I was late to training again but I'd had a busy day, had been in town and had two lectures in a row in the afternoon. Reason I was late: I'd been to Sainsbury's immediately after my lecture ended, and it was raining like there's no tomorrow, so it took longer than I'd thought. Also, living twenty minutes from King Edward's doesn't help. I eventually turned up at 1920 and got changed.
By this time everyone had obviously warmed up, so I had a quick stretch and jog around the hall. Nick was doing some 4-0 exercises which I joined in with, in groups around a post. It was quite an impressive turnout actually, Cat and Jack graced us with their presence and there were a lot of other familiar faces.
Not long after that it was time to go, so we headed off to the Gun Barrells for a quick pint. Tom got me a Diet Coke which was good because I didn't want any alcohol as I hadn't packed or eaten yet. I also had a chat with Cat about things since I'd last seen her, which was a while ago. She told me about her job and how things were going, which was cool. I told her I wasn't looking forward to life post-university. Following this, I headed up to Big John's for a vegetable burger and chips. Cat and Tom came in as well to get food, but I told them they didn't have to wait as mine would be a while. A few minutes later it was ready so I went home to eat.
The rain had stopped finally, and apart from occassional puddles on the way back it was quite nice. Ate at then went upstairs to pack. By this time it was probably half nine or ten. I turned my computer on so I could use my check list to collect things together. We weren't staying the night so this made packing far simpler. I had just finished getting all the things I needed for the day when Nick told me he was planning to stay for the social. So I reluctantly got out my sleeping bag and Therm-a-rest and some smarter clothes for the social. It wasn't as late as it has been in the past going to bed, around 0050, which I was happy about considering the time I'd set my alarm for (0430). Nuts!
I got up at 0450 because I think I slept through the first cycle of the alarm, and snoozed through another. Do you blame me? I didn't have a lot to do: have breakfast; do my hair; pack the last minute stuff up on my desk, and go. I left at 0525 and began the walk to Tesco Express. My umbrella had been drying by the front door and I needed it because it was raining hard out there. It was rather grim. I got it out again and started to walk. I was so out of it. It took half an hour, five minutes longer than usual, probably due to the rain. I got to Tesco Express at 0600. It was still dark. I was the last to arrive and there were nine in all: myself; Nick; Gareth; Paul; Tom (tall, basketball); Vicki (driving); Helen; Ruth; Libby. I chucked my stuff in and grabbed a seat near the back. I was hoping to sleep. Helen had been to a ball the previous night and was (apparently) still under the influence of alcohol. She had a Paracetamol and some Ribena. Helen was asleep (or at least, trying to) and Nick, sitting behind me, got his sleeping bag out and had a nap in it.
After a bit of time listening to the radio, Nick and I decided we'd send a text in, but we didn't want to send it to BRMB, so Gareth changed the station to Radio 1 where we caught the end of The Blue Room and the start of whatever came next! Took a while to get the number to send to but we thought it worthwhile to send to Radio 1 and not BRMB because of the range difference. In this time, I decided I would spend some of the journey actually lying on the floor because I was having difficulty getting to sleep sitting in the chair. I got my jumper out and started to move down, but on the way I pulled a muscle in my left leg which hurt so much I had to freeze in position. I was still in pain as I lay using my jumper as a pillow half-listening to the radio still. We got the number and sent the message but they didn't read it out. The message was: "Morning to all Korfballers making their way to Leeds. See you on court! Brum Uni. PS We love you Vicki!" I tried to get some shut eye. I don't think I got off to sleep but I might have done. All I know is I remember sliding from one side to the other quite frequently, and figured we must be off the motorway and trying to locate the venue of the tournament. I got up and sat in the chair. Not long after we found the Sports Centre. It was still raining.
We found the hall and dropped our stuff off, must have been about 0930. I checked my blood sugar which was 4.8%, so I had a roll and banana, and milled about for a bit. Our first game was at 1015 against a Scratch team, refereed by Matt from Manchester. I didn't play this first one, so watched as we lost 0-4, but it went down as a win because the Scratch team didn't count. I recorded the game on Nick's camera, so we'll have a look at it later! Our next game was at 1100 against Leeds 2, which was the first game I played. It was scrappy to say the least, but we did OK, coming out 1 down at 2-1. Bit of a break until 1200 when we played Bristol. Was a good game, not only because we won 4-2, but it contained some good korfball. I was in the same division as Nick, which I think worked well.
Following that, we had lunch from the cafeteria: I had a cheese sandwich and cheese and onion crisps because it was all they had. £1.77. Forgot to mention who was in our group: Leeds 2, Birmingham, Bristol, Scratch. We ate in a group and then I did my jab. We had some time off until our next game against Leeds Old Boys. We'd won our group, with 8 scored for and 4 against, next closest was Bristol with 7 scored for and 4 against. I was quite looking forward to this game because by this time I was warmed up, at least mentally. Was a good game, we won 2-1 which I thought we deserved.
We had a three match break until 1500 when we played Sheffield Hallam (1, I assume). It must have been as it was a team close to the team they will be playing in the Nationals. I was marking Ugly baby (Mark). Was quite tired by this time, but I think I defended as well as I have ever done, it's just my attack is still lacking in places. We lost 4-2; I had a chance in the last ten seconds to get a goal because I was unmarked, but it didn't go in. Wasn't a bad effort though.
Our final game of the day was against Cambridge and I was playing the second half. As we lost to Hallam, we'd be in the 3rd/4th play off which was extended to thirty minutes as opposed to twelve. The final was the same length. I was substituting for Gareth at fifteen minutes, so I sat on the half-way line watching the game. I felt quite tired. As the time went on I realised it was probably for the best that I didn't play. It was really fun watching the game so closely so even thought I wasn't playing I enjoyed it immensely. The final score was 4-2 to us, which was a relief. Ben was playing for Cambridge and he played well I thought. The guy Gareth was paired off with was quite good and I'm glad it wasn't me against him because I was having difficulty staying awake!
Immediately after this there was the presentation upstairs which was done by Rachel. The top four were: Manchester City, Sheffield Hallam, Birmingham and Cambridge. The sweets were given out but I think a lot of us were in the shower, so Nick and I hung about and ate some and then went for showers. It wasn't the biggest changing room ever but there were a lot of Hallam guys in there and a few of ours, so there wasn't a lot of space, but there was enough. I opened my bag and couldn't find anything I needed: towel or wash kit or clean clothes. Nuts! It meant I had to empty my whole nag out to find it, which was a bit of a pain. Eventually, I found what I needed and showered and dried.
I was the last guy left in the changing rooms when Nick came to tell me a girl was asking if I was ready. I came out two minutes later. The girl was our host, Roisin (pronounced "Rosheen"). I forgot to say that I wasn't going to stay the night, but Nick managed to convince me to stay because it would be the last korfball social as a student with Birmingham. Probably. Apparently, there is no social at the Nationals and we aren't totally sure if we are going to UEA. I think we will though, as Gareth lives very closeby. It is 166 miles from us though. I headed out of the Sport Centre and met Roisin and Nick at the top of the stairs. She told us there would be some of Manchester staying with us: Fro, Gavin and Kim. I had forgotten that Gavin was in Fro's house - where I stayed after the Manchester tournament.
We all had a chat around the television - Friends was on. Also got to meet Roisin's other two housemates: Liz and Robin, who are both finalists, I think. Liz does maths. The journey, by the was, from the Sport Centre to the house was by car - Roisin drove us. Nice car girl! She's doing a placement year at the moment in a laboratory of some description. I can't remember which course she is doing. It was still raining when we got to the house. but it wasn't very far to walk luckily! The house was very cool for a student one - not like any of the crappy houses in Brum! The stuff had been moved about because they thought they might be getting lots of people to stay. My guess is it is about 1800 now.
Nick and I put our stuff upstairs and came back down. Robin offered us some free beer which we took up, but I wasn't going to drink too much before actually getting to the social. I also had Gareth's refereeing beer from earlier on which he didn't have - a Budweiser. Did I mention the situation regarding my glasses? Anyway! Watched a bit of television and had a chat. About 1830 I went to get ready - find my clothes and shoes and all the things I needed: insulin, chocolate, etc. Got changed and went back down. We left soon after. Kim and Fro would be joining us a bit later though I'm not totally sure why. Maybe because Fro was quite tired: I think he was asleep on a blow-up mattress when we left. We got taxis to a Wetherspoons for some food: I went with Robin and Gav. Wasn't far: was a quid each, though I think Gav paid two. Would have been a fifteen minute walk but it was tipping it down out there. Was quite a nice pub, and not too busy. There was seating downstairs and a balcony overlooking the bar below. We headed downstairs and were joined by Liz, Nick and Roisin soon after. Gavin kindly got me a pint of Carling and Nick went to order food. He ordered a vegetable burger and chips for me. Forgot earlier that Roisin said she was a vegetarian in the car, for the same reason as me: she doesn't like the taste of meat. This is interesting: she must be the first person I've met who is a vegetarian for the same reason as me! Food didn't take too long which was good. I was reasonably hungry by this time. Had a few of Roisin's chips as well because she didn't want them. Nottingham Trent and some others were also in the pub but not sitting with us. We tried to get chairs and join them but there wasn't enough table space. When the food was done I did my jab, and on returning finished my drink after some confusion as to which was mine with Robin), we left for Walkabout.
Now, by this time, things are starting to get a bit hazy. I am pretty sure we walked from the Wetherspoon's to Walkabout, but I could be wrong. When we got there we went upstairs to the area reserved for us. It was nice inside: I've not been to a Walkabout before so I've nothing to compare it to. There was music and it was decorated quite well. The only bad thing was it was a bit cold, perhaps due to air conditioning or something. When I went to the bar I found out a lot of drinks weren't on tap, as they had had some problems. A short wait while some other things were sorted out and then I got a Carling. I think. A pint, anyway! We sat round one of the tables, the six of us: Gavin, Liz, Nick, Robin, Roisin and I and had a chat and played some drinking games. There was no-one else there at the time, but we didn't seem to mind.
Not long after, Nottingham Trent turned up and we played some drinking games. Next thing I knew, there were lots of people about, they must have turned up while we were playing the games. Learnt a new version of the frog game from Gav from Manchester which is harder than our version. In our version you have: "one frog", "jumped in", "the lake", "plop!", "two frogs", "two frogs", "jumped in", "jumped in", "the lake", "the lake", "plop!", "plop!", "three frogs", "three frogs", "three frogs", etc. In Gav's you had: "one frog", "two eyes", "four legs", "in a bucket", "ker-plunk", "two frogs", "four eyes", "eight legs", "in a bucket", "in a bucket", "ker-plunk", "ker-plunk", "three frogs", six eyes", "twelve legs", "in a bucket", "in a bucket", "in a bucket", "ker-plunk", "ker-plunk", "ker-plunk", "four frogs", "eight eyes", etc. This slight variation was fine in theory, but I found myself saying "thirty legs" at one point, which was promptly followed by two fingers of beer. Thirty legs?! What was I on? 30/4 = 7.5 frogs! I was on an insulin-alcohol mix, by the way! ;-)
It is at this point that things start to get even hazier. So many funny things happened and I am never going to remember them all, so if I've missed a classic one out, please let me know. The drinking games involved some of the slap game going round in circles and I think I did OK but had a couple of bad rounds. We also did the bunnies game with some rules I hadn't played before, and for some reason I couldn't grasp the idea of passing control round two or three players. I eventually realised what the difference was: two was thumb on nose, three was thumb on forehead. Or maybe the other way round. Some Manchester City players joined us and seats became sparse. I think there were some other games but I was too gone by this point to commit them to memory.
One observation that was made after was that you'd think it was quite late, but you'd glance at your watch and it would only be 2215. The event was due to end at 0200, which meant almost another four drinking hours! Got up and had a bit of a dance and spoke to some people: Simon who was a Leeds student but not a korfballer and Rachel who I had been meaning to say hello to ever since my first tournament way back in October, Lancaster. I think I've been to five tournaments that she's been to, so I thought it only fair to finally say hi. Someone took a picture of us as well so I imagine this will be somewhere on the Leeds University korfball site. [It's here]. I also said hello to some Manchester City players, one I'd met at Oxford (Vinnie) and two who I hadn't (Jess, I think!) and Alison.
It was around this time that some banter with Sheffield Hallam had started. Nick and I were over on the now packed dance floor. Some how the top of Tricky's (I think) toga had become detached and Nick found it in his hands. Hehe, next thing I know is that it has gone flying over the balcony to the level of people below dancing. But when I looked over I couldn't see it. Of the events that I can mention, I think that's all. I'll probably remember some more soon though.
We left at five to two and walked back. By this time it had stopped raining and it wasn't the coldest night ever. We walked back via an ice rink and joked about having a skate. Liz walked barefoot which I thought brave to say the least because her heels were hurting her. When we got back, Nick "pioneered the roasting of bread" and I had one-and-a-half slices. Simon and Robin were speaking about getting a pizza but I wasn't in the mood for it. Didn't think you could get a pizza at 0230 in the morning anyway! We headed upstairs where Fro, Kim and Gav were spread out on the floor in Roisin's room, which left the double bed for Nick and I, which would make a change. Not the sleeping with Nick, the sleeping in a bed! I did have my Therm-a-rest but there was no point blowing it up. I did, however, get out my sleeping bag and blow up pillow, because I couldn't see any spare ones, though Nick had one. Did my night time injection and took my lenses out. Turned the light off and guessed my way back to the bed via Gavin and Kim. Made it without injuring anyone! Just before this, though, a dirty sock managed to find it's way on to Gav's head. I can't remember how it got there (*cough* Fro *cough*)! Needless to say, Gav woke up, which was a bit harsh because he'd probably been asleep for a bit. Night night!
It was definitely the best sleep I'd had in ages. I woke up around 0920 but don't really know why, must have turned over or something. People were talking a bit but my voice was still quite gravelly. I got up at 0940 or so to start packing things up, because I wanted to make sure I had everything and that it was all in the right place. Took a bit longer than I thought because there wasn't much floor space and stuff was scattered everywhere! Was happy that it all fitted in though. Was still the last one to be ready but that's the way it goes! I brushed my teeth and said goodbye to Kim, who was still upstairs. Went downstairs and dumped my stuff by the door, said goodbye to Liz and Roisin and went with Nick and Gav in Fro's car.
Fro kindly offered to drop us off at Stoke station so it wouldn't cost us much, because he was going that way anyway. We dropped Gav off at Leeds station, which meant I could move from sitting behind Fro to sitting behind Nick - more leg space! It was a really nice day out there. I think. Left Leeds station at about 1040 and got in to Stoke-on-Trent around 1200, or so. This could be entirely inaccurate. Fro dropped us off in the middle of town and we had a quick walk about for a pub to get some brunch. Went to the Hogs Head in the end, I had double beans, eggs and chips and a diet cola which came to £4.55. It wasn't very busy in there. Nick showed me some card tricks he'd been working on and we spoke about yesterdays games and the Nationals and the social on Wednesday. For some reason I wasn't very hungry but managed to eat everything except some of the chips, which wasn't too bad.
After this we got a taxi to the station which was quite far away, which came to £5.00. The driver told us that there were no trains running but that there were probably rail replacement buses, so we decided to get the bus. He did offer to take us all the way back to Brum, but I don't think either of us could afford it. Would have been convenient, though. We went to the ticket office and bought tickets. I was surprised at how cheap my ticket was: £4.75 with a Young persons rail card, which I thought was a great deal. We were told to go to the car park where the coaches would be leaving from, but we went off in the wrong direction and missed the first coach we needed, a connection to Stafford, where we could get another train to Birmingham. We found our way to the car park and had a bit of a throw about with the korfball, until we thought we were annoying people so we decided to juggle instead. I tried, again, unsuccesfully to get my one-hundred throws and catches with five, but didn't really get close. Had a few in the sixties region but that was about it.
When the coach came, we ditched some of our stuff in the luggage compartment and go on. I wrote a bit of this diary and Nick read his book. We also had an interesting conversation about phone covers and the cover on my Sigg water bottle. When we got to Stafford, trains were running again. Nick was going to Birmingham International and I was going to Birmingham New Street, and it turned out he could get to his destination quicker by getting a different train from me, so he went to platform four after calling his Mum, but got no answer. A few minutes later my train left. I wrote more of this but the journey wasn't that long, probably about half an hour. I sat on the floor because there were no seats free. When I got to New Street, I got the final connection to University and was probably back around 1530, which I thought OK because it meant I had some of the day left for myself!
This tournament was great from start to finish: it was well organised and fun to be a part of. It was agony getting up so early after so few hours in bed, but it was worth it! I learnt about a few more of my weaknesses and have an idea of what to work on in preparation for the Nationals in four weeks. We also came third, which I was very pleased about, and were the second University team (Manchester City were top). The social was good once enough people were in the bar to warm it up, and I drank more than I have done for a while. Our hosts were great - very cool house as well! And the journey back, while it involved a few connections, wasn't too bad really. I'm going to miss korfball tournaments like this when I finish University - assuming I don't start playing wherever I end up in six months time!
|Group A||Group B||Group C||Group D|
|Leeds 1||Manchester City 1||Leeds City||Leeds 2|
|Cambridge||Leeds Old Boys||Sheffield Hallam 1||Birmingham|
|Nottingham Trent||Sheffield Hallam 2||Manchester City 2||Bristol|
|Start time||'Home' team||'Away' team||Referee||Score|
|1100||Leeds 2||Birmingham||Manchester City 2||2-1|
|1200||Birmingham||Bristol||Sheffield Hallam 1||4-2|
|1400||Birmingham University||Leeds Old Boys||Manchester||2-1|
|1500||Sheffield Hallam 1||Birmingham||UNKNOWN||4-2|