On the 11th October the Mens 1sts played Exeter 1sts in a friendly at Fortress Tyndall. The first clash between the two sides in many years was a titanic affair, and as with any good old fashioned bout between gentleman, blood (allbeit a very minor amount) was spilt.
The men arrived at 9am and were greeted by Oscar ‘720 Ollie’ Parsleys musical choices. Whilst pump up music is a wonderful addition to any warm up, the 9am start meant that some team members enthusiasm did not quite match the lurid thumping of the selected ‘tuneage’. Such thoughts however were overshadowed by the now traditional late appearance of Pawel Laskowski who arrived 15 minutes after everyone else. Arriving in some casual trousers many of the new players on the team expected him no doubt to strip down to shorts once the game began. The stalwarts of the club however knew better and were overjoyed as ever to watch Pawel play the entire game in his loungewear. Despite what must be almost cataclysmic levels of heat on his legs, thanks to the luxurious nature of his cotton wonders, Mr Laskowski must be commended for sticking to his guns, and choosing fashion over suitability.
With the warm up over the men got down to the first set. Starting well the set gave members such as TS Kim and Fergus Shaw a chance to show off their hitting prowess, with the latter doing so still sporting his 1980’s headband look that so far has yielded many sideways glances and disapproving nods from the watching crowd. Exeter fought hard and opened up a substantial lead and with just one point needed for victory, looked comfortable at 24-16. It was at this point however that John House decided to use what God had gifted him and attempt to block with his sizeable face. Aiming to power the ball down with the notorious ‘Fivehead’ that graces his child like features, John was unlucky to quite literally watch the ball cannon into his left eye, resulting in him going down like a sack of potatoes. Special mention must go to coach Matteo who’s sympathy for John’s face was clear for all to see as he remarked to the bench that he had told John previously not to block like that so… With the ball unsurprisingly flying out Bristol lost the first set as John ‘Blinded by the Spike’ House stumbled over to the team talk as blood leaked from his now ruined face.
Perhaps emboldened and to be honest, greatly amused by the circumstances of the end of the first set the men came out stronger in the second set and matched Exeter point to point up until the score read 19-19. Unfortunately it was at this point that some uncharacteristic errors crept in to Bristols game and despite Felipe ‘3/4’ Galindo Sanchez blowing through the camera in an effort to get the ball back, leaving the tripod with a dodgy knee injury, the hearty Bristol 15 were left to ponder yet another set loss.
The third set saw Bristol return to the kit with a new determination to make a good game of it. The captain, Christopher ‘Carrot and Coriander’ Sherfield joined the court, as did the previous days wonder child Craig ‘Shirley Bassey’ Tavares McKoy. With the two of them hitting powerfully through the outside Bristol opened up a healthy lead over their Exeter compatriots. As ever however, coach Matteo was still not 100% pleased and voiced his confusion when a second ball was set by the now half blind John House to setter Nigel Chan who was unable to score a point. Despite protesting that Matteo had to just #believe, it was decided that that particular move would not be featuring in the leather-bound ‘Playbook’ that Matteo has made for the Mens team. With that now firmly behind them Bristol continued to push and took the set 25-19.
The fourth set was dominated by a combo meal so delicious it would put KFC to shame. With yet another shake up on court Pawel ‘Leisurewear’ Laskowski found himself at opposite whilst Nigel Chan was at setter. Rolling back the years they became the lethal combination of two years ago that the Exeter side simply could not handle with Laskowski finding the Exeter court time and time again. The set was also witness to one of the greatest nonchalant blocks ever performed by a Bristolian. Matt ‘Baptism by Fire’ Birch, perhaps captivated by the Chinese/Polish show being put on, simply popped up his hands when the Exeter serve came over and casually dropped it down into the Exeter side. Whilst highly against the rules, the block provided some glorious light relief for the watching bench. Matt, I salute you. Anyway, Aidan’d by some superb passing from Aidan (that was a bit of a stretch), Bristol easily won the set for Bristol 25-17.
And so it was to the final set, Bristol had clawed it back to 2-2 and there was quite literally everything to play for, although actually there was literally nothing to play for given the friendly nature of the game, but still, its fun to be dramatic. Bristol once more began strongly with Rob ‘Sweaty Betty’ Pennifold setting well to outside and middle. Indeed, despite Mike ‘Big Mike’ Wilsher falling over for absolutely no reason whatsoever, and Rob and Chris ‘Potato and Leek’ Sherfield exchanging some passes in an unconventional manner as they spiked it from side to side, Bristol opened up a 6 point lead. Emboldened by the support of the hearty Bristolians who had come down to watch Bristol pushed on and secured the set 25-22 and thus the game 3-2.
With that victory come yet more positives for the now unstoppable train that is the Mens 1st team.
Thanks to Lorena ‘Tech Savvy’ Balan, Cheryl ‘Can I just say one thing’ Nordal, Abi ‘Net Touch’ Wooden and Felipe ‘Golden Oldie’ Sales De Frietas for refereeing and scoring.
Our thanks to all the supporters who came down and watched, you were awesome.
Written by: John House