Netball: Grudge Match

Whilst the beginning of April marks the start of Spring and the count down to Easter for most, at HFG April 1st means only 1 thing – Netball. A far less innocent connotation, the sport of Netball has indelibly drawn a battle line between the sexes. The 2014 competition was no different – upon arrival at Canary Wharf the tension was palpable, the boys and girls quickly splitting off into separate areas to discuss tactics and squad positioning.

What the lads lacked in knowledge of the game they more than made up for in physical prowess, quickly asserting themselves on the court and putting themselves out into a 4-0 lead. Whilst it took longer for some of the junior staff to settle, most notably Ben Hickey with some fast and loose shooting and George Bird with terrier like defending, the game calmed, ebbing and flowing with possession changing constantly. Glimpses of brilliance were seen from the Girls, their captain – Amy Simmons – providing both pace and

distribution through the middle but ultimately they lacked the final finish and with no real direction from the sidelines they were quickly running out of ideas. The boys on the other hand kept the scoreboard ticking over with calm and collected shooting from international signings Yu (China) and Curran (Australia). However, they lacked potency down the right wing with Graeme Braidwood (Singapore), who had seven on court distractions to take his eyes off the ultimate prize. The rate of scoring slowed towards the end of the half with Erin O’Donnell and Charlotte Fry shoring up the girls defence with real aggression and the teams rallied into their own huddles for a half time pep talk and hydration.

The second half started much like the first had ended until the boy’s Manager turned to his subs bench, in a move that would change the course of the game. Having an ill-found confidence in the international signings, Edward O’Dwyer (Ireland) was let on to the court to replace the tiring George Hudson. The pendulum very quickly swung in the favour of the girls with O’Dwyer dealing hammer like blows to the opposition in a desperate scramble to defend. Eddie single handedly gifted the girls 5 penalty shots which Simmons happily stepping up to convert. A change in positioning, with the dancing feet of Emma Conington moving into Centre meant the girls seemed a different team. The boys right hand side was again flagging, with Hudson playing like he was in an NBA final rather than a charity netball match, Rachel Alders and Paige Goodchild made fast work moving the ball down the wing to a waiting Annie Hambrook who would slot a couple more nets home. With a 10 minutes of the second half being all girls the boys could quickly see their lead evaporate and Eddie was swiftly removed from the field of play to stem the flooding tide. The girls continued to rally, the rotating substitutions keeping the teams fresh with heroic interceptions from a Webber/Beedie combination that looked like they had played together their whole career. But ultimately it was the Boys who held on to their lead to make the final score 14-6.

A huge thank you to all who supported. We raised £100 for charity, if you didn’t make it but would like a memento we will be selling signed team photographs for £2 or you can get an individual photo of your own Netball hero. Please contact us for more details.

Amy Simmons

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