[mantra-multi][mantra-column width=”1/2″]First, please let me provide clarity on my match report. It may have come to your attention the LDO at Spencer is called, Spencer. Unless explicitly stated the use of the word Spencer will refer to the club and not player. Unless the surrounding context indicates a reference to a person. For example “Spencer needed a tactical chunder from drinking too much Belgian beer” would fall into the individual and not team context (especially as the English can handle their beer). I’ll be happy to listen and inevitably ignore any complaints of ambiguity in the below report.
Now onto the match report.
Won the league, check! That means Spencer are off on a road trip to the Ken Galluccio cup in Ghenk (that’s Belgium, where they speak Belgianese). Four teams turned up last year but this years tournament will host twelve mens teams and a women’s tournament. This indicates two questions
1: Will the standard be as high as expected?
2: Is Jonny Clark’s participation due to an increase in female participation?
A convoy of cars delivered Spencer to Ghenk and immediately the team started drinking, erm, I mean training. This has the potential to be a massive weekend of lacrosse and strong Belgian larger is the catalyst for greatness.
The team made it to the local bar near the hotel which was an interesting little watering hole. It sold very small beer and was affectionately known as the ‘lesbian disco’. The naming convention probably had less to do with the sexuality and more the attentiveness of the female locale to frisky players.
The team had a clear agenda. Apparently if we won all our group games, quarter final, semi final and final we would win the tournament. The players were happy that was cleared up beforehand as tournaments can be confusing.
Day one started against the Belgian champions, the Red Rhinos. A rather diminutive team with numbers and home advantage on their side. Spencer with many new players had to gel early to guarantee a win.
It was quickly apparent we were more likely to see a real Red Rhino than a Belgian victory. Spencer were clinically rusty and it was a great game to work out the hang over and get the ball in the stick. The game finished 18 – 1 to the mighty Sparrows and the team had a two hour wait until the next game. This meant the team were forced like slaves to lie in the sunshine and relax while watching some more lacrosse for a couple of hours.
The next game was against Edinburgh and our Scottish compatriots stepped up the competition from the Red Rhinos. But the sparrows carried on where the previous game left off. Rob “I’ll hang around this post if that’s cool” Holmes was already knocking up a huge tally of goals. Alan “penalty leader in attack” Keeley and Joe “flukey goals” Darkins were adding to the scoreline.
The game was moving in Spencer’s direction as the the South London team showed their quality. Edinburgh had a couple of players to note, their Hillcroft keeper who Alan ‘sorted out’ and the face off American who was quickly identified and neutralised like a diseased feral cat.
At the other end, Jonny “am I better at picking up girls or ground balls?” Clarke and Tom “Swedish flat-pack racist” Leahy were instrumental in breaking down the field for the fast break and grabbed a goal each. Spencer “but I like the 9% stuff” Riehl was showing his east coast talent while Will “long stick doppelganger” Barrie was up and down the field all day showing his youthful star quality.
The Scotland game finished 14 – 2 in the Sparrows favour and showed Spencer were clinical but one or two mistakes needed addressing. This is the champions league of lacrosse we are talking about, you have to be awesome to pay in this tournament. Which means that Spencer must be awesome. So if you’re reading this and you play for Spencer, stay classy awesome player!
It was also evident that “Yer’a wizard Leahy!” Children’s literature and lacrosse seldom go hand in hand but Leahy proved his talent with a phoenix feathered lax-wand as he expeliarmosed a number of players. For those that don’t know the Potter series, its the spell Harry Potter uses on Ron Weasly when he wants to get naked with him.
After another beautiful rest in the sunshine between games it was Amsterdam that stood the way of a clean streak of wins for the day. With the Dutch team having already taken Stockport close, Spencer had to be up for the game. No team member epitomised focus and concentration as much as Rob “wheres my stick?” Holmes who believes the hype and thought he could still sore goals by lining up in attack without his stick.
After a good warmup the team started strongly by taking an early lead. The Sparrows defence was rock solid with Rick “which side of the road is it?” Bone being the ever present rock. Thankfully I don’t think anyone forgets the consistency of the legendary goalkeeper and for good reason. Non more so than Lester and who was likely saying “Rick, rick, rick, rick” all weekend due to the international separation.
The midfield need special mention as well. James “Blues till I die” Mearns had a great tournament with endless running and goals. Gabe “face-off-stay-on-play-awesome” Barrie was instrumental all weekend in face and goals. Rob “wrecking ball” Arnott bringing some English gentlemanly rugby-esqe dominance to all the international teams. Tim “I party harder than my Dad” Holdsworth and Josh “my Dad parties harder than me” Dodd both added goals, endless running and class. Cam “shorts or sweat pants to the pub?” Leslie showed his dodging and goalscoring ability which undeniably keeps on improving.
The Amsterdam team by half time were asking “I don’t know how you are scoring your goals?” as Spencer were running riot. The defence were rock solid and finished the game without conceding a single goal. All the while the attack and midfield were scoring freely. The game finished 13 – 0. Blinder!
So Spencer for the day finished 45 – 3 in goal difference with LCC Radotin awaiting on Sunday for a semi-final showdown. Time to head back to the hotel to get showered and changed into the dancing shoes and drinking gloves.
Back at the hotel the majority of the team freshened up on Jonny Clark’s toothpaste, put on their dancing shoes and headed out to the cultural Irish bar and ever expanding tardis club. With Rob Holmes as dick of the day and Gabe as man of the ‘day’ there was a great start to the night. After getting thrashed by Italian girls at table football, alcohol and takeaway it was time to call it a night at around 3am for most players and John Dodd. Surprisingly Josh was missing, I guess it must have been a stomach bug.
The morning was a subdued affair. Quick breakfast with Mr Holmes phoning around all the rooms to chase players. Luckily/surprisingly all were accounted for at the pitch with only a few minutes to face.
On the field LCC Radotin were already in their kit and looked a bit fresher than Spencer (not hard). But god-damn, was is it a different story on the pitch!
Spencer made the early breakthrough and created an impressive lead before Radotin mounted a comeback. With goals from attack and midfield it was a one goal game until James “Bagley fluffer” Mearns floated his left hand shot in the top corner. This left only minutes to go to guarantee a place in the final for Spencer.
Once the final whistle had gone there was news that Stockport were losing to the Swedish team. With baited breath the players made it over to the other pitch and watch the keeper have a stormer before Stockport scored to take it to overtime.
Expecting a formality Stockport win the Scandinavian FOC team won the face and managed to score a scrappy goal to win in sudden death.
As Stockport are such gracious losers Spencer paid their respects by GOING F-KIN MENTAL!!!! Stockport not losing in four years was a momentous occasion and gave the Sparrows a big opportunity to take home the silverware.
With a short break it was onto the nail-biting final. With Spencer warming up and looking sharp the team were focused on silverware. With a full 80minute game both teams were feeling the pain.
But with any fairytale it all ended happily ever after. Spencer strode to an impressive victory easily scoring from all areas of the pitch.
The defence as they had done all tournament had a great game and limited the talented team to only three goals. The attack managed to notch up 13 goals to make the scoreline comfortable to take home the trophy and accolade as the best team in Europe.
The tournament finished with the presentation of medals and a trophy. The team gathered in the bar after and took in the fact the Sparrows are champions of Europe. With only time for a quick pint and the realisation that most were late for the Eurotunnel it was time to leave, not just a great country, tournament and people, but one of the greatest lacrossing experiences around.
I normally finish here with a witty comment but it should also be noted that Pete Compton played the biggest part in the weekend. With out former England great I’m confident the team would not be the cub it is today. Not only did he drive half he team in the fun bus but he brought many of the players through the ranks of Spencer juniors. In spencers proudest moment I think the team will all agree that without Pete squad would not be sharing in the collective glory.
Congratulations to the players and most important Pete.
Champions of Europe