Tour 2 was only a week ago but Tour 3 is already upon us! Birmingham 1 are currently sitting 9th in the Tour standings (9th!!!) and Birmingham 2 will hopefully have the opportunity to show their worth at the very top end of C Tour. All is set for the Tour finale. Here’s a quick look back at Birmingham 1’s route through the middle Tour weekend…
We started seeded 17th, top seed in our pool, with three testing games ahead of us in the form of newly promoted Sneeekys, NEO and the Ireland U23 team. Given the layout of the tournament securing a top two spot was key to giving us the chance of pushing up the rankings. Sneeekys were up first and after a decent warm up we set to work. Away from the general hubbub of the tournament, and on a relatively sheltered pitch, the conditions suited us perfectly. Very little wind, no rain, ideal for BU frisbee. We came through 14-9, a comfortable win to start the weekend perfectly.
The next games were back to back but with the U23s looking strong and seeing off NEO with consummate ease we were fairly sure that a win in the next game (NEO) would give us the top two position that we needed to push forward. With that in mind we could put all of our efforts into the NEO game and came away fairly comfortable winners again. Following our previous encounter at OT1 we were prepared for their long game, forcing them to play through the middle, and without their main handler they didn’t have an answer to our incessant D. Final score 15-9.
With top two in the pool secure we headed into the last pool game with only seeding to play for but it’s always a good confidence boost to win all of the pool games. That said it felt like we took our foot of the gas a little bit as the fast, consistent and incredibly impressive deep game of the U23s took over and they handed it to us 15-5, a fair representation of their evident talent and speed. Fortunately for us that gave us the slightly easier cross up into the 9-16 bracket against Ranelagh rather than Reading 1. Most of us made our way to various pitches to watch friends play or to the Five Hangout Tent to relax before the 14v19 at the end of the day. The tent was a much better idea because within 15 minutes of our previous game ending the skies opened, the rain wreaking havoc.
Undeterred by the torrential downpour we headed out for a decent sized warm up. With Ranelagh already playing in the rain we had to get our throwing up to scra…. wait…. games are called off, everyone back inside! What a terrible decision in was to warm up! The ‘lightning protocol’ had kicked in as the pitches started to pool with standing water and the rest of the day, basically all of the crossovers, were called off. Cue a frantic few hour for the UKU to try and rearrange the schedule to affect as few teams as possible and kudos to them. The revised version was out that evening and by the morning the pitches had all but dried out, back in a playable condition. The revisions meant that or crossover was effectively now a quarterfinal in the 13-16 bracket.
Ranelagh had a squad of 10 player, 1 or whom was injured enough to not get on the pitch so playing them last thing on Saturday may well have suited us better. Similarly to the Ireland U23s they had a well-planned long game, setting up a handful of different plays all with the end product of ‘Robbie’ going long and it worked to devastating effect. Before the game in the huddle we had discussed shutting this long game out but it apparently wasn’t as easy in practice. It took a moment of genius from Ben not long after halftime to switch Carl onto their main handler in order to stop him resetting and force Robbie to come under. By this point Ranelagh were two breaks up but tiring and from 8-6 at half we slowly clawed back the lead to tie it at 10-10, game to 11. Double gamepoint. It was an uphill D point for us, little wind and no rain in sight, what should be a simple offence point for any A Tour team but it rarely goes to plan and I said Ranelagh were tiring and despite slowly working the disc into our third of the pitch our pressure man D took its toll and they eventually turned over. With no time on the clock we played the style of frisbee that’s been drilled into us all season, big shapes, easy options, dump and swing, and we came up winners with an easy break to Dan across the endzone for the score. 11-10, into the semis.
Brighton City, Fire 1 and Ireland U23s all won their respective crossovers meaning that Fire were the only team crossing down that managed to beat their lower seeded opponents. In a replay of a pool game from OT1 Brighton were our semifinal opponents. Knowing their Mexican style of play and expecting different D set ups from the offset we took an early lead reaching the half 8-3 up. A mixture of a few unlucky turns on our part and Brighton stepping up in the second half brought the game right back to within 1. It’s been this point at previous tours where we haven’t had the bottle to see games out but I’m glad to see that we’ve grown mentally and through the last two tournaments have been able to turn it on at the last and see wins through. This was a prime example and despite Brighton coming right back into it we managed to see it through, winning 11-9, taking us into the 13v14 final!
Safe in the knowledge that we were finishing as the 6th highest UK club team at OT2 and had taken full advantage of our favourable route through the bracket we had one last game to finish London Calling. The Ireland U23s had beaten Fire 1 11-9 in their semi showing their pedigree and surprisingly could still run around as hard as they did the previous day! It could have been something to do with their 24 strong squad. Despite the scoreline looking similar to the previous game (13-6) we definitely gave them a harder game than the previous day. Somewhat comically we finished early because someone was, “pretty sure [they’d] heard a buzzer…” only for the actual buzzer to go after we’d already done the spirit circle.
All in all a top weekend of Ultimate Frisbee! Some of our more peripheral players have really started to exert themselves as core members of the team and we’re communicating properly as a unit. With Tour 3 starting in only 3 days’ time and our GB U20 players back in the fold I can’t wait to see what we can do next time round! It’s very schedule dependent but we should be playing in a higher pool this time round without the European or GB teams present. There’s no better opportunity for us to showcase what we can do and how we can play and I know that if we play the Birmingham Ultimate way we can cause some upsets over the weekend. Bring on Cardiff!