Related Links:

  • National League End of season/next season planning meeting
  • Final Match report from 2005 nat league season
  • National League Results 2005

Hi there Everyone

I thought it would be appropriate that I provide an end of season club report.

Firstly I would like to congratulate everyone on a very good final two weekends, it was very pleasing to see everyone playing good polo. Especially when we played such good polo against some of the stronger teams in the League.

(note I mean we when I say it at no time below do I exclude myself).

Overall.

Fifth place in this years division 3 has to be seen as a substantially better result than last year. Not only did we move up a place in the league but it was a considerably stronger division this year, with the team placing above 3 teams that were above us last year. The strength of the three new teams this year was a surprise to all.

Season breakdown.

The first two weekends saw the team playing fair polo, although a little off the pace at times the team looked to have progressed from the previous season. Pondes Forge saw the keepers mouth severely affecting the game against eventual champions Caledonia although the team played well in patches following his departure. We then played well against both Warley and Newcastle, Warley were never fully out of danger and we made the most of good play against Newcastle. Nottingham saw the team play well against both Bedford and Invicta with both games showing a structured buildup and good defence.

The two middle weekends were in a way season defining. Walsall our first game against South Derbyshire was a contender for worst performance of the season, however our match against Sheffield showed a marked improvement although it was still a loss. Bristol Uni saw the team start very well, however a four goal lead was squandered and we had to settle for a draw. Basingstoke was an unhappy hunting ground last year and was again this year. We allowed Warley to race into a ridiculous lead in the first chukka and although we played well to win every remaining chukka the poor start cost us the match. Newcastle - the other contender for worst match of the season, we managed to play well below ourselves and lost to a weak Newcastle side.

Caledonia which was looking like a massacre before the game turned out to be the best we played in the last 6 games, although we lost we played good polo and lost the game purely on break-away goals - even our friends the referees commented on how the scoreline was no reflection of the game. 

The last two weekends turned out to be the best polo the national league team has played. we beat Jersey by 11 goals, and had the game won inside of 2 and a half minutes, which meant it got a a little ugly but was a good result and much needed. Our 12-4 victory over a much improved Invicta side was probably the best polo we played all season, we were clinical throughout and there was only ever one team in the match. An 8 all draw against a now full strength Bedford side was a good result, although we could have won the game in the last minute (this result ultimately secured 5th spot in the table). The final Walsall weekend, our best standard of polo over a whole weekend, we could have won all three matches. Against Sheffield we played very good polo and could have won the match, a few little mistakes was the only real difference between the teams. A six goal difference flattered an improved Bristol uni team, this was a good example of the team going out and winning a match th at was meant to be won without complication. An 11 all draw with South Derbyshire, and with a last second shot being cleared off the line, this certainly must go down as one of the league surprises of the season. It was a match we could have won and we had several chances, this was in the end a very good result.

If anyone would like to ask me for personal feedback please feel free to do so.

Team Report:

Our Strengths - when playing as a team we are a formidable combination. When playing structured polo we look good and play some very entertaining polo. Defence only Warley who finished 3 places above us conceded less goals, Defensively we played well as a unit, our hole defenders generally played well and the press around the arc worked well. We have a few players who are strong in the water. Passion - I would never choose to call the team indifferent, this was both a blessing and a hindrance. We have a number of players who have the ability to fill in the holes left by others, ( a special word of thanks to Ben for the times he played in the hole when he is best utilised elsewhere and the service provided was at times suspect).

Our Weakness - when playing as individuals we are very poor. One of our major short comings was the number of goals we didn't score, whilst we were good at keeping goals out, we struggled to put goals in the other side, we really need to work on converting attacking situations. Exclusions conceded, the hole defenders did a relatively good job and exclusions in the hole are to be expected- that is polo, however we conceded far to many exclusions and penalties on the perimeter, up the pool or with our mouths. Strength of feeling and discipline, we let ourselves down on a number of occasions where we were ill disciplined towards the referees and our team mates, we need to learn to overcome the bad times rather than turn on each other. We have the habit of looking weak or tired in the water

The Way Forward (please note Gerry's mail to follow and ensure you attend the end of season/ next season planning meeting).

It looks very much like we will be playing in Division 4 next year, which I think suits our situation better than being in the proposed division 3. Next season the unconditional aim for the team must be a top 2 finish, with division champions being the goal. This will allow the team to build and develop as a team with the intention of ever improving the teams place in the National League. Note Bedford will be strong again, Newcastle are improving and Invicta players will be a year older, wiser and stronger, Bristol Uni may be very strong if Mark gets his way although i personally am not convinced he will get his big names - they will certainly improve with his guidance. And there will be at least two unknowns.

What needs to be worked on for Next season.

1) Physical fitness and conditioning, we need to be fitter and stronger to be more controlled in the water. This brings "a position of strength" which will directly effect exclusions earned and given away.

2) Approach to practise, you play like you practise. It is imperative that drills and structure used at national league level is taken back to your home club situation so that these skills become the norm for you.

3) A sense of responsibility, this was evident in the last two weekends of this season. Each individual has a responsibility to those around them. It was good for people admit where they had made a mistake, it stops a blame culture and encourages team work. We all know when we have done wrong, it only hurts when people criticise. Leave criticism to the coach  and remember it will be his job to point out where things have been done wrong.

I really do believe that we as a team have the potential to progress and to continue to play good, enjoyable, entertaining polo.

On a final note I shall not be putting myself forward as coach for the 2006 season. There are several reasons for this but the two main reasons are I think the team will benefit from some different ideas and approaches, I have enjoyed the last two seasons and I like to think the team has learnt from my tenure. I will whole heartedly support whoever takes over and will always be willing to give my opinion when asked, not that its ever been a problem. The second reason is that I felt that I did not play to the standards I set myself as a keeper, and whilst the last two weekends I felt I played better as the team played better, It is not fair on the team if I do not perform in my primary role during matches. I am not quiting as a player and hope to continue playing in the national league with you all for as long as possible.

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