Abingdon Atoms (1) 12 – 15 Farnborough Jets (1), Abingdon Atoms (2) 9 – 12 Farnborough Jets (2), Abingdon Atoms (1) 15 – 17 Basingstoke Bulls (1) and Abingdon Atoms (2) 3 – 30 Southampton Uni (1)

The time available to put match reporting quill to parchment has been scarce recently, what with a trip across the big pond and other things. So now I’m back and caught up, how has the start of the season gone for the Atoms so far?

A3 have sat on their podgy little backsides and twiddled their thumbs at present, leaving A1 and A2 to don the bright orange and kickstart our season. A double away brace to Farnborough 1 for A1 and Farnborough 2 for A2 was our first action of the year, and due to a late cock-up-par-excellence by the southern sports hall management, the matches were moved to the rather delicate time of Sunday morning, meaning lots of our players couldn’t get back from their Saturday night frolics in time for the matches. Nevertheless, off went 7 players… until at the very last minute, the wonderful Anne DuBock of greater than 4 years ago at the club signed up as an emergency girl, what a star she is! And so 8 set off for Farnborough, including young Jordan Thompson (our fresh and keen Leeds Uni student) making his debut for the club. And considering how many sub ins and step ups we had, it was an excellent showing against strong opposition! A narrow 12-15 loss earned us a first bonus point of the season, with Alex Boy in particular on fire with 6 goals. At one point he ran towards the post for a run-in so fast I thought someone had cunningly laid a king-sized cheeseburger and chips at the base of it… anyway, Ginger-Ninja Andrew was also in fine fettle at the other end, trying to keep the pesky and equally basketbally Ryan Ewing quiet, but also slotting in 4 fine goals himself. A goal by Alex Girl is always expected, and after coming on as a sub Jordan scored his very first competitive goal for the club, a lovely medium length effort, very nice sir! Honourable mentions for Rich McGowan, Steven VB, Shirlaine and Bhairavi who all played very well indeed. Oh and of course, one must not forget Tony DuBock with kiddie-entourage on the sidelines, who had several excellent pieces of pithy advice for the opposition and referee, it was quite entertaining to listen to! No playing for me, injured foot from the previous training meant just watching and match form completion duties. Booo 😦 😦

With refreshment downed, it was onto A2 vs F2, and this was another arse clenchingly close match! We were always on Farnborough’s coat tails, but could never close the gap. Which was quite incredible seeing as we only had 7 players – league rules meant Girlie couldn’t play down despite being present. Nevertheless on we soldiered, and Rich top scored with a hat trick of excellence, Ninja and Jordan with 2 each, one for Coach Beavanshire, and… wait for it… one for the furthest travelled Anne DuBock! Alas, a 9-12 loss but a first bonus point of the season for A2, and honourable mentions for pretty much everyone above who had just played the A1 match, thank you all for playing twice! A solid late lunch at a nearby pub re-fuelled us before our trip back up the motorway. Well, all that match form filling in is hungry work ya know, I was obviously ravenous 😉

So then, onto last weekend! A1 up first against Basingstoke 1 and their medley of nippy little ladies and giant basketbally gents, but rather sadly we were lacking our usual two-Alex goal machines. How would we fare without them and their korf-finding regularity? Very well in fact, with Rich and Chrissie filling in for 60 minutes for the missing Alexes with both looking quite at home in A1, and a last minute Bhairavi illness meant Shirlaine and Frances filled the vacant girl spot between them and certainly did not look out of place one bit, how nice to have such quality stepping up! And it was goals all around the park which is always pleasing to see, new-Daddy Gorka-the-Rageful is actually Gorka-the-Much-Calmer these days, on fire with 6 goals to his name and also keeping big Viktor quiet. 3 for Flashy-Caroline, 2 for yours truly, 2 for Monsieur-le-Damien, 1 for Baerbel and 1 for Chrissie meant a solid team total of 15. Alas Basingstoke eeked out 17 in a very close contest, so just a bonus point for A1, but a fine effort all round.

For some of us, our day wasn’t over though… 7 absolute legends then made the trip down the A34 to represent A2 playing against Southampton Uni 1. Yes that’s right, those where half the ruddy team have played for England Under 19s and thus they won Division 1 by a country mile last year. Morale was… “mixed” to be fair. At one end of the scale, some did not see the point of travelling simply to be handed such a large can of whoop-ass by the opposition, which one can sympathise with. At the other end of the scale, Shirlaine had downed a couple of raw steaks, spat out the bones, sharpened her talons and was raring to go!

Let’s not focus on the score, that’s simply not important here. Oh ok then, if you insist on knowing, it was 1-20 at half time. Damien, Chrissie, Gary and Shirlaine battled manfully at the 4 person end, but Southampton Uni/England Under 19s were on fire. Meanwhile Frances and Rich joined me at the 3 person end, and remarkably were having a peversely fun time trying to eek out what shots we could with fast passing, veering and fluid post movement, and trying to blunt their attack and pinch collects in defence wherever we could. And the three of us are extremely proud to report that our single first half goal came from our end, woohoo! With Rich and Frances both providing good post cover, one of my long shots just happened to nestle in.

Large quantities of chocolate and jelly babies were frantically stuffed into everyone’s mouths before anyone could say anything negative. With Damien offering wise words and helpful tactics at the 4 person end, Rich Frances and I discussed tweaks to our rather different battle plan and set out to do even better at the 3 person end second half.

And actually, we all improved second half! Suddenly the passing at the 4 person end was sharper and faster, people were just that bit more alert and in the right place at the right time, and suddenly with some new tactics in play, shots started going up, and going close! Alas none would drop, but it was much better to watch. And as for Rich and Frances, well, they were simply my heroes of the whole day, and between us we actually enjoyed ourselves – no, seriously, we did! I was messing with their heads by using some irritating tall boy dropping tactics, but Rich was also popping up in useful places to retrieve rebounds as well. As for Frances up against two girls all match, she lept many times like a salmon out of water, pinching more balls than she had any right to get near, a fine effort all round. In attack, we were also rotating around and working for each other much better too, so much so that we scored two more goals! A lovely long shot from Rich, and a second long shot from me.

Final score? 3-30. To be honest, even with 8 players it might have been a similar scoreline. So a MASSIVE thank you to all 7 players for turning up to honour A2’s toughest fixture of the season by far! Remember we only have to play them once, so that’s done and dusted now 🙂

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