched hat-tricks – Radostaw Puton, Marcin Przybylski, Johan van der Flier and Rumen Kurtev – while Radcliffe-Trenner contributed five for the Scots.
Jason Attwood scored four in Watford’s 11-8 defeat of Bridgefield. Watford followed up with a 13-6 victory over 2nd City Birmingham.
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MANCHESTER TRIUMPH IN SUPER FIVES
City of Manchester may have lost the men’s Super 5s championship by the narrowest of margins, but the girls’ team made no mistake in the women’s finale at Cardiff International Pool (11/12 February).
With matches against closest rivals Liverpool Lizards already completed (one victory each, but crucially with Manchester boasting a better goals record in those fixtures), Manchester went into the final weekend needing to win two remaining matches to make sure of the title.
This was easily achieved. West London Penguin Emperors were beaten 9-4, with Siohban Hoy scoring three of the goals. Then Manchester accounted for bottom team, Coventry, 10-4.
The Lizards, meanwhile, outplayed Otter 12-3, with Rachel Benson (4) and Laura Hesketh (3) the leading scorers, and then Coventry 15-3.
The London derby between Otter and Penguin Emperors proved to be one of the most exciting games of the weekend. The outstanding Alexis Higlett’s third goal put Otter 7-6 ahead in the final quarter before Penguin salvaged a point with a goal from Chiara Palazzo just over a minute from the end.
Manchester team photo: Back row (left to right) Diane Chadderton (team manager), Siobhan Hoy, Emma Bartlett, Polly
Egan, Rosie Egan, Tuesday Birmingham, Lucy Aspinall, Jade Smith, coach Craig Hammond. Front: Casey Smith, Victoria
Hawkins (captain), Briony Rutlidge, Ella Chadderton.
LIVER BIRDS WIN CHAMPIONSHIP 1
There was no lack of tension on the final day of the Championship 1 season at Cardiff (11/12 February) as Liverpool Liver Birds narrowly edged out City of Sheffield for the title – and then, in the very last match of the campaign, Bristol Central claimed third place and promotion to Division One.
With the Liver Birds and Sheffield level on points – and having drawn when they met earlier in the season – the teams knew that, if they could win their last games, the championship would be decided on goal difference.
Liverpool struck a telling first blow by demolishing Solihull 22-10, including eight goals by Lauren Tasker and five by Beth Richards. It meant that Sheffield then had to beat Leeds Sharks by 12 clear goals – a challenge that was always beyond them. They won 10-3. Our picture shows the Liverpool team with coach Gordon Dacre. Back (left to right), Jane White (captain), Kathryn Routledge, Irene Tenchini, Bethan Richards. Front: Jenny Lee, Nicky Ross, Lauren Tasker, Charlotte Penney, Tilley Penney.
The battle for third reached a remarkable conclusion. Bristol and Manchester Comets were aware that the winners of their match would take third spot – but that a draw would hand the promotion prize to Caledonia.
The match was even
until the third quarter when Bristol went from 5-4 to 7-4 before eventually winning 8-6, including a hat-trick by
Laura Shears. Earlier, Caledonia blew their best chance of promotion, losing 7-4 to the Comets – for whom Bernice
Cowton scored five – and then being held to a 6-6 draw by battling Mid Sussex Marlins. Marlins goalkeeper Amy Styles
saved a penalty in the second quarter. This picture (by Darren Nash) shows Marlins' Charlotte Bates (White 7)
battling with Sheffield's Minnie Gale.
NORA INSPIRES ROCKHOPPERS VICTORY
Penguin Rockhoppers claimed the women’s Championship 3 title at Walsall (28 January). But, not for the first time this season, the divisional winners had to wait until the very last match of the campaign before securing the trophy.
Southampton had begun the day as favourites, with a 100 per cent record from six matches. But their chance was blown when they lost twice – 5-1 against Polytechnic and 13-7 against Tyldesley.
Rockhoppers almost came unstuck against Hucknall, trailing 8-6 at one stage but eventually winning 13-12 when Nora Benko scored her eighth goal with just over a minute remaining. Laura Woodfield was the star for Hucknall with nine goals.
Eventually, it all came down to the last two matches. If Penguin and Poly both won - against Hucknall and Invicta respectively - they would finish level on points. But Penguin would take top spot on the basis that, way back in November when the London sides met, Penguin won 5-2.
Poly beat Hucknall – but only just. The match ended 5-4, with Hucknall unable to convert a man-up in the last 22 seconds.
It looked easy for Penguin against Invicta as five-goal Benko led the charge into a 7-0 lead in the third period.
Invicta rallied strongly but eventually went down 8-4. Our picture shows the Penguin girls celebrating with the
trophy. Back row (left to right): Fiona Tranter, Emma Stapleton, Rhia Haycock, Laura Hues, Vicky Miller, Julia
Hornig, Michaela Capkova. Front: Fiona Greer, Nora Benko.
OTTER’S DERBY VICTORY
Otter edged out London rivals Penguin 8-7 in an exciting Super 5s derby at Manchester Aquatics Centre (21/22 January).
In the first quarter, Otter raced into a 4-0 lead. But Penguin fought back and gradually recovered to level at 5-5 in the third before losing out in the final stages. Eleanor Thomson scored three of the Penguin goals.
The leading sides, City of Manchester and Liverpool Lizards, both took maximum points from their games.
Manchester beat Coventry 12-3 but were pushed all the way by Penguin before winning 4-2. The Lizards were too good
for Coventry, winning 14-5, including goals by Hannah Wild (5), Kathryn Fowler (3) and Katie Hesketh (3). Then they
defeated Otter 13-4.
VITAL REVENGE WIN FOR MANCHESTER
City of Manchester, the British League women’s champions, avenged last month’s defeat by great rivals Liverpool Lizards to take top spot by virtue of a superior goal difference after the latest Super 5s matches at Grantham (14/15 January).
The teams will look to take maximum points from their remaining matches. If that happens, goal difference will decide the title – with Manchester currently comfortably ahead of Liverpool.
Manchester took an early 3-0 lead against the Lizards and retained a healthy advantage throughout, eventually winning 9-4.
It was fairly plain sailing for both teams in their other games. Manchester defeated London Otter 11-3 while Liverpool beat West London Penguin 11-7, including five goals for the winners by Kathryn Fowler.
Five goals by Elizabeth Dunn helped Otter overcome Coventry 15-10. But Coventry had every reason to celebrate later
when they edged a 9-8 victory over Penguin. Coventry led 8-5 before a late Penguin rally almost earned a point.
Claire Walmsley and Danielle Elliott notched hat-tricks for Coventry.
SCOTS MOUNT ANOTHER PROMOTION CHALLENGE
After winning two consecutive promotions, Caledonia are now making a strong bid for a top three place in Championship 1, which would mean Scottish representation in Division One for the first time at the start of next season.
Caledonia won both their matches at Grantham (14/15 January) – 13-12 against Solihull thanks to a goal just three seconds from the end of a thriller by Holly Campbell and 5-2 against Leeds.
Undefeated Sheffield and Liverpool Liver Birds hold the top two places, with Caledonia jumping to third. Leeds and Bristol remain in the mix as far as promotion places are concerned.
The Liver Birds were comfortable 14-6 winners over Mid Sussex Marlins but left it late to beat Manchester Comets 13-12. Manchester recovered from 10-5 down to 12-12, only to lose out when Nichola Ross scored her fourth goal with 16 seconds remaining.
Sheffield defeated Manchester Comets 13-7, with Meg Naughton (3), Laura Fox (2), Heather Hall (2), Witney Luke (2) and Elli Weatherhill (2) leading the scorers. Then Sheffield beat Solihull 7-2.
Bristol won their two matches. Laura Shears’ fourth goal with 20 seconds left earned an 8-7 success against Leeds;
then Bristol outplayed Mid Sussex Marlins 10-2.
LIVERPOOL’S LATE WINNER
Liverpool Lizards staged a late rally to beat their great rivals City of Manchester 9-8 on the opening weekend of the women’s Super 5s at Loughborough University (10/11 December).
Manchester held a narrow advantage for much of the game and took an 8-7 lead early in the final quarter. But exclusions then began to take a toll on the Manchester girls and the Lizards struck back with goals by Hannah Wild and Nicola Powley. The picture shows Sarah Pimblett, of Manchester (blue 11), defending against Katie Hesketh, of Liverpool.
Earlier, Manchester beat London Otter 10-6, including four goals by Ella Chadderton.
Penguin recovered from 6-5 down in the second quarter to defeat Coventry 9-8. But the Londoners were well beaten,
13-6, by the Lizards, with Kathryn Fowler scoring five and Rebecca Mulcahy three. Pictured right is Penguin's Tasja
Botha. Photos: Trevor Hyde
WANDERERS WIN TITLE
Welsh Wanderers clinched the women’s Championship 2 title at Blackpool (10/11 December) with an emphatic 15-4 victory over South Derbyshire, including four goals by Jenny Myo. Players in our picture are (left to right): Laura Hatcher, Jen Myo, Carrie Hinder, Katie Austin, Bex Carling, Vikki Binks, Rachel Roberts, Hannah Freeman, Steph Clark, Em North and Cath North. The coach is Alan Rotsey.
London Otter Lutra won their two matches at Blackpool to finish level on points but, with the Wanderers-Otter match at Corby last month ending in a 6-6 draw, Wanderers took first place by virtue of a superior overall goal difference.
Otter and Sheffield Sharks will fill the other promotion places to Division Two next season. The Sharks earned third position with a 9-6 success against Liverpool Water Beatles, including two goals each from Rhiannon Foulds and Gemma Sykes.
Rebecca Anderson’s goal just over a minute from the end gave Otter Lutra a 5-4 win over the Water Beatles.
LEEDS ON TOP AFTER A WEEKEND OF DRAWS
There will be no easy wins for teams in women’s Championship 1 this season, as proved at Walsall (3/4 December).
Day one saw Sheffield score in the last few seconds to draw 7-7 with Liverpool Liver Birds. Then day two began like this:
A late goal by Mid Sussex Marlins’ Lucy Deacon gave her side a 10-10 draw with Solihull. Then Gabriella Morris scored in the last minute to earn Caledonia an 8-8 draw with the Liver Birds. Then Bristol Central lost a 7-5 lead in the final quarter against Sheffield and were held to a 7-7 draw when Sheffield’s Laura Fox netted with 13 seconds remaining.
Leeds Sharks then restored some normality to the proceedings with a 13-7 victory over Manchester Comets.
In fact, Leeds are the only side with a 100 per cent record after the opening weekend, having also beaten Mid Sussex Marlins 7-4 and Solihull 17-7. The picture at the top shows Leeds' Lisa Marshall (blue cap) battling with Catherine Freeman, of Solihull. Below: Solihull's Lesley Jennings (white 5) battles with a partly-submerged Naomi Mack, of Leeds. The Solihull goalkeeper is Sammy Owen. Photos: Darren Nash
POLY’S DOUBLE SUCCESS
Polytechnic improved their prospects of a top three place in women’s Championship 3 with two victories at Basingstoke Aquadrome (3/4 December). The London side recovered from 4-3 down against Tyldesley to claim the winner in the last minute at 6-5. They followed up with a 7-4 success against Invicta.
Southampton remain top with a 100 per cent record, including two points from a walk-over against City of Birmingham, who were unable to raise a team. Penguin Rockhoppers are also challenging for a top three spot, Nora Benko scoring four in a 12-7 defeat of Sunderland, for whom Alison Mell also netted four.
Tyldesley and Hucknall were all square at 10-10 until goals in the final period by Grace Morley (2) and Jo Costello gave Tyldesley a 13-10 win.
Iceni’s youngsters continue to struggle at this level, Matilda Williams scoring seven in Invicta’s 21-2 victory. But there was some encouragement for Iceni – Emma White’s two goals were among the best of the weekend. Laura Woodfield was on target eight times in Hucknall’s 16-5 win against Sunderland.
WANDERERS GO CLEAR
Welsh Wanderers strengthened their position at the top of women’s Championship 2 with a hard fought 11-7 victory over Liverpool Water Beatles at Gloucester (26 November).
When Beth Bolton scored for Liverpool late in the third quarter, the sides were level at 7-7. But Rebecca Carling replied for Wanderers; then goals by Claire Wyatt, Carling and Victoria Binks took their side clear.
Otter Lutra moved up to second place, scoring six in the last quarter to beat Sheffield Sharks 11-5 and then
defeating Manchester Barracudas 9-3, including five goals by Michaela Krejci.
HANNAH KEEPs SOUTHAMPTON ON TOP
Southampton maintained their 100 per cent record in women’s Championship 3 at Manchester Aquatics Centre (19 November) – but it was close against Hucknall.
It needed a goal two minutes from the end by Hannah Jack to clinch an 8-7 victory. Laura Woodfield scored three of Hucknall’s goals.
Most exciting game of the day saw Invicta draw 8-8 with Tyldesley. With two minutes remaining, Grace Morley scored to give Tyldesley an 8-7 lead, only for Anna Newell to equalise in the next attack. Josephine Costello scored five for Tyldesley.
Invicta received a walk-over against Hucknall due to the late arrival of their opponents.
CARLISLE QUIT BWPL WOMEN’S LEAGUE
Carlisle have resigned from BWPL women’s Championship 2 due to a shortage of players.
It means that match schedules and timings will change for remaining tournaments at Gloucester (26 November) and Blackpool (10/11 December). The Gloucester programme will also start later than originally listed. The timing of men’s Championship 3 games at Blackpool is not affected.
Click on the Championship 2 fixtures page for full details.
CARRIE’S VITAL LATE GOAL
Otter Lutra and Welsh Wanderers fought out an exciting 6-6 draw to ensure that both completed the first weekend of Championship 2 action at Corby International Pool (12/13 November) with unbeaten records.
The London side led 5-3 at one stage but were brought back to 5-5 before a goal by Louise Brampton gave Otter a 6-5 advantage with four minutes remaining. There were only 47 seconds to play when an equaliser from Carrie Poole ensured the teams shared the spoils.
Liverpool Water Beatles were the only side to take maximum points, defeating Manchester Barracudas 5-3 and South Derbyshire 9-6; then taking both points when Carlisle scratched from all their weekend matches.
South Derbyshire started the last minute against Sheffield Sharks with a 13-12 lead, only to lose out when Beth Proctor netted a penalty 38 seconds from the end and then Rhiannon Foulds claimed the Sheffield winner with eight seconds left on the clock.
Elaine Myo and Rebecca Dyer both scored hat-tricks in Welsh Wanderers’ 14-4 defeat of London Penguin Kings.
Manchester Barracudas’ 15-9 success against Penguin included four goals by Isobel Howe.
hannah's last ditch winning goal
A goal 16 seconds from the end by Hannah Jack clinched Southampton’s 10-9 win against Invicta during the first women's Championship 3 weekend at Walsall (5/6 November).
Hucknall, Southampton and West London Penguin Rockhoppers all took maximum points from their opening matches.
Men's Division 1 News
PENGUIN CLINCH TOP FIVE SLOT
West London Penguin made sure of a top five place with a crucial 12-10 victory over Lancaster at Loughborough University (15/16 October).
Tom Curwen was a constant threat for Lancaster, scoring six of their goals. But Penguin, 6-5 down towards the end of the second quarter, responded strongly in the second half. Attila Banhidy claimed five of their goals, including three in the first period, and Gergo Szabo four.
Penguin were involved in another tight affair on day two, losing 12-11 to Manchester. The London side trailed by a couple of goals for much of the game but, from 10-8 down, stormed back to lead 11-10 with four minutes remaining thanks to two goals by Nick Grieve and another from Banhidy. It was all to no avail. Tom Richmond equalised for Manchester, who grabbed the winner with just over a minute left through Robert Rae.
Cheltenham finished the Division One programme with a splendid 100 per cent record, defeating Portobello 18-9 – including five goals apiece for Mark Banwell and David Taylor – and Rotherham 14-7. They will be joined by Manchester, Portobello, Penguin and Lancaster in the Super 5s, with Bristol, Rotherham and Invicta dropping to Championship 1.
Portobello’s 14-10 victory over Invicta and two defeats for Lancaster – against Penguin and then Bristol (8-4) – meant the Scots finished in third place, a fine achievement for a team that had to battle hard for top division survival last season.
Rotherham’s 14-9 defeat of Invicta featured seven goals by Richard Leighton. Callum Bailey scored five for Invicta.
CHELTENHAM CLAIM DRAMATIC LAST SECOND VICTORY
Cheltenham remain the one team in Division One with a 100 per cent record after five matches – but only after a weekend of high drama at the Surrey University pool in Guildford (1/2 October).
Clashes between arch rivals Cheltenham and Bristol have rarely produced such a cliff-hanger of a finish. Bristol, desperate for points to snatch a place in the Super 5s, led 7-5 at the end of the third period.
Goals by Joel Thomas and Mark Banwell then brought Cheltenham up to 7-7 with three minutes to go, prompting time-outs from both teams and a flurry of action at each end.
No more than eight seconds remained when Cheltenham’s ex-GB international Dave Edwards stole possession from Bristol on halfway and launched a counter. Edwards passed to Adam Legge, whose shot from some 10 metres somehow squeezed under the left arm of goalkeeper Andy Crawford. But had the ball left Legge's hand before the final hooter sounded – a subject of considerable controversy? Yes, said referee Andrew Allen, and Cheltenham celebrated a breathless 8-7 win.
Cheltenham’s clash with Penguin produced a similarly tense finale. Penguin, 8-3 down in the third period, staged a grandstand finish, levelling at 10-10 with a fine Nick Beard goal 90 seconds from the end. It was all to no avail – David Taylor netted his third goal with 30 seconds left on the clock and Cheltenham once again squeezed home at 11-10.
Where does that leave the battle for top five places? Much could change during the final weekend of the first phase at Loughborough on 15/16 October although the last two games for Penguin and Bristol – coincidentally both play Manchester and Lancaster – could well determine whether one of those two big names drops into Championship 1.
Penguin boosted their cause with a 10-6 victory over Invicta at Guildford, including five goals from Attila Banhidy and three from Bruce Elder.
Bristol also chalked up their first points when a final period hat-trick by Stuart Fennell clinched a 12-8 win
against Invicta, who trailed 8-7 at the start of the last period. Callum Bailey scored five for Invicta.
IMPRESSIVE MANCHESTER OUTPLAY PORTOBELLO
After their three victories at Bath University, Portobello’s fortunes dipped at Lancaster (17/18 September) where they were outplayed 14-4 by an efficient City of Manchester side.
The Scots then went down 16-11 to Lancaster, whose dominating start to the game included three goals by Colin Burgess. Four-goal Fraser Rutherford helped Portobello back to trail only 9-7 but eventually the firepower of Curwen, who finished with six goals, made the difference.
With undefeated Cheltenham not playing this weekend, Manchester moved to the top of the table, beating Rotherham 9-6 on day two - not 9-3, as previously reported.
Lancaster also won their two matches, although they had to battle hard in the final quarter to overcome Rotherham
13-11. Rotherham led 6-4 at one stage and were very much in contention until the last three minutes. Curwen and Andy
Squires both scored four for Lancaster.
CHELTENHAM AND PORTOBELLO ON SONG
With places in the Super 5s
a priority target for all teams, a strong start was essential at the opening Division One weekend at Bath University
(3/4 September) – and Cheltenham and Portobello didn't disappoint.
Cheltenham were certainly quick out of the blocks, defeating Invicta 17-5 in their first game. Then, inspired by a virtuoso performance from Rob Parker, they beat Lancaster 13-8.
Parker, who is expected to head off shortly for another stint with his club in Spain, scored all the goals – mostly rasping shots from distance – as Cheltenham built a 5-1 advantage in the first period. Cheltenham went on to lead 11-3 before Lancaster mounted a minor recovery in the late stages. Parker finished with seven goals.
Manchester were next up for Cheltenham and it's a measure of their all-round team work that eight different players found the net – without a single contribution from Parker! This time, it was pit man Mark Banwell who set the tone with two fine goals in the opening minute. It was 5-1 at the halfway stage, 7-3 after three quarters and then comfortable for Cheltenham as they moved to a 12-4 victory. Manchester struggled throughout to pierce a well-organised defence in which goalkeeper Jim Alton made numerous fine saves.
Portobello look a revitalised side this season. They were the only other team to win their three games at Bath – easily their best start to a campaign in the top division.
The Scots trailed 3-0 early on to Rotherham before recovering to win 15-9. Frazer Rutherford scored four and new 17-year-old Italian recruit Danielle de Vecchus three. James Scobie and Neilson Rutherford both claimed hat-tricks in a 10-4 defeat of Bristol. Then Fraser Rutherford (pictured) added four more in an 11-10 victory over Penguin.
The reduction in Division One this season to eight teams – plus competition for places in the Super 5s – has helped add a more competitive element in the early stages. Of course, the absence of GB players, now spread around European clubs as part of their training for the Olympics, has had a major impact on some teams, less so on others.
Cheltenham and Portobello will definitely be delighted with their positive starts. But it was a miserable weekend for champions Bristol. They went down 13-11 to cosmopolitan Penguin, whose chief marksmen were Hungarian Gerga Szabo (4), New Zealander Richie Chambers (4) and South African Kevin O'Brien (3), and then lost 13-11 to Rotherham, for whom Richard Leighton netted five.
Australian Craig Hammond scored six in Manchester's 17-6 defeat of Invicta. Two late goals by Charles Booth clinched Manchester's 8-7 success against Lancaster – after Lancaster had led 4-1. Penguin recovered from 10-6 down to 10-10 against Rotherham, but then a Phil Stocker goal with just over a minute remaining settled the match in favour of the Yorkshire club.
INVICTA OUTGUN SHEFFIELD IN PLAY-OFF
Three goals without reply in the third quarter proved decisive as Invicta held on to a place in the BWPL top division with a 10-6 play-off victory over Division Two champions City of Sheffield at Manchester Aquatics Centre (21 January).
Sheffield made the more emphatic start, taking a 2-0 lead with goals by Tom Kelly and Richard Ratlidge.
But Invicta’s Division One experience soon began to tell. They hit back to go 3-2 up by the end of the opening period. It was 4-4 after two but then goals by Pat Baker (2) and Oli Bray put their team comfortably in charge.
At 8-5 in the last quarter, Sheffield sensed there was just an outside chance of recovery when impressive Invicta goalkeeper Ben Alcorn conceded a penalty. But Alcorn promptly saved Joe Abbot’s shot, leaving Invicta in the clear.
Invicta goals: Baker (3), Will Liddie (3), Callum Bailey (3), Oli Bray. Sheffield: Abbot (2), Tom Kelly (2), Alex
BRISTOL TRIUMPH – PORTOBELLO SURVIVE
Bristol knew the Division One title was in the bag after defeating nearest challengers, City of Manchester, in their opening match at Bath University (11/12 December).
Manchester led 3-2 after two periods. But five Bristol goals in a dominant third – two each by John Sissons and Matt Thresher and another from Stuart Fennell – transformed the match and set up an 8-6 Bristol victory.
Once the championship was decided, main point of interest was the battle for places in the reduced top division of eight clubs next season.
A 7-7 draw between Portobello and Invicta slightly eased the pressure on both teams. But it was tight at the finish. Goals by Fraser Rutherford and James Scobie edged the Scots into a 7-5 lead in the fourth period before Oli Bray replied with two minutes remaining. Shortly afterwards, Scobie conceded a penalty. The shot rebounded from the woodwork – and from the rebound Callum Bailey claimed an equaliser.
Portobello made sure of seventh place at the start of day two with a 12-7 victory over Welsh Wanderers, including four goals by Fraser Rutherford.
Invicta then secured eighth place – and the prospect of a play-off for Division One survival against the champions of Division Two – with a fairly predictable 19-7 win over bottom club Sutton & Cheam.
That left the Wanderers – beaten 13-6 by Rotherham in their final match – in ninth place. They will join Sutton in the BWPL’s second tier in 2011.
Lancaster were runners-up thanks to wins over Cheltenham (8-7) and Manchester (7-3).
Cheltenham levelled at 7-7 against Lancaster when Joel Thomas scored early in the last quarter. The only other score was a penalty three minutes from the end by Tom Curwen – his fourth goal of the game.
West London Penguin were only 8-7 ahead against Cheltenham towards the end of the third period but then five goals without reply – from Attila Banhidy (3), Tim Grace and Pat Harmer - set up a 14-10 win.
Photo (by Natalia Reddy) shows Bristol with the Dr John Howell Memorial Trophy. Back row (left to right): Ed Johnson, Craig Figes, Greg Harper, Matt Thresher, Andy Crawford. Middle: Richard Manion, Lewis Matthews, Stuart Fennell, Brad Poole, Jon Hutchings, Rhys Tamlyn (coach). Front: Tamas Keri, Sean Coles, skipper John Sissons.
BRISTOL EDGE CLOSER TO TITLE (28 november)
After wins over Cheltenham and Lancaster at the Surrey University pool (27/28 November), Bristol Central require two points from two remaining games to become the first Division One champions of the British Water Polo League.
Nothing is guaranteed. Bristol – NWPL winners on four previous occasions – still have to play second-placed City of Manchester on the final weekend at Bath University on 11/12 December. Their other match is against West London Penguin – and the last meeting of these sides ended in a 10-10 draw.
Bristol began the Surrey University programme in style, hammering Cheltenham 15-6, including seven goals in the final quarter. GB captain Craig Figes scored four.
Their battle with reigning NWPL champions Lancaster was much closer, even though Bristol took a 4-0 lead in the first quarter. Lancaster were still 8-2 adrift at half-time but pulled up to 9-8 before Bristol scored again to take the points at 10-8.
Manchester kept their title hopes alive with wins against West London Penguin (12-11) and Cheltenham (12-8). The Penguin match was a real thriller, the London side trailing from the start but, thanks to a six-goal haul from Attila Banhidy, recovering from 11-9 down in the final quarter to level at 11-11. It seemed the sides would share the points until Joe O’Regan claimed the winner for Manchester from a man-up with just one second remaining.
Invicta stayed in the battle for top division survival with a 10-8 win against Welsh Wanderers.
Restructuring of the league next season to eight-team divisions across the board means that only the top seven this year are guaranteed a Division One place – with the eighth-placed club facing the possibility of a survival play-off against the Division Two winners.
Portobello currently hold seventh position thanks to an 18-4 defeat of Sutton & Cheam, with Wanderers holding on to eighth spot. But with fixtures at Bath including Invicta’s clash with Portobello as well as a Welsh Wanderers-Portobello show-down, there is still all to play for.
The Scots lost 12-9 to Rotherham in a remarkable game. Rotherham were down to just seven players in the final quarter – including an emergency appearance by coach Norman Leighton – with the sides level at 9-9. But, inspired by six-goal Richard Leighton, they still managed to score three times in the last minute to clinch the points.
PORTOBELLO BOOSTED BY TWO VITAL WINS
While Bristol stretched their lead to three points, the latest Division One weekend at Lancaster (13/14 November) produced some key results at the bottom end of the table.
At the close of this season, only the leading seven are next year guaranteed a place in the trimmed-down top division of just eight teams – with survival of the 2010 eighth-placed club depending on a potential play-off against the champions of Division Two.
Portobello are clearly determined to ensure a continuing Scottish presence in Division One. They defeated Invicta 8-5 and Welsh Wanderers 7-5 to move into the crucial seventh position.
Four goals without reply in the second quarter – including two by Barry Davidson – set up victory over Invicta. Two goals each from James Scobie and Fraser Rutherford helped Portobello race into 5-0 early lead against the Wanderers, whose recovery in the later stages brought no reward.
Invicta’s hopes of avoiding the drop were boosted by a 12-7 defeat of bottom club Sutton & Cheam. This game was much closer than the score suggests – Sutton were still in contention up to the end of the third period, when Invicta led 8-6. Callum Bailey scored four of the Invicta goals.
With Manchester and Lancaster both dropping points, the weekend could hardly have been more satisfying for Bristol.
Not that Bristol’s record was perfect. After beating Manchester 7-4 thanks to goals in the second half by Craig Figes (2) and Matt Thresher, Bristol were held to a 10-10 draw by West London Penguin. Four-goal Attila Banhidy was the key player for the London side, who trailed early on but then recovered to snatch a point in a tense final period.
Lancaster’s 12-8 victory over Cheltenham featured three goals apiece for Tom Curwen and Declan Elwood. But Lancaster then suffered a rare defeat on home territory – 10-6 against Manchester, whose goalkeeper Ed Scott was in dazzling form. Big Joe O’Regan also starred with six goals.
Cheltenham beat Penguin 8-7 after trailing for much of the match. David Taylor claimed the winning goal just 40
seconds form the end.
BRISTOL GRAB TOP SPOT
On a weekend when leading players were involved in Great Britain’s 9-3 European Championship qualifier defeat in Georgia, Bristol Central took full advantage to claim top spot in Division One at Loughborough University (30/31 October).
Bristol defeated Lancaster 14-9. And they also saw the previous leaders, City of Manchester, drop three vital points – in a 9-8 defeat by Cheltenham and 7-7 draw with West London Penguin.
Not that it was all straightforward for Bristol. Lancaster were very much in the hunt until Bristol opened up an 11-7 lead thanks to a 4-2 advantage in the third quarter. John Sissons, Sean Coles and Matt Thresher each scored three for Bristol.
It was even closer in a typically lively West Country derby against Cheltenham, who led 6-2 at the halfway point and 8-7 after three periods. Max Gerasimov’s exclusion then brought Bristol level at 8-8 with a goal by Coles. The game then moved to 9-9 before Coles scored again just over two minutes from the end following a time-out.
Cheltenham and Manchester were level at 7-7 at the start of the final period before goals by Adam Legge and Joel Thomas edged Cheltenham in front. Manchester countered again and scored a minute and a half from the end through Robert Rae – but that was the end of the scoring.
West London Penguin forced a 7-7 draw with Manchester when Oregan scored the only goal – his fourth – of the final quarter.
Richard Leighton netted six in Rotherham’s 13-7 defeat of Invicta; and there were five each for Neilson Rutherford and Grundy in Portobello’s 17-9 victory over Sutton & Cheam.
MANCHESTER MARCH ON
Goals by Andy Squires and James Wannop salvaged a 6-6 draw for Lancaster against Manchester at Cardiff International Pool (9 October) after Manchester had started the final period with a 6-4 lead.
The result didn’t stop unbeaten Manchester holding on to first place at the half way stage of the season.
Manchester and Lancaster will now be joined by the West Country’s big two – Bristol and Cheltenham – and by West London Penguin in the “top five” competition during phase two of the season.
Rotherham who finished third last season, drop into the lower half of the division with Welsh Wanderers, Portobello, Invicta and Sutton & Cheam.
Manchester enjoyed a scoring spree in their other matches at Cardiff, beating bottom team Sutton 27-2 and Portobello 20-5. Joe O’Regan notched eight against the Scots.
Lancaster also took maximum points from Welsh Wanderers (14-10) and Sutton (15-6).
It was a good weekend for Bristol, who were the only team to win all three games. The closest was against Penguin, who levelled at 10-10 in the final period with a Kevin O’Brien goal only for Matt Thresher and Craig Figes to hit back and secure the points for Bristol at 12-10.
Bristol also beat Rotherham 16-4 and Welsh Wanderers 11-7 – with Figes amassing a total of 19 goals.
Two goals each for Callum Bailey, Ollie Bray and Danny Casey enabled Invicta to recover from 3-1 down early on to beat Portobello 10-8.
Chris Taylor scored five for Welsh Wanderers against Lancaster but couldn’t save his side form a 14-10 defeat.
It was another difficult weekend for Sutton, who lost all nine matches in the first half of the season. But at least they earned the biggest cheer of the weekend when Jacob Tidy, just 16, scored a splendid goal against Lancaster.
Photos (by Jason Quiterio) - Top: Determined defence by Manchester as Lancaster's Colin Burgess moves in on goal. Bottom: Chris Taylor, of Welsh Wanderers, prepares to shoot against Cheltenham.
ROTHERHAM MISS OUT
Achieving a top five placing in the first phase of the British League men’s first division is of paramount importance to the country’s leading clubs – and Rotherham, who have regularly qualified in recent seasons, face a battle to make it this year.
Rotherham suffered during the latest weekend of competition at Ponds Forge (25/26 September), where their team, admittedly under strength, lost all three matches – 16-11 to London Penguin, 15-11 to Welsh Wanderers and 19-10 to Cheltenham.
They could still go through, but will need to aim for maximum points in fixtures against bottom club Sutton & Cheam, Bristol and Invicta at the all-important next weekend of competition at Cardiff International Pool on 9/10 October.
New leaders Manchester, Lancaster and Bristol should all qualify, with London Penguin also well placed. But Rotherham will have their work cut out to overhaul Cheltenham and Welsh Wanderers, who both dramatically improved their prospects with hat-tricks of victories at Ponds Forge.
Strong starts were a feature of Manchester’s successful weekend. They led 6-2 early in the second quarter against Bristol with goals by Joe O’Regan (3), Robert Rae and Rob Simpson before Bristol, led by Craig Figes, began a fightback which saw them edge into a 7-6 lead at the start of the last period. Another Rae goal three minutes from the end squared the match at 7-7.
Manchester also began strongly against Penguin, surging into a 5-1 lead early in the second quarter and eventually winning 9-7.
Lancaster hammered Portobello 22-7 and beat Bristol 13-8. It was less straightforward for Lancaster against Penguin, who went 6-1 up in the first quarter and were dominating the match until Colin Burgess used all his experience to rally the Lancaster side. They trailed only 8-6 after two periods and, with Alex Parsonage contributing six goals, finally triumphed 12-9. Attila Banhidy (4) and Kevin O’Brien (3) were the main Penguin scorers.
Cheltenham’s David Taylor scored nine in his team’s 29-8 drubbing of Sutton & Cheam, who are finding the going hard after losing several members of the team that won promotion from Division Two last season.
Marko Madaras’s fourth goal clinched Welsh Wanderers’ 8-7 victory over Invicta, who had led 4-1 early on. Madaras and Chris Taylor both netted six against Sutton, who were beaten 18-5.
Top picture: Bristol's Central's Stuart Fennell in action at Ponds Forge.
Below: Joe O'Regan, of Manchester, with teammate Richard Polya in the background. Photos by Dylan Smith.
HOTSHOT MIDDLETON STUNS LANCASTER
Lancaster, runaway winners of the National League title last year, are likely to face much stiffer competition if they are to emerge as first champions of the British League.
That was evident when the new league's season began at Ponds Forge, Sheffield, on 11/12 September and Lancaster dropped two points - one more than in the whole 17-match, 2009 campaign - in draws against Rotherham and Cheltenham.
West London Penguin, Bristol Central and Manchester were the only teams to win all their three matches.
This season has a slightly different feel to it, of course, because several of the leading sides will be without star players now training abroad. Lancaster are no exception - a notable absentee in Sheffield was Scott Carpenter, scorer of 100 or more goals in two previous NWPL seasons.
Not that this detracts from the efforts of a spirited Cheltenham side who, having lost their opening fixtures against Bristol (12-10) and Manchester (12-8) staged a brilliant recovery to level at 15-15.
Lancaster appeared to be cruising with a 14-9 lead at the start of the last period. But Cheltenham chipped away with goals by Adam Legge, David Taylor, Will Middleton and Joel Thomas (2) before a superb long-range shot by left-hander Middleton earned his side a deserved point.
Earlier, it was Lancaster who rallied late to level at 14-14 against Rotherham. With seven-goal Richard Leighton in great form, Rotherham led 4-1 early on and 12-9 going into the final period. But Tom Curwen's sixth goal of the match broughT Lancaster back to 14-13 three minutes from the end. Then Alex Parsonage scored from a man-up - with just six seconds remaining.
After a couple of mediocre seasons, Penguin have put together a much stronger squad. They beat Invicta 14-8 and Welsh Wanderers 16-10 before disposing of newly-promoted Sutton & Cheam 19-8. Sutton, for whom Stephen Bayles scored five, were leading until Tom Grace netted four times in the second period.
Bristol Central beat Cheltenham 12-10 and Sutton 24-5. Bristol were 6-0 up early on against Invicta but then rather lost momentum and ended with a 10-8 win.
Sean Ryder inspired Manchester's bright start with a personal tally of 18 goals in victories over Welsh Wanderers (13-6), Cheltenham and Rotherham (13-6).
Welsh Wanderers may have lost last year's top marksman Dan Laxton to Dutch polo, but they have managed to recruit 19-year-old Hungarian junior international Marko Madakas (pictured above), younger brother of Norbert, the top Hungarian international. Marko, in the UK to improve his English prior to a potential spell at an American university, scored three times in his side's 12-12 draw with Portobello. A win looked on the cards for the Wanderers until James Scobie equalised for Portobello ten seconds from the end.
Our picture (above) shows Wanderers' goalkeeper Tim Marshall in action.
Men's Division 2 News
POLY MAKE TOP FIVE PLACE
Polytechnic left it until the very last quarter of the first half of the Division Two season at Bath University (22/23 October) to claim a top five place and deprive Tyldesley of progression to Championship 1.
Victory was essential for Poly against Croydon Amphibians if they were to avoid the drop. And they were in trouble when Croydon began the final period with a 5-4 lead. Then the game was turned on its head as goals by Luke Jones, Carlos Ardid (2), Andria Cardia and ex-GB international Gary Simons swept Poly to a deserved 9-5 victory.
It was all very unfortunate for Tyldesley, who earlier had beaten Poly 13-12. The London side led 7-3 in the second period and 11-7 at the end of the third. But Tyldesley fought back superbly to level at 12-12 with just over two minutes left. That’s how it seemed likely to stay until Mike Cowburn claimed the winner – and his sixth goal of the match – with a mere four seconds remaining.
Welsh Wanderers won all their three matches. This included Sheffield’s first defeat of the season – 7-6. Wanderers
led 4-2 but Sheffield recovered to lead 5-4 and 6-5 before Chris Taylor’s fourth goal levelled the match. Alan
Rotsey netted the winner 54 seconds from the end.
CLOSE BATTLE FOR TOP FIVE PLACES
Competition for top five places in Division Two remains as fierce as ever after the second weekend of action at the Surrey University pool, Guildford (1/2 October), with only bottom club Leeds Sharks probably already out of contention.
Sheffield are effectively secure. They are the only team not to drop a point so far, hammering Leeds 24-3 and then defeating Polytechnic, who led 4-3 early on but eventually went down 8-5. Elliott Kelly scored three of the Sheffield goals.
Sutton & Cheam dropped their first point of the season, missing a penalty five seconds from the end against Croydon Amphibians in an 11-11 draw. Darren de Bruyn and Csaba Rekasis both scored four for Croydon.
Welsh Wanderers charged into a 4-0 lead in the first six minutes against Polytechnic, but the Londoners, led by five-goal skipper Spiros Tzamtis, recovered to 10-10 by the beginning of the last quarter. It finished 12-12, with Chris Taylor netting six for the Welsh side.
Chris Taylor scored seven and Mark Taylor six against Leeds.
Croydon would have defeated Hucknall by a greater margin than 10-7 but for some brilliant goalkeeping by Tom Wall.
JERRY INSPIRES POLY WIN
After a stint at Cheltenham, Jerry Birmingham is back with Polytechnic – and it was a super solo goal from the ex-GB forward that helped Polytechnic overturn an 8-6 last quarter deficit to beat Hucknall 10-8 at Lancaster (17/18 September, 2011).
Only two teams won both their matches. Sutton & Cheam edged home 5-4 in a tightly-fought derby match against Polytechnic thanks to a late goal by Stephen Bayles. It was more straightforward for Sutton against Leeds – they won 11-5, including three goals in the final period by Bayles.
Sheffield, who narrowly missed out on promotion last season, were 4-2 down at one stage against Tyldesley but fought back to 8-8 before Tom Kelly scored a Sheffield winner at 9-8 with two minutes to go.
In their other fixture, Sheffield raced into a 6-2 half-time lead against Croydon, including a couple of goals by Liam McCarthy, before winning 9-5.
Welsh Wanderers will still be wondering how they failed to gain at least a point against Croydon. They led for virtually all the game and were 10-8 ahead at the start of the last period. But then Jack Shepperd spearheaded a Croydon recovery, scoring twice – including the goal 37 seconds from the end that gave his side a 14-13 win.
Wanderers fared better against Tyldesley, Chris Taylor netting seven and Ceri Fenner four in a 14-10 success.
Leeds recovered from 5-1 down to trail 8-7 against Hucknall but eventually lost 11-7. Top scorer for Hucknall was Dan Siddons with five.
Men's Division 3 News
WORTHING WIN THRILLER AGAINST EXETER
Undefeated Caledonia will progress to Championship 2 alongside Exeter, Worthing, Birmingham and South Derbyshire after the Division One finale at Walsall (15/16 October).
There were close matches involving the top sides. Worthing and Exeter reached 13-13 in a game that had been even all the way before Elan Stark claimed the winner for Worthing with 34 seconds remaining. Andy Margetts scored eight for Exeter.
Caledonia trailed early on against Birmingham and the match was all square at 6-6 at the halfway stage. Then Caledonia took control, easing clear to win 12-9, including three goals by Mark Speed.
At the other end of the table, Otter recorded an exciting first win – 12-11 against fellow strugglers Swindon Dolphin. It was 8-8 after three periods. Otter then raced into a 12-8 lead, only for Swindon to play catch-up in the late stages. Their final goal – from four-goal Matt Elliott – came a minute from the end.
Photo: Shaun Taylor (blue cap), of Bristol University, battling with Worthing's Richard Hooper.
CALEDONIA, BIRMINGHAM LEAD CHAMPIONSHIP QUALIFIERS
Caledonia, Birmingham and Exeter are guaranteed top five places and progression to Championship 2 in the second half of the season following the latest Division 3 weekend at Walsall (1 October).
Worthing will join them if they take one more point in their remaining matches against University of Bristol and Exeter, leaving South Derbyshire and the University to contend the final place.
Caledonia comfortably maintained their 100 per cent record at Walsall. They hammered Worthing 6-1 in the final quarter to win 16-9, with Alasdair Campbell (5), Callum Fraser (4) and Andrew Woodall (3) the main scorers. Then Alasdair Campbell bagged six more against Exeter, who went down 13-8.
Birmingham also have a perfect record after five games. Ben Cartwright and Gary Tonks (pictured) claimed hat-tricks in a 13-9 defeat of University of Bristol. It was far from straightforward against South Derbyshire, who led 10-9 in the third period but then subsided and were beaten 15-11. Our picture shows Rob Williams, of South Derbyshire, battling for possession with Birmingham's Gary Tonks.
Andy Margetts scored six in Exeter’s 16-7 success against Otter.
CARTWRIGHT THWARTS WORTHING
Newly-promoted Worthing experienced a rollercoaster weekend when the men’s Division Three season opened at Grantham Meres Leisure Centre (17/18 September, 2011).
The Sussex club will have been encouraged by a return of two wins from three games – but it could easily have been three out of three. One of the most dramatic matches of the weekend was their clash with Birmingham, who held a comfortable 11-8 advantage after three quarters.
The match changed dramatically in the final period. Worthing suddenly hit top form, pulling up to 12-12 and levelling again at 13-13 with 51 seconds remaining thanks to a goal by Elan Stark. A draw seemed certain until just four seconds from the end when Ben Cartwright’s fifth goal snatched a 14-13 victory for Birmingham.
Earlier, Worthing defeated Swindon Dolphin 17-10, including a seven-goal haul by Matt White. Their clash with South Derbyshire was another nail-biting affair. South Derby led 10-6 early in the third before a Worthing recovery squared the match at 13-13 at the end of an all-action third period. Then four Worthing goals without reply – by Nathan Hart, Sam Abbott, Tate and Richard Hooper – took them clear and set up an 18-14 win. Hooper finished with eight while Tony Lamparelli scored four for South Derby.
Caledonia, Exeter and Birmingham all won their opening trio of matches, which already means they are strongly placed to move into the second phase of the season in one of the top five places.
Caledonia beat Otter 15-6 and then outplayed University of Bristol 21-6, including four goals in the first quarter from Mark Speed. They rounded off with a 16-10 defeat of Swindon, including four more goals for Speed, three for Dave Baxter and two apiece for Callum McGregor, Darren Campbell and Logan Shepherd.
Exeter have welcomed back Andy Margetts after a season away and he made an immediate impact with eight goals in a 17-10 success against South Derby. Once again, South Derby began well, leading 8-7 at half-time, but then faded in the last period.
Exeter’s 17-13 win against Swindon included five more goals from Margetts – and seven for Swindon by ex-Solihull stalwart Simon Pemberton. Darren Heagarty grabbed seven in Exeter’s third victory – 24-10 against University of Bristol.
Birmingham trailed 6-5 to Otter at the start of the third period but recovered to win 14-9. South Derby’s 17-8 defeat of Otter featured six goals by Boyd Mellors and four by Davide Bernardi.
Picture: Andy Barry in action for Exeter.
Men's Division 4 News
Team Northumbria ensured a top five slot in Division Four when they comfortably won their crunch game with Grantham 14-4 at Marlborough College (22/23 October)
After the first period ended 1-1, Team Northumbria gradually eased clear, ex-GB captain Neil Bowers leading the way with five goals. They will be joined in Championship 3 by Carlisle, Cambridge, Manchester Hawks and Bedford.
There has been no better game in Division Four this season than the all-action 15-15 draw between Carlisle and Cambridge. Carlisle led 5-3 early on but then trailed 9-8 and 12-10 after the second and third quarters. With two minutes left, Phil Powell’s fourth goal put Carlisle 15-14 up, only for Nick Ludford to equalise from a man-up. Neil Drinkwater scored five for Cambridge and Ludford four. Powell (4), Matt Little (3) and Sam Routledge (3) were the chief Carlisle marksmen.
Carlisle’s clash with Manchester Hawks was another cliffhanger. The Hawks were narrowly adrift for most of the game but finally levelled at 15-15 thanks to Sammy Badawy’s sixth goal 90 seconds from the end. It wasn’t enough to earn a point – Powell grabbed the winner with 45 seconds remaining. Dan Barker scored six for Carlisle.
Bedford claimed the point they needed for a top five place with a 9-9 draw against the Hawks. Manchester led 3-0 early on and 9-8 at the end of the third. Ollie Chinneck claimed the only goal of a tense final period.
Picture (by Darren Nash): Cambridge's Nick Ludford in action against Bedford.
BARKER’S 15-GOAL SPREE
Sharp-shooting by Dan Barker helped Carlisle maintain their 100 per cent record and top spot in Division Four after the second weekend of Division Four matches at Ponds Forge (24/25 September).
Barker was unstoppable against Bedford, bagging seven in a 19-9 win.
He claimed three against Invicta Marlins, who were beaten 21-13; and five against bottom team Ealing, who went down 17-11.
City of Cambridge and Manchester Hawks are also unbeaten – and handily placed to qualify for the top five in phase two – after drawing 12-12. Cambridge led 6-3 at the halfway point and 12-11 until two minutes from the end when Rhusarb Bidd netted the Hawks’ equaliser.
The Hawks also drew against Invicta Marlins, who showed much improved form and led 7-4 at one stage. With 11 seconds remaining, a Danny Hanlon goal put the Marlins 10-9 up – only for Connor Dean to level three seconds from the end.
Ex-GB international Neil Bowers scored eight in Team Northumbria’s 17-11 defeat of Ealing.
NO JOY FOR NORTHUMBRIA IN CLOSE GAMES
Team Northumbria went away empty handed from the opening weekend of the 2011 Division Four programme at Ponds Forge (10/11 September) after suffering defeats late on against two of the sides that claimed maximum points from their opening matches – Carlisle and Manchester Hawks.
Against Carlisle, Northumbria led 4-3 midway through the second quarter and were drawing 6-6 after three quarters, but it was their opponents who produced the stronger finish to win 10-9, including two vital goals by Dan Barker.
The match against the Hawks was a topsy-turvy affair. The youthful Manchester side raced into a 6-0 lead in the opening period but were pegged back to 8-8 and then trailed to Northumbria 8-11 and 12-13. The match turned again in the final quarter when the Hawks, splendidly led by eight-goal Sam Badaway, dominated play and eventually triumphed 17-13.
Bedford and Cambridge were the other sides to secure double wins.
Justin Irvine scored nine and Adam Hilliard five in Bedford’s 19-6 defeat of Invicta Marlins. Bedford were pushed much harder by Ealing, winning 11-8 after the final quarter began level at 7-7.
Nick Ludford bagged six and James Scott three for Cambridge in a 16-4 defeat of the Marlins. Cambridge trailed 5-4 in
the third against Ealing but recovered to take the points at 9-6 thanks to late goals from Ludford, Jerry Overhill
and James Scott.
SIX-GOAL STARK LEADS WORTHING PLAY-OFF SUCCESS
Worthing comfortably overcame Swindon Dolphin in the play-off at Corby (11 December), winning 13-10 to claim a place in the new, eight-team Division Three next season.
They lost one of their leading marksmen, Matt White, to a misconduct offence in the second period, but still had the game more or less in their grasp after building a 9-4 advantage by the end of the third.
Elan Stark led the scoring with six. The other Worthing goals came from Richard Hopper (4), Andy Cawdray, Nathan Hart
WORTHING GRAB TITLE IN TENSE FINISH (21 november)
The Division Four season produced a spectacular finale when Worthing clinched the title by defeating closest rivals Manchester Hawks in the very last match at Walsall (20/21 November).
A draw would have been sufficient to give the Hawks top spot while Worthing – having dropped three points from two matches earlier in the weekend – knew that only victory would see them home.
In the end, it was all very comfortable for the Sussex team. A super Worthing goal early in the second quarter set the tone – Matt White, under heavy pressure in the pit, flicked a pass to Elan Stark, who expertly lobbed the Manchester keeper.
By the halfway stage, Worthing led 6-1. It was 9-3 after three, with Manchester wasting scoring opportunities and struggling to find a way past goalkeeper Alistair Roberts. Worthing eventually won 12-7, scoring through White (4), Richard Hooper (3), Sam Abbott (2), Stark, Nathan Hart and Alastair Hardinge. Sammy Badaway notched four for Manchester.
Manchester finished as runners-up. Third place went Carlisle, who will perhaps look back on a narrow defeat by Team Northumbria much earlier in the season as potentially costing them a title chance. Remarkably, Carlisle finished two points adrift of Worthing – yet defeated Worthing in all three matches between the sides.
Dan Barker was the architect of Carlisle’s latest success, scoring eight to set up a 15-10 win.
Worthing also had to settle for a point against Cambridge, who hit back from 6-2 down in the second quarter to level at 9-9 with a Neil Drinkwater goal two and half minutes from the end. Matt White replied for Worthing just 16 seconds later, only for Cambridge to equalise through a Ricardo di Pietro penalty with three seconds remaining.
Later, Cambridge did Worthing a mighty favour by beating Manchester Hawks 11-9. The Hawks were 8-7 up at the start of the last when Matt Jenner scored. But then di Pietro took over, netting three times in little over a minute to grab the points.
Cambridge couldn’t maintain the same tempo against Carlisle, who romped to a 15-3 victory, including four goals by Bret Sharpe.
Worthing now earn the right to challenge for promotion against the sixth team in Division Three. Manchester Hawks, Carlisle, Cambridge, Team Northumbria and Bedford stay in Division Four, with Otter 1869, Grantham and the RAF dropping to the new fifth division, or feeder league.
Ex-international Neil Bowers scored nine in Northumbria’s 15-10 defeat of Grantham and there were six for Otter’s Toshio Tachikawa against the RAF, who were beaten 13-8.
Mens Division 5 News
Watford demonstrated how much they will enjoy Championship 4 competition with an emphatic 21-10 victory over nearest rivals Bridgefield at Walsall (15/16 October).
Matt Chapman led the scoring with six and there were four apiece for James Kattan and Ciaran Walshe.
Watford completed an excellent weekend with victories over 2nd City Birmingham (21-6) and Scottish Students (14-12).
Birmingham beat Scottish Students 11-6 to notch their first points. They were ahead early on against Bridgefield but
were eventually beaten 18-9. Lee Cadwallader scored four for Bridgefield.
BRIDGEFIELD’S POSITIVE START
Of the four new teams in men’s Division Five, Bridgefield made the most impressive start at Hucknall (24/25 September).
Six goals by Andrew Faulkner, including five in the third period, set up a 20-11 victory over Scottish Students. Then five goals from skipper Lee Cadwallader, formerly of Birkenhead, and four from Wesley Caldwell ensured a 21-16 success against Watford.
Bridgefield were handed a walk-over in their third match when 2nd City Birmingham failed to raise a team by the scheduled start.
In the closest match of the weekend, Watford edged out Scottish Students 15-14. Watford held the lead for most of the match and started the last period with a 12-9 advantage. The score went to 15-11 before goals by Radcliffe, Gebbie and Sutter led a Students recovery to 15-14. Despite a Students’ time-out with half a minute left, that was how it stayed.
Watford’s goals included six by Jason Attwood and two apiece for Emrys Ellis, Ciaran Walshe, Steve Behr and Paul Skerm. Pictures: Darren Nash
Women's Division 1 News
COVENTRY MAKE IT TO SUPER FIVES
Coventry celebrated their first season back in the top division of women’s water polo by clinching a place in the Super 5s thanks to a 9-4 victory over former champions City of Sheffield at Watford (22/23 October).
After the first quarter finished at 2-2, four goals by Danielle Elliott and three from Claire Walmsley took Coventry clear.
Coventry were less successful in their other matches. They went down 13-7 to London Otter and then ran into leaders Liverpool Lizards in top form. The result – a crushing 19-0 defeat.
The Liver Birds, Liverpool’s other team, chalked up their first victory when a goal three seconds from the end by
Kathryn Routledge edged out Leeds Sharks 8-7.
LIZARDS END MANCHESTER WINNING RUN
After clinching the 2010 BWPL title with a 100 per cent record, City of Manchester’s winning record finally came to an end when they lost 6-4 to Liverpool Lizards at Corby (8/9 October).
Liverpool raced into a 3-0 lead but were pegged back to 4-3 before making sure of the points. Laura Hesketh (3) and Kathryn Fowler (2) scored the Liverpool goals.
The Lizards cruised into a 5-1 lead against Otter, but two goals by Alexis Higlett sparked a rally by the London side. Eventually, Liverpool made it four wins from four games with a 5-4 victory.
Promoted Coventry celebrated their first win of the season – 11-4 against Liverpool Liver Birds. Elizabeth Palmer (4) and Danielle Elliott (3) were the main scorers.
There was also a first success for Leeds Sharks, who grafted their way to a 3-2 win over Sheffield with goals by
Grace Barnforth, Bakanas and Emily Sutcliffe.
CHAMPIONS MANCHESTER’S WINNING START
Promoted Coventry faced champions City of Manchester in their first Division One game after promotion and gave a good account of themselves before going down 8-2 at Ponds Forge (24/25 September).
With a better conversion of man-up opportunities, Coventry would have made even more of a fight of it. Manchester, for whom Claire Nixon scored three, led 6-2 after two periods but could only add two more goals in the second half.
Coventry trailed 4-3 after two quarters against London Penguin Emperors but struggled against the firepower of Eleanor Thomson, who finished with six goals in a 9-5 Emperors’ victory.
Manchester, London Otter, Penguin and Liverpool Lizards all won their opening matches.
Women's Division 2 News
DOUBLE FIVE FOR NICOLA
Caledonia completed their Division Two campaign with a 100 per cent record, beating the two Manchester teams at Marlborough College (22/23 October).
Nicola Tate scored five in the 13-8 defeat of the Comets; then added five more against the Barracudas, who went down 13-7.
Mid Sussex Marlins needed a late goal by Jenny Willett to secure a vital 5-4 win over Solihull. A 12-3 success against London Penguin Kings – including four goals by Isobel Bates – then ensured the Marlins jumped into a final position of second.
Bristol Central also eased to top five comfort, with Laura Shears and Lou Betts both scoring seven in a 20-3 stroll against the Penguin Kings.
Manchester Comets’ 16-3 defeat of Sheffield Sharks clinched their top five spot alongside Caledonia, Mid Sussex Marlins, Bristol and Solihull.
Picture (by Darren Nash): Isobel Bates, of Mid Sussex Marlins, in action at Marlborough.
WINNING DOUBLE FOR COMETS
Manchester Comets improved their prospects of a top five place with two victories at Corby (8 October).
A goal two minutes from the end secured an 8-7 success against Bristol Central and they followed up with a 14-2 defeat of London Penguin Kings. Photo: Darren Nash.
TWO MORE WINS FOR CALEDONIA
Caledonia strengthened their position at the top of Division Two with victories over Mid Sussex Marlins (7-3) and Solihull (8-5) at Ponds Forge (24/25 September).
The win over Solihull featured six goals by Nicola Tate.
Tait scored three more against Mid Sussex Marlins, whose consolation was a 6-4 victory over Sheffield Sharks.
IMPRESSIVE START FOR CALEDONIA
Caledonia have set their sights on a second successive promotion after starting the 2011 Women’s Division Two season with an emphatic hat-trick of victories at Ponds Forge (10/11 September).
The Scottish team never looked back after four goals apiece from Gael Logan and Holly Campbell helped earn a 15-3 victory over Sheffield Sharks. They followed up with a 20-3 defeat of London Penguin Kings, then a hard-earned 12-6 success against Bristol Central.
Solihull were the only other 100 per cent team, beating Penguin 13-7 – including six goals by Miriam Ridha - Manchester Comets 13-7 and Manchester Barracudas 15-8.
Mid Sussex Marlins were involved in a couple of last quarter dramas. They were all square at 7-7 against Bristol before late goals by Lucy Deacon and Isobel Bates clinched a 9-7 win. Against Manchester Comets, they led 3-1 but eventually lost out 6-5 to two goals apiece for the Manchester team from Jemma Senczyszyn and Alderson.
Sheffield Sharks edged out Penguin Kings 6-5 courtesy of a final goal from one of the more senior players on view – ex-international Pippa Jones.
Women's Division 3 News
reprieve for carlisle
Carlisle will, after all, progress to Championship 2 in the second half of the season. The club narrowly missed a top five slot by dropping three points during the final divisional weekend at Basingstoke - only to discover subsequently that Penguin Rockhoppers had been deducted four points for including an unregistered player in two matches. Carlisle therefore replace Penguin, who drop to Championship 3.
SOUTH DERBY GRAB TOP FIVE SPOT
The struggle for top five places in women’s Division Three was not finalised until the last match at Basingstoke (15 October) when South Derbyshire won a crunch game against London Penguin Rockhoppers 12-8.
The sides were level at 8-8 in the final period but then goals by Michaela Hill, Sarah Williams, Laura Sharrod and Katie Kemp clinched the points.
South Derby, who earlier had beaten bottom team Sunderland 18-3, squeezed Carlisle out of the top five. Carlisle’s fate was effectively sealed when they were held to a 10-10 draw by Hucknall, who scored the final goal of the match 59 seconds from the end through Rachael Endy.
Liverpool Water Beatles suffered their first defeat - 7-5 to the Rockhoppers – but finish in the top five along with
Otter Lutra, who beat Carlisle 9-4 and Welsh Wanderers 9-7, South Derby, Welsh Wanderers and Penguin
WIN FOR WANDERERS . . . BUT ONLY JUST!
Welsh Wanderers snatched a last-gasp victory over London Penguin Rockhoppers at Liverpool (1/2 October) – but that was nothing compared with the drama before the start!
The Wanderers travelled with only eight players. But two were delayed on the motorway as the result of an accident and there appeared to be every likelihood that the fixture would be forfeited.
But the Welsh girls were determined not to be thwarted. The two missing players changed in their car during a dash to the pool and immediately dived into the water – just 30 seconds before abandonment was due.
Not surprisingly, the Wanderers struggled in the early stages and were 4-2 down at the start of the last quarter. Then the recovery began and four goals – the last with 48 seconds remaining – by Rachel Roberts, Emily North, Bex Carling and Vicki Binks, clinched a 6-5 win.
Liverpool Water Beatles are the only team with a 100 per cent record after wins over Hucknall (9-4), Welsh Wanderers (11-7) and South Derbyshire (7-4).
Otter Lutra also won all three – against South Derby (8-6), Hucknall (9-3) and Sunderland (14-3).
Hucknall and the Rockhoppers finished all square at 7-7 – the London side’s third draw in five matches.
LAST MINUTE DRAMAS FOR ROCKHOPPERS
London Penguin Rockhoppers experienced a nerve-racking start to the Women’s Division 3 season at Walsall (17 September, 2011), drawing both their matches.
They were 8-7 ahead against Otter Lutra before a goal by Brooke Tafazolli earned their London rivals a point with 46 seconds remaining.
The Rockhoppers were 10-8 down in the last quarter to Carlisle but then scored twice in the last minute – with Sophie Miller's final equaliser coming just four seconds from the end.
South Derbyshire won their opening matches – 7-5 against Welsh Wanderers and 17-4 against Hucknall. The only other team with maximum points were Liverpool Water Beatles, who won 9-7 against Carlisle and then defeated Otter Lutra 11-8.
Women's Division 4 News
SOUTHAMPTON SET THE PACE
Five-goal Jo Davies was the match-winner for Southampton as they beat nearest rivals Tyldesley 10-4 to retain a 100 per cent record in Division Four at Hucknall (24/25 September).
Davies also scored six in a 14-3 victory over Birmingham and there were two apiece for Hannah Jack, Kelli Hannaway and Aimee Dannan.
Youthful Iceni, who included eight players under the age of 18, showed improved form but still lost 14-9 to Birmingham, for whom Casey Lee netted seven.
Matilda Williams (7) and Aimy Riley (5) led the scoring for Invicta, who beat Iceni 19-6. Invicta dominated the last
period against Polytechnic to win 12-6, including four goals each for Williams and Gina Ley.
TYLDESLEY’S CONFIDENT START
New teams experienced very mixed fortunes on the opening weekend of the 2011 Women’s Division Four season at Ponds Forge (10/11 September).
For Tyldesley, it could hardly have been better. They won all three matches, gaining a narrow 8-7 victory over Invicta in their toughest encounter. Hat-tricks by Josephine Costello and Grace Morley gave Tyldesley a 7-4 lead but, with Anna Newell on target five times, Invicta came right back near the end, only to lose 8-7.
Icini found the going tough, losing all three matches. The other new team, City of Birmingham, were able to celebrate a first victory – 15-7 over Polytechnic. Eve O’Keefe (7) and Casey Lee (6) were the main scorers.
Southampton won their three matches, with Jo Davies’s five goals making the difference in a 10-8 win against Invicta.
SHEFFIELD DOLPHINS JOIN BWPL
The British League committee have accepted a late application from City of Sheffield to enter a second team in men’s Division Five next season.
It means the division will have six teams – Sheffield, plus Invicta Marlins, 2nd City Birmingham, Scottish Students, Solihull and Old Whitgiftian Waterpolo.
The Sheffield newcomers will be known as the Dolphins – a name with historic associations as far as UK league water polo is concerned.
Along with Birkenhead, Birmingham & District League (now the Midland League), Cheltenham, Otter, Polytechnic, Sutton & Cheam and Weston-super-Mare, the former Sheffield Dolphins club became one of the founder members of the men’s National League in 1962.
In the league’s first competitive season of 1963, Sheffield finished seventh. The club withdrew after the first year and made a brief return in Division Two in 1966 before dropping out again and eventually becoming part of the City of Sheffield set-up.
Solihull are returning to BWPL action this season after a brief break. The Whitgiftians club, which is Croydon-based, was formed in 1994 as the result of a merger between Old Whitgiftians and Old Mid-Whitgiftians. OMW competed in NWPL from 1972 until 1996, gaining Division one status for a single season in 1975.
The resignation from BWPL of Swindon Dolphin means a move up to Division Four next season for Bridgefield, the
fourth-placed team in Championship 4 in 2011.
BRITISH LEAGUE ANNUAL MEETING
Delegates at the British League annual meeting in Hockley Heath on 25 March observed a minute’s silence in memory of Life Member Roger Hargreaves, who died in August last year, and Leeds Sharks’ long-serving secretary Jim Roxburgh, who passed away suddenly on 23 March (see below).
The AGM elected Mike Hesketh, of Lancaster, as the new events co-ordinator. Other officers were re-elected.
President Gordon Dacre presented trophies and medals to winning teams. The Michelmores Shield, awarded annually in recognition of outstanding service to water polo and the League, went to referee Tad Detko.
Tad began his national refereeing career in the former men’s National League in 1979 and is still officiating at the top level – including the recent European Championships in the Netherlands.
DEATH OF JIM ROXBURGH
Jim Roxbrough, whose sudden death occurred on 23 March - two days after he watched GB play Russia in Manchester - arrived at the former City of Bradford Water Polo Club from his native Scotland in the early 1980s.
He became the club's guiding light - as player, coach, manager and secretary. In 1985, much-needed sponsorship - from the company Jim worked for - led to the club changing its name to City of Bradford E&E Chemicals. Much later, in the early 2000s, the Bradford team moved to the City of Leeds for a deep water pool - and the chance to merge with the ladies' team already established there.
At Leeds, Jim remained the driving force, taking the role of chairman and club secretary, as well as carrying out many more thankless tasks. He was always ready to support and help anybody without expecting anything in return.
Jim regularly attended NWPL and BWPL weekends, supporting the team and, typically, always ensuring that he thanked officials on behalf of the players. A great supporter of water polo, a true gent and role model.
The funeral took place on Tuesday, 3 April, at Nab Wood Crematorium, Shipley.
BWPL SERVES UP A TV THRILLER!
The first-ever filming of British Water Polo League Super 5s action for screening by Sky Sports could hardly have produced a more spectacular weekend of drama at Manchester Aquatics Centre (21/22 January).
As this was the finale of the men’s competition (the girls finish at Cardiff International Pool on 11/12 February), it was inevitable that the title battle between Lancaster City and City of Manchester would hold centre stage.
Lancaster eventually won through – but only by virtue of a superior goal difference. The whole affair was so close that, if Manchester had scored just one more goal when beating Lancaster 10-9 on day one, they would have been crowned champions.
But narrow defeat offered Lancaster a lifeline, which they gleefully accepted. Goal difference would now be the key, providing both teams won their final matches - which they did. Manchester had the better record going into day two – but the battle was effectively over once Lancaster hammered West London Penguin 22-7.
No one could have written a better television script!
The first television coverage of a British club match for several decades follows months of work by the league – but would certainly not have happened without the considerable contribution behind the scenes of former National League chairman Stephen Baker.
BWPL chairman David Andrews said: “This initiative is something we believed was essential to give our sport far more exposure – and to demonstrate what a great spectacle water polo provides.
“What must be stressed is that the whole project has been self-funded by BWPL thanks to sponsorship and the very generous support of friends of the league. Bringing it to fruition is a huge coup for BWPL – and what better timing than in the year of the Olympics.”
Sky Sports screened a one-hour “Match of the Day”-style highlights programme on five occasions. BWPL sponsors at MAC:
• Adidas www.adidas.com
• CRL Concrete Repairs www.concrete-repairs.co.uk
• Gatwick Outsourcing
• J.C.Leisure www.jcleisure.co.uk
• Vincent Timber www.vincenttimber.co.uk
Our picture shows the victorious Lancaster squad with the Super 5s trophy.
Back row (left to right): Duncan Holmes (team manager), Colin Burgess, Tom Curwen, Mike Brown, Sam Smith, Hamish Crichton, Dave Bush. Middle: Rysz Detko (coach), Zak Sly, Decland Ellwood, Marc Robinson, Giannis Paraskevopoulos, Fotis Paraskevopoulos, Jeff Parker (team manager). Front: Skipper Chris Hartley, James Wannop.
Click on the men's and women's Phase 2 news pages for all the action from MAC.
BWPL has produced a special souvenir DVD of the Sky Sports programme, price £3, or five for £12. Pick up your copy at
the BWPL AGM on Sunday, 25 March. Alternatively, send a cheque to "BWPL", c/o 26 Tower Road, Tadworth, Surrey KT20
LANCASTER’S TITLE – BUT ONLY JUST
Rysz Detko, coach of Lancaster city, admits that at one stage a few weeks ago he could never have imagined his team as British League champions.
“We had a very poor first half of the season and, to be honest, were lucky to qualify as one of the top five,” he declared.
“Since then, our performances have shown a significant improvement, even though we are still erratic at times. To give the other teams credit, they have made this a very tight contest. There are certainly no easy games in the Super 5s.”
Rysz described Tom Curwen as a “giant” of the team after his eight-goal virtuoso performance in a 22-7 victory over West London Penguin. “At 42, our goalkeeper Dave Bush is also an incredibly valuable member of the side, as he proved by saving a vital penalty against Manchester. But this was an occasion when all the squad played their part.”
Curwen ended the season as top scorer in the men's Super 5s with 35, 12 more than second-placed Attila Banhidy, of
West London Penguin. For all the details of scorers/major kings, click on the statistics page.
MANCHESTER WIN WOMEN’S SUPER FIVES
City of Manchester clinched the British League women’s Super 5s title when they completed convincing victories over West London Penguin Emperors and Coventry at the Cardiff International Pool (11/12 February).
Liverpool Lizards finished level on points with Manchester after defeating Leeds Sharks and Coventry but lost out due to an inferior goal difference overall.
Manchester team photo: Back row (left to right) Diane Chadderton (team manager), Siobhan Hoy, Emma Bartlett, Polly Egan, Rosie Egan, Tuesday Birmingham, Lucy Aspinall, Jade Smith, coach Craig Hammond. Front: Casey Smith, Victoria Hawkins (captain), Briony Rutlidge, Ella Chadderton.
Main excitement at Cardiff concerned the outcome of Championship 1. Liverpool Liver Birds edged out City of Sheffield on the final afternoon to take top spot – but only by virtue of a superior goal difference.
Third place – which secured Division One entry at the start of next season – could have gone to any one of three teams prior to the last two matches of the campaign. In the end, Bristol Central edged out Manchester Comets and Caledonia to clinch promotion.
For full details of the weekend action, click on the women’s phase two news page and the Super 5s and Championship 1
SCOTS WIN BRITISH CHAMPIONSHIP
Portobello defeated City of Manchester 8-5 to win the British Championship men’s title at the MAC (18/19 February) – the perfect way to celebrate the club’s centenary. Cheltenham beat Bristol 11-8 to take third place.
The women’s title went to City of Manchester, 8-7 victors over London Otter in the final. West London Penguin finished third, defeating City of Liverpool 11-10.
Semi-finals – Men: Portobello 9 Bristol 8, Manchester 7 Cheltenham 6. Women: Otter 11 Liverpool 7, Manchester 7
rockhoppers ARE CHAMPIONS
Penguin Rockhoppers claimed the women’s Championship 3 title at Walsall (28 January) after the closest of battles with London rivals Polytechnic.
The teams finished equal on points, each with seven victories from eight matches. So it was the result of their meeting way back in November – Penguin won 5-2 – that determined the champions.
Southampton, leaders before the final weekend with a 100 per cent record, lost both their matches – 5-1 against Poly and 13-7 against Tyldesley.
Penguin just squeezed home against Hucknall, 13-12, before beating Invicta 8-4 to make sure of the title. Poly also
defeated Hucknall, 5-4.
The British Water Polo League and Irish Water Polo Association have launched a key initiative to support the development of future senior referees by agreeing a first exchange of officials.
Two of the BWPL’s promising young referees – Gareth Twohey and Maxim Gerasimov – officiated in Irish League matches during February and March.
Irish referees will be invited to gain experience in the British League in the early stages of next season.
INVICTA STUN ROTHERHAM WITH TOP THREE SPOT
Bristol Central clinched the men’s Championship 1 title by taking five points from their last three matches of the season at Guildford (8 January).
But the real drama involved the chase for second and third positions – also earning the successful sides promotion to Division One alongside the Super 5s clubs at the start of next season.
Polytechnic deservedly took second place. Third position went to Invicta – but only after they and Rotherham had finished with the same number of points and an identical goals difference. Rotherham were edged out because Invicta scored just four more goals in all Championship matches. Earlier, the meeting of the clubs had ended in a draw – 13-13.
Watford won Championship 4, defeating previous favourites Grantham 15-14 in their final game.
For more details click on the results and Phase 2 news pages.
The picture above shows the victorious Bristol Central team with the new Roger Hargreaves Trophy, which was presented
by the British League in memory of the former leading official and ex-international referee, whose obituary appears
below. Bristol line-up (left to right): Greg Harper (coach), Matt Thresher, Sean Coles, Dan Williams, John Sissons,
Simon Handley, Stuart Fennell, Jon Hutchings, Andy Crawford, Rich Manion, Daniel King, Carl Wyatt. Photo: Trevor
WATERSWIM JOINS BWPL – AND ANNOUNCES NEW AWARD!
Dutch sports goods company Waterswim, which specialises in water polo costumes and caps, has become the latest sponsor of the British Water Polo League.
And Waterswim (www.waterswim.co.uk) is launching its partnership with BWPL by announcing a new award – the winners of
this season's Super 5s men's and women's competitions will receive a set of caps, customised with club and sponsor
The Waterswim company was formed 10 years ago in Columbia and Arnoud Posthuma, of Waterswim Europe, a Dutch international goalkeeper for more than five years, is the official European Distributor.
Waterswim already sponsors the current men’s and women’s champions of Holland – BZC Borculo and GZC Donk - as well as Polar Bears. In the past year, the company has supplied more than 45 clubs in Holland and Germany with customised hats, trunks and suits.
Waterswim’s service includes free designs, fast delivery following design approval and order confirmation (approximately 5 to 6 weeks); repeat orders in low quantities (even one piece); and flexible pricing.
BRITISH LEAGUE MOURNS DEATH OF ROGER HARGREAVES
British Water Polo, and the British League, in particular, lost a great friend with the sudden death on 12 August of Roger Hargreaves, aged 72, former international referee and one of the sport's outstanding administrators.
The former men's National League owes much of its success to Roger, he was its first match secretary between 1966 and 1975 and then served as general secretary (for six years) and treasurer. But his contribution to water polo extended well beyond the NWPL, as the ASA recognised seven years ago when he was awarded the prestigious annual Harold Fern Award, presented for outstanding service by an individual to any of the four competitive disciplines.
Water polo had been a major feature of Roger's life since, as a 12-year-old, he played alongside his father for the Nuneaton club. He went on to gain representative honours with Warwickshire, Leicestershire and the Universities Athletic Union (he studied at Leeds University). And it was with Leamington Spa that he enjoyed great success at club level, playing in the top division of the National League and winning an ASA Club Championship winners' medal in 1975, which led to Leamington's appearance in the European Cup Winners' Cup in Greece.
His refereeing career started at 19 when he joined the Birmingham and District League panel. At 27, he became a National League referee; later on, his international experience included officiating at European Championships and World Masters Championships.
To modern water polo players and referees, Roger was the bearded, avuncular father figure who ensured the smooth running of British League weekends as delegate. Indeed, he was one of the senior officials who helped introduce the delegate system to British polo via the men's National League some six years ago.
To those responsible for administering the National League, and now the enlarged British League, he was a reassuring and ever-willing presence in the background, as a rules guru (he advised the British League on its new rules), on disciplinary matters or anything else that required his knowledge and experience.
Roger was educated at Bablake School, Coventry. At Leeds University, he held his first administrative post, as
fixture secretary of the University Swimming Club.
It was at Leeds that he met and married Jill, another swimmer, and they had two children , daughter Chris and son Phil. After graduating, he spent the whole of his working career in management with the National Coal Board and its successors, retiring in 1989 when he was deputy manager of a coal mine employing 1600 men.
Following retirement from international refereeing, he acted as the team manager for the successful women's team of City of Coventry, his original club, in several of their forays into European competition.
Since 1962, he had continuously served as secretary of at least one organisation, including Nuneaton Swimming Club, the Birmingham and District Water Polo League (now the Midland League), the ASA Midland District and the ASA. He was also Midland Water Polo League treasurer.
Roger was a long-serving member and former chairman of the ASA Technical Water Polo Committee and the ASFGB TWPC .
BWPL chairman David Andrews said: "In addition to the personal loss many of us will feel, the League has lost a true friend. Water polo as a whole is poorer for the passing of Roger."
More than 200 people attended the funeral, which took place on Thursday, 25 August, at Nuneaton Crematorium.
Players and officials observed a minute's silence in Roger's memory during the opening weekend of the BWPL season at the University of Bath.
DEATH OF OLYMPIAN BOB KNIGHTS
The death occurred on 24 March of Bob Knights, of Polytechnic, a member of the most recent Great Britain team to take part in the Olympics at Melbourne in 1956.
Bob joined Poly in 1950 from the Stoke Newington club shortly before completing National Service in the Army. He was a regular GB player from the mid-1950s until the early 1960s, captaining the side in the later years.
Former Poly and GB goalkeeper Neil May says: “Bob was a wonderful player and a tremendous character – he will be sorely missed by all those lucky enough to have known him.
“Bob would have been 80 this summer. He had suffered a stroke in 2000 which left him severely handicapped but his cheerfulness and sense of fun to the very end was an inspiration.”
Bob Knights lived in Mayland, Essex, next door to his sailing club – where he was still able to get on the water. He was a key figure in the great era of Poly water polo; this included competing against 12 national teams at the World Youth Games in Moscow in 1957, when Poly finished fourth behind Russia, Hungary and East Germany.
He leaves wife Jill, daughter Kate, sons Barry and David and four grandchildren.
The funeral took place on Thursday, 14 April, at St Barnabas Church, Mayland, Essex.