Not since the year 2000 in München have The Poly paraded themselves in the FINA World Masters stage, but this summer in the spiritual home of our sport ( no, not The City University pool) on Margaret Island in Budapest we re-entered the world stage.
A collection of "has beens, never weres, could have beens and a Penguin stalwart" gathered themselves under the motto – “the older we get the better we were”. The Poly 50+ assembled and did the introductions not as tradition would have it, in the bar the night before, but on a dark and rainy poolside a few hours before our opening morning match against the Sunday Boys from Hungary, in the pool where a few weeks prior had seen the World Championship Finals between Hungary and Croatia played out.
Despite coach Hallwood setting out a cunning matrix based plan, we quickly went 2 down before we'd even had a chance to shout at each other! However, things quickly turned round and we found ourselves 2 goals up with 2 minutes to play - enter stage left Poly legend Kevin Rhino Roberts to discuss tactics, and also enter to replace the two good and even referees with two ridiculously moustachioed Hungarian supporting referees - we salvaged a creditable 8-8 draw.
The following group games saw defeat to São Paulo and a victory over Scottstown for USA to qualify us for the quarter- final playoffs. For once the draw was favourable and we lined up against the Argentinian team Pampas, a few conflict of interest for our Argentinian Penguin we pondered - not a bit of it!!! In the original indoor Alfred Hojas pool we hit top gear 5-0 in first period - game over!!! We played it our for a comfortable 10-4 victory to qualify for the top 8.
A well earned celebration of the rooftop bar of Budapest with Poly players and friends from across the world ensued - Steve (beaker) Robinson and son Keith; Michael Hopkins (hoppy), Robbie Cullinhame, Leigh Farnell and Ray Powers from City Beach in Perth; Jogi and Wee Stevie from Germany; Rick Ambridge from Olympic Club, along with late arrival, the king of gimps, Pim Hendrix from City Beach - all joining the fun.
In qualifying from the top 8 there was frantic rearrangement of flights, with some unbelievers not expecting to be playing at the finals weekend. However, coach hallwood was unable to hang around, so we went into our biggest challenge against the reigning +45 world champions from 2 years previous, the Happy Hippos, essentially the Hungarian team from the mid 1990s - unfortunately we could not make them unhappy, a well fought game but they were stronger than us and had the last laugh, we went down 7-2.
Our next challenge brought us up against another Poly player of the past Luís Guilherme Prates and his team from Rio, another well contested game - but again our fire power was lacking and we went down by 2.
Our final contest provided the opportunity to avenge the earlier defeat by São Paulo, another cracking game supported by McCartney and Hagemann proving the commentary on the live web stream. But again we came up short, going down by 1. So a highly creditable 8th out of the 16 teams in the 50+ event, and finishing well above City Beach.
The event itself was one of the best organised and presented any of us have ever attended, it was all about water polo - proper presentation of the game, Olympic size game boards, 6 pitches in the 6 pools in the complex - and a cracking positive atmosphere throughout.
The Poly team:
Paul Annegarn, John Clark, RobEastman, Gary Simons, Keith Jones, Miguel Ortiz, Alan Anderson. Mark Williams, Andy Pring, Rob Stamp, Alan Shepherd, Alan Runcie, Phil Hallwood – and thanks to those who came along and supported as well.
So we're back in the map, with offers galore for further competition, for those interested in pulling teams together
Spanish Masters, Lanzarote – 19-21 April
Jogi Tournament - Gronau / Munster – 17- 19 August
European Masters - Kranj, Slovenia http://www.emc2018.com/ 26 – 31 August
World masters - Gwangju, South Korea
- Alan Anderson, Masters Team Big Toe