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What Craig did on his Summer Holidays

posted 31 Aug 2015, 05:45 by Anna Flanders
It's a cold, dark October 1999 Saturday morning in Sheffield. I walk to the University, where I catch a minibus to the Lancaster Beginners Korfball Tournament. It's the start of a tournament oddessy that will send me criss-crossing around this country from the likes of Bristol, Nottingham, Oxford, Edinburgh and even Milton Keynes, then on to Holland. I'll have some extraordinary adventures along the way, but a bare trophy cabinet. The closest is the 2013 Bristol Tournament Final, where despite Dave warning me about my opponent being a dangerous scorer, I manage to concede a goal within the first 6 seconds. We lose by one goal :-(

Present Day
16 years on and the ongoing mission to win something, anything, carries on to the Velocitas tournament. A major setback is when Liv has to pull out on the day of the flight, to concentrate on her thesis :-( We meet at the airport and board an Easyjet flight, with some of the most annoying people in the history of humanity. The sort of people who you're so ashamed to be from the same country, that relinquishing British citizenship seems the only sensible thing to do. We eventually get to the Velocitas clubhouse, meet up with Ellie :-) and have a few beers. At midnight, the hotel people sensibly go to bed, after arranging to return at 9.45am for our scheduled 10.30am first game. However for me and Dave, the next few hours are an unexpected delight; we meet up with Bearstead and have fun by hyping up the following day's match between the two sides, sliding down a children's slide together, trying to reenact the lift from Dirty Dancing as '(I've Had) The Time Of My Life' played in the background and finished by comparing knee scars (I win). We make a drunken bet with Bearstead, that whoever lost the pool match on the Saturday between us, would buy a round of drinks for the winning team. Nothing can go wrong now.

It's Saturday morning; I wake up at 9.15am and stroll to the information board where the fixtures have been displayed. Due to teams pulling out, the fixtures have been completely rearranged and we're now playing at 9.30am - in 15 minutes time. The current Manchester Korfball Team entirely consists of a half awake me and Dave who's a few yards away munching on a ham sandwich. A few slightly panicked phone calls and a late start, means that the rest of the team make it to an opening victory over Albatross. Next The Bearstead Match - I crumble under the pressure of the drunken drinks bet, don't play well and we lose. We obviously win as a team and lose as a team, but it was all Dave's fault for missing loads of chances. The dream of winning the pool and the Holy Grail of a trophy is seemingly gone and more annoyingly, me and Dave now have to buy Bearstead a round.

We showcase outstanding bouncebackability by triumphing against Velocitas 8/9, before we face a Mum's and Dad's team that commit so many fouls, it would make Dewey shudder. To be fair, Dave has a quite magnificent game and we win. The chairman on Velocitas comes over to meet us and I make an ambassadorial speech about how everything is awesome at Velocitas. We find out that miraculously, the other results have gone for us; Bearstead have lost to the Mum's and Dad's team and it looks like we can still win the trophy, depending on Bearstead's final game. We then re-read the rules whilst on our third post match beer and after already sending victory texts back to Manchester, to find out that if points, goal scored and goal difference are level, then they'll be a penalty shoot out! I check the league table on multiple occasions, until the Bearstead result comes in. We have won the pool :-)
Just after 4.30pm, the decisive moment occurs, as I go forward as captain to lift the trophy. Jon and Josie offer to document the greatest and proudest moment of my korfball career, by taking photos of it. Unfortunately, I manage to turn in the wrong direction away from the Wright paparazzi and my finest hour is captured for posterity by a picture of my back. Fortunately a few minutes later, we get together for a team photo with the trophy that is so joyous, it ranks as one of the greatest photos I've ever been on. I'm definitely framing it.

There is then a few magic hours where we're sat on the grass eating recently BBQ-ed food, cold beer in hand, on a warm golden sunlit evening, surrounded by really good friends (and Dave) with our trophy in the centre.  (Look I know I'm gushing but give me a break, I've just spent 16 years trying to win a tournament trophy!)

As day becomes night, Bearstead join us and we start our new fun game of 'Teasing Bearstead'. This takes the form of in the drinking game 21 changing the number 12 to 'trophy', walking up to them when 'Walking On Sunshine' is being played looking really smug and generally mentioning our victory/brandishing our trophy on multiple occassions. We make this up to them later, by buying them the drunken bet drinks that we promised them.The rest of the night is a fun, slightly blurry, night. A covers band provides the evening's entertainment; showcasing an eclectic playlist of everything from 4 Non Blondes 'What's Going On' to a triumphant 'Wonderwall'. Inbetween a DJ plays more random music; Ellie has a brilliant photograph of me, Dave and Jon all doing different dance moves to The Macarena at the same time. Some of the Croydon lads, get up on the stage at the end and do a topless YMCA. I think it's time to go to bed. 
I wake up in my tent on Sunday feeling a little bit tired and with a slightly sore head (actually, I felt like crap). After making friends again with Bearstead (as they drove off, I waved the trophy at them; they delightfully shouted "f### off Manchester") we travelled by train to the city of Utrecht, where we spent a delightful afternoon visiting the cathedral, wandering around the charming streets and hiring canoes to paddle around the canalways. Jon was so impressed, that he named Utrecht in his his Top 5 World Cities (along with Middlesbrough and Macclesfield, obviously) We then traveled to where Ellie lives in the Dutch countryside; a charming small village called Middelaar. And on the Monday, we sauntered around a beautiful lake near where Ellie lives, before a flight back to Manchester from Eindhoven, that even Dave made.
I had an awesome time. I hope we can go back to Velocitas someday.