We came into this year not really sure where to set the expectations – having to adjust to the loss of many of the players who helped get the club to where it is now was always going to be tough. It was time for the next group to take the step up and continue to push the club forwards – here’s how it went…
We started off the year with Open Indoor Regionals, sending just the one team for the first time in a while. We had a bit of a bumpy start but by using the big 3G pitches to our advantage we kept ourselves in contention, and despite not quite making it back to the final for the third year running we finished the weekend in 3rd, safely qualifying for nationals in Glasgow.
Nationals being in Glasgow this year proved to be off-putting enough for a lot of teams to not make the journey, and at times it looked like we may not make it ourselves. Not helped by the fact the GBU24 training was scheduled for the same weekend, the announcement that we were able to add players from other teams came too late to recruit and we ended up making the trip with just 5 of us.
Also to be held at the same time in Glasgow was Women’s Indoor Nationals – and similar issues were being encountered. Eventually we paired up with Reading as the situation seemed to be repeating itself across the board.
Once the ‘have we got enough players’ dilemma was over and the weekend began things started looking up though. The Women were thrown in at the deep end, playing against some teams that were there to win the thing, all while still needing to get used to their new teammates. Once the initial hiccups had subsided we started to find ourselves in some really close fought games, some going our way and others unfortunately not. However we won the last two games to finish on a high and take 14th.
The Open team started well, topped the pool and carried a win through to the power pools. Another win to start there got things on the right track, but the final game of the day was too much for the now tired legs as we suffered our first loss. Luckily though it was only a seeding game by this point and we had held our seed in 4th.
Sunday came and with it our quarter final. In what must have been one of the games of the tournament we battled hard but ended up on the wrong side of an 11-13 score-line. From there it all fell apart as our legs started to feel that bit heavier. We ended up finishing 8th, but hey, at least we won the highlight reel right?!
All this was a great setup for Mixed Indoor Nationals though and we did a reasonable job of carrying the momentum in with us, finishing 2nd in our pool behind the eventual winners. Unfortunately though some of the other pools went a bit crazy and so our quarter final was against a reinforced Shakedown team who held us off to push us out of the top 8. They’d finished 3rd in their pool but went on finish in the top 4, don’t ask. From there though we tightened things up and went on to finish as high as we could in 9th.
So after having little expectations at the outset, we had finished the indoor season being disappointed with 8th and 9th in Open and Mixed respectively. Things were looking good for Mixed Tour!
As usual we started lower down than we finished last year and had to prove that we deserved a chance at moving up. And so we did… defending our seed all day Saturday to earn ourselves a cross up into the top 20 on Sunday. We ended the weekend unbeaten to finish 17th, and won spirit to boot! A great start!
At Mixed Tour 2 we had been bumped all the way up to 10th with a tough looking weekend ahead. It came down to a game against the GBU24s for top of the pool and as hard as we tried they took it and consigned us to the bracket below. From there though we put together another unbeaten Sunday to finish 13th and earn ourselves the distinction of having only lost one game over two Tour weekends.
MT3 came around and for the first time this year we were playing up in our pool. The change in level did not allow us to ease into games as we had maybe been doing the rest of the season and our opponents took advantage of our slow starts to hand us three straight losses and put us bottom of the pool, looking to defend our spot in the top 16. Happily though on Sunday we started games better – we couldn’t quite manage another undefeated Sunday – but we had battled back up to 14th by the end of the weekend.
All that meant that in the Mixed Tour overall standings our consistent results placed us 9th – one place higher than last year! A great achievement given our complete lack of expectations at the beginning of the year!
From there things swiftly move onto Open Tour, but not before a brief stop at the Fog Lane Cup. As a team still developing, competing against some of the top teams in the country is expected to be tough and it proved to be so. For some of us this was a step up from the usual level and despite contesting all of the games on Saturday the pressure told eventually and we faded in all of the games as our opponents surged. This put us into the bottom 8; a chance to play some different teams and to try and find our groove. We stayed with it and got the rewards by winning the final two games whilst playing some lovely Frisbee, and more importantly proving to ourselves that we could compete at this level.
At Open Tour 1 we were seeded in the middle of B Tour giving us a pretty varied group and some different challenges. We stumbled our way to a three way tie for 2nd in the pool which we luckily came out on top of. From there though we took full advantage of our good fortune – giving a good account of ourselves despite the loss in the A Tour crossover, winning the final two games to take 5th in B (21st).
Thanks to a few dropouts above us and the geographical split coming into effect for the first time we started OT2 2nd in B. This time around we took care of business in pool play, going 3 from 3 and maintaining our 2nd seed. Again we had earned ourselves an A Tour crossover, and again we battled hard but ultimately fell short against GB U24s. The final two games were ones that we should have really closed out after doing most of the hard work, but we couldn’t manage it and ended up losing both in agonising fashion to end the weekend 4th in B (20th) Tour.
Some last minute changes saw us seeded 1st in B tour for Tour 3 in our back yard. We sailed through pool play but came unstuck against a very, very fired up BAF side – meaning that we missed out on our third chance at the A Tour crossover. After this disappointment we did well to recover and win the remaining three games to finish 5th in B (21st) again.
Those three weekends placed us in 17th overall thanks to the remarkable consistency of our results. More importantly though we had gone from complete uncertainty to repeatedly showing that we belonged at this level and had the potential to go higher. This is a really encouraging sign when looking forward to the next few years!
There was little time to dwell on these results though as things moved quickly onto Regionals. The new structure this year meant it was tough to get commitments and led to some difficult decisions. Due to the uncertainty we joined forces with SMOG to enter Northern Open Regionals. After a tough start in the pool the secondary pool for qualification proved a little more forgiving as we rattled off three straight 15-5 wins to take 6th – the final qualification spot!
That meant that we were going to Nationals to battle it out with the top teams once again. Our results after day 1 showed where the really top teams had been and gone, leaving us with a couple of big losses. However a really close game against KaPow showed that we had what it takes to play at this level and inspire confidence for the rest of the tournament.
Another convincing loss to start Sunday had the opposite effect but from there we found our feet and won the remaining three games to claim 13th. Not bad for a team thrown together a week or so before Regionals!
On reflection then, this year had its ups and downs, but we made the best of it and things are looking bright for the future. If we can continue to grow on this foundation the next few years could be pretty exciting!