Before I go any further, can I say how glad I am to be here? Too late - I just have! I can say this because I wasn't sure if Birmingham were even going to go to the Sheffield tournament. It's 2146 and I'm on a Chiltern Railways train to Birmingham Snow Hill, but I'm going to get off at Moor Street.
After the fun time the team had at Nottingham two weeks ago, everyone was up for Sheffield - I certainly was. It was a good tournament and social last year, which is all the more reason for returning. We planned to attend; Nick had put a message on the events list on the club homepage and next thing I know we aren't going any more. The reason was because we hadn't been included in the email list to university clubs, and by the time Nick had got round to applying for a place, they had all gone. Don't get me wrong, I'm not having a go, it was just unfortunate. So from then I cancelled my plans and made other arrangements for Saturday.
This remained the case for a good few days, well, they weren't good, but they were days! Then we were thrown a lifeline - Nick got in touch with a member of Nottingham Trent, who had two teams entered. They said we could have one of their places so that we could go. I was rather pleased by this, as you can probably imagine. But the happiness was again to be met with disappointment because as it turned out, Trent didn't have two teams entered after all, so we weren't able to go. Nuts! The last I heard, Nick was in negotiations with Cardiff who had two teams entered. Nothing for a few days, then I find out it is back on but I'm not sure why. So here I am. I'll find out the missing information when I get an opportunity (and if I remember). This time round, the journey to Birmingham has been far less stressful, though I might have spoken too soon. Chiltern appear to be running to time this evening, which is always how I remember them.
I had left my packing to the last minute once again, but that was no surprise to my Mother - who helped me collect all the things I needed, put me a pizza in the oven and drove me to the station. We arrived at the station with about ten minutes to spare which was nice, and the train was on time, arriving at 2007, and got in to Princes Risborough early - a bonus. If it got in on time, I would have one minute to get to a platform over the bridge in order to catch my connection to Birmingham. I casually strolled over the bridge and waited around - the only person on the northbound platform. The second train was also on time, and I'm now on it - just about to pull in to Warwick.
I shall be joining the team tomorrow, meeting them at New Street at some silly hour of the morning, I need to check up on that actually. I shall be staying in the same place as I did two weeks ago: some friends whom I lived with last academic year. The difference being this time, I think they are all going to be there, rather than just one. It's quite funny really, I was only in the house for about six-and-a-half hours last time before I had to leave again. It is now 2207, more from me later.
Well, my train got in at just gone half ten, and I made my way to New Street station. It was a nice evening as it wasn't too cold. The city centre wasn't that busy considering it was a Friday night. I walked to New Street and got a connection to University. I wasn't on the platform long before the train left, it got in at around 2300, leaving me to walk the last stage to the house. I'd told my old housemate Paul that I'd be arriving around 2315 and got there at 2318 - not a bad estimate, eh?
When I got in I said hi to everyone and commenced to play some of The Office DVDs I'd brought with me. This proved to be the wrong thing to do because it meant we were up until the late hours (or should I say, early hours?) watching them. :-( I grabbed a shower and shave, and ended up going to bed around 0145. I set my alarm for 0540. It was originally going to be 0520, but I didn't need to wash my hair in the morning so planned to sleep in for a little longer.
Well, I've been to quite a few korfball tournaments now, and surely sooner or later I was going to oversleep. That day would be today. I was awoken by my alarm at 0540 but put my head back down, and a couple of minutes later when I awoke it was 0630. What?! Had I altered the time on my phone accidentally? I checked my watch: 0631. Nuts! I was planning on leaving at 0635. I commenced packing and compressing my sleeping bag, rolling up my Therm-a-rest, and chucking everything in to my main bag. I grabbed a box of small cereal from the kitchen and left. It was 0641.
I was dreading the walk/run to the station because it usually takes about fifteen minutes to get there when walking normally, so fifteen or twenty would be about right with a fully laden holdall bag and rucksac. I did a bit of a run followed by a walk and continued this for as long as I could. When I got to the station, it was 0701 - I thought the train was at 0702 (oh, that was the time of the train from Selly Oak). James was at the counter being informed of the merits and savings a Young Persons Railcard could bring him, but wasn't able to get a reduced ticket today because you have to apply for it. I got my single to New Street and we made our way down the stairs. Stupidly, I'd not got a ticket from University to Sheffield - just plain forgot last night. As we were walking down the stairs to the platform, Jon and Tommy got to the station and we waited for the train. When it arrived we moved down until we found the rest of the team: Annetta, Jen, Jo, Joe, Libby, Lynsey and Nick. Joeri joined us at New Street. Guy had overslept so he was getting a taxi but he hadn't arrived by the time we left from platform 9A on the 0730 to Newcastle. I'm sitting next to Joe and we've just left Derby. It is 0815.
On the journey Joeri revealed his latest purchase: a pair of korfball shoes he'd bought in The Netherlands the previous week. We got in to Sheffield and headed for the taxi rank. Seeing some people who were also korfers from Nottingham, we taxi-shared with them. I shared with some Nottingham guys, Jamie being the only person I knew. The journey wasn't too expensive, but I had no coins, so I said I'd get him a drink at the social.
The tournament was being held at the Hillsborough Leisure Centre - the same place as last year. I like the venue, and also it's near that cool sandwich place, Lily's. We got changed and ready for our first game at 0930 against Nottingham City. We had an official Birmingham team entered and abother Scratch team which was comprised three Hallam boys and the rest Birmingham players. This was OK, because in the group stages neither team was playing at the same time - but they were playing one after the other, so we'd have to make sure we knew where an when we were playing - I thought keeping the playing schedule in groups made things easier to understand as I understood where and when we were playing. The games are summarised in the tables - I think this time I have a complete listings for both Birmingham and Scratch.
At lunchtime, Joe, James and I went to Lily's: I got two cheese salad sandwiches, a packet of salt and vinegar french fries and a chocolate cornflake cake, which came to £4.77. We went back and consumed. I sat off the next game in order for it to go down properly.
We played a few more games and when it came down to the next round, it turned out that Birmingham would be playing Scratch, which made things a little more interesting! We didn't have enough girls to play so two Leeds girls played for Scratch - one of whom I knew, Liz. I played for Birmingham. Joeri and I had been joking before about what would happen if Brum and Scratch played each other, and how funny it would be if Scratch won. Well, maybe we were tempting fate there, because Scratch won 2-1, which we thought was highly amusing! Our final rankings were Scratch : 10th and Birmingham : 12th. We had showers and were out around 1605 in time for the presentation at 1615. I made a note of our scores on the play sheet - and what I have is displayed at the end of this report.
The presentation followed immediately after I'd finished noting the scores down. It had been an enjoyable days korfball. Nottingham City came first (were they playing under some other name?). I had been speaking to Lizzie earlier in the week, who told me they had come there "to win". Well, you achieved that! ;-) We were told who we were staying with - later I found her name was Emma. Jon and Tommy went ahead with some people in a car and met us later at the nearest bus stop. The bus was the same as that we took last year, and we got off in the same place - it was like history repeating itself! I thought the place looked familiar but I was only sure when we passed the off licence (!) where we stocked up on cheap booze last year.
It was a five minute walk to where we were staying - where we found out we weren't all staying in the same house, something which upset some members of the team! The boys were with Emma and the girls with Sophie and Sarah, but Nick had somehow managed to stay with the girls - in the end this turned out to be the best plan. We were sitting around in the lounge when Emma and her boyfriend said they were ready to go, so we all hurried to get ready. Must have been about 1805.
We were meeting in a pub in town for food and then moving on to Takapuna later. I was rather happy when we got there, as it was the same pub we'd been to last year when Nick, Paul and Jack bought large cocktail jugs and downed them through straws. This time round, it wasn't as busy, but this was because it was earlier in the evening. We got a table and a round of drinks. Tommy and I had a meal each as part of the "Two meals for £6.25" promotion. He had traditional fish and chips, whereas I had a vegetable burger and chips. Nick was sharing a bottle of white wine with Jo.
After I'd finished, I made a note of all the goals scored and penalties missed etc. Emma, and her boyfriend (James?) left for Takapuna and we met them there. On the way out of the pub I couldn't believe my luck and the randomness when I bumped in to Grania - a good friend of one of our ex-Birmingham players. She was out painting the town with a friend of hers. I only saw her because I was one of the last people out the pub as I was waiting for someone to go to use the toilet. After that we caught up with the group and some people got cash out. It was cold that night in just a shirt and trousers, I can tell you! Luckily the walk warmed us up a bit. We got a little lost but after asking a few people we found it OK.
Takapuna was quite nice inside - not too busy yet. On going through the door I was met almost immediately by some friends of Nick and Guy from Solihull: Mat, UFO Matt, Dave, his girlfriend, Claire and a couple of her friends. Was good to see them all because I hadn't seen them for a while - they joined us upstairs and we all gathered around a sofa and table which we occupied for most of the rest of the night. Of course, this being the part of the evening when the alcohol often flows in large amounts, the exact order of events may not be correct, but rest assured, some of these events *might* have actually occurred in reality (!). :-D
I went for a walk to find a certain someone but couldn't find her - by this point Takapuna was filling up to the extent where you couldn't move for walking in to someone. (Surely a breach of fire safety regulations?!) I had brief conversations with Jamie from Nottingham, Dave from Manchester, Alice from Hallam (see, I did remember to include this in my diary, hehe!). Dave told me that the Manchester tournament had been rescheduled to the 11th December, so that it didn't clash with the Southerns. I had an absolute blast last year so would very much like to go again. It was a really relaxed tournament: there was music playing all day and stuff like that. I also had (a few) words with Breaksy from Sheffield University Korfball Club, whom I haven't seen in a good long while, but the music didn't really allow for much conversation.
I had a very short dance but wasn't really feeling the beat - the music was much better at the start when we were chilling out but after a while it all merged in to one and was very "samey". The night was getting on, James had almost fallen asleep, I assume because he was tired, but I later found out it was because he was bored. Bit of a shame, that.
At around 0020, it was realised that some of the group were past staying on much longer, so I found our host, Emma, and said we'd meet her outside. By this point, most of the team were already gathering out the front. As I was making my way down the stairs to the ground floor, I saw Gav from Manchester University Korfball Club and had a quick chat with him. Shame I hadn't really had more of an opportunity to speak to him really. He introduced me to another member of the team (I think!) who asked if I was the "report guy". Well, umm, yes, I guess I am. Some of Sheffield Hallam call me "Notepad".
It was quite hard to find a taxi, so we had to walk up the road to get one. On the way, I couldn't believe the randomness when I saw Grania again! Just to make it perfectly clear: it was very random. She seemed in good spirits, she had obviously had a good night. Emma's boyfriend managed to get a taxi (good work there, by the way, because I didn't see any that weren't already in use), and Tommy, Joe, Emma, her boyfriend and I got a taxi back to Emma's. She told us that one of her friends would be leaving early in the morning to go shopping in Manchester, so warned us that we might have to move if we were in the way of any doors, etc. There were six of us in that room, in the end, so it was quite cosy.
I blew up my Therm-a-rest, got my sleeping bag out, and set up camp underneath the table - this being out of the way of everyone else and ensuring that I probably wouldn't be asked to move in the morning! Went up to the bathroom, but when I got there it was in use, so I spoke to Amy and another girl whose name I don't know, both housemates of Emma. Nice girls. :-) I explained to the second girl why I was wearing a Circus hoodie and how I got in to Korfball.
I was ready for bed, so I did a blood test which was a little low, but would level out in the night. I also had a very short chat to Emma, whom nobody recognised because she was wearing glasses, and pyjamas. Following that, I went to sleep.
We got up around 1140 after a somewhat lengthy sleep in. The girls, Nick and Guy had all made their way to a local pub, The Hadfield, at least half an hour before, and were waiting around for it to open. Apparently they had tried to get hold of us by calling us all, but my phone was on discreet and anyway the battery had run out, so I set it to charge while I packed everything up.
Shortly after that we left, Emma gave us directions to The Hadfield and we were on our way. She said it wouldn't be more that a ten minute walk, luckily all down hill. It was a nice day. When we got there they were just finishing their food, so some of us ordered. I got a vegetable burger and chips. I wasn't that hungry so I ate the burger and half the chips, which I offered round. Some of the others had a few games of pool and I told Nick I'd seen Grania again.
It was about 1420 when we left to get taxis to the station. Guy and Nick left us here as they were going to meet up with Dave, Mat, etc., so the rest of us got a train back to Birmingham. On the journey back I sat on the floor in one of the doorways, because the service was busy enough for there not to be enough seats for us all. On the way back I spoke to Annetta, whom I hadn't really spoken to yet. She's cool. :-)
When we got in to New Street, I left the group and walked to Moor Street to catch a Chiltern train back to London. There wasn't a very long wait because there was a train which was running late, so I made my way down to the platform and waited. I managed to get a seat, which pleased me because it was a long journey back! I listened to music most of the way back, tried to write a bit of this, but I didn't get very far. The station I was intending to go to was closed so I got picked up by my Mum from one just down the track, and eventually got home at 1840. It had been a long weekend, but it wasn't such a late night on Saturday, and we had a long sleep in on Sunday morning, but still. I spent the rest of the evening typing some of this up and sorting my clothes out so that they could be washed.
Well, the tournament during the day was enjoyable. Birmingham could have done better, but still. It wasn't about the winning, but the taking part. It was a shame that the venue for the social became overcrowded - if this hadn't have happened it would have certainly been a much more enjoyable evening for me. What I cannot understand is how you can charge for a social ticket and then not have someone on the door checking to see if we were in fact korfballers. What was the point in buying a ticket? I certainly didn't need mine to get in. Having someone on the door is essential on a Saturday in the centre of town. Never mind. And can someone tell me exactly why whenever we stay with a girl after a korfball social, I always end up fancying all of her housemates? Answers on an e-postcard to the usual address.
|Start time||'Home' team||'Away' team||Pitch||Score||Referee|
|0930||Nottingham Uni.||Birmingham Uni.||1||5-2||Snakebites|
|1030||Birmingham Uni.||Sheffield Uni. 3||2||2-1||Sheffield Uni. 1|
|1130||Shotguns||Birmingham Uni.||2||2-2||Manchester Uni.|
|Start time||'Home' team||'Away' team||Pitch||Score||Referee|
|1015||Scratch||Sheffield Hallam 1||1||0-6||Sheffield Uni. 3|
|1115||Scratch||Nottingham 4||1||0-3||Sheffield Uni. 2|
|1215||Lancaster Uni.||Scratch||1||1-1||Leeds Uni.|
|Start time||'Home' team||'Away' team||Pitch||Score||Referee|
|1230 (Game A)||3rd group 1
|4th group 2
|1||3-2||Sheffield Uni. 2|
|1300 (Game E)||3rd group 3
|4th group 4
|1400 (Game M)||Winner A
|1455 (9/10 play off)||Winner M
|1455 (11/12 play off)||Loser M
Sheffield Hallam 2