BWPL 2015, Weekend 3, Lancaster, 7/8 November 2015

With playoff qualification already secure, the context of the third BWPL weekend was somewhat different from its predecessors. Poly would take on bottom side Manchester Hawks, who are yet to win a match this season and Welsh Wanderers, an enigmatic team with a wide performance range.  This was an opportunity to experiment with a focus on driving in attack, post play during man-up and a defensive drop off the number two, whilst working a high line between three and four.

Game 1:

Polytechnic 9 - 8 Manchester Hawks

The Hawks have been the whipping boys of division 2 this season and the match started without surprise. Early goals from Ben Vandoren and Jeremy Johnson took Poly into an early 2-0 lead; this should have been the cue for taking the game out of sight and filling the Poly side of the scoreboard with goals. As it turns out, Poly never got out of second gear. The attack was creating chances, the new drive looked effective and the centre forwards were getting position on 2m, but there was a lack of intensity that meant goals decayed into missed chances.  Poly crept into half-time at 4 apiece with 2 goals from Carlos Ardid, but little else to show for our efforts. The Hawks are a young team and played on the counter attack, but surprisingly five of their goals came from centre forward, an unusually high return against Poly whose strength has historically been defensive. Poor focus, miscommunication and a lack of certainty around which defensive system was being played meant a loose and error strewn defense. This reflected the overall lack of quality in the game as a whole and once again Poly found themselves trailing. The game was precarious, but a fourth quarter brace from Luke Jones, a good centre forwards goal from John Bright, and a cool finish from returning star Fernando Galan with only 2.7 seconds on the clock eventually clinched Poly the game.

Game 2:

Welsh Wanderers 13 - 10 Polytechnic

In a word this game was disappointing. It's true that with qualification secure and a match start time of 9 am, motivation would be less forthcoming, but these are the kind of games that separate a division 1 team from a division 2 team.  The Welsh are a decent outfit on their day, but ultimately their game is one dimensional, electing to play off their key man, Dan Laxton whenever possible. Poly know this and it represents a significant failure that we were unable to mark him out of the game, considering the high quality defensive players at our disposal and perhaps execution of a more targeted game plan would have made the difference. If proof were needed, Laxton scored 7 goals (the majority unspectacular) making up 54% of the Welsh goal haul. That's just science. Attack suffered in the same way as the defence, with incoherence and a failure to convert chances. Chris Icely stood out once again, with 4 goals for Poly, but the overall team performance looked jaded and purposeless. Poly trailed for almost the entire game and never truly looked like winning it, always a bit too slow and a bit too loose. Credit to the Welsh, they played hard and took the victory, but Poly are capable of so much more.

Nothing happens in isolation and the failures of the team are layered.  At base, it is clear that fitness will need to be taken up a level to compete in Div 1; allied to this, Poly need to start to look and play like a team, taking control of matches and dictating play, rather than being reactive. This requires greater organisation and tactical awareness. We know Poly are capable, with the players needed to play in Div 1 and play well. The final missing piece is desire, a desire to give our all and leave nothing out in the water. Come on Poly, we can do this!

- Jeremy Johnson

Bill Searby

With great sadness I report the passing of former Poly player Bill Searby. He passed away at home on the13th October after a brave nearly 20 year battle with Cancer.

Bill joined the Poly from the Neptune club in 1952 and in an era ruled by huge almost unstoppable pit men like Terry Miller, Les Baldwin , Phil Jones and our own Pete Messider. Bill became one of the games finest defenders and led Poly to their first ever National title in 1956

I first saw Bill in action that year playing for the Southern Counties in a practice game against the Great Britain team prior to the 56 Melbourne Olympics. The pit man for GB was the mighty Terry Miller a player so good that he was flown to Italy most weeks to represent a leading club side there. Bill marked him out of the game and the South went on to win the game. Sadly the only change the selectors made to the team was to swap the keepers and the Souths Arthur Grady (Chopper) a former Poly player got the nod. However there was absolutely no doubt in my mind that Bill should have made the team and become an Olympian on his performance that night.

Bill also played a big part in my Polo future having seen me play for my local team in 1956 he invited me to join the Poly. I was very reluctant to move on but I was persuaded by my team captain Don Newbold  that it was the right move for me. The following season 1957 thanks to Bill I was selected for GB.

Also in 1957 Bill was a member of the Poly team that travelled to Moscow to take part in the World Youth Games, The GB team had been invited but at that time they would not travel to behind the Iron Curtain. The invite was then passed on to the Poly as National Champions, we were refused permission to travel by the ASA but went anyway. Once there with Bill running our defence the Poly team finished 4th out of 12 National teams only beaten by Olympic Champions Hungary, Russia an East Germany.

Bill was a wonderful club man and friend and I think the finest defender  that I ever played behind

Bill leaves devoted wife Julia, loving children Claire Stephen and David and six grandchildren.Those wishing to celebrate his life on the 9th November are invited to contact the family for details.

- Neil May

New Season Dates

The dates for the first round of the new season are out, and the Poly Mens begin their season at Ponds Ford in Sheffield on the 26/27th September against Croydon and Worthing, followed by Bristol on the 10/11th October against Sutton, Solihull and Penguin, and finishing up the first phase in Lancaster against Manchester and the Welsh on 7/8th November.

The Ladies will also be in Sheffield on the 26/27th September and will begin their season against Devonport, Iceni and Liverpool, before going to Malborough College to play Leeds, Sunderland and Birmingham  on the 24/25th October, and finishing up the first phase in Walsall against Southampton and Penguin Rockhoppers on the 14 November.

If you're in the area please come down and lend your support.