Saturday 11th September 1999
Phil: "GAME TIME.... This is what we've come for. The weather is superb.
The pool sits initially in the shadow of the Bologna football stadium, but the sun is rising and will soon flood the entire open air pool area in glorious warmth. There are eight teams in all....Bologna 1 (the best the Italian's can muster from their own ranks), Bologna 2 (the remainder with a couple of Aussie ringers), Paris 1 (the French National womens team), Paris 2 (most of the French National men's team), Hungary, Slovenia, Chesham 1 (Peter, Chris, Rob, Doug, Ruth, Liz, Helen, Keith, Andy) and my team - Chesham 2 (Martin, Gilly, Eryl, Ed, Mark, Marion, Colin, me and latterly, Electra). There will be a league with each team playing each other once, and then playoffs to finalise all 8 places. All games will be one way ten minute slots. The pool is completely flat at 2m depth, with 6 inch metal walls at either end to prevent the puck going out, the wall provides one side and a chain the other.
Chesham 1 kick off the tournament against Bologna 1...and win!!! Yesss. Then we play the French 1 team....and win also, 4-0!!! I score two and Mark gets the other two. I'm having a blast. Win follows win follows win. Yesssssss! Chesham 1 struggle in a few games, drawing against Bologna 2 and losing to the French 2. We lose to the French men also and there are now only two games left....The next one is against Chesham 1!! The big game.
You can imagine the atmosphere. The bell goes and we're off. The play goes back and forth, then there's a break and we're one up!! We try to hold it, but the A team have got themselves fired up and don't just pull back level, but grab another one to put them in the lead. Oh no, we're now running out of time. Our only hope seems to be able to get a draw out of the game. And we make one last concentraed effort, and after a scrabble in their goal mouth it comes. I am knackered and I'm not even back to the start when the bell goes to restart....there can only be 30 seconds left....Ed, playing as right-wing, blasts off at full speed. We can't even keep up with him to give support. He catches the A team off gaurd and carries on past them all into their goal!!!! Haa Haa. The bell goes for the goal, and immediately goes for the end of the game. We WIN!!
On a high, and fired up, we then face current third ranking Bologna 2 with their Aussie couple. This will be tough. Surprisingly, it isn't and we romp home to a 3-0 victory. I suspect some dodgy tactics we're put into play as their key man just didn't impressa me much.... as the song goes.
So at the end of the league, it's: 1 France II - 2 Chesham II (my team) - 3 Bologna I - 4 Chesham I - 5 Bologna II - 6 Slovenia - 7 Hungary - 8 France I
1 play 8, 2 play 7, 3 play 6, 4 play 5; then W1 play W4...L1 play L4 etc. etc. until everyone is placed.
Hungary are very physical, but we muscle past them... Chesham I are shocked into defeat by Bologna II. They definitely had been holding back. In fact they were dead sneaky. They got a quick goal and then time wasted. We're now having to face then in the semis, and they repeat their tactics. Jason, the key Aussie, gets a completely solo goal, and then we pound their goal for eight minutes. Three of which are wasted when the barrier gets broken up and the clock isn't stopped while it's put back together again. We try and try, but fail to get there.. So it's into the 3-4 place play off against Bologna I. We get sweet revenge on the Italians and take third place with a decisive victory, and I add another to my own score sheet.
We've been at the pool since 09:30 and its now about 19:30. A long day!! But it's party time back at the campsite. There's food laid on, and plenty of beer and wine. Prizegivings and then the band comes on and people start to mingle. The band are okay but no good for dancing to. I'm kept occupied for most of the night, but around 02:30 head back to the cafe from last night with Chris. Oh, the night is young..... A group of us turn up for beers at the cafe....Chris, Jason, Ruth, Tom...oh my memory fades. I do remember beers. I remember running back down the road. I remember .... not much else......"