By – Sour
(Please excuse the rambling nature of the first few paragraphs, and please bear in mind that they’re allegorical rather than literal or libellous.)
There once was a monkey. This monkey liked to cling to the back of men who wore silver and black on Saturday afternoons (and once on a Sunday). This monkey wore green and black, spoke with a Yorkshire accent and refused to lie down.
This monkey was known as Leeds. And Saturday 19 March 2011 saw that monkey release its death grip around the neck of Newcastle and succumb to their first defeat in five outings against the men in black and silver.
Thirteen brave Novocastrians (mostly adopted) arrived in Adel bright and early for a 1215 face-off to find a glorious spring morning waiting for them after some dodgy looking clouds around York, and a short trip in the wrong direction on the A1 for Standiford and Wheeldon in Webb’s car.
Woodrow returned in his least favoured position of goal, with Webbé, Warwick, Ellwood, Standiford and Davenport rocking the big sticks. Higginbottom, Lacey, Suddaby and Bryant put in the hard yards in midfield, with Webb (who was spotted defending at points throughout the game), Wheeldon and the returning Ford making up the deadly strike force.
The word “nemesis” was used in pre-game chats. Whilst rhetoric and hyperbole are important parts of motivating a team, this certainly wasn’t hyperbole. Leeds remained the only team to win every game against the Knights including a heart rending 7-4 in the Nigel Wayne Trophy final 2009, and several embarrassing league results.
The game got off to a fairly mediocre start as the Knights set off peppering Gill in the Leeds goal with shots. More accurately this could be described as throwing the ball towards his stick with a distinct lack of conviction and application – but at least doing it a lot. Leeds mustered a couple of token attacks that resulted in some fairly ambitious (possession) shots that failed to trouble the commanding Woodrow who directed the defence with aplomb. The first quarter finished 0-0 despite Leeds showing no reason for them to be in the match, and the Knights dominating both possession and territory.
Almost ironically it was the second quarter that proved decisive – as it had in the home fixture back before the big freeze in October. However the irony was on the other foot on Saturday as the Geordies capitalised on some man-ups to storm into a 5-0 half time lead. Ford opened the scoring on a trademark question mark sneak and low/low finish, Wheeldon and Bryant then got in on the act, before Lacey rocked a big underarm inside the pipes (for once) to make it 4-0. Ford then cashed in again on a sneaky dodge from X to round out the quarter.
Half time was a happy time. But all in the huddle were more than aware that two poor quarters and this would become a nail-biter. As Webbé fouled up his traditional half time exhortation to catch, pick up groundballs and not to snatch at catches (which is different from the straight catching part). The team looked determined to keep up the momentum and put this game and the associated hoo-doo to bed.
The third was a bit scrappy as confidence gave way to a bit of a laissez-faire attitude. Leeds scored first with a nice move from a 1-4 set a dodge from up top drew an early slide from the near side crease man, which was promptly followed by the second slide from the far side crease man, only for the ball to come straight back to the far side crease attack (#22) who had a 1 on 1 and duly converted it.
A goal from Bryant kept the board ticking against a cheeky (In a positive way) behind the back finish from the green #22 saw the third finish 6-2 which was a fair reflection of the balance of play. Leeds calmed their nerves or settled their minds and played with a deal more control than they had up to that point.
So it came down to the 4th quarter and despite having a solid lead the Knights needed a big effort to be sure of getting over the finish line. It came. After a quiet opening couple of minutes to the quarter, the knights went on a 4 goal unopposed run in the space of about three minutes as fast break followed face-off that followed goal. It was as a passage of play as good as there had been all season and took the game well away from Leeds. Some lovely tic-tac-toe play topped off a couple of the moves, but Bryant (from an impossible angle) and Webb (breaking the net!!) also got in on the act.
The final score was 11-2, and opened a(nother) new chapter in the history of NuTLC. This season despite its stop start nature and occasional frustrations has shown that the Silver and Black of Newcastle will stay as a fixture in the NEMLA leagues for some time to come, and will be competitive wherever and whomever they play.
Yes this might have been a weaker Leeds team than we’d faced before, but it was also the first time that we’d been anywhere near full strength and with a goalie that wasn’t a complete novice. Looking back the Knights probably played 35-40 minutes of lacrosse at the level they aim for, and it was enough to win handsomely – that to me says it all.
Regardless, the result will stand in the archives and, no-one will remember the comparative strength of the teams. Are Leeds just one goal better than Chester? I doubt it; will they be right back in the mix again next season? I think so, but with some application, determination and continuation of
York (if they’re not too busy) are the next opponents for the Knights at Broadway West this Saturday 26 March with face-off at 1400.
Wheeldon J 1G
Webb M 2G
Season Scorers to date
Andy Ford 26
John Wheeldon 24
Mark Webb 18
Nick Lacey 18
Dave Bryant 9
Kyle Standiford 8
Andy Higginbottom 6
Chris Suddaby 4
Pete Happanel 2
Robin Webb 2
Steve Warwick 1
Sam Ridgeway 1
Liam Thomas 1
Ben Beattie 1
Ian Stewart 1
Previews, match reports and general musings from the Toon and beyond.